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It’s beginning to look a lot like COOKIES!

Fire up the oven and dust off your cookie cutters: Holiday baking season is in full swing. Here are five classic recipes for your next cookie swap.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from Hershey’s, available at hersheys.com. Makes about 4 dozen.

Ingredients
48 chocolate kisses
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

5 Free Holiday Gift Ideas

The holidays can be expensive, between the gifts, parties and travel expenses. My favorite gifts are those that don’t cost a lot of money, yet are personal and meaningful and maybe even a little playful. So, the ideas below will save money, and they also encourage thoughtful gifting for loved ones. Whether for adults or kids, add a personal twist on an idea or two below and have fun making gifts this year. You can definitely enjoy a Happy Holiday that doesn’t have to demolish your bank account!

1. Coupon Book: There is a reason department stores and food chains use coupons – people like them. By making your own unique coupons, this gift will be a hit for any age. Think of what the recipient would appreciate and design a page for each coupon. Ideas for kids can include a game night, extra book at bedtime, dance party, choosing the dinner menu, making a special food item, or a soccer play date with mom/dad. For the adults on your list – a massage at home, having date night in-house (wine, movie, or game), making a favorite dinner/dessert to share together, coupon for cleaning the house (kids can help). Have fun designing each coupon and keep the coupon list short as you need to hold true to redeeming your coupon book.

2. Picture Frame: Designing a one of a kind picture frame for a memorable photo is a wonderful gift for that someone special on your list. Collect and cut out old photographs or words and photos from magazines.

Annual Crafting Extravaganza Causes Annual Ulcer

It’s the time of year again that my husband Jamie dreads. That time when I become delusional and somehow forget that I cannot do crafts. That I have never been able to do crafts and I never will be able to do crafts.

Every year, the female members of my church gather for Super Saturday (or Fabulous Friday) in an event that can only be described as Martha Stewart on Steroids.

This year, I recruited my creative and craft-loving 9-year-old daughter to assist me which, in incompetent craft terms, means do it for me. For the first time ever, we had a wonderfully bonding experience as we learned how to decorate cupcakes and paint darling decorative blocks for the holiday.

A few years ago, I wasn’t so lucky. The classes included photography, dutch oven, bread making and fondue classes, Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts, 72-hour kits and general miscellaneous sessions perfectly constructed to send me over the edge.

Your 2013 Holiday Movie Preview

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the movie-house …

Well, you get the picture. Starting Wednesday, movie theaters will be stuffed. And with a very few exceptions, turkeys don’t seem to be on the menu. Far from it.

Here are some of the goods film studios — big and indie — are serving up this holiday season.

Black Nativity Writer-director Kasi Lemmons updates Harlem poet Langston Hughes’ 1961 Christmas musical with more than a little help from Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. Jacob Latimore plays manchild Langston Cobbs, sent by his mother to her estranged parents’ home over the holiday. Nov. 27

Philomena Judi Dench enters the Oscar fray with this moving portrait of a birth mother searching for the son taken from her by the nuns in an Irish “convent” in the 1950s. Actor Steve Coogan co-wrote the screenplay based on BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith’s 2009 book. Coogan portrays Sixsmith, who accompanies Philomena on her fraught and remarkable sojourn. Nov. 27

Frozen Hans Christian Anderson’s fable “The Snow Queen” provides the departure point for Disney’s wintry adventure that follows Anna, mountain man Kristof and Sven the reindeer as they track down Anna’s sister, Elsa, who has put the kingdom of Arendelle in a deep freeze. Nov. 27

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Think of this sequel as fan-fiction on the grandest of scales. J.R.R. Tolkien’s modest novel continues to get expanded by director-co-writer Peter Jackson and his loyal cohort. Dec. 13

Saving Mr. Banks Tom Hanks portrays the master of persuasion in this story about Walt Disney’s attempts to convince author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow her beloved book “Mary Poppins” to become a beloved film. Dec. 20
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues By the time Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy makes his way to the big screen in this long-time-coming sequel, he may have worn out his welcome thanks to his incessant hawking for Dodge. But the film’s makers are counting on fans of Burgundy and his cohorts’ brilliant stupidity to make the comedy “kind of a big deal.” Dec. 20The Great Beauty Director Paolo Sorrentino was awarded the

Read more: Holiday movie preview: Serving up hefty movie fare, hold the turkeys – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_24565779/holiday-movie-preview-serving-up-hefty-movie-fare#ixzz2lNXFljZN

A musical holiday card for all Mile High Mamas

To continue our annual tradition we offer again this vlog (video blog).

