Archive for December, 2009

Christmas is Here!

YIN:

Christmas is only a few days away and I’m still not quite ready. Would I ever be? Probably not. I work really well under pressure. But I do wish I still had a few more weeks. Not so I could shop some more but so I could hear more Christmas songs, eat more cookies and still have anticipation for the big day.

But alas the day must come and here it is. I plan on trying to enjoy the day and relax. There will be some stress (I still haven’t finalized my dinner menu – thank goodness my mother-in-law offered to bring the ham) but I’m praying I don’t let it get to me. At the end of the night I’ll read my daughter the Christmas story and hope that both our bellys and hearts are full.

Here’s to everyone having a wonderful Christmas. If you are of another faith may you have a nice quiet day to reflect on your own beliefs with your family. Now bring on 2010 and my high school 20th reunion!

YANG:

I can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s nearly here…WOW!  Where has the time gone?!?  But guess what–rather than stressing out over these final days, I’m going to just kick back and in the words of the Beatles, just “let it be.” 

No worries if that  last batch of cookies got burnt or if I mistakenly bought the wrong size of clothing for someone. So what if my tot keeps hiding tree ornaments in the couch or if I have a steadily growing pine needle mountain on the floor. And I’ve come to accept that I just can’t get out all the Christmas cards I had planned on mailing prior to the 24th; receiving them before 2010 is still an esteemable goal.  Nope, I’m not going to fret; I’m just going to let it be.

Besides, for my family, this Christmas season has already been more poignant than others.  It’s the first without my mom who passed away in January (RIP), and the last family Christmas for my SIL for some time, who travels off to a new job across the world in the coming summer. I can’t stress about the little things when nostalgia is overflowing our stockings and the need to make fun memories for everyone ranks high on all our wish lists. 

No, I’m letting it all be. I know that memories of  my mom will come whether beckoned or not,  and that I just have to ride the wave when certain ones threaten to tear me open. I also know that memories for the future are inescapabably made, whether they’ll be fond ones or not. And I’m sure there will be some tears of joy and of sorrow, just as I’m certain there will be enough raucous laughter to haunt the halls when all the holiday merriment has ended. 

“Let it be” is my mantra now. I’ve done all that I could to make this a special Christmas for my family and friends. Now I’m going to focus on the love I have for each and every one of them. After all, when we get right down to it, the holiday season for all faiths and walks of life centers around Love. Not cookies, not presents or glossy cards. Just love, in all its glorious facets.

So may your holidays be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness. Merry Christmas all and Happy Holidays!

Advertisements

Dear Mall Kiosk Workers…

Dear Mall Kiosk Workers,

This is not meant as a complaint letter. No, it’s more of a plea for understanding; for compassion, upon us mom mall shoppers, esp with tots in tow, and  more so that it is the holiday season.

Now, I know your job is not the most stellar of occupations. I understand that you need to get people to come over to your kiosk and hopefully, buy your product. As someone who has worked in marketing for over 15 years, I really do “get” what you have to do.

But PLEASE, don’t ask me “a quick question” when you see me trying to wrangle my tot away from the up escalator. Or see me pushing the stroller that’s piled high with teetering bags and a crying babe. Or notice that I’m trying my best not to notice you because I’ve already scouted out your wares several yards ahead and I’m doing my best to create a route of “friendly avoidance” but you’re obviously not taking my hint.

And for goodness sake (more so your sake than mine, actually), DO NOT EVER, EVER step in front of me and said tot /stroller /armload of bags and ask me your “quick question.” DO NOT BLOCK my exit route from your stall. If I wanted your products in the first place, I’d make a beeline towards you (that does not include when chasing tots who have run to your stuffed animal display).

Thank you for your understanding.

Yang Mommy

PS I also know the days I look harried because I tend to wear a cute hat, so DO NOT say in a loud voice (to be heard over the cacophony of the mall music), “Ma’m, how do you style your hair?” DUH–if I had the time to style it do you really think I’d have slapped on this hat?!

Countdown to Christmas–Week 2

YANG

I’m procrastinating, don’t you know.  I should be doing one of a zillion things that have to get done this week, yet here I am, blogging instead of doing. Well, making a list helps me and I love crossing things off too–such a sense of accomplishment to do that!

