Short, sweet and slightly pine-scented...

I just wanted to hop on and wish everyone a very, very Merry Christmas! I hope you're all having a wonderful day and that your evening is warm and snuggly, and full of relaxed sighs signifying a job well done. :-)

All my best to you and yours! Now bring on the giddy kiddies and the eggnog!

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' -Dave Barry

So this will probably be my last Christmas-shopping-related post for the year, seeing as how you won't even be able to get this item in time to put it under the tree, but it's so flippin' cute, I had to share! has the Zing Foam Sweet Home Playhouse for $79.99 plus $5 s/h today, which is half the price it's selling for elsewhere online. Measuring 70” x 50” x 49” (L x W x H), it's big enough for a preschooler to easily get in and out of, but since it's made up of individual foam panels, it breaks down to 35.2" x 45.2" x 5.5" for storage. How cool is that?!?

So if you're interested, head over and pick one up as a belated Christmas gift, or tuck it away for future gift-giving purposes. Either way, get going 'cause there's less than 96 hours left 'til the big day!

Merry, merry, everyone!!!


Oh, and happy Winter Solstice! What could be better than longer days and more sunlight--spring will be here before you know it! :-)

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind. -Unknown

So I was obviously WAY off when I posted Sunday that there were 7 days left 'til Hanukkah, since it had already started on the 11th at sundown. Stupid countdown calendar website!!! In a woefully belated attempt to celebrate the Festival of Lights, I thought I'd post links to some of my favorite Hanukkah recipes--I hope you enjoy them, but first you'll have to work on  overcoming the fear of frying! 

Traditional Latkes  - Seriously, I could live on potato pancakes! Any of you northeast Ohioans ever had the Beef Latka at the Chicago Deli in Solon? A miracle of deli science, it's built from two latkes, a mountain of corned beef and sour cream. Oh how I miss those heavenly "sandwiches"!!!

And in a quick side note to my fellow gentiles, did you know it's tradition to eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah as a commemoration of the miracle of the container of oil, which followed Judas Maccabeus’ defeat of the Syrians and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem? A most yummy custom indeed! (Thanks to Wikipedia and for the Hanukkah history)

Happy Hanukkah!

Have a burgeoning Julia Child or Alton Brown on your hands? has a beautiful KidKraft Play Kitchen - replete with dishes, silverware, pot and ladle, oven mitt and pot holder - on sale today for $89.99 + $5 s/h. O.K., so maybe your little Alton won't love the pastel color scheme, but at $95 shipped, you could afford a can or two of masculine-hued spray paint! See, you just have to think creatively sometimes - which is exactly what your peanut will be able to do with this super-cool, super-detailed, super-stocked, super scullery!


Happy Monday, everyone!

No, this isn't the KidKraft Kitchen, but given how much the girls enjoy playing with their 
Little Tikes galley (thanks again, Meg and Aunt Katie!!!), I can certainly see a
Pastel Cottage Kitchen in our future!

Anyone know where their Cabbage Patch Kid is? Tickle-Me Elmo? Furby?

So I guess these little guys aren't chock-full of toxic metaloids after all. If you know someone who is desperate for their own Mr. Squiggles this Christmas, has them today for $28.50 + $6 s/h. They've had Zhu Zhu Pets up for sale a few times in the past weeks, so if Mr. Squiggles doesn't do it for you, they might have a different critter available later in the week. Or they might not.

Oh, and don't forget, there's only 12 days 'til Christmas, 7 days 'til Hanukkah, 13 days 'til Kwanzaa and 9 days 'til the Winter Solstice! :-)

Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at the bowling alley! -Anonymous

Had to post this one! Not only is this a super-cute gift idea that little peanuts will love to play with (or snuggle with, depending on their bowling skills), it's a fair trade item, so your purchase will also help artisans in less developed areas of the world. has Bowling Buddies play sets on sale for $23.98 plus s/h, which is 63%-off the regular retail price of $65. I'm sure these will sell out quickly, so if you're interested, click on over and buddy-up!

After all, it's never too soon to begin preparing your kiddos for the fast-paced, glamorous world of the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association)! :-)

Happy Friday!

And it's up!

Well, I'm happy to report that the Christmas tree is finally on display at the Hooper house and everyone seems pleased. :-) It's not exactly on-par with the tree at Rockefeller Center, but it's also not as pitiful as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Somewhere in the middle, our happy little tannenbaum makes my babies' eyes sparkle, and truth be told, that's all I need this Christmas.

Only 15 days to go!