To: All Mile High Mamas everywhere
From: Three Mile High Mama sisters with very expressive eyebrows
RE: Holiday wishes

Happy and peaceful holiday wishes from me and mine to you and yours.

Mama Drama: Making the Holiday Season Managable for Kids

Dear Mama Drama:

Last year I noticed that my daughter had a really difficult time managing her emotions and behavior during the holidays. She would fall apart at the store, family gatherings, and even at school. She is four this year so I’m hoping things will be better, but am wondering if there is anything I can do to help her handle things more smoothly?

~Hoping for smooth Holidays

(photo credit)

Dear Mama Drama:

The holiday season can be lots of fun with family to see, presents to buy, and events to attend. However, it is important to remember that preschoolers can be overwhelmed by all of the activity resulting in meltdowns, tantrums, and much less fun for all. As the busy season begins remember to:

Keep a regular schedule as much as possible. Waking up, eating, and going to bed consistently can make a huge difference for preschoolers. In addition, let her know ahead of time when the schedule is going to be different.

Create opportunities for down time and/or naps. Preschoolers can have tons of energy, but may not recognize or be able to effectively communicate when they are overstimulated or exhausted. Quiet time and naps help them to settle their nervous systems and recharge to a place where they can manage their emotions and behavior more successfully.

Limit the length of outings or set up an alternative activity for the kids such as a playdate or time with family. Hours at the mall, waiting in long lines, and driving from place to place are recipes for disaster in the world of most preschoolers. If you have to take her with you, have a plan, do it in short bursts, and bring something to keep her entertained while you shop.

Make sure kids get enough sleep. Tired preschoolers are cranky preschoolers. Remember that they need 10-12 hours of sleep every day. When they are short changed on sleep they’ll be short tempered as well.

Keep eating healthy. When you’re busy with lists of cooking, cleaning, and shopping to complete, it is easy to swing through the drive through more often than usual. Find ways to make healthy eating easy such as casseroles, one-pot or crock-pot meals, and easy fixes such as spaghetti or burritos.

Limit sugary treats. Holiday baking can be a fun family tradition, but over indulging in sugary treats can lead to big sugar crashes. Use moderation in what treats and sweets are available and how you balance them with the other foods she is eating.

Keep an eye out for early signs that a meltdown is coming and provide support to prevent it. Does your child get chatty, silly, whiny, agitated, stop listening, etc., when she’s tired? Try to notice the early signs of slight changes in behavior so you can prevent the meltdowns by offering more rest, something to eat, a run in the park, or a quiet place to just be.

Remember that behavior is how kids communicate what they need.  Stay tuned in to her needs and your holidays should be a much smoother ride.

Share your tips for riding the holiday roller coaster?

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! Lisa is also available for private consultations. All emails and identifying information will remain confidential. Read more of Lisa’s parenting perspective at her Laughing Yoga Mama blog.

What do you smell like? Ask your kid.

Tessa, then 9,  had been going through a rough spell. Three days in a row she called from school in tears. The problem? “I just miss you, Mommy!” said amid chokes and fits.

At bedtime one night, I tried to get to the root of the issue. Was someone at school teasing her? Did she not feel well physically? Is she jittery about the end of the school year? Did Mother’s Day trigger some feelings about her birth mother? Nothing had changed in our routine, so why was she suddenly feeling lonely for me?

I did not get an answer.

What she DID say, though, was this: “Mommy, I go into my classroom and it just doesn’t smell like you.”

Tessa has always been very attuned to scent.

I naturally asked, “What do I smell like, Sweetheart?”

And then I feared for the answer. Garlic? Coffee? Stale cheese? Wine? The gym? Methane?

Yikes. Did I really want to know?

Her sleepy voice replied, “Mama, you smell like purple chocolate.”

