The Advent of the Legless Lego

Every year we count down to Christmas with Advent boxes full of chocolate. Every year I gaze at the paper calendars of my childhood with a glimmer in my eye, knowing that the boys will not appreciate them as I do. I look with wonder at the Playmobil and Lego calendars, not wanting to spend the money, or the crazy on locating one. I wonder what I could stuff the boxes with, knowing that only a sweet treat in the morning will placate my darling angel children.

This year the Lego calendars are everywhere, there’s even two different versions of them. Yet the skinflint in me, even at Christmas, still does not want to spend $29-$49 a pop on Advent calendars.

IMG_9367So I find myself in the week of Advent, desperately stuffing the boxes of years before, but not with the coveted chocolate treat. With Lego minifigs purchased on eBay. Continue reading The Advent of the Legless Lego

Hacking the Tooth Fairy

Photo: Philip Brewer under CC BY 2.0
Photo: Philip Brewer under CC BY 2.0

When my oldest son lost his first tooth, he tucked it under his pillow like so many children before him. The Tooth Fairy left a fifty-cent piece in its place. He was thrilled. A couple of weeks later, a boy he knew had his own encounter with the Tooth Fairy and told my son all about it.

“Mom, why did the Tooth Fairy leave Jacob five dollars and only left me fifty cents?” my son asked later.

<insert squealing tires and car crash soundtrack>

FIVE dollars? For a tooth? Color me incredulous. (ABC News reports that the Tooth Fairy left an average of $2.42 in 2012.)

I can’t recall how I responded to my son, but it became apparent very quickly that we’d need another plan. Whatever the Tooth Fairy tucked under the pillow next time needed to be unquantifiable. Kids will be kids, and kids will compare their loot. Gifts with an obvious value, like cold hard American cash, made it very easy for them to use words like better or more. We needed a simple token to celebrate a milestone; something that made the recipient feel special without breaking the bank. Something that didn’t leave them feeling like they’d been outdone by the kid with the overzealous Tooth Fairy.

Ultimately our Tooth Fairy opted for a type of currency that couldn’t be compared to what the other kids found tucked under their pillows: foreign coins. The next time my son lost a tooth, his loot entranced his friends. Was it worth more than what the other kids got? Less? Nobody knew, but it didn’t matter. The foreign coins had an exotic flair that made their actual value unimportant. I was delighted. (Plus, I admit I was thrilled that those coins piqued my son’s interest. Each one sent him off to the map to discover its origins.)

Got kids who are getting ready to lose a tooth? Come on over to the dark side and join us by considering these alternatives:

What does the Tooth Fairy leave under pillows at your house?

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving…Lunch Anyone?

Last year my husband and I decided it was time to start our own little family traditions. Thanksgiving was the perfect test holiday. The toughest part was planning the meal. My husband decided he would tackle the cooking since my skills are less than satisfying in the kitchen. Washing dishes is my kryptonite, so I set out to find another way to help that did not involve setting off the smoke alarms or getting my hands wet. After burning my brain cells trying to think of ways to contribute, I started to think about all the things we do on Thanksgiving.

While my son sleeps, the night before Thanksgiving, the Christmas tree, all the decorations and the Christmas movies magically appear in our living room. When my son wakes up on Thanksgiving Day, he is excited to see that Santa brought the tree and movies from the North Pole. We turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and after it’s over with, usually around lunch time, we watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (BINGO! A light came on and my brain kicked in. We could have a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for lunch. “What a brilliant idea!” I thought to myself. I immediately sat down and watched the classic TV special to get the menu.Snoopy and Patty

In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown served his friends two slices of buttered toast, some pretzel sticks, a handful of popcorn and a few jelly beans. To drink I figured they probably had some fruit punch or water. Snoopy set it all up on a ping pong table with mismatched chairs. Since I was lacking in the correct table attire, I decided our card table and chairs were good substitutes.

When I approached my husband with the idea, he looked at me like I was nuts. Let’s think about it though…A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lunch is simple clean up, cheap and light on the stomach. I won my husband over and we decided to give it a shot. My son (five years old at the time) loved it! He had so much fun helping me do the shopping beforehand and setting the table on Thanksgiving Day. We kept with tradition and watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving while we ate. After lunch my son and I decorated the tree while my husband got to work on dinner. All in all it was a nice and relaxing day, one that we plan on recreating again this year.

Do you have any fun Thanksgiving traditions? Share them with us in the comment section below.FRANKLIN, LINUS, SALLY, CHARLIE BROWN, PEPPERMINT PATTY, SNOOPY AND MARCIE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Traditions: How We Celebrate the New Year

Image via Flickr user Overduebook

While our family does not have many new year traditions there are a few that we adhere to. GeekDad and I are not really party people. We would much rather stay in, cuddle on the couch, and watch Stargate Universe so partying doesn’t really fit into our celebration. One tradition that is set in stone though is college football. There is always a football game on. I couldn’t tell you who all the players are or even all the positions on the team, but there is just something about the ball passing and tackling that I love to watch. It doesn’t hurt that my favorite team is frequently in a bowl game either. Boomer Sooner!

Another tradition we have comes from our Southern roots. Eating black eyed peas on New Years Day dates back to the Civil War and beyond. I hate those beans with a passion. They taste like dirt to me and I have no interest in cooking with a hog jowl. (What is that anyway?!) But not one to rock the familial boat we have some from a can. I usually eat some. Ok, just one but still. Blah. I think I will start a new tradition this year and listen to The Black Eyed Peas rather than eat some. That will still be lucky, right?

One other thing we do is stay up and watch the ball drop in New York. I enjoy seeing all the places celebrating and sometimes even the entertainment they have on the show. Of course, there are always the resolutions, though this year I started my big one before Christmas.

OK,  Geek brigade, do you have any traditions you want to share or resolutions that you need to proclaim publicly to keep you honest?

New Thanksgiving Recipe Classics: Cranberry Orange Mustard

The humble cranberry

Don’t get me wrong, I love tradition just as much as the next GeekMom.  But when it comes to Thanksgiving supper, I like to slip in a new recipe to see if I’ve found a new classic.  This is my favorite time of year to cook and bake, because it is the time when my favorite fruit is readily available on produce shelves: cranberries!  Each year I keep my eyes peeled for innovative recipes using this versatile berry, and this year, I’ve found Cranberry Orange Mustard, thanks to Serious Eats.  We’re having a Thanksgiving picnic this year: turkey and dressing burgers, green bean casserole salad, sweet potato fries.  This may be the condiment those burgers need.

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe (that isn’t a highly guarded family secret, like my cranberry pound cake)?  What other Thanksgiving traditions do you keep, or which have you tweaked in the recent past?