My First Year of Blogging

Well, it’s December 31, 2011.  Time to make resolutions I won’t keep and talk about how much next year HAS to be better than this year because this year just sucked.  Actually, I’m not doing either of those things.  First, the only resolution I’m making is not to make resolutions.  WIN.  Second, this year was tough, but so many people had it so much worse than I.  My family is healthy, we have food to eat, a roof over our heads, so on and so forth.  A great portion of Earth’s population cannot say that, so I’m going to keep the pie hole shut about how bad I’ve had it this year.  (If that ‘s the kind of stuff you want to read, take a look around the blog.  There’s enough whining and groaning to keep you busy for hours.)

Now, for the end of the year blog stuff.  I’ve been perusing The Blog and marveling at how it’s changed, what people like to read, and how often my favorite posts get no traffic/comments whatsoever.  I’m telling myself  it’s because my favorite posts came in the beginning, when nobody but my family was reading.  It’s a shame because I was a much better blogger in the beginning.  Odd, but true.  Evidently, practice doesn’t always make perfect.

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of Momfog 2011.

Top 5 Posts

1. Cakes.  No-brainer, really.  Cake is good.  (More cake pics available under the “cake decorating” category.)

2. Curls Without Heat.  I’ve managed to answer that lifelong question:  “What do women want?”  They want to eat elaborate cakes and have good hair while doing it.

Apparently, hair and cake go hand in hand, as my most viewed cake post is the Rapunzel one.  Too bad it was a complete failure of a cake.  Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful to those mommies wanting to make their little princesses a birthday cake to remember.

The Leaning Tangled Tower of Rapunzel

3.  House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless  This is one of my favorite posts.  Not because I enjoyed writing it (my house burned down) but the comments were so great and supportive.  I had people who I consider “blogging celebrities” wishing my family well.  That was when I knew the blogging community was something special.  We don’t know each other in real life (IRL) but when real life happens, we know exactly what to say to make it better.  Thank you guys so much.

4.  ‘Tis The Season For Stupid Commercials  I’d like to thank Lexus for making those ridiculous ads of people who recognize the Lexus song, whether it be in Guitar Hero, Elevator Muzak, or music box style.  Truly, you made my December a happy one.

5.  A Child’s Wish  This is one of my favorites.  My autistic son wrote an essay that broke my heart.  Five sentences that brought back the day of his diagnosis and all my fears and desires for his life.

My 5 Favorite Posts

1.  The Ultimatum.  My first “horror” story.  So much fun.

2.  My Old Kentucky Home  So homesick I could barely stand it, I wrote a tribute to all the old folks at home.

3.  Things Moms Say and Kids Are Annoying  Yes, this is two posts but the annoying kids are what makes us say these crazy things, right?

4.  Growing Pains and Good Kids Are Everywhere, You Just Have To Pay Attention  Sending my kids to middle school freaked me out.  Not just because that makes me old-er, but because kids can be cruel little buggers.  Amazingly, they were fine.  And so was I.

5. The Psychology of Me (According to Reliable Internet Sources)  I used to be funny.  I also used to take oodles of internet quizzes.  This is the combo of the two.

So, there you have it.  My five, er, seven, favorite posts.  Are they my best?  Probably not.  They are so ME, though.  And I figure, at almost 34, it’s time to accept who that is.

I hope you all have a very happy and prosperous new year.  I am so honored you take the time to read the ramblings I put out on a semi-regular basis.  I’m even more amazed by those of you who take the time to comment.  There are some great people out there on the interwebs.

Love you!

Momfog  (AKA  Erin)

scary lunch lady

This is NOT me, though many thought it was when I posted this picture before, which I find hilarious. Trust me. I'd wax if this was me. *shudder*

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Squandering Christmas

JCPenny Christmas Wish Book

I Remember This One!

When I was a child, it took forever for Christmas Eve to arrive.  The month from Thanksgiving to December 24 was agony.  Decorations everywhere, Christmas music, making my list from the Sears and JCPenny Wish Books, and the preliminary parties at school and with extended family added to the excitement and the suspense.  Would Christmas EVER get here?

Now, Christmas music and decorations show up in stores weeks before Halloween.  “Too early,” I complain.  Christmas trees in commercials on Halloween.  “Too early.”  The radio station goes all Christmas, all the time on November 1.  Again, “too early.”

