Bad Cats and Christmas Trees

I didn't expect the Christmas trees to be perfect this year. I know better. 4 kids, 2 cats and a rambunctious dog can do serious harm to a Christmas tree.

I must admit, I didn't expect it to be this bad.

The tree in the girls room is always missing it's ornaments. The girls take them off and do something with them - what that is, I don't know.

The tree in the family room is missing most of the bottom ornaments. The cats run around and chase each other under the tree. They knock the ornaments off, and then bat them around the basement. I've even caught Beano tossing glass ornaments in the air.

BUT - the worst is the pink tree in the living room. I have come home to find it laying on it's side more times than I care to admit. Half of the branches have come out and are scattered about the room. I have no idea where most of the ornaments are (they are certainly not on the tree). AND, that bad Beano has managed to tangle the lights in such a way that we may never get them untangled.

The joys of having a large family and a crazy household.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I Heart Faces

I thought I'd enter this picture into the I Heart Faces weekly photography challenge. Ambercita just loves having her picture taken!!! And I just love this picture!

Random Pictures

Nothing exciting to report today. I just finally caught a half-way decent shot of Owen, and thought I should post it (because people were starting to wonder if he had run away or something). Anyway, here it is.

And, I'm posting this picture of Ginger for no good reason at all, other than that I like it.

Cutting Down the Christmas Tree

I reluctantly agreed to try something new this year. Rather than purchasing our tree at a shop on the side of the road, I agreed to go to a "cut your own" tree farm. Since North Carolina is one of the top producers of Christmas trees in the country, and since Maddie is studying our beautiful State in school this year, I thought it might be a learning experience for all of us.

One thing that I learned very quickly is that there are no Christmas tree farms in Raleigh. You actually have to drive FAR to get one.

I also learned, unfortunately, that they don't grow Christmas trees at the beach. (Okay, maybe I already knew that part. I'm just dreaming of the beach this week).

In any case, the drive was about 3 1/2 hours. Maddie is practically an encyclopedia of facts about North Carolina (and a number of other things), so that helped pass some of the time. The kids really enjoy singing Christmas carols, and that helped pass some more time. But, toward the end of the drive to the farm, I got desperate. I made up a game where the kids could count the number of cars with trees on the top that we passed along the way.

Maddie immediately said (in her perfect dead-pan voice) "Why don't we count the number of tree stores that we passed on our way here."

That child cracks me up. It may not be so funny when she is a teen, but I am really getting a kick out of it now.


We finally got to the farm, and it was exactly as I imagined (sort of). Once again, I find myself on an excursion to someone else's back yard (remember the Gourd Farm??). It's bizarre. Just turn into someone's driveway and find an entire tourist attraction.

The kids were very excited to get out of the car and run around.

CoCo got bored pretty fast.

Maddie was the official "measure-er." She refused to settle for a short tree!

After much debate, we picked the perfect tree.

It ended up being a LONG day, but I think everyone had fun.

But, next year, I'm going to the place across the street with the 25 foot tall inflatable Santa.


This was the first Thanksgiving we've been at home in a long time. Most years, we head to the mountains for a week or so looking for snow. But, this year, with Mom starting a new job, there was no way that we could get away for that long.

So, we stayed home. And, it was just us. It was wonderful to cook dinner in my own kitchen and wear my baggy pants and t-shirt to dinner.

The children, however, decided to dress for the occassion.

CoCo and Ginger found their Easter Dresses for next year, and decided to wear them. (I bought them on clearance last year). Ginger looks like she's been invited to the royal table.

And, Owen is ready for the revival of Miami Vice.

It was a very nice, very relaxing day.

I cooked for 6 hours, and it took the kids 3 minutes to eat.

I wonder what I was thinking when I bought a 17 pound turkey when only 2 of us eat meat.

CoCo is a confirmed carnivore.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

The 5 Year Old Vitamin Junkie

I think I've created a monster.

Once again, my best intentions have gone awry.

