Tag Archives: holidays

For Those Who Are “Still” Grieving

How to create space for your feelings when you are still grieving because "Time heals all wounds" is too simplistic. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

People are generous with their kind words immediately after you have lost a loved one. Despite death being a inevitable part of everyone’s life, people often feel awkward about what to say; but at least the time and space provided by social norms are there to encourage them.

Unfortunately that window for condolences closes up fairly quickly, and the awkwardness morphs into the fear that they will upset you if they mention your loved one. You are now left with your own awkwardness surrounding how to talk about your grief, how to bring it up. Maybe a prescribed period for wearing black back in the day wasn’t such a bad idea. Black arm bands or those silicone bracelets could work nowadays. It just seems like we could use something to indicate “handle with care.”

“Time heals all wounds” is not so much a falsehood, as it is too simplistic. Yes, the hurt scabs over, and the pain dulls, but the loss is healed with a scar. A scar that tugs and throbs predictably, yet can grab you unexpectedly .

The  holidays and anniversaries with their brightness and intensity serve to highlight the voids  . . . voids you can often avoid staring into on a day-to-day basis once your grief scar has formed.

“My mom should be here baking cookies with my kids. She always had the patience to make cut-outs.”

“This is where my son’s stocking should be hanging.”

“My father always lit the candles.”

And while you can predict the holidays are going to be tinged with blue, it’s often the little things that surprisingly leave you with the most intensely hollow longing. To prepare for my college freshman daughter’s homecoming for winter break, I was changing her sheets, even though she had only slept in her bed a couple of nights over Thanksgiving and changing sheets is one of the household chores I inexplicably hate the most. I mean, there are so many tasks that are so much worse. Scrubbing toilets anyone?

But as I was grumbling at myself for performing this largely unnecessary task at 11:30 PM, I was overcome. I sank right down on the floor among the pillows and stuffed animals as tears slid down my cheeks. Changing sheets was my mother’s love language of comfort. Sick with a fever? Clean sheets. Home from college, just had a baby, recovering from surgery? Clean sheets. Facing my fourth Christmas without her, I was unconsciously following her script for loving, and grieving anew that she would never give this “love letter” to me again.

Rest assured, you are not the only one “still” grieving. You are not the only one who knows how grief and joy can snuggle side by side, neither diminishing the impact of the other. You certainly aren’t the only one who understands the bitter truth about how time actually heal wounds.

Since I know I’m not alone, this holiday season I am going to reach out to others to give them a space to share. The internet isn’t only about political rants and cat videos. It’s for connecting. I encourage you to try a post as simple as “I miss the way my mother descended on my house a couple of days before Christmas with a cooler bursting with pure deliciousness and a trunk brimming with presents. I miss the way Aunt Ruth delighted us with the latest musical holiday toy from Hallmark each year. What do you miss about your loved ones?” My friend Meredith of The Mom of the Year did this sort of thing in a Facebook group we share, and the resulting comments were uplifting. She is my inspiration.

Follow Meredith’s lead and don’t be afraid to create the space you need for your grief. You never know who you will help as you help yourself.

For Those Who Are "Still" Grieving at Christmas. How to create space for your feelings when you are still grieving because "Time heals all wounds" is too simplistic. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

-Ellen

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Gadget Gifts to Thrill for Way Under $50

‘Tis the time in the season where we all hit gift gathering crunch time. Are you checking your lists and just now realizing there is nothing on there to “WOW” them? I mean, I know they really, really wanted that sweater and those boots, but will there be anything under the tree to surprise them and make them squeal “this is the best!”?

Virtual reality for under $10 anyone? It's holiday gift gathering crunch time. Here are some gadget gifts to thrill for way under $50. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Are you thinking, “That’s a great point, but I’m also tallying up my credit card statement and there’s not a lot of ‘flow’ left to my cash.”

Well, delight can come cheap and easy, my friend. That “may” have not come out exactly as we intended, but with this list you can be a hero on par with Santa for not a lot of reindeer chow.

 

3D Virtual Reality Headset

3d viewer

These right here are the entire reason this post was written. A friend told Ellen about them, and she was amazed! Every person Ellen has told about them has been amazed! Virtual reality for UNDER $10? It’s amazing!

