Tag Archives: holiday

52 FEATS – NUMBER 50 (Making Friends)

13 Dec

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I’m happy to announce that I did great with last week’s Feat!  Based on a more consistent schedule, Jenna has already improved so much with her reading lessons.  And that definitely makes me feel like I’m doing a better job as a mom!

Last week I was at a restaurant with my family when I happened to strike up conversations with two complete strangers – something very unusual for me!  They were both very nice – one was an older man telling me about his grandkids and his love of Christmas lights, and the other was a young mom asking me questions about local schools.  We talked for at least a couple hours.

Maybe the romance of the season is getting to me, but I think I need to do this more often.  It was a nice thing to do, connecting with complete strangers who turned out to be very friendly.  I actually enjoyed talking to them; surprisingly, it didn’t feel like a chore.  Maybe my little grinchy heart is ready to grow three sizes!

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Merry Thriftmas!

17 Nov

My daughter with autism has 27 teachers, aides, therapists and bus drivers who interact with her on a daily basis. My son has 16 teachers from school, church and various activities. With Christmas around the corner, I’m trying to think of creative ways to stretchy my giving dollars so that everyone feels the appreciation they truly deserve.

Last week, I caught my dad chucking a bunch of old sheet music; his mother was a piano teacher and church organist. I snatched the weighty stack out of the recycle bin.

“What are you going to do with these?” he asked.

“I’ll think of something,” I said with a slight shrug.

Here’s the something thanks to google and the design guru behind the blog “Primp,” I have inspiration! Behold!!

Vintage Sheet Music Wreath Tutorial

I thought a vintage sheet music wreath would be a perfect addition to my evolving piano room. This one turned out similar to my first book page wreath. It was a very fun and addicting project, made with supplies purchased from either the dollar or thrift store. Total cost= $5!

Here’s what you need:

  • foam wreath
  • cream ribbon
  • glue gun
  • vintage sheet music
  • masking tape
  • a small cup

Let’s get started.

You could use any size foam wreath but the only one the dollar store had the day I went was this really wide one, so…

I just cut it right in half with a knife.

If you buy a thick one like me, just save the other half for when you want to make another book page wreath. Trust me you will–they’re addicting.

Wrap the wreath with a wide ribbon, glueing occasionally as you go. Or you could skip this whole step, especially if your wreath is white or cream.

This one was made out of florist foam and flaked every time I touched it so I definitely wanted to wrap it.

Now tear out about 50 pages of vintage sheet music. This is where it gets really fun. Once you get the idea of how to form each sheet into a cone shape it goes really quick.

This is how you do it:
Take a sheet and place your fingers on the two corners on the long side of the paper.

Keep your left hand still and with only your right hand wrap that corner around.

Continue to wrap in a forward motion.

Twist.

Twist.

Twist.

Keep twisting.

Now twist your left and right hands in opposite directions to tighten the cone.

You can twist a lot to make a skinnier cone or twist less and leave the cone opening bigger. Then secure with a small piece of masking tape.  I used a combination of skinny and big ones.

Once you have a big pile of these you are ready to glue.

Put your cup right in the middle.  This will help you get a nice size circle opening in the center.  You can vary the cup size depending on how big or small you want the opening to be.

Go all around the wreath hot gluing a single layer of cones to the wreath form.  Don’t worry if there are spaces or if it doesn’t look perfect, this layer will be covered up.  Continue with a second layer.

Hang using a piece of ribbon or fabric threaded around the back of the wreath form.  Right now my wreath hangs simply from a small nail but I envision it one day hanging in the middle of a shabby door or gate hung just above the piano.

Thanksgiving and Beyond: Easy Entertaining Tips

10 Nov


My mom made it look so easy.

She’d whip up a four-course Thanksgiving dinner with the bird thoroughly cooked and yet not dry, gravy with nary a lump and nothing scorched.

Alas, not so with her only child. I sweat, swear and singe my way through the biggest meal of the year. When it’s over, I want to take a 6-hour nap.

But my mom’s failing health has meant the mantle (or, rather, oven mitt) has been passed. In this terrifying new world, I decide the menu, buy the ingredients and cook like crazy.

I’m getting better, too, if only for having three successful Thanksgiving Meals under my belt. But I’m always looking for shortcuts and quick tips. Check out these…and please say a quick prayer for me the morning of November 24!