If I could think of another cliche', I'd write it here.

One day, I noticed that sweet little Ginger wasn't drinking milk anymore. Just water. That made me think. Does this child get enough calcium??

We parents worry about a lot of things. Whether these things are valid or not, we may never know. But, one thing that I do worry about is my girls getting enough calcium. I'm not so much worried about Maddie or CoCo - they drink milk constantly, eat yogurt like it's ice cream, and never turn down a piece of cheese. Plus, they are sturdy. You can tell by looking at them and hugging them that their bones are big and strong. And, osteoporosis does not seem to run in our family.

But, sweet little Ginger is like a tiny hummingbird. You feel like you could break bones if you hug her too hard. I know nothing about her medical history, and didn't I read somewhere that people of Asian descent are more likely to develop osteoporosis? Hmmm.

Anyway - back to the problem.

Ginger stopped drinking milk. She says she doesn't like it. She doesn't eat yogurt anymore. She may eat cheese, but only if it is safely melted in a quarter of a grilled cheese sandwich (and even then, it's doubtful that she'll take more than 3 bites).

I decided that this is a problem. Since I do not like forcing my children to eat things that they don't like, I only had one option left to me -- vitamins.

Finding vitamins with added calcium for children is HARD. For adults? No problem. I think I stood in Walmart for 20 minutes, carefully reading each label on every children's vitamin available. You can get children's vitamins with every other vitamin and mineral imaginable. Probiotics, ginger root, even gingko biloba are easy to find in a children's vitamin. But not calcium.

Finally, I found something (of the Flint-stone variety) that had a tiny bit of calcium in it. It supplies about 10% of a child's daily calcium needs. Ugh. But, that's 10% more than what we started with.

So, I brought the vitamins home and sat down to have a talk with Ginger. I told her that I was worried that she didn't drink enough milk. That I wanted to make sure that she stays healthy her whole life, and that choices we make now will impact her health as an adult. She looked at me with absolutely no interest in her eyes. I handed her a vitamin and told her that she would need to take these every day.

It seemed innocent enough.

About an hour later, Ginger asked for another vitamin. I explained to her that she could only have one each day. That while vitamins are good, too much of a good thing can be very bad.

The next morning, the sun was barely out. I was laying in bed, not even thinking about the day ahead, when I could feel someone breathing on my face. I pried open one eye to see Ginger hovering over me. She said "Mom? Can I have my vitamin?" I think I mumbled something like "Breakfast, hour, later, sleep."

Hours later, when it was time to face the day, Ginger bounded into the kitchen saying "You forgot my vitamin, mom! Can you get me a vitamin???" At this point, I'm thinking that I'm glad she remembers. I'm not so good at remembering things anymore.

The next day, as I am trying to finish up some work at the computer, Ginger comes to me and says "Mom!!!! I need that vitamin!!!" I explained to her that I would get it in a minute. One minute later, Ginger came back yelling "Mom!!! You said my future depends on this!!!" Ugh. Indeed, I did. I turned to Ginger and explained that it didn't really matter when she got the vitamin - just that she gets it some time. And, I told her that I would never be able to stop anything that I'm doing to get it for her. We discussed the topic at length, and came up with the solution that she should only ask for the vitamin when I am in the kitchen.

Now? The child seems to have wired some sort of alarm-device that rings in her head the very moment I step foot into the kitchen. Seriously. If I try to sneak in a few seconds of quiet time in the morning before anyone gets up, she is there before I can rub the sleep out of my eyes asking for a vitamin. If things are too busy in the morning, and she somehow manages to forget - she will be right there asking for her vitamin the very second I set my keys down on the kitchen counter.

I guess there are worse things that she could be addicted to. But, I'm starting to rethink my philosophy of not forcing the children to eat or drink something that they don't want to.

Halloween at the Radersl

I have to admit that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love everything creepy and spooky. I love decorating and pumpkins and hayrides and costumes. And, I'm happy to say that I've passed much of that joy on to my kids.