Amazingly, I crossed off everything on my holiday to-do list last week (and not because I was fed up but because I actually did them!). The fact that we had our first snow of the season certainly helped put us all in the holiday spirit. This week I thought I could take it a bit easy and frolic in the snow some more until my DH informed me that there are 2 weeks left until the Big Day. Um, I was counting on a few extra days! Alas, although this week is nearly passed, I still am contending with the:

  1. Obligatory Christmas Cards: The mere thought of what lies ahead re cards has already exhausted me. At times like this, I wonder if we really need to go through the annual work and expense of sending out Christmas cards. Sure, it’s nice to catch up with  ol’ friends and regail them with all the fun things we’ve done all year, but who wants a form letter  and who has the time to craft one!  And no, I don’t like holiday e-cards for a variety of reasons. So we’ll do the cards but don’t be surprised if it arrives after the Big Day (but definitely before year’s end!).
  2. Wrap Gifts: My hiding spot is literally bursting with presents spilling out–either I’ve too many gifts or too small a hiding spot! I really enjoy wrapping gifts but I’m not the type of person to be able to wrap more than say, 5 in a row without going a bit batty. Maybe if I had my own gift wrapping room (and all that luxurious space to spread out the paper, ribbons and bows!) as they did in the olden times, it would be a different story.
  3. Find Time to Read a Holiday Story: Yessirree, I’m a sucker for a good historical romance that takes place during Christmas. Can’t help myself! All I need is a good story, a cozy corner and an hour to delve in. Finding that hour will be the tough thing.
  4. Prepping for The Next Round of Parties: This past weekend’s parties were kid-free, but the parties this weekend are not. Actually, one social is kid-oriented and another we have no choice but to bring the munchkin. And all parents out there understand the added work that entails! Oh, and I need some hostess gifts …
  5. More Duties and Tasks As Assigned: Need I say more? Work deadlines, household stuff, you name it!

So as I approach all that has to be done this week, I will do so with this in  mind–as if I’m eating an elephant which is one bite at a time. And a little rock music in the background too to get my groove going!

Holiday Gift Ideas (& Wrapping Tips) for the Women in Your Life

YIN

Tis the season for giving. And giving. And giving. Doesn’t it seem like you always need an extra gift for someone who shows up with a family member or for a hostess gift when you attend a party? My grandmother used to keep extra pairs of men’s socks on hand just in case one of my great uncles brought over a male friend for Christmas dinner. While you probably won’t want to keep socks on hand (that was in the 40’s and 50’s), it is a good idea to keep some soaps or treats on hand and wrapped because you never know who will pop in.

I like to give things that people will use and enjoy and not give them something just because I found it on sale. And now that I’m a mom I enjoy getting gifts that aren’t child oriented (picture frames and such) because I already have those things and sometimes Mommy wants something just for her. Here are my picks of inexpensive items that aren’t cheap, are great for women (and aren’t child related) and will make the receiver very thankful (Full Disclosure – I work for one of the companies listed below, but I would have listed their item anyway because I really do like it):

Origins Peace of Mind: Stressed out? A few dabs of Peace of Mind will help you relax and get into a peaceful zone. Great for your desk or in a diaper bag. And it’s only $10.

Whole Foods Market: Whole Foods has great gifts for under $10. Two of my favorites are a FEED 100 bag, where the money helps to feed hungry children in Rwanda, and their chocolate truffles.

Red Envelope: They carry a faux leather wristlet for $24.95. Perfect for the sister or friend who doesn’t like to carry a large handbag.

Pier 1: Pier 1 has some great stone bracelets that work for women with a style all their own. They come in different colors and are $12 or $15 each.

Gift Card: I know that some say gift cards are impersonal but I’d rather get a gift card and pick out what I want or need than receive something that I can’t use. Pick one to her favorite store or if you’re keeping presents around “just in case” a gift card to Starbucks, Target or Barnes & Noble come in handy and fit almost all personalities.

Yankee Candle Company: Candles from this company can be a little higher priced than other places, but they smell wonderful lit or unlit and their jars don’t overheat so you don’t have to worry about them scorching your table or breaking from the heat. And right now they’re having a buy one candle at full price, get the second one at 50% off sale. Perfect for two of your friends.

Philosophy Skin Care: Philosophy has a mini holiday lip shine set for $15. With all the kisses that happen over the holidays, we always need to touch up our lipstick!

YANG

Aw, how very thoughtful of Yin’s Grandma! Although I admit I laughed about handing out socks, I commend her for actually having on hand some extra gifts for those drop-ins during the holidays (and since men hardly buy their own socks, socks are good for them!). Yin Mama has a terrific assortment of hostess gifts, so rather than add to that, I thought I touch on the other half of gift-giving–the presentation. After all, presentation is half the battle, they say! (Side note: My father is the master of gift presentation–for instance, he built an actual fruit tree, complete with real fruit and little tree frogs, to wrap his granddaughter’s stuffed blue bird!)

Here are some fun ideas that can touch up little gifts, bring some humor to it all, or just make it a novel presentation.

Wine: Wine given in a wine bag or sock is very pretty, but why not add a laugh to it (if you know the hostess well enough, of course) and wrap the wine in a funky dish washing glove! A busy hostess will need both after throwing a major party.  

CDs & Books: Both of these are pretty hard to conceal; I mean, you know you’re getting a CD or a book right away, you just don’t know what kind. To make the presentation more interesting, wrap the items in paper, but tie up with new ear buds or tape an assortment of bookmarks to the book package.

Plants & Flowers: First, let me just say that while flowers are a wonderful gift, if they’re not already in a vase, they become a pain in the neck, esp if a party is at hand. So please, have flowers already in a vase or plants already in a pot! To jazz them up, why not tie a lovely spring scarf around the base of a potted plant or wind around the vase.