Make a plan

Take some time to really plan out the event. How many are coming? What’s on the menu? How should the house look? Make a to-do list and set deadlines. Doing as much as possible in advance will make the day of the party that much easier.

Gather your tools

Once the menu is set, review your tableware, serving dishes and cookware to make sure you have what you need. Borrow or purchase what you’re missing. Among today’s options is a growing array of cookware designed to go seamlessly and beautifully from oven or stovetop to even the most formal table, saving time, money and clean-up.

Make the most of your space

The size of the meal may expand during the holidays, but cooking and serving space doesn’t. A countertop toaster oven or high-wattage double burner can be a lifesaver for expanding oven and stovetop capacity. On the buffet table, tiered servers hold appetizers and desserts vertically, rather than horizontally, saving valuable space and creating an attractive display.

Decorate for the senses

Involve all the senses in your decorating scheme. Enlist a spouse or older child to come up with a holiday music playlist or CD. Be sure to include instrumental pieces to play during dinner so it won’t impede conversation.

Fill the house with holiday scents, such as cinnamon, mulberry or evergreen. Scented candles are an easy and attractive way to provide fragrance and a warm glow to any room, and candlelight makes your guests (and one weary hostess!) look 10 years younger.

Enjoy the results

Don’t be so busy playing hostess that you forget to enjoy yourself. Forget about perfection and keep the focus on what matters – family and friends. You may find yours is the party that people look forward to throughout the year.

My Lesson in Judgment

19 Oct

Something I struggle with consistently is judgment.  I don’t want to be a judgmental person, but it happens.  I have been working consistently, especially in the past two years, to make a personal commitment not to judge people.  Across the board.  For anything.

I had an experience this week that really brought this lesson full circle.  I can laugh about it now, and even in the moment, I did, but was still feeling humiliated.

My mom called me this week, as my oldest daughter was out of school on break.  My mom’s co-worker has this dummy mummy that they dress up from time to time.  My oldest daughter “follows” the dummy mummy (his name is Renfro) and she sends my daughter pictures for every holiday theme for which Renfro is appropriately dressed.

My mom called and asked if I would like to take my kids to the Dollar Store so they could pick out some Halloween decorations, come to her office, and dress Renfro up.  Sure, it was a homeschool day for my younger daughter, but we had already been to the library and completed most of our work for the day.  It would be fun!

So, I go into the Dollar Store (completely unprepared: we’d had a make up gymnastics class that morning, then went straight to the store, so I hadn’t packed snacks or anything, because I was not expecting to be gone for that long).  The kids are whining about being hungry, so I let them pick out snacks in addition to all of their paraphernalia to make Renfro look more appropriate for Halloween.

Side note: I don’t usually allow my kids to eat a lot of junk food.  In fact, we don’t even keep most junk foods in the house.  My husband gets migraines from MSG, so we never eat things like Cheetos, Doritos, etc.  So, that’s what my kids want.  That morning, I was feeling especially giving and high on life, so I say, “Sure, get whatever you want!”

They load up.  We get to the register to check out.  Our total: $7 and some change.  My kids are hovering around the register grabbing for the snacks and the checkout lady asks if she can give the snacks to the kids.  I respond, “Sure!”  “Will you open this, mommy?” they ask.  “Of course!”  So I open both bags of chips and the kids go to eating them like they haven’t eaten in days.  It was ridiculous.

That wasn’t the only thing that was ridiculous that day.  My credit card gets declined.  “What? That’s impossible!” I say.  The checkout lady asks me if it’s a debit card.  I say no.  She says, “We only take debit cards or cash.”  Well, I don’t have any cash.  I recently swapped my huge wallet I kept leaving places for a smaller one that only holds what I need, a credit card, id, and library card.  I don’t have my debit card.

I’m starting to turn three shades of red and am completely mortified.  I start apologizing profusely and tell the kids, we’ll have to go home and get a snack; we have to give these ones back, because I didn’t bring the right money.

My oldest daughter starts wailing.  She is crying actual tears, saying loudly, “But, I’m starving!”  I’m completely dumbfounded.  The woman in line behind me is staring.  The checkout woman doesn’t say a word.  She doesn’t know what to say.  I know both women are making judgments about me.  “How could she not know she needed cash or a debit card?”  “I can’t believe she just let her kids eat the snacks in the store!”  “Her kids are starving and she buys them Cheetos and Doritos?”  “Nice parenting!”  I started to laugh a little as I wrestle the chips from the oldest daughter and the lady behind me, after what seems like an eternity, says, “I’ll buy their snacks!”