So this is the world of Google Cardboard. You download the apps to your phone, pop it into this viewer, and you’re off to play games, explore ancient temples, or immerse yourself in the world of Star Wars. Just with this little thing. Really. These sturdy gems come fully assembled, and the only real complaint at this price point is that the cardboard hurts your nose. Some genius in the Amazon reviews discovered that slitting a Nerf dart along its length and slipping it over the cardboard edge provides the perfect cushion for your $8.99 wonder.

If you would like a bit more of a comfort upgrade, you can check out this plastic model. Still under $25!

VR plastic

 

Gyroscopic Wrist and Forearm Exerciser

gyroscopic exerciser

Got a baseball player, tennis player, golf pro, or musician on your list? This fun little gadget can get them in tip-top shape in the most conversation-igniting way possible. You basically have to provide resistance against its spinning. It’s more addicting than it sounds. Trust us.

 

Handbag Light with Automatic Sensor

handbag light

Never again get caught in the dark searching blindly through your handbag desperately trying to find your keys, cosmetics or other items that settle to the bottom of a cluttered purse. This little light is motion activated and turns off after a couple of seconds. Genius can be found in the simplest of ideas.

 

USB Leather Tassel Key Chain Charging Cable

USB tassel

Speaking of losing things, we feel like we keep buying USB cables because we keep leaving them like breadcrumbs everywhere we go. Even if we have a plug or car charger available to us, we don’t have a cable. This beauty clips onto your purse or backpack to always be handy in a form meets function kind of situation. Works for Android and iPhone (there’s even a lightning cable).

Okay, maybe the last three gifts weren’t so much “wows” as much as they were “that’s pretty cool.” But seriously, just get the virtual reality glasses, be a hero, and call it a day.

Happy Holidays!

Ellen and Erin

This post contains affiliate links because, hey, Santa could use a little help in our houses too.

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Five Things Better to Give Than Presents

It’s that point in the busy holiday season where we are all calling which corner we want to rock in later when we get a free moment. We say that you can keep on railing against the gods of time suck or you can make some adjustments. While we can’t stuff your stockings,  hang your baubles, or roast your beast, we can help you find happiness amidst the hullabaloo. In fact, finding calm in the Christmas chaos is as easy as putting down the paper and scissors and putting on your thinking cap instead. We’re gonna keep this short and simple, folks, because quite frankly, who’s got the time, but here are five things better to give than presents. It truly is better to give than to receive, and these will bring you back to the holiday spirit in no time. Promise.
 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

1) The Gift of Experience

We both believe that experiences trump things. To that end, over the years, we have given concert tickets, special trips, museum visits, and special lessons. We could say that the memories from those special moments were as much a gift to us as to our kids. But spending special time with their awesome moms is the ultimate gift for our kiddos AND they usually end up with a souvenir AND we end up with great pictures! Consider this idea a win-win-win!

Bonus that these gifts don’t need to be wrapped either.

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

The lads and Ellen AND her kids had a brilliant Christmas.

2) The Gift of Tradition and Time Together

We both be-deck our halls and weight our trees with as many memories as the walls and limbs can stand, but we never underestimate the power of unplugging.Erin’s family kicks it old school with a new puzzle every year. After they work as a family to put it together, then they mount it, and use it for a Christmas decoration the following year. A foolproof plan for fun and festive flair!

We both also give games. Sure, one might argue that our deeply rooted competitive natures might be at the heart of this one, but we offer this counter-argument. The Great Scrabble Rout of 2007? The Epic Camel Slaughter in Parcheesi? The time the four year old won the UNO tournament? These memories all rival any trip we have ever taken in the annals of family fun. So bottom line, you can think what you want. And if you are coming over this Christmas, be prepared to pick a card.

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Every year, Grandma likes a photo with all of her grandbabies. It goes reasonably well most of the time. Not this year, apparently, but most of the time.

3) The Gift of Memory

Each year we both work our Shutterfly accounts like a boss to create calendars with pictures from the past year to guide us through the new one. We also both make family yearbooks. Because we started blogging in 2011, Erin is a little behind so her family is getting the 2011 yearbook this Christmas. Resist the urge to point out that we are now in the fleeting days of 2016. She knows. She KNOWS!

