PDX Kids

PDX Kids
Online resource for fun activities, free ideas, and business resources for families in Portland and beyond

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree Hunting

When I was a kids we grew up in California.  There aren't as many Christmas tree farms in California as there are in Oregon.  In California you would drive up to the Kmart parking lot, wander around and pick out a tree.  If my parents had their way the tree was probably still wrapped up and we would just pick one where the base looked straight and it was a good height.

Now that I'm older I want to have the experience (for myself and my kids) of picking out a tree and chopping it down.  What this means for my family is that we dredge ourselves out through a muddy (and once snowy) field to find a good Christmas tree.  Once we find a good one we promise ourselves we will remember where it is but keep looking to see if we can find a better one.  We almost never do so we go back to where we thought we found the first tree we liked only to find that it seems to have been moved.  After we finally settle on a tree for sure then my husband has to kneel down in the mud underneath the tree with a borrowed hand saw thingy and try to chop down the tree while holding onto it so it doesn't land on his back.  By this time the kids are cold and miserable so I have to hold all three of them to keep them happy.  Yes, this version is slightly exaggerated but it's still quite comical.

Finding and cutting down your own Christmas tree can really be a lot of fun but there are a few things that we have learned over the years that could have really helped out along the way.  I will share those with you here:

1. Remember it does actually get dark at 5pm now.  If you show up at the Christmas tree lot at 4:30 pm, you are going to get stuck using your headlights to try and find a tree.

2. Bring some extra clothes, hats, gloves, and blankets to bundle the kids up;

3. Garbage bags are extremely helpful to put all of the muddy stuff in afterwards.

4.  Bring twine or something you can tie down the tree with.  Most places have it available but just in case it's much better than having to cut your tree and leave it there while you drive to Home Depot.

5. Having your own saw is also a good idea.  Again, this is something most Christmas tree lots have on hand but it's better to be prepared.

6.  Use something to mark your tree if you find one you are considering.  Many places will have something like this or you can use a piece of twine but this will prevent you from having to find the perfect Christmas tree twice.  Also, you should remove the twine from a tree if you decide it's not the right one so that someone else doesn't think it's still taken.

7.  Bring cash because sometimes all the tree lots have are a cash box and you can make change but they do not accept cards.

8.  Know where the closest coffee shop is so you can grab hot chocolate for everyone who is cold and cranky at the end of your Christmas tree adventure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Book Day

Yes, I already said it...Christmas.  I was sitting at Starbucks tonight working on my school work and the employees had a mini party while setting out their Christmas stuff.  When I got home I had a very exciting package in the mail because the Christmas books for my kids had arrived.

When I was growing up, Christmas book day was something we all looked forward to.  On December 1st we would all sit on the couch with my mom and my dad and they had a book that my mom had picked out for each one of us.  Mostly they were Christmas books but as we got older they were sometimes not.  We would read each persons book and the inscription on the front cover that was in my mom's trademark handwriting.  It was such a fun time because it almost felt like time had frozen while we read.  We took turns sitting in my moms lap as it was our turn to have our book read.  Me and my two brothers and my sister all loved kicking off the holiday season with Christmas book day.

To this day we still demand that my mom honors the tradition that she started because we love having her pick a book out for us.  This tradition is one that has definitely carried on as I have really loved picking out books for my kids.  Now if I could just figure out what to write in the cover...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sick Kids

Today was a typical Sunday.  We were in the car a few minutes early headed to church and about 3 blocks away from my house my youngest throws up.  We turned around.  Days like this aren't typically too bad because all of my kids have been good patients.  She was her normal feisty self the rest of the day so I don't think its anything too serious but it was serious enough that we were cooped up inside all day.

The hardest thing about sick days is trying to balance two healthy kids and one who is slightly under the weather.  How do you entertain them all while maintaining any shred of sanity?  We love to curl up with a book or 36.  When we are home for a long period of time my kids will have me read so many books I fall asleep.  This is a trait I'd like to encourage in them but its hard when you are literally wiping away tears of boredom!  Sometimes we bake cookies or something equally as fun.  Yesterday we cleaned.  The kids even helped me mop until it was their quiet time and I "doubled checked" for them.  Games are always a great way to go.  We just got the Wii Fit Plus where there is a multi-player option.  My two year old got up on the Wii fit board and started flapping like a chicken to make her character fly.  She actually outflew the older two and gave me the best 45 seconds of video anyone may ever see.

When I was little my mom always made me applesauce from fresh apples.  I remember how much I loved to stay home simply for eating applesauce and popsicles while watching Matlock.  Boy those were the days!  It's almost funny how nostalgic it was taking care of sick child for the day.  We had a lot of fun with the cabin fever but I have to say I am now officially wiped out and headed to bed!

What was your favorite childhood memory of sick days?  What do you most enjoy doing with your kids?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Can it rain any harder?!?

I sat yesterday watching it rain.  I love a good downpour as much as the next person but this was CRAZY!  We had a small pond in our driveway from the sewer grate plugging up with leaves.  The kids wouldn't take their quiet time because there was one clap of thunder and they were freaked out for the rest of the afternoon (maybe it was just a ploy).  I had promised pumpkin pie for a family get together that evening and I had 2 great pumpkins on my front porch just waiting to be broken into and cooked.  So, despite the rain, we took to the front porch where we mutilated two huge pumpkins.  After the mutilation we had to squeeze them into the oven for cooking.  My oven wasn't big enough so in the middle of what seemed like a torrential downpour I raced over to a neighbors house and asked if he would kindly let me use his oven.

While the pumpkins baked the kids and I had a lot of fun examining the different types of seeds.  We compared seeds from a candy pumpkin, cinderella pumpkin, cheese wheel pumpkin and a jack o' lantern pumpkin.  The kids were very excited about this and my son actually wanted to make a chart so we could check off which pumpkins had specific features.  We managed to label sandwich bags and, after they dried, we put the seeds in their own bags in hopes that we will be able to find the bags in the spring to plant a few pumpkin seeds.  This prospect is very exciting to the kids as we had grown sunflowers this summer and those were a huge hit.

Once the pumpkin was done I was surprised.  I thought for sure I would have all sorts of help in the kitchen but the kids did not want to touch the pumpkin.  They were really grossed out by it so I ended up doing all of the work by myself.  I started out on this endeavor thinking I had a great project to last all day and I ended up spraying pumpkin chunks all over my kitchen while my kids destroyed the rest of the house.  Boy did that ever backfire!

I remember one time on another stormy day when I went shopping at IKEA with all three kids.  I pulled into the parking lot and it was raining so hard I was going to turn around and all of a sudden it stopped.  Then a parking spot opened up right in front and I thought this was a sign from God that I was supposed to go into IKEA that day.  The shopping trip was quick but then I had to wait 20 minutes in line with a brand new and very hungry baby, an impatient two year old and a four year old who climbed better than most monkeys.  The clerk had the audacity to ask if they could switch cashiers right before me.  I actually told her no.

Have you ever had any ideas backfire?  There have been too many "Katie"-did moments in my history where they have seemed like great ideas but never panned out.  Share some of your great moments where you thought you were going to earn your Super-Mom award but instead it went down in infamy as dinner-time comedy.