She was an angel that morning, and I truly appreciated the generous offering of a dollar so that my children could have their junky snacks, but the looks on her face as well as the checkout lady had already registered.  I just wanted to scream, “I’m not a bad parent!  I do have money to feed my kids!  They almost never eat junk food!”

I got to thinking about it later and I realized that the shoe is on the other foot.  So many times, I’ve sat back and judged others because of actions I saw in the moment, but never considered what might really be going on.  The truth is that’s the point.  It does not even matter what’s going on.  Judgment is wrong.  It makes people feel bad and is a product of fear, and not love.  I strive to lead my life focused on love, not fear, and as a result, need not judge.  I’m so grateful for opportunities like this that I can learn from, even when they feel humiliating at the time.  I’m grateful for the awareness to see things as they really are.  The life lessons are everywhere!  Are you taking the time to discover them and make change where change is needed?

Mothers Helping Mothers – UPDATE!

10 May

Despite the fact that I was so late in organizing this project, I’m pleased to say that we ended up with a great haul for SaveHaven!  My kids and I delivered the donations on Friday.  We filled up two huge carts with clothes, toiletries, candy, toys, books, and more!  My kids also picked out some special Mother’s Day balloons for the ladies there.

My deepest thanks go out to everyone who contributed.  We’ll definitely be doing this again next year – even bigger and better!

ORIGINAL BLOG:

Calling all Moms!!

This Mother’s Day, I want to rally all you ladies to help me with a special project.  I’m going to collect donations for SafeHaven of Tarrant County, the women’s shelter.

I’ll spare you the long version of why I want to do this – in a nutshell, I feel lucky with the life I have and I want to help other moms.  The thought of being in a shelter with my kids is devastating, and being stuck there on Mother’s Day would most likely rule out any chance for celebration.  But with the help of donations (from caring people like us!), the shelter can give some small, special treats to the moms who are staying there.

Items on their Mother’s Day wish list include flip-flops, colorful socks, chapstick or lip balm, makeup, nail files, gum or candy, and body wash or lotion.

Their immediate needs also include women’s clothes and pajamas (can be used), kids’ toys (can be used), baby bottles, sippy cups, formula, and diapers.

I’ll deliver the items to the shelter next Friday, May 6.  Please contact me at jen@morethanmothers.com and I’ll be happy to pick up any items you’d like to donate.

Thank you to everyone who can help me with this!  Together, we can spread our good fortune and brighten the Mother’s Day of other moms who are facing a personal crisis.

Arlington’s MLK Celebration

10 Jan

The city of Arlington celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a big way.  This year, 4 days of events commemorate this national holiday and honor Dr. King.

Friday, January 14: “Sharing the Dream” Awards Banquet and Kick-Off Celebration

Saturday, January 15: MLK Step Competition, “Sharing the Dream” Multicultural Festival, and an Evening of Spoken Word Slam Poetry

Sunday, January 16: Hubert Moss Memorial Ecumenical Service

Monday, January 17: MLK Day of Service, “Sharing the Dream” Youth Musical Extravaganza

For more details and ticket information, click here.

Slow Down the Season…Please!

20 Dec

I’m having a near-panic attack this holiday season.  Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with shopping for the perfect gift.  (I’ve finished my shopping AND wrapping already, which is definitely a new record for me.  And it was no small feat – I have a LOT of people to buy for.)

My panic attack has to do with the fact that it feels like the season is slipping away too quickly, and I’m afraid I’m forgetting something.  I keep feeling like there’s more I should be feeling, more I should be squeezing out of this month.

Christmas is only days away, which has me worrying – what holiday-themed celebration have we missed?  What movies did we forget to watch?  What crafts did we neglect to do?  It’s almost too late!

Perhaps this is more of a general feeling I have about my life right now.  My kids, now 3 and 5, seem to be growing so fast I can’t hang onto anything.  Even my memories are hard to hang onto.  And today, my son is sporting his first loose tooth.  How did all of this happen before my very eyes?

Since my shopping obligations are complete, I plan to spend the rest of this week reveling in as much family time as I can get.  Let the housework go undone; let the laundry pile up.  I’m going to watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate, and lay by the fire with my kids and husband.

And maybe by New Year’s we’ll have our first visit from the Tooth Fairy!

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