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

We like the also ran photos more than the album-worthy ones. These are the memories we hope we don’t lose.

4) The Gift of Acknowledgment

Every year Erin’s kids pick someone who has been an angel to their family. Then they give a plate of cookies and an angel ornament to that person. The conversation as they decide who to pick each year is a gift to them all as they realize how many wonderful people they have in their life.

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

5) The Gift of Each Other

As a general rule, the best gifts don’t actually fit in a box or bag. When Erin’s kids were young, they spontaneously created a play one Christmas Eve.  Even as the kids have crossed over into Planet Teen, they have never given up creating a special performance for that night. It is, without question, the best gift Steve and Erin get all year and they are really hoping that one of the videos from these performances will hit it big on Youtube. Then it can keep on giving all the way to the Ivy League. How’s that for a Christmas wish?

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Watching a little girl get all her big cousins to play trains with her is wish fulfillment of a different but equally great kind.

But that’s not all.

Our trees are trimmed to the nines with handprints, school pictures, and handicrafts of all skill levels. Our schedules are crammed with band concerts and Christmas plays and choral recitals. Our houses are full of trays of cookies, homemade decorations, and gingerbread houses.

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Apparently when boys outgrow gingerbread houses, they get creative and start crafting things on their own. Like the TARDIS from DOCTOR Who.

We know that this is the good stuff.  So we clean up the glitter glue and the paper confetti on the floor, work our crockpots to the max to get dinner to the masses before each performance, and buy more cookie sheets to keep our little cookie sweat shops cranking.  The big wide world will be taking these kids soon enough.

For now, we will just take a deep breath, enjoy the chaos, and be grateful for our gifts.

 Holidays got you stressed and not your best? Here are five things better to give than presents. Parenting at Christmas made simple, easy, and full of the joy of the season. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

And if none of this helps, we have found that nothing will help you get your holiday spirit on like a reluctant angel.

These are some things that have helped us find the happy sweet underbelly of Christmas in the midst of the madness. Think of them as the cookies before the main course. What? Cookies don’t come first? We’ll never tell. It’s the most wonderful time of the year after all.

A merry, merry Christmas to all!

Erin and Ellen

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Easy Christmas Tradition You Can Start Today

Even on Planet Teen, the “making of the memories” part of parenting is the silver lining to all the other stuff that’s not fit to be shared on social media. We love investing in our family memory vaults even more when we can do it cheap and easy.  That’s why this Christmas tradition is a slam dunk. On the one hand, you get a great family tradition to enjoy in the here and now. On the other hand, you get a holiday decoration you can pull out each year to relive the fun from years past while making even more memories. What is this fabulous unicorn of an idea? A Christmas puzzle. Here’s our short, sweet guide to an easy Christmas tradition you can start today and enjoy year after year.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Erin’s family grew up with this puzzle-making merriment, and she has spread this idea as far and wide as she can.

Step 1: Get a Christmas puzzle.

In Erin’s family, St. Nick brings the Christmas puzzle and leaves it by the shoes left by  the fireplace on the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th, BTW). You can do it however you want. Heck, that crazy Elf could bring it. In any case, this whole thing will be a moot point if there is no Christmas puzzle to assemble.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

There is already enough crazy this time of year. Just buy the puzzle already.

Step 2: Build the thing.

We highly recommend a puzzle with 500 pieces if you are new to puzzles. Traditions are supposed to be happy and bring joy, not take your family to the edge of sanity. Look for lots of different colors and patterns. Then designate a table with good lighting and have at it.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Bad lighting makes the natives restless. Proper illumination required.

Step 3: Stand back and admire your handiwork.

Not gonna lie. One man will carry your team to victory, and one other man (or woman or child) will claim he is the one who made the magic happen. That’s why it’s best to record these things for all eternity.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Erin may have said this when she placed the last piece.

Step 4: Mount the thing.

Do not skip this step. Puzzles do not go back into the boxes. It is now on its way to becoming your Christmas wall art. You must now carefully cut a piece of  1/4 ” plywood to the dimensions of your puzzle.