Hand Lotions & Gels: Pretty smelling lotions and hand-sanitizing gels are a must and you can never have enough. Plus, travel-sized items  are the perfect fit to toss into a purse.  So why not toss some into a new purse for your hostess!

Homemade Baked Goods: Depending on what type of treats you bring, there are hundreds of ways to wrap them. Wrap foodie items with a pretty new dishtowel. Perhaps the dishtowel even has a motif that corresponds to the treats you’re bringing, like ginger bread cookies or cupcakes. Alternatively, put treats inside a cute lunchbox!

Candles: Like CDs and books, candles are hard to wrap and usually end up in gift bags. To jazz it up a little, why not use an inexpensive wicker basket and place several candles of different scents and sizes inside, using pine cones and branches as a decorative base.

Gift Cards: Instead of slipping the gift card inside an envelope, why not put it into a small stocking, or taping it to the bottom of a box of chocolates (Godiva!) Just make sure you tell your hostess to look underneath! Another idea is to tape various hard candies (still in their wrapping) to the card, such as mints and lollipops.

One last idea–we use a lot of bows and ribbons to tie off our gifts. But ot make them more personal, I add inexpensive tree ornaments that correspond to the gift itself, or just look good against the background of the wrapping paper.

Just remember, when all is said and done, “it’s not the gift that matters, but the thought that counts.” And if it’s not enjoyable to do, don’t!

Counting Down to Christmas–Week 1

Yang Mommy

Thanksgiving is over and I’m now 10 lbs heavier. Well not really, but that’s what I felt like after pushing myself away from the table on Thursday! Then there was Black Friday and the frivolous yet maddening trip to the shops, wherein I worked off those extra pounds going up and down the aisles. This weekend we also celebrated my daughter’s 2nd birthday and had a great party with family and friends. Which leads me to today…

It’s the morning of Dec 1st and I’m staring at a plethora of wrapping paper that has to be recycled. Out of the corner of my eye I see several mini pumpkins that are past their prime (no implosions yet!). They too will be recycled– into the woods. There is even a squirrel on my deck  hoarding away unwanted carrots sticks and forgotten cookies from the party. 

Sigh. It’s time to get ready for Christmas, isn’t it?

This week’s Premier to-do list includes (but is not limited to):

  1. Major cleaning up after party, inside and out (TG for Scooba and leaf blowers!)
  2. Removing all vestiges of Fall (ie scurrying around the house to make sure I pack up all the autumn decorations and that said 2 yr old hasn’t hidden any in her toy box.)
  3. Getting a tree  (any tips for corralling a tot so she doesn’t climb the tree nor crawl under it whilst putting it up would be appreciated!)
  4. Christmas Party #1 to attend (which creates its own sub-list of to-dos, including arranging babysitter, etc)
  5. Decorate the house for Christmas (low on the list because as of today, I can’t even contemplate that endeavour!)
  6. All other jobs/duties/tasks as assigned (can’t get away from that one.)

So it’s time to get going and get on with things. Yet, it’s so sunny outside and it’s our one dry day of the week, so the weatherman says. Hmmm….maybe a morning walk and trip to the playground is in order instead. The cleaning and decorating can surely wait one more day, and to the squirrel I say “eat and be merry!” 🙂

Yin

Christmas again. Already! It seems like Christmas was only few months or so ago. I don’t know where 2009 has gone. I just know that it’s gone. But I have accomplished a lot already for Christmas. Here’s my “pat on the back to myself list”:

  • For the first time ever I got my advent calendar up before December 1st. Woo-hoo! Now if I could just remember to put an ornament up each day I’ll be doing great.
  • I’ve started my Christmas shopping and even bought toys for the two boys that we selected from the group our church is supporting. I just have to wrap them.
  • We got the Christmas tree up. Our goal is not have the cat or the child knock it over before the 25th.
  • I’ve had egg nog and Danish cookies already. Yea!!
  • We took our daughter to see Santa Claus. My mom would never take us so I always wanted my child to have at least one picture with the jolly old elf. The picture was pretty bad. She was petrified. I guess the shot will be funny when she’s older.
  • I figured out (what I think is) a good gift for my in-laws this year. They are very hard to shop for and my husband is no help in figuring out a present for them. So, since they love their computer and love taking pictures of their only grandchild, we got them a CD organizer that you can file by number and then press a button and it pulls the CD out. I just hope they think it’s a good gift and they use it.
  • I’ve decided to take a 3 day weekend the week of Christmas and the week of New Years. I’ve earned it.
  • I purchased a great CD of a local church playing Christmas music on the steel drums. It’s actually a present for my parents but I’m enjoying it before I send it on it’s way.
  • So my Christmas season has started off pretty well, if I do say so myself. Hopefully your holiday season will be an inexpensive, fun, family filled, stress free occasion. Okay, stop laughing.