This year was a little rough. Going back to work full-time has thrown me for a little bit of a loop, and I didn't get to decorate as much as I would have wanted. We did manage to get a few decorations in.

Also, I completely skipped carving pumpkins this year. Instead, I found Mr. Potato Head kits for pumpkins on clearance at Rose's. (LOVE Roses!!). It made everything so much easier.

But, I am always a glutton for punishment. I can't help it. Each year, I tell those children of mine that they can be anything they want to be for Halloween. ANYTHING. Big mistake.

I was smart with Ginger. I found her costume last year on clearance at Walmart for $4.00. She has been thinking about it all year, and was pleased as punch to wear her pink unicorn-pegasus-horse costume for Halloween. As long as she gets to wear makeup and jewelry, and have her hair fixed, she is happy.

The other kids got their usual mid summer warning -- Everyone MUST pick his or her costume by August 1 so that mom has time to get it finished before Halloween.

Once again, Mom waited until a few days before Halloween to even get started. Crazy.

I am happy to have creative kids. Really, I am. But, what happened to the good old days when kids were witches and ghosts? A princess or spiderman?

I guess those days are gone.

Miss CoCo decided that she wanted to be a pink poodle. She was a very cute pink poodle, but I was still working on that costume as she was putting it on.

The pink poodle was actually quite easy compared to Owen's Alien Abduction. Goodness! What was I thinking with that thing?

I did learn that papier mache' takes a LONG time to dry and really should only be considered as an outdoor activity.

Maddie, the wonder child, decided to be an I-pod. Fortunately, she worked on this costume almost completely by herself.

They turned out very cute. Unfortunately, the costumes never last very long. Maddie ripped out her 'screen' after about 5 minutes, Owen lost his alien after 10 and CoCo's ears didn't even make it out of the driveway.

It was a fun and exhausting weekend.

BTW - today, I went out and bought 4 costumes at Target on clearance. No one gets to pick anything next year, and I won't have to make a single thing!!!

Halloween at the Gourd Farm

This year, I wanted to do something different. It seems as though there are only two options in the Triangle - go to a pumpkin patch that has pumpkins only (NOTHING else) or go to a pumpkin patch that has MANY other things to do (but charges an arm and a leg).

If found a link to a gourd farm in Apex - the Green Level Gourd Farm. It sounded like a good alternative - small pumpkins and other low key, low cost activities. I have to say, this is the best pumpkin patch experience I've had in my LIFE.

It's a little hard to find, and it looks like you are pulling into someone's driveway. Which you are. But, they have lots of parking in a field behind the house.

The first thing that you encounter is a small corn maze. It is the perfect size for the kids to find their way, and easy for mom to see everyone at the same time.

The girls enjoyed that for just a few minutes before they were racing off to the next activity.

The girls took some time to look at the animals. Both Ginger and CoCo opted out of the donkey rides (which were only $2 a piece - not a bad price, if you ask me). They liked watching the pigs and goats and chickens. We even saw a bunny that was as big as CoCo!!! No kidding!! I couldn't get a picture because my camera focused on the cage (rather than the bunny).

Our next order of business was the Haunted Hay Ride. WOOOOOO!!!!!!! So much fun!! The hay was exactly like Ginger likes it - covered in plastic!! :) The ride was haunted just enough to be funny, but not enough to scare even the most easily spooked.

Ginger's favorite part was the ghoulish wedding (Ginger is ALL about weddings!!).

CoCo tried to look scared, but she was having too much fun.

After the hay ride, we played for a while in the large, farm-themed play area. There were so many fun things to do.

Maddie "roped a steer."

They all rode horses.

How does Ginger do that with her legs.

They crawled in and out of spiders and black cats.

Finally, it was time to choose our pumpkins. They were small pumpkins. Gourds, I guess. But, they only cost a few dollars AND you could decorate them right there. That was one of the best parts!!! No messy carving! Nothing for mom to clean up!!! Loved it!!

Happy Fall!!!!