“Too early” is now ingrained in my brain.  It’s planted itself in my subconscious, so that when Black Friday is come and gone, my mind is still saying, “too early.”  It’s so entrenched that when Christmas Eve is here, I’m sitting in my living room, staring at the Christmas tree, and telling my kids to go to sleep or Santa won’t come, and I’m in shock.

How is today Christmas Eve?  I haven’t watched that one Christmas movie yet.  I didn’t make baklava.  We didn’t go out looking at Christmas lights in our pajamas.  What have I been doing for the past month?

The answer isn’t pretty.

I’ve been yelling at my kids.  A lot.  I’ve been hating my job.  I’ve been tired, no, exhausted.  I’ve been complaining–my back/feet/neck/head hurts, I’m broke, I’m too busy.  It’s TOO EARLY.

And now, it’s too late.

Christmas is over and done.  It’s time to take down the meager decorations I put up this year.  School and work starts back in less than a week.  The wonderful Salvation Army man who sings Christmas carols has packed up his bell and bucket from the grocery store entryway.  Worst of all, when I turn on the radio, Burl Ives isn’t singing “Holly Jolly Christmas,”  Maroon Five and Christina Aguilera are singing “Moves Like Jagger.”  (Gag.)

Christmas is over and I’ve missed it because I was being a Grinch.

I can handle missing some movies, Christmas lights, and baklava but I am guilt-ridden mess for the way I’ve treated my kids.  Were they loud?  Yes.  Did they stay up too late?  Yep.  Did they argue a lot?  Oh yeah.  Were they bouncing off the walls and making messes and talking too much and generally annoying the crap out of me?  Absolutely.  

But so what?  They were excited about Christmas.  Like I was when I was their age.  And, like them, I’m sure I was loud and obnoxious, but I don’t remember my mom yelling at me for it.  Who does that?   Kids express excitement by doing all those things above.  They can’t help it.  Me, as Mom, knows that and should cut them some slack.  Instead, I ranted and raved at them and about them for most of the Christmas vacation.  For shame.

Well, I have exactly 6 more days to make up for that.  I’ll be more understanding.  I’ll not yell.  I’ll gently break up arguments and fights.  I’ll find something constructive for them to do when they moan, “I’m booooorrrrred.”  Look out, June Cleaver, there’s a new mom in town.

As for next Christmas?  As soon as I see Christmas decorations on the store shelves, I’m putting up the Christmas lights, using the house from the movie “Christmas Vacation” (which will be in the Blu-Ray player) as inspiration, and starting the honey sauce for the baklava.  Judging from current trends, this might happen in September.  If so, maybe everyone will assume I’m celebrating Constitution Week.

Christmas will not sneak up on me next year!  In fact, I’m telling the husband that if he hears me utter the words, “too early,” he has permission to hit me upside the head with a roll of Christmas wrapping paper or perhaps a decorative tin full of santa cookies.  If he balks at the idea, I’ll just remind him of Christmas 2011.  I’ll be seeing stars in no time.

How festive.

Adventures In Christmas Shopping

Every year, my saint of a mother-in-law takes all the kids overnight so me and the husband can go out to eat and get our Christmas shopping done. I look forward to it.

A night out.  Alone.

It’s so tempting to just go home and sleep, especially this year. We both have colds and are exhausted. We couldn’t do that, of course. It was the last weekend before Christmas and we had bought exactly ONE present out of the required 15 for the kids. (See the Three Present Rule.)  There was only one problem.  We had no idea what we were buying.

Santa and Mrs. Claus bored

If we were Santa and Mrs. Claus, this would be us.

It was the last weekend before Christmas and we were going to have to wing it.

Scottish Eggs

Scottish Eggs-Hard-boiled eggs, wrapped in sausage, dipped in bread crumbs, and deep fried. Hungry?

We headed to the restaurant first because we always know what and where we’re going to eat.  Over our Scottish eggs, we made a tentative list.

Video game
MP3 Player
Guitar
Falcons Jersey
Dress-Up Clothes
Books of some kind
Lemonade Mouth Movie (?)
Girly things
Boyish things

It was pathetic so we did what we always do.  We ate too much (Bangers and Mash and Shepherd’s Pie) and headed to the Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has everything kids want, right?  Well, no, they don’t.  We walked around the place a while (TWO hours) and bought a few things.