When we do this, we put a piece of contact paper on the front of the puzzle. Then we use a foam brush to put glue all over the plywood, and then we carefully attach the puzzle to the backing and remove the contact paper. But we are not awesome crafty people like Ellen. If there is a better way to do this, please tell us. We then let our puzzle dry for at least 48 hours before we move it.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Step 5: Record something special about the puzzle-making magic on the back. 

Don’t skip this step either. We love reading the comments on the back of the puzzles almost as much as the puzzles themselves. We have no time for baby books or fancy journals, but this is so worth it. Honestly.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Step 6: Replace every last wall hanging with PUZZLES!

Not. Kidding.

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas tradition you can start today! Check out this great family puzzle activity to make the holidays bright! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Not even every puzzle we own, but you get the idea. No more wall art. Only puzzles. All season long.

You get the incredibly awesome, super simple, relatively cheap idea. Join us in holiday merry-making at its most fun!

Enjoy you holidays! Feel free to share with us any great traditions you all have!

Erin and Ellen

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

My college freshman daughter came home for Thanksgiving and it. was. glorious. Some friends who still have all of their chicks under one roof commented that Thanksgiving break came up pretty quickly considering it was only three months since I said good-bye. Only. I just again read my piece about sending her off in August—contemplating whether or not my “sweet spot of motherhood” was behind me—and it feels like it has been three lifetimes.

My “sweet spot” did indeed expand as I had hoped to encompass long distance parenting from Maryland to Miami. My daughter has communicated with us with a regularity beyond my wildest hopes via texting, Face Timing, calling, and Snapchatting. She is generous about sharing her new life, and has continued to seek my advice. I haven’t been kicked to the proverbial curb. For my part, I have become the master of high quality care packages.

Halloween Care Package | Use a cheap seasonal blanket from Walmart to line the box. | College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

She is still in my life, it’s just in a different way. In a way that is the epitome of life moving forward. In fact, life continued to march forward for all of us. As soon as we dropped her off, field hockey was in full swing for my sophomore daughter. And then I shoveled out her room. And then we got a dog. There really was no time for weeping or hand-wringing . . . or at least I didn’t leave myself time for that.

In general, I’ve handled marching forward pretty well. That’s why I was taken aback by the wave of emotion that hit me during the week she was home for Thanksgiving.

I missed her most while she was here!

I mean I have missed her since the moment she left, but I had gotten use to her not being around. And by “used to” I mean I just didn’t think about it that much. I really just couldn’t. Besides, she is happily hitting her stride, and we had a lovely visit over Family Weekend. How could I complain about a natural order that was going this well?

But, I have felt a bit off-centered and blah. Not exactly mopey, just unsettled. Beating her room into order and adopting myself some unconditional canine love helped, but I hadn’t really worked through it all. There’s not a lot of space to discuss ambiguous feelings. People can maybe handle hearing that you are sad, but they really just want you to say “I’m fine.” My kid was busy being everything I hoped she would be, so what right did I have to be sad anyway? And really, when people ask you how things are going with college, they want to hear about your kid and then get back to picking through the pumpkins at the farm stand.

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

While I had adjusted to her being gone like a swell little soldier—my life is pretty good after all—her being here for a week illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. It took the return of her vim and vigor for me to realize the full impact of its absence.

I felt unmoored because I missed the dynamic of her just being in our space: her wit, her clutter, her willingness to pitch in, as well as her exasperating insistence that we embark on a ten minute hunt for another tube of toothpaste because brushing her teeth in the shower “saved” time and her sister was currently using the only other tube. While I love her snip-its of news and Snapchats, I missed what her presence brings to our family unit under this roof: completeness. Her whole senior year through college move-in day was such a seismic shift, but when the earthquake was over, I just plowed ahead instead of assessing the aftermath.

When spellcheck bleated just now that “unmoored” was not a word, I looked it up to find descriptive perfection: to bring to the state of riding with a single anchor after being moored by two or more. Eureka! This is it! After spending sixteen years with the tug and grounding of two kids with their schedules, activities and needs, I was suddenly lighter with only one at home. But instead of feeling free, I only had the uncomfortable sensation of buffeting in the breeze. In related news I may be prone to mini-panics that my youngest will be going to college in three short years.