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. -Dr. Seuss

It's sad to say, but I'm suffering from a serious case of lack-of-Christmas-Spirit-itis, and it's really bumming me out. In years past, our tree would have been up on Thanksgiving, our stockings would already have been hung by the chimney with care, cookies would be baking in the oven and my disposition would be bordering on elf-like cheeriness. This year, however, I've yet to connect with my inner-Santa's-helper.

We were out of town this Thanksgiving, so the Christmas tree wasn't up on the 26th, and 10 days later, it still isn't up. I don't even know where we've got it stashed--the garage maybe?--which isn't an auspicious start for Tannenbaum 2009. I did manage to wrestle the boxes of decorations out of the attic, but haven't figured out how to get the stockings up without the girls trying to use them to clamber up the side of the chimney. And if I had my druthers, I would've started my baking by now--filling the downstairs freezer with all kinds Pat-tempting goodies--but the heating element in the oven decided to fail catastrophically Wednesday night, so there'll be no chocolate crinkles, sugar cookies or snickerdoodles 'til the new part arrives from Texas (thank you ebay!).

The biggest holiday hurdle to overcome, though, is the severe case of toddler-induced malaise from which I am currently suffering. During the past 20 months, I've heard the phrase, "You've certainly got your hands full!" approximately 73,726 times from various strangers, acquaintances and friends while out and about with The Peanuts. To this frequently encountered greeting, my response has usually been, "It's really not bad. They're great little girls!" And while I stand steadfastly by the "great little girls" part of that statement--really, I couldn't ask for two sweeter, happier, more loving little people to call me "Mama"--my hands seem fuller and fuller every day (incorrect grammar, I know, but it stays).

I have myself to blame--I lulled myself into a false sense of maternal security when the girls were teeny. Once we got past those first few months of midnight feedings and endless spit-up, I really thought I had a handle on being the mom of a duo. They ate the same things, they chewed on the same toys, they slept at the same time, they giggled at the same stories, they pooped at the same time (sorry, but it's true)--our world was a rather reliable realm of sameness and I loved it. Then they started walking.

It was a milestone I'd been dreading since they first pulled themselves into a standing position, and though they really didn't start cruising until the 15-month mark, their independence of motion jarringly marked the beginning of their independence of spirit. Suddenly, no one wanted to eat--not even the beloved combo of avocados and macaroni and cheese!--the only toy they wanted to play with was the one their sister was holding, naptime became a total crap shoot as to who would sleep and for how long, and diaper changes evolved into a part-wrestling match, part-hazmat power struggle that I now dread almost as much as mealtime.

I can hear you snickering out there, my dear mommy and daddy friends who have already been down this road, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop it right now! Don't get me wrong, I knew this was coming--I'd seen all of your kiddos go through the same thing, but in those days, I was just "Fun Aunt Erin" who could leave when the tempers and screams reached levels I couldn't handle. Now, I'm the one who has to figure out why the MagnaDoodle is pissing Evie off and how I can get Camie to eat something more than Kraft cheese singles. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I mean EXHAUSTED!!! Worse than those first few weeks home with the girls. At least back then--back in the good old days--I knew it was just a matter of time before we all found our bearings and began moving forward with purposeful stride. Today, the only stride found around these parts involves a rapid succession of breakneck steps, a stumble or two over a variety of strewn objects and an ensuing tumble that may or may not end it tears (theirs or mine).

I know I've just got to adjust to this new phase of our lives together--not expecting a rhyme or reason to their moods, doing my best to roll with the punches (figurative punches, not literal ones, 'cause we don't hit our sister!) and, above all, just trying to keep us all on an even keel. Good gravy, I don't think I could have fit another emotionally themed cliché into that last sentence if I'd tried. :-)

Maybe the holidays will get me into that new way of thinking. Watching the girls marvel at the Christmas lights, be-bop along to Jingle Bell Rock and delight in tasting the special treats enjoyed only at Christmas time (eggnog and cranberry sauce anyone?) might be just the boost my deflated psyche needs right now. I mean, what's more charming than the sight of your beautiful children on Santa's knee...

Then again, there's always Valentine's Day...

Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand. And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand. -Elton John

I know this is a late post, but holy frijoles--these might just be the cutest thing I've ever seen!!! has a set of Taylor Joelle Balerina and Pretty In Pink tights on sale for $9.75 plus s/h. They could cost $100 and I'd still be tempted to buy them (o.k., probably not, but seriously, THESE ARE SO STINKIN' CUTE!!!). 

So if you've got a teeny girl in your life--the tights are available in 0-6 and 6-12 month sizes-- get over there now 'cause they're going to sell fast!

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