We headed to the Toys R Us, where they wanted almost $60 for an Easy Bake Oven.  Are you kidding me?  I have a perfectly good oven at home that doesn’t require a light bulb to work and actually makes cakes that taste good.   If my 8yo was Amish, she’d know how to bake bread, pies, cakes, and cookies using a wood stove.  Surely she could handle an electric oven.  We walked around a while (ONE hour) and bought a few things.

Lemonade Mouth

Lemonade Mouth (?) DVD

We headed to Target, still searching for my daughter’s last present.  We found it–the last copy of Lemonade Mouth (?) and added a few generic boyish and girly items to our cart.   We walked around a while (45 minutes) and bought a few things.

Then we headed to another Wal-Mart. (!!)   I needed a pair of black flats.  I tried to find a pair at Target but they literally had none in my size.  Zero.  Not even the ugly ones.  I knew Wal-Mart would have ugly black flats in my size.  As it turns out, they only had the ugliest of their wide selection of ugly black flats in my size.  And yes, I bought them, seeing as the entire Savannah area appeared to have a shortage of black flats in a size 8.  And they hurt my feet.

Anyhoo, we picked up that “book of some kind” for the 12yo and we were officially done.  Then the evening took a sinister turn.

Walmartian

This, I was prepared for.

Wal-Mart has that reputation for badly (half)dressed people walking around, clueless, with snotty-nosed toddlers wearing only a diaper and swigging Co-Cola from their bottles sitting in their cart, right?  Well, that was nothing compared to what I saw in the Wal-Mart.

Actually, I heard it first.  A woman started yelling profanities.  I’m not entirely sure what she was so worked up about, but it had something to do with some lady hogging the aisle.  She was MAD.  She yelled and the entire Wal-Mart stopped to stare.  The lady she was yelling at (along with her poor child in the cart, who was fully dressed and clean, by the way) walked away.  The angry lady (who also had a child with her)  stopped yelling for a while.  Until she spotted the aisle-hogger in the checkout line.

Then, I kid you not, she said the following:

“You and your ugly-a$$ child.  Yeah, I said it.  I went there.  You with your ugly-a$$, m-f’n child, *incoherent raving*, more m-f’ns, profanity, profanity, profanity, ugly-a$$, m-f’n child.  I said it and I don’t even care.”

I couldn’t believe it.  She said that about a CHILD, who looked to be about 3 or 4 years old, loud enough for him and everyone else in the Wal-Mart to hear it.  I wanted to punch her in the face and I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that way.  My husband was waiting to break up the inevitable fight because that poor aisle-hogger probably weighed about 100 lbs. and the “heckler” was not a small woman.  He’s such a good guy.  (Love you, honey.)

The police showed up, which was lucky for the horrible woman,  because I’m pretty sure she was about to be the victim of a beat down.  I’m not the violent type, but it would be tempting to get in a few kicks and/or punches if such a thing occurred.  How could anyone say that about a child, much less to a child’s face?  So what if the kid’s mom was an aisle-hogger?  I don’t care if she rammed her in the butt repeatedly with her cart, there was no excuse for that.

Needless to say, I did not end the evening overcome by the Christmas spirit.  I was disgusted and shocked at the cruelty of people.   If my night was ruined, I can only imagine what that poor mother was feeling.  Wherever she is, I hope she’s telling her son what a beautiful boy he is and having a Merry Christmas.

German Roasted Almonds

German Roasted Almonds are my favorite holiday treat.  When I was growing up, these sugary, spicy nuts were one of the highlights at the Kentucky State Fair.  Those little $4 cones of nutty goodness were a classy addition to grater taters spritzed with vinegar and deep-fried corn dogs.  When I moved away from Kentucky and the State Fair, I started making them for the holidays.  They’re now a must at Christmas time.

This year, I made my own festive paper cones, filled them with German Roasted Almonds, and gave them as teachers’ gifts.  They were beautiful and inexpensive gifts.  I made two batches of almonds and had enough for 11 cones plus some extra to keep at home for less than $20.  If you already have the scrapbook paper and embellishments, it costs even less.   They look pretty in a bowl for parties, too.  Or you could skip all the craftiness and thoughtfulness and eat them yourself.