More than once during the week I had to snap myself back into the moment instead of anticipating the empty space yawning wide again once she left. It really wasn’t hard because we had such a great time, but you know what? It hasn’t been that bad she she went back. I feel better now that my brain realizes the void my heart was flapping around. I still miss her, but I feel more grounded knowing that our family “completeness” isn’t gone; it’s just something I have to look forward to now when she returns. And boy, do I have a detailed answer for the next person who asks me how I am doing.

-Ellen 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Best and Easiest Gift Exchange Idea Ever!

Holiday sanity can be achieved by simplifying your gift list. This Christmas gift guide will work for all of the people in your life. Best and easiest gift exchange idea ever! | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Wait, let me make that a little more accurate: It’s the most INSANE time of the year! Okay, now I feel like the Grinch. How about, it’s the most insanely wonderful, wonderfully insane time of the year? THAT feels right.

There is so much to do during the holidays that many of us try to pare down our to-do lists as much as possible. This can result in some great things for your well-being like booting the cookies from the roster that take 15 steps, a kajillion hours, and that special ginger picked by virgin elk herders in the Himalayas. However, it can also lead to some hasty decisions like cutting out your gift exchange with your girlfriends. While this may free up some minutes, it can also throw a sopping wet blanket on the spark of your joy.

Some of my best—fun, soul-nourishing, hilarious, sentimental—times are created during my gift exchanges with my friends, be they secret or open, local or spanning the country. So for me, the secret is not to slash my gift list, but to simplify . . . and to borrow a fantastic idea when I hear it. My friend, Andrea, hit on what could possible be the best gift exchange idea ever: SOCKS!

Hear me out. There are so many options, sizing isn’t stressful, they can be so thoughtfully personal, you can find FANTASTIC ones for under $10, Amazon is dripping with them (but you can also find great ones at Walmart and Target), and they don’t add to clutter. Socks are not just for girlfriends either; men, teens, and kids love them, too. This makes them a great gift exchange idea for extended family, the office, and school. See? Perfect. And whoever can find it in their being to complain about adding a pair of socks to their drawer really needs to be kicked out of your tribe. Look, either way, your gift list just got simplified.

So without further ado, here are my personal suggestions.

Socks are the Best and Easiest Gift Exchange Idea Ever! There are so many options, sizing isn't stressful, they can be so thoughtfully personal, you can find FANTASTIC ones for under $10, Amazon is dripping with them, and they don't add to clutter. | Christmas | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

My Favorite Salad is Wine

Love these! They combine two of my favorite things: wine and humor! There has to be someone in your life who would appreciate them too.

Wine Salad

 

If You Can Read This, Bring Me Chocolate

Wine not your friend’s thing?  Chocolate may hit the spot.

Chocolate socks

 

Taco Tuesday

Let’s be honest. Any day ending in “y” is a good day for tacos.

taco socks

 

Holy Guacamole

We know the guacamole is extra, but it’s totally worth it.

Avocado socks

 

Bow Wow

Oh my goodness these are cute. And it’s a set! You could take care of 5 friends in one click! You can get on Amazon and search your desired breed too. I may or may not have these puggle socks in my cart.

Dog Socks

 

What a Shame

Having a bad day? At least you’re not wearing a cone of shame . . . or at least I hope you’re not.

Dog in cone

 

Purr-fect

Let’s not give all the attention to the dogs, acknowledge your feline aficionados too. Once again, it’s a five pack.

cat socks

 

Purr-fectly Nerdy

For the friend who likes felines and funny. (And now these are in my cart.)

Nerdy cats

 

Something Fishy

Fur not your thing? Here’s a goldfish for you. I like how it’s a little more subtle.

Golldfish socks

 

Oh Deer!

I love how these are festive, but not so Christmas-y that you can’t wear them past December.

deer socks

 

Secret Sass

Business up top, sassy at the sole.

Secret Sass

 

High Praise

For the wonder woman in your life who likes to keep her awesome on the down low.

Running the world

 

Ka-Pow!

For the wonder woman in your life who is not afraid to let her awesome flag fly. Give her the cape she deserves.

Wonder woman socks

 

Words of Wisdom

One final funny that doubles as pretty sound advice too.