Which, for a dark chocolate-lover whose screen name is Lavender Luz, is utterly, thoroughly perfect.

Images: Graeme Weatherston / FreeDigitalPhotos.net, It’s a Little Bit Special

(This post originally appeared on Perfect Moment Monday, which is featured weekly on Write Mind Open Heart. New participants are always welcome.)

What would your child(ren) say that you smell like? That is, if you dared ask them.

<p><a href=”http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=330″>Image: Graeme Weatherston / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Mother-in-law: love her or hate her?

Mothers are honored and revered on a hallowed day this month. Mothers-in-law are tossed into the celebrations, too, along with grandmothers, step-mothers, god-mothers, aunts, sisters, and other meaningful female elders.

But leave mothers-in-law unto themselves, and the sentiments would more likely be found in the Rodney Dangerfield section of the Hallmark store. Witness these jokes and their intended butts:

I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbour said ‘Are you going to help?’ I said ‘No, six should be enough.’ — Les Dawson

Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport. — Henny Youngman

My mother-in-law had a pain beneath her left breast. Turned out to be a trick knee. — Phyllis Diller

They say the definition of ambivalence is watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new Cadillac. — David Mamet

Youch.

Just like all mothers are not angelic, not all mothers-in-law are demonic. There’s an entire Facebook page devoted to I Love My Mother-in-Law. Some people create video tributes to their mothers-in-law. There are avatars and t-shirts to proclaim one’s love for one’s mother-in-law.

Or take my mother in law, for instance:

  • Lisa always sends me a Mother’s Day card, acknowledgement for my contribution to her son and her grandchildren, as well as her love for me.
  • When she visits, Lisa turns our house into a self-cleaning home. Voila — messes disappear while I’m bathing a child or weeding a garden.
  • Lisa delights in her grandchildren and gives her son and me Date Nights whenever she visits us or we visit her.
  • Lisa raised her son to be curious, hard-working, witty, compassionate and gentlemanly. She taught my husband good manners and thusly he remembers to put the toilet seat down. Most of the time.
  • Lisa adores her son and I do, too. We share that special bond.

But wait. I’ve been using the wrong verb tense.

Three weeks ago after a year-long battle, lung cancer took my mother-in-law’s life. For the first time since my marriage, I am mother-in-law-less. And this is my first Mother’s Day where I am not looking for a card to send to Lisa.

On this day devoted to mothers, I hope Lisa somehow knows how much she blessed my life.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How have you celebrated Mother’s Day, mother-in-law-wise?

Three part peace

To:  You
From:  Three sisters
RE:  Holiday wishes

Happy and peaceful holiday wishes from me and mine to you and yours.

Tami, Lori, Sheri

Mile High Mamas’ Ultimate Colorado Shopping Guide for the Holidays

The 2010 Ultimate Colorado Shopping Guide

Here’s my roundup of holiday shopping goodies! I scoured the state to find all Colorado-based gifts, perfect for the eco-friendly and green footprint movement we embody. There were so many fantastic choices this year, it was hard to choose only a handful, but I think I brought you the best and most clever gifts I could find. There’s something on this list for every aged child, from newborn to teen to college coed. I didn’t forget mom either—there are quite a few items I found that I didn’t have to share with Hank the Tank this year! Enjoy!

Belle Baby Carriers
Thank Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt for making babies attached to the front of mom and dad hip! However, Colorado has always been ahead of the trend and we even have our own company based out of Boulder that makes unique baby carriers in a variety of appealing patterns. We choose Belle Baby’s Organic Jubilee ($109.95) that comes in black and white. I tore through the package when it arrived and couldn’t wait to get Hank in it. Whoops, it’s for babies 8-30 pounds . . . and the Tank hit 30 pounds at 10 months. I called in the reinforcements, Melissa and her 6-month-old son Gray. She loved it! Melissa was surprised by the ease of adjustment of the straps and the soft material, unlike some carriers. She also liked the head support that comes with each carrier and the ability for it to allow children to face both forward and backward. As she said, “We’re now ready to hit the Zoo lights, Gray will be able see them!” (www.bellebabycarriers.com)

Clementine Art
Hank couldn’t even get his hands on this gift package before I was playing with the goodies. Wow, this stuff is amazing!