German Roasted Almonds are so easy to make. As my Christmas gift to you, here’s the recipe. You’re welcome.

German Roasted Almonds

Ingredients

1 lb. bag raw almonds (pecans are delicious as well)
1 egg white
1 tbsp. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 250°

2.  Beat egg white and water in large bowl until frothy.

3.  Add nuts and mix well.

German Roasted Almonds in Egg White

4.  Combine sugars and spice in small bowl and toss with the nut mixture.

5.  Line large baking sheet with foil and spray with oil spray or grease with shortening and wipe off excess with paper towel.   Spread nuts in single layer.

German Roasted Almonds on baking sheet

5.  Bake for 20 minutes.  After 2o minutes, toss nuts lightly with a plastic spatula to break up clumps  (be careful not to knock the coating off.)  Make sure to spread nuts into single layer before returning to the oven for another 20 minutes.  Repeat and return to the oven.
When nuts have baked for a total of 1 hour, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

The nuts will be soft at first, but will get crunchy as they cool.  Be sure to eat some while they’re still warm.  So delicious.

And so pretty!

The Three Present Rule

Three GiftsIn our household, we limit our kids to three Christmas presents from Santa.  When I tell people this, I get shocked expressions and the emphatic “WHY?”  My stock answer is this:

If three presents were enough for Jesus, it’s enough for my kids.

It gets me laughs and I need like that.  Of course, I’m absolutely serious.  Like most Christians, I struggle balancing Santa and the gifts with the true meaning of Christmas.  I love that kids believe wholeheartedly in Santa, in magic.  My two-year-old just learned what Santa does.  Her eyes light up whenever she sees Santa on television or in books.  “Santa bring me toys.”  I ask her what kind of toys Santa’s going to bring her.  “Pretty toys.”  **Swoon.**

But I want my kids to know why we celebrate Christmas.  I want them to appreciate the true gift of Christmas, not just what ends up under the Christmas tree.  So we correlate the gift-giving with the Three Wise Men.  It works.

Three Wise Men and Mary and Jesus

Image Via MorgueFile

There are other benefits to the Three Present Rule.  You know how some kids make their Christmas lists miles long?    You know how some parents get nearly everything on that list?  You know how kids will play with those toys for about two minutes before getting bored with them, tossing them in the toy box, never to see the light of day again?

My kids don’t do that.  They consider their lists very carefully.  When the Stacking Cups in the JC Penny Catalog caught my oldest son’s eye a couple of years ago he almost included them on his list.  In the end, he realized they were PLASTIC CUPS–perhaps the dumbest waste of one of three presents from Santa.

Cup Stacking Speed Stacks

Image via EveryStockPhoto

My children are not greedy.  They choose presents they really want and don’t ask for every stupid thing they see on television or in stores.

The Three Present Rule has its drawbacks.  What if they choose the hot toy that everybody wants and nobody can get?  With a small list, it’s not easy to compensate by getting them something else.  Not to mention the fact that Santa shouldn’t have limitations.  Thankfully, this hasn’t happened to us yet.  The advantage to having weird kids (they have weird parents, they were doomed from the start) is they aren’t all that interested in what everyone else wants.  Two years ago, my son asked for a spinning top.  What?  (Actually that gift makes sense to an autistic child.  Spin and spin, over and over and over and over again.)  Bam!  $2 gift and the kid was happy.

Unfortunately, the Three Present Rule isn’t always cheap.  Last year, we had to buy 3 Nintendo DSs.  Thank goodness for a Black Friday sale on used and refurbished gaming systems.  This year I had to find a laptop.  Again, Santa does not have limitations.   For younger kids, the Three Present Rule is cheaper, but the older the kids get, the more expensive the gifts.

The biggest problem with the Three Present Rule are the other kids who have no such limitations.  It’s not easy to explain to my kids why their friends get dozens of presents and they only get three.  I’m always afraid they’ll start questioning the existence of Santa Claus when they compare their Christmas with everyone else’s.  It’s no different from having to explain why some kids get more extravagant gifts.

 “Why did Johnny Spoiled Rotten get $50 in his stocking and all I got was some chocolate and a stupid paddle ball?”

paddle ball

Creative Commons

We do the best we can.  Specifically, we take the fall for the fat guy.