Asshole socks

 

I could go on forever with these, but that last pair seems like a good place to stop. Don’t see anything you like here? Get yourself over to Amazon and search out any interest under the sun. I guarantee there’s a sock for that.

Here’s a little something extra for that person in your life you REALLY like. They’re all cozy in their new socks, why not give them a good—no great—book to cuddle up with? My friend, Ilana Wiles of Mommy Shorts, wrote a book that makes a perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent. This hardcover book is gorgeous and substantial. It’s filled with humor, truth, and actual real-life advice such as this gem for how to sneak in a nap: “I tell my son that his brother is better at giving back rubs than him. Then I close my eyes and enjoy the competition.” Get your copy of “The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting” here or fill out the form below to win one on us!

Mommy Shorts Collage Sensible Moms

Happy Holidays!

-Ellen

This giveaway is for one copy of The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting. Open only to residents of the continental United States. Winner will be notified by email at the end of the giveaway and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.

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Post contains affiliate links.

 

Hey! Want to buy our book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

I Just Want to Be Perfect

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Cranberry Recipes for a Party or Every Day!

Cranberry recipes for a party or every day! Let's hear it for cranberry, that culinary trooper that is often an afterthought! Here's some cranberry recipes for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes that will bring it front and center! Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Let’s hear it for cranberry! It’s time this palatal pleasing trooper stops being overshadowed by its more lauded seasonal comrades! This taste wonder needs its due. While it’s true Thanksgiving and cranberries go hand-in-hand, there’s little argument that pumpkin really reigns supreme over fall. Seriously, a bajillion pumpkin EVERYTHINGS everywhere is pretty telling.

And just when you think cranberry should take center stage in December with its festive crimson hue, nope, peppermint gives it a hip-swish bump relegating it to the wings again.

Well, we’re here to tell you that while cranberry may never be the Brad Pitt of the stove top, it deserves some props for being a dependable and talented character actor. You know what? That’s not saying enough. Cranberry is the Kevin Bacon of the kitchen! It’s got a zip and tang that makes everything tastier.

Maybe the problem is cranberry needs to stop fighting for holiday attention and expand its arena. We challenge you to think of cranberry as an option throughout the year! Why not serve Vodka Cranberry Seltzers on Mother’s Day or Cranberry Apricot Pork at your next Fourth of July picnic? The only thing you’ll be risking is a standing ovation.

Let’s begin with a little refreshment:

Vodka Cranberry Seltzer

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 4 oz Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lime
  • 2 oz seltzer or sparkling water

In a shaker full of ice, combine vodka, cranberry juice and lime juice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain over an 8 to 10 ounce glass filled with ice. Top off the glass with the seltzer or sparkling water.

OR . . .

You can do it the Lazy Sensible Moms way and just pour all the ingredients in a glass and stir it with a spoon.

Either way, while this beauty looks charming all decked out for the holidays, it is even more refreshing on a hot summer day.

Vodka Cranberry Seltzer | Cranberry recipes for a party or every day! Let's hear it for cranberry, that culinary trooper that is often an afterthought! Here's some cranberry recipes for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes that will bring it front and center! Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Cranberry Rosemary Cheese Ball

Not even exaggerating a little bit about how much this cheese ball is loved. Is it the sweet and savory together? Is it the pretty presentation? Is it the make-ahead convenience? Is it the illusion that fruit makes it healthy? Who knows? Regardless, you can get the easy, printable recipe here.

Cranberry Rosemary Cheese Ball | Cranberry recipes for a party or every day! Let's hear it for cranberry, that culinary trooper that is often an afterthought! Here's some cranberry recipes for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes that will bring it front and center! Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Apricot Cranberry Crockpot Pork Tenderloin

So the previous two recipes have perpetuated cranberry’s strong role as a supporting player, but this one pulls cranberry into the main spotlight where is belongs. This pork is perfect for Christmas Eve or a Labor Day picnic, over rice or on a bun. It is elegant, delicious, and out of the ordinary. Oh, and easy. What more could you want . . . except the full, printable recipe here.

Apricot Cranberry Crockpot Pork Tenderloin | Cranberry recipes for a party or every day! Let's hear it for cranberry, that culinary trooper that is often an afterthought! Here's some cranberry recipes for drinks, appetizers, and main dishes that will bring it front and center! Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

So seriously, stop putting cranberry in a corner and let it shine at your next meal or gathering! You won’t regret it with these easy recipes!

