Category Archives: Christmas

Extending Christmas: For the Birds

We had a real Christmas tree this year. We debated much about what was most “green,” and I read several accounts that said a real tree, when recycled after use, is still “greener” than artificial options. Something many people don’t consider is the amount of energy that goes into producing and transporting (usually overseas) artificial trees. Added to that, most people only keep artificial trees for 5-6 years (average), which means the used trees simply end in landfills. Christmas tree farms plant a new tree for the one you cut, and, natural trees can be recycled into mulch when you’re finished. Most of all, we simply love the experience of making a day, as a family, to go out and choose a tree on a farm.

This year, we found another way to extend the life of our tree. Jenna was very upset to see the tree go, but my allergies were flaring up, and we suspected the tree (mold? pine?). In an effort to compromise, I suggested that we set the tree outside the French doors on our patio. Then, inspiration hit, and I suggested that we decorate the tree for the birds with peanut butter and birdseed ornaments. Jenna was sold.

Here’s how our project went:

First, we tied dental floss (any string/yarn would work) through the holes in Saltine crackers to make a loop. (We also decorated one cardboard toilet paper tube that we poked a hole in for hanging. I preferred the crackers because the whole ornament was edible.)

Second, I pulsed chunky peanut butter in my food processor with a little sesame oil to make it thinner and easier to dip. Those lucky critters got some organic peanut butter (Yikes! $$) because that’s all I had on hand. We poured the peanut butter in a glass for dipping.

Next, we dipped the crackers. We pushed them down in with a spoon and sometimes scooped the peanut butter up over the crackers to cover completely. We laid them out on wax paper to wait for the next step.

Then, we dredged the peanut butter crackers through the birdseed. We pushed the seeds in, to make sure they were stuck more securely. This was an EXCELLENT sensory exercise for Jenna, who did NOT like the way the peanut butter and seeds felt on her hands. She wanted to get them done to hang on the tree, so she stuck with it.

The finished product waiting on wax paper.

Next, we strung popcorn on dental floss. This was good fine motor therapy for Jenna, but she didn’t do it long. My needle-phobic girl (too many bad blood work experiences) was too terrified of the threading needle. Especially after this happened to Mommy’s thumb:

Finally, we decorated the tree:


Now, to sit back and wait for the birds to come.  ……..

By that evening, our guests arrived.

They didn’t have wings, but they were still fun to watch. Within a day, we had six at a time climbing all over the tree and trying to pull the popcorn strings out! Within three days, the tree was bare. That’s OK! We can do it all over again. Christmas can last as long as the tree does. Then we’ll recycle it to mulch.

Next year, we’re considering finding a tree at a nursery that we can decorate for a couple weeks and then move outside for planting.


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Here Comes Santa Claus – maybe.

I struggle a little bit with the whole notion of Santa with Jenna.  Don’t get me wrong – we read the stories that include Santa, she sees Santa movies, she went on a sleigh ride with Santa, and she gets gifts in her stocking from Santa.  We don’t really try to avoid Santa at all, I just have a teensy bit of trouble with supporting an untruth.  I really try to be honest and open with her, and this one is tough.  Her joy, excitement and wonder over the whole notion of Santa is equally difficult to quash in favor of reality.

So, we’re riding the Santa wave at this point, and hoping we sense when the time is right to present the truth.  Or that she doesn’t hate us for supporting a lie when/if she learns the truth from someone else.


Do all parents feel torn this way?  When I was a kid, I remember sitting on Santa’s lap, writing letters to him, and getting gifts “from Santa,” but I don’t really ever remember believing in him.  Maybe I did, and just don’t remember….  I definitely don’t remember any moment of outrage when I learned the truth.

At any rate, I surprised myself this year by sending Jenna a personalized video message from Santa via email through this site.  I decided to do it because the video seemed so well done, and the options for personalizing were PERFECT.  I was able to have Santa talk to her about the fact that, although she’s done pretty well with trying new foods this year, Santa knows that she could do a little bit better.

TRYING NEW FOODS?!  YES!!  If Santa telling her that she needs to do it will help in ANY way, I’m willing to grasp that possibility with both hands and kiss it on the lips!

He also told her that he wants her to work on being polite and kind and generous.  See? PERFECT.  He told her that he knows she’s been wanting a new “big girl” watch, and that maybe she would get one on Christmas Day.

Jenna watched the entire video in complete and utter AWE.  When it was done, she asked to see it again.  She was AMAZED that he knew about her and that she wanted a watch (cue my twinge of guilt for setting the whole thing up).  She earnestly told video Santa that she’d try to do better at trying new foods, and that she would be kind, polite & generous.  In spite of the twinge of guilt, I’m elated to think that maybe the message will help with her eating issues.

Fast forward to the next day:

We offer her some new food to try.

She rudely says no.

We remind her of what Santa said.

She angrily shouts:

I will NEVER try new foods!  I HATE new foods!  I CAN’T  be polite! ::pause::  ::pause::

{grumpily}  I’ll just get my own watch somewhere else.

So much for Santa.


Posted by on December 24, 2010 in Christmas, G-tube issues, Holidays, Jenna, Random Fun


Easy Gift Idea

This year, we decided to try to simplify Christmas as much as possible.  We decided to not only work to save money, but also to (hopefully) be a little more “eco-responsible” than we have been in the past.  We decided to try to think of ways to give of ourselves and our talents in the form of services or products that can be consumed/used up instead of simply cluttering up space (and eventually landfills).  Today, I mixed up a batch of my homemade bath salts and thought I’d share the idea here, because it’s so easy, and always well-received!  They’re simply made from Epsom salts and organic essential oils.  That’s it!  Epsom salts are great for soothing tired, stressed muscles, and you can customize the scents for each individual.  My favorite essential oils are grapefruit (refreshing) or vanilla (soothing/calming).  You may prefer lavender, rose, tea tree, or many others. One small bottle of essential oil will go a LONG way!