” Santa Claus honors our wishes when it comes to gifts.”

Eventually, the kids will stop believing in Santa Claus.  When that time comes I hope they’ve learned a few things.

  1. Christmas is not about presents.
  2. Quality over quantity.
  3. Greed is NOT good.
  4. The value of a dollar.
  5.  Their parents love them and are doing everything in their power to raise happy AND sensible adults.

‘Tis The Season for Stupid Commercials

Commercials are always annoying, but at Christmas time they’re worse.  It’s unfair.  Normally, I’d flip channels during commercials, but during Christmas I’m looking for deals.   So I watch.  And guess what?  I’d rather pay full price.

 

Four Really Bad Christmas Commercials

4.  T-Mobile’s 4G Wonderland.

This one isn’t an attack on Christmas or anything.  It’s more of a bad judgement call and a funny one.  Until my kid asks me what an orgy is.

3.  Kohls Rebecca Black Friday ad.  

The first time I saw this I thought it was funny.  Then, I got ticked off because there was such a song to make fun of and that I knew what it was.  That’s valuable brain space I could use to learn all the state capitols or something.

2.  Best Buy “Game On Santa.”  

Mom getting snarky with Father Christmas?  Don’t get me wrong.  I like snark.  But is nothing sacred?  Santa Claus is the symbol of Christmas magic, the spirit of giving, and our children’s innocence.   You don’t mess with that.  Major fail, Best Buy.

1.  Lexus  December to Remember Event

If somebody played the Lexus song for me, I would have NO idea what it was.  Who knows the Lexus song?   If someone had a music box made that plays the Lexus jingle, I’d be confused.  “What crappy song is this?  Where’s the  Clair de Lune,  Brahms’s Lullaby, or Beautiful Dreamer?”  If someone bought me a Lexus for Christmas, I’d punch them in the face.  Who buys a freaking Lexus for somebody as a Christmas present?

If you want to play me a jingle, make it the McDonalds one, recorded in one of those recordable cards, with a McDonalds gift card inside.   If you made the gift card for the amount you’d spend on that giant bow for the Lexus that would be great.    $50 buys a lot of Happy Meals.

Bada-ba-ba-ba.  I’m lovin’ it.

I Won NaNoWriMo. Now What?

It’s official.  I won NaNoWriMo.  I wrote 50,477 words of my novel and I can display a way cool badge on the blog.

So what now?  Do I have a complete novel?  Not even close.  I don’t even have half of a first draft.  I reread a little of it and realized the first 20,000 words can be condensed into about 2,000.   The story I wanted to tell didn’t get rolling until about 40,000 words in.  I have no ending.  It will be months before I have anything remotely close to a workable first draft.  I didn’t meet any of the goals I set for myself, other than meeting word count.

When I clicked the “verify” button and saw “Winner,”  I didn’t feel like a winner.  I felt like a big fat failure.  I didn’t write a post about NaNoWriMo on December 1 like everyone else because I didn’t think I’d accomplished anything.  Not really.  I was disappointed in the whole experience.

I was an idiot.

I absolutely accomplished something!  I started a novel.  I established a writing habit.

I learned things about myself as a writer.  I know that I write better at night, with music blasting in my ears.  I use the word, “just” too much.  I suck at describing setting.  I get carried away with love scenes and if I wanted to, I could totally write a sleazy, melodramatic romance novel, which, in turn, taught me it’s okay and even wise, to use the backspace button.

Most importantly, I have a Work In Progress, which I can refer to in random conversations  when I want to feel important.  I can say, “I’m writing a book…”  In my novel….”  or, if I’m feeling particularly pretentious, I can call it my “WIP” and explain what that means, thereby annoying dazzling my audience with my condescension intellect.

I AM a Winner.

National Novel Writing Month is over.  It’s December and time to focus on Christmas and that long 2 1/2 week vacation.  Oh, and that other goal I set in January.  The one where I said I’d read 50 books in 2011.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

Erinhasread 31 books toward her goal of 50 books.

hide

19 books in 27 days.  Completely doable.  I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress through the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.**  I know you care deeply if I meet another random personal goal.

**Not really.  

Related Articles:
NaNoWriMo:  Are You In?
NaNoWriMo Week One:  Six Lessons
NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo:  The Last Three Days