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Doughnut Magic New Year’s Eve Tradition for Kids

Ah, New Year’s Eve. It really is a time for the young, but not too young. While the night is made for twenty-somethings to rock it out, the preschool set is often left completely out. It’s hard to be tucked in at 8 o’clock when all of the focus is on the magic of midnight.

That’s why we were beyond delighted when our reader, Sandra Tuckman, shared one of her family traditions with us.

Doughnut Magic New Year's Eve Tradition for Kids - Make special memories and convince them that being in bed before midnight is cool! | Parenting |Hoilday Traditions | DIY | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

The real magic is how stinking easy it is. The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy should take notes.

  1. Show your precious snowflakes a plate of Cheerios.
  2. Let them sprinkle milk and/or Magic Dust of choice on the little Os.
  3. Explain to your kids they have to be asleep waaaaayyy before midnight for the magic to happen.
  4. Enjoy a quiet glass of champagne with your sweetie at midnight . . . or 10 PM. Whatever.
  5. Remember to replace the Cheerios with doughnuts!
  6. Behold their delighted faces in the morning.

So simple! But remember to match the number of Cheerios to the number of doughnuts. Makes more sense that way  . . . like a bunny delivering eggs or a fairy collecting teeth.

Now you can up your game if it all feels too simple. Remember the Magic Dust we mentioned? It allows all sorts of room for creativity.

  • Sprinkle cocoa for chocolate doughnuts.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar for powdered doughnuts.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon for, you guessed it, cinnamon doughnuts.
  • Use sprinkles over the Cheerios, then do the same for the doughnuts.
  • If you really want to impress Pinterest, you could dip the Cheerios in icing and sprinkles for frosted doughnuts.

PLEASE do this and report back on how it works!

Oh, and have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Doughnut Magic New Year's Eve Tradition for Kids - Make special memories and convince them that being in bed before midnight is cool! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

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How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Our trees might be rejected as centerfolds for Southern Living, but they take center stage in our hearts because they are chock full of memories.

Don’t get us wrong. We love the balanced, color-coordinated perfection of department store trees. We praise our friends and family who are able to miraculously pull off similar feats without an ounce of snark in our hearts. In fact, Ellen has a second tree in her dining room that is pretty darn coordinated and themed . . .

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

And THIS is Erin’s version of a themed tree. Yeah, that is Yoda up there reigning over a tree full of Star Wars and Star Trek ornaments. May the force be with you.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

But these aren’t the trees that our celebrations center around. Our main family trees are more than just decorations, they tell the stories of our lives. Each baby, marriage, vacation, and milestone is represented. Our lives are messy jumbles of events and joys and our trees have evolved into reflections of that.

We are behind on our photo albums, and there are more than a few children between us without completed any baby books, but dammit, decorating our Christmas trees is like the best walk down memory lane each and every year.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Erin

1. Caorach—That’s Gaelic for sheep if you were curious. When Steve and I were traveling through Ireland on our honeymoon, I was impressed by the beautiful countryside, the friendly people, and the sheep. Lots of sheep. This little fella has been part of our flock for 16 years now and I love seeing his simple unfinished wood wrapped in Irish wool every Christmas. It always takes me back to that special time when we were just starting out.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

2. Whatever, Martha! Oh, sisters are the absolute best, and I have been particularly blessed to have a great one. But in addition to being a long distance swimmer and full-time university professor, my sister is crafty. I did not get this gene, but it doesn’t usually smack me in the face until Christmas arrives. This is when we receive my sister’s beautiful gifts handmade with love. They contrast nicely with my gifts which usually look like my seven year old wrapped them. I love everything she has made us, but these are particularly cute. She made these for everyone (and I have a big family!) customized with hair color, eye color, glasses, and colors of their favorite sports team. Aren’t they adorable?? Don’t you all want to hate her just a little bit?

10 Christmas Ornaments We Love---Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

3. Angelface — When I was a little girl, my dad went to a Christmas party and one of his friends gave him 2 angels to give to me and my sister on Christmas day. My sister’s had blond hair and hung side by side with my angel at the top of our tree under our star until I married Steve and took my angel with me. This humble little angel is probably one of my oldest possessions and I love seeing her on our tree every year and remembering all of her Christmases past.