I bought the Bell® jars in the picture above at Meijer as a package of 4 for $5.  These were a little fancier than you would have to use, and there are cheaper options in canning or jelly jars available.  I try to reuse glass jars and lids whenever possible, and am always on the lookout for unique jars at resale shops, garage sales and Goodwill.  Just make sure they have a lid, or some way to close.  I found a great bottle with a unique shape at a resale shop with a cork in it that was one of my favorites.  Epsom salts are readily available at any pharmacy, and are very cheap.

I love this project for several reasons.  First of all, there’s no exact science.  Simply fill your container with Epsom salts and add drops of essential oil until you are happy with the scent.  Remember that it’s always easier to add more!  You can’t really remove the oil once you’ve added it, but you CAN add more salts to tame the smell.  I also love it because Jenna can help!  She helped scoop the salts, add the drops (Careful with this one – toddlers tend to go a little crazy.  Stay close!), and then LOVED shaking and shaking the containers once the lids were firmly screwed on.  Finally, I love how pleased people are when they receive their gift.  I think you will too.

Today, I bottled four jars like you see pictured above.  Total time for the project?  Twenty minutes!  And that’s with a toddler helping.  It could go a little faster even, if you’re doing it without pint-sized helpers, but it’s a great opportunity for them to get to help.  What a wonderful way to teach about the spirit of giving (instead of simply the spirit of shopping).

Happy giving!

P.S. This makes a great gift for year-round giving, too!


Christmas 2008

Here are some pictures that capture some moments from our immediate family (just the three of us) Christmas this year.

christmas-1The night before Christmas.

That’s everything except for my stocking, which PsychDaddy wasn’t done with.

christmas-2Unwrapping stocking gifts

christmas-3Playing her “flute”


christmas-6“What is it??”


christmas-9The unveiling


Jenna’s gifts included the dollhouse with furniture (thanks to money from her great grandpa), a Melissa & Doug tool set (from a resale shop for $2), and dolls for the dollhouse.  In her stocking, she got a recorder, a harmonica, a wand, a crown, a super-soft, stuffed “baby” monkey, and a jingle bell on a ribbon (like in Polar Express).

This past weekend, we also celebrated Christmas with PsychDaddy’s family and Jenna got gifts from aunts and uncles, cousins and Grandpa and Grandma.  This week, my family is coming, and I’m sure she’ll get more.  Next week, she’ll celebrate her third birthday, and she’ll receive even more gifts.  She’s going to have a tough time adjusting when the gift-giving ends.  She’s already started asking every guest if they brought a surprise.  {Smile}  I love this magical stage she’s at, though.  Everything is amazing and she’s filled with absolute wonder and awe.  This morning, she woke and began singing Edelweiss (mostly correctly) from her crib.  Let the magic never end.


Posted by on December 29, 2008 in Christmas, Jenna


Comfort and Joy

I love this tea from The Republic of Tea!  It’s a special holiday blend of apples, cloves, cinnamon and black tea, and it brings me comfort and joy every time I sip it!  I love it with just a little honey and a splash of milk.  Fifty natural, round, unbleached tea bags are inside each tin.  This would make a great stocking stuffer for the tea lover in your life.  Or just add some comfort and joy to your own!

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Posted by on December 19, 2008 in Christmas, Favorite Things, Product Reviews


Happy Holidays


In the interest of saving time, stress, money, and maybe a tree or two, we don’t send holiday cards, so, hopefully, you can consider this your holiday greeting instead!  Last week, we took Jenna to our local Farmer’s Market, and they had sleigh rides with Santa.  Jenna talked about it with excitement and anticipation for a week before we went, but we weren’t too sure how she’d react when she actually met Santa in real life.  We shouldn’t have worried.  He was instantly her best friend.  She snuggled right up to him (as we tried to block thoughts of possible previous felonies or misdemeanors from our minds), looked at him with adoration and told him exactly what she wants this year:

“A blue pony – a REAL pony that I can ride – with a carriage or a cart.”

C’mon Santa.  This one’s all yours.  Don’t let us down.  We’re counting on you.

More holiday greetings from all your favorite bloggers (or post your own!) at:


Posted by on December 18, 2008 in Christmas, Jenna


Best Gift For A Toddler


That’s right.  A cardboard box.  You’ve heard the talk that kids play with the boxes more than the gifts that come in them.  In this case, the wonderful gift WAS the box!  A cabinet box, to be exact.  Jenna’s uncle made this for her for Christmas last year, and it has gotten more use than any other toy in our house.  She loves it.  (Notice the Christmas ornaments hanging from the corners?)  It’s getting a little beat up, and the roof is starting to sag and droop, so we’ve asked Uncle for a repeat gift again this year.  It would even be fun to hook to boxes together with a door between them for a bigger house with two rooms!  I think it would be fun to paint the whole thing.  I’m actually considering putting the base coat down and then letting Jenna help paint some decorations.

Notice that the door is functional (he scored it on the one edge to act like a hinge and the thing just doesn’t wear out), and the windows are fun shapes.  There are three windows.  The zigzag one is on the side toward the camera in the pic, a rectangular one is in the back (against the patio door) and the other side has a triangular window.  Fun!  What a clever uncle!



Posted by on December 17, 2008 in Christmas, Favorite Things, Jenna