Month: January 2011

Holding on to Memories

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Holding on to memories
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

I can’t bring myself to put away the Christmas decorations just yet. It seems as if the holiday season that takes months to plan ends much too quickly. From the church service, to gifts, to an unfortunate kitchen mishap, I have special memories stored. I will savor these even after the last of the Christmas ornaments are stored in the attic.
My first memory is the church service my family attended on Christmas Eve. There was literally “no room at the inn.” This is a good thing unless you arrived five minutes before the service began (At least we were on time). Nonetheless, somehow we scored front row seats in the tiny choir loft, which made it feel like we were sitting among angels.
My teenager wasn’t as overjoyed as I was to sit that close to heaven. After searching for the perfect, new outfit specifically for Christmas Mass, she pouted the entire time. (As a parent, I’ve learned sometimes there’s not much difference between a teenager and a 2-year-old.) Later that night she blurted out, “I’m so mad! I wore the cutest outfit to church and no one even saw it because we sat in the choir loft. I could have worn sweats and it wouldn’t have mattered.” Too bad I didn’t know this before I took her shopping.
On the other hand, my 2-year-old behaved better than she ever has at church. (That was my Christmas present!) She was all dressed up in a dress, tights and black, patent leather shoes. She looked adorable — minus the black eye she was sporting. The night before, she flew head first into her play kitchen. This resulted in an attractive black and blue, swollen eye captured in every Christmas picture. On the upside, she didn’t have to go to the emergency room. (There’s always a silver lining.)
Her angelic behavior only lasted one evening. By Christmas morning she was back to her 2-year-old self. She immediately burst into tears after realizing her older sister got the toy they both asked Santa to bring. (Apparently Santa knew the 5-year-old sister would actually share the toy.) The hysteria ended quickly after she realized there were more gifts. No harm done.
As for the older children, I will rethink a few gifts for next year. Two of my children received rolling desk chairs. Had I known they were going be used for hallway races (flying inches past the top of the staircase), they’d still be at the store. (Note to self — nothing with wheels next year.)
My husband’s Christmas gift will be memorable. It required dozens of wires strung throughout the living room. This resulted in touching up holes in the walls inside and out (20 gallons of paint in the garage except the color we needed, of course). I’m sure he was thrilled I directed his every move meticulously so there wouldn’t be a single wire showing after he was done. Fortunately, he’s grown used to this protocol.
Christmas dinner was memorable as well. After the smoke cleared, everything was fine. Nothing a few open windows (in 11-degree weather) couldn’t fix.
Lastly, I will remember no matter how much I plan, there’s always some last-minute toy that requires six to eight batteries (not included), comes in a million pieces, or needs to be wrapped.
Now I’m just looking forward to next year’s memories and the 364 days in-between to recuperate.

Compliments of the Atchison Globe

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Christmas in Pajamas

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Christmas in pajamas
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

I know of a few families that spend Christmas day in their pajamas. After the busy weeks leading up to Christmas, they spend the day with their immediate family members only and keep things simple, serving soup as the main course. Talk about tempting. I’m thinking of starting this pajama tradition in my family too.
After reviewing what I’ve done up until now to prepare for this holiday, I consider these families my heroes. I’ve calculated that I’ve already baked over 30 dozen cookies, wrapped dozens of gifts, and shipped several packages to out-of-town relatives. I started Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve dashed to grocery stores around town. On top of all this, I’ve hand-addressed and mailed more than 90 Christmas cards. (It may be time to cut back on that list.)
On top of this, my husband thought it would be a great idea to let the kids have their own Christmas party. He caught me in a moment of weakness right after church. Feeling holy and serene, I agreed to this party and will now have hosted 25 additional children the week before Christmas. With five children of my own, what’s 25 more … umm a lot.
In a telephone conversation with my mother recently, upon hearing about this last minute party she asked if I was completely nuts. Without hesitating I simply replied, “Yes.” (As if that was even a question any more.) I also told her, I already advised my husband I would need therapy after the holidays. This was a given he should just plan on.
I brought this up to my husband while I was in the middle of frantically baking eight-dozen cookies for the party. (I may have gotten carried away with the baking aspect.) He was watching the Bears game while I was in the kitchen working away. Knowing my Chicago roots, he dared to root against my team. His choice triggered an outburst from me. I went into a short speech (which may have been peppered with colorful language) about getting absolutely no help with something that was his idea. This attempt at receiving sympathy basically backfired. I received no help from him whatsoever. Needless to say, I have filed this memory in the back of my brain to use in a future argument.
I have a friend who is currently pretty upset with her husband, too. This news instantly cheered me up. After all the work she’s done to prepare for the holiday, she told her husband it must be nice to just show up on Christmas. She also has five kids and is probably crazy, too. (Motherhood is so bonding.)
So if anyone decides to stop by on Christmas Day, they might find me in my pajamas and slippers. My hair may resemble Medusa’s, but I don’t care. I have earned this day of rest and I intend to take it. I will be serving an Italian feast (I’ve never been big on soup) and I intend to drink a little wine. Cheers!

Compliments of The Atchison Globe

My Husband’s Gift

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My husband’s gift – a new me
Lisa Baniewicz
Full House

My husband won’t even recognize the new me. With New Year’s just around the corner, I have set a goal for 2011 that happens to be his Christmas gift, too. The gift (and goal) is to read Dave Ramsey’s book entitled, “The Total Money Makeover.” According to the book’s cover, if “tens of thousands of ordinary people” can follow his advice successfully, who says it can’t reform me? And yet my gift doesn’t stop there. I also vow to listen to his CD series entitled, “Financial Peace.” My big plan is to actually follow his advice, not just let it flow in one ear and out the other. My husband will be so impressed. I can’t wait until he sees the new me!
In the meantime, I plan to spend as much money as I can before 2010 wraps up. Just kidding. In some ways I’ve already started tackling this goal to get in the right frame of mind so it’s not a total shocker to my system. (No one wants to keel over in Walmart.) At my teenage daughter’s urging, I’ve already braved the shops on Black Friday and saved tremendous amounts of money. She eagerly volunteered to babysit and practically pushed me out the door. She did this knowing her 2-year-old sister rises at 5 a.m. Then again, my teen also knows she’ll get more gifts if I hit the big sales. She’s no dummy.
I dragged my husband along for the day just in case someone needed to wait in line while I raced around for the best deals. For someone who doesn’t like to shop, I found myself hurrying my husband along. I had a list and I was sticking to it. No time for browsing. At one point he had to call my cell phone to find out where I was. He was so impressed I was nearly done and already making my way towards the checkout, that he offered to get the car. Perfect! He was getting the hang of this now and his caffeine had finally kicked in.
After tackling four stores with only a few more to go, my husband asked me how much money we spent. Reluctantly I pulled out my bulging wallet with receipts spilling out into my lap. I was secretly willing him to keep his eyes on the road and just drive. I knew I was in trouble when I mumbled under my breath that I needed a calculator. (So much for my perfect day.)
As it turns out, we differed a little on the goal of Black Friday’s deals. (There’s a shocker.) My philosophy was to set a budget for the children, the more I save, the more they get. (Where does he think our teenager learned that?) My husband’s philosophy was to add up the actual price, not the sale price, and that was to be tallied toward our budgeted goal. Well, why would I even bother getting up at 4:30 in the morning for that way of thinking? Anyway, he mentioned it too late. I was nearly done shopping by the time he asked me. So, hah! Take that.
I borrowed the book and CDs from my friend — brilliantly saving money already. And although they might be collecting dust at the moment, at least I know exactly where they are — buried right underneath the Kohl’s ad.

Compliments of The Atchison Globe