10 Christmas Ornaments We Love---Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

4. Sisters Are Special—The Series— Remember what I said about sisters?? This is just one of a series of ornaments we gave each other. They are all pretty cute and extol the virtues of sisterhood, but this is the only photo one.
10 Christmas Ornaments---Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

5. Family — Steve and I moved away from Maryland to mid-coast Maine a month after we were married. When we moved back home to Maryland, we had two kids and I was 8 months pregnant with the 3rd. We moved into a small apartment right before Christmas, and I couldn’t get to any of our Christmas decorations. I shoved a small artificial tree that someone was throwing away into a Nordstrom box, and bought a strand of lights (the tree was so small it only needed one). Then I took the box of extra photos (you know, the ones you didn’t use for albums or gifts before everything went digital) and started making ornaments. I showed you one of Ace as a baby here, but we still hang all of those crappy ornaments from our first Christmas in Maryland on our tree. It makes me happy to see how young we were and remember myself as a young mom determined to have a tree no matter what.

erin family

 

 

Ellen

6. Bermuda Moon Gate — My husband, Frank, and I got this on our honeymoon in–wait for it–Bermuda. Its complete circle symbolizes unity, peace, and happiness. The idea was brought to Bermuda in the 1800s by a sea captain who had visited Asia, but the island quickly adopted it as their own. Newlyweds who pass through a moon gate hand-in-hand are said to have everlasting happiness and good fortune. We were married twenty-one years ago, so I guess  they were onto something.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

7. You Can Find A Gift Shop Anywhere — After I graduated from medical school, Frank and I went to Italy. Not surprisingly, one of the most breathtaking sights was St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and the views of Rome from the roof and the cupola were equally spectacular. Imagine our surprise when we turned from the panoramic vistas to find a gift shop on the roof (I hear they also have a coffee bar now, too). We purchased this mosaic cross and it has had a place of honor at the top of tree ever since.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

8. Sharing Family History — My grandparents and their families were from Chincoteague Island, Virginia. While growing up, I spent every summer visiting down there. This ornament commemorates taking my first born daughter there when she was one year old. She never got to meet my grandparents, but she did get to meet my Great-Aunt Ruth and enjoyed herself immensely on her first beach trip.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

9. Talking Easter on Christmas — In 2007, we were lucky enough to go to the White House Easter Egg Roll. And yes, it was fabulous. Thank you Aunt Allaire for the tickets. There were children’s authors, the Easter Bunny, Hannah Montana, and the Jonas Brothers. This was when the wrecking ball was just a gleam in Miley’s eye. It really was like a festive old timey country fair . . . well, except for the aforementioned Disney-fest.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

10. New York Whirlwind — This ornament commemorates the awesome two day New York City vacation I took with my daughters in 2011. In just over 48 hours, we visited my sorority sister in Princeton, NJ, caught the train to Penn Station, rode a taxi to our swanky Times Square hotel ,The Sanctuary, took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry, rode the (free!) ferry round-trip to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, lunched at Mars 2021, rode the Ferris wheel at Toys R Us, dropped a fortune at the M&M store, got swept up into The Transformers: Dark of the Moon premier, ate at the Shake Shack with Aunt Donna, got caught up in a Year of the Rabbit party in our hotel lobby, ate breakfast at a diner, went to the Top of the Rock, took a carriage ride through Central Park, sat five rows back at Wicked, dined at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, took the subway to Penn Station, and got our fannies home. I can DO tourist.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Bonus

My 14-year-old wanted me to include her favorite ornament. It makes her happy year after year because it never loses its bubble bath scent. And because she makes my heart happy, I’m including it. Plus maybe this will make her like the blog better. She’s not a huge fan.

How Our Christmas Ornaments Tell the Stories of Our Lives - Some Christmas trees are perfectly beautiful, and some tell a perfectly wonderful story. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Is your tree a Pinterest dream or a hodgepodge?

Tell us about YOUR favorite ornament!

From The Sisterhood to you, we wish you a Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness.

Ellen and Erin

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

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