Saturday, December 31, 2011

Driest winter since the Donner Party!

Now I know why it is that people might actually eat each other even if they don’t get snowed in.  As you know from all my b*tching, we trekked all the way up to Lake Tahoe for a white Christmas, and got anything but.  The Donner Party is the ill-fated group of emigrants travelling near Lake Tahoe in the 1840's who got stuck in a snow storm and turned to cannibalism to survive.  Apparently it has been more than 125 years since Lake Tahoe has had a December that is this dry.  We’ve got the opposite problem the Donners had with the weather, but we’re about to go so crazy that we just might kill and eat each other.   
Here’s what we learned about becoming desperate in your quest to entertain the children with alternative winterish activities:

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Twas the night of Christmas . . .

. . . and all through the house everyone was stirring because they were on a sugar high and had so many new toys to play with there was no way they were going to bed!  It's 10pm and my children are on round 7 of Spy Kids 4.  I seriously think we're going to have to replace the DVD before we actually make it home!

Today I've got two lists:
1) 5 signs that it might be time to re-evaluate your holiday traditions AND
2) You might be Santa if . . .

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Over the river and through the woods . . .

To Lake Tahoe we go.  Another car trip and we all know what that means . . . surprise balls!  These things are like crack for the children.  From the moment we got in the car they started begging for them.  With our car packed full of so much sh*t we actually worried that we would violate the weight limits on bridges, we set out for a Nelson family Christmas in Lake Tahoe (the Nelsons are Heather’s mother’s family – the one that has 11 of her 15 cousins who between them have 11 children (and several of them are not even married yet).  The adventures over the next 12 days will give the Griswolds a run for their money.
It wouldn’t be a Dugdale family vacation without a few lessons learned early:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Camp Runamuk and the Winter Wonderland

Some people are addicted to crack. . . my name is mommy and I’m addicted to planning ridiculous projects that make a complete disaster of my house and make me go bankrupt because I cuss when they don’t work out like I thought they would. 
As we were getting ready to leave for our trip today I had Camp Runamuk with six kids, two projects and a lunch with my 92 year old grandma.  All of which had to be accomplished before 2pm.  I think my mother truly didn’t believe I was going to get everything accomplished when she saw my kitchen at 11am that was full of glue and tissue paper.  It was at that moment that I realized I need to admit my problem . . . I actually like to create chaos in my life. 
Today’s projects involved making sugar cookies and also snowmen with glue, tissue paper and apple juice bottles.
Here’s what I learned when you try to recreate winter in your kitchen and rush through sugar cookies:

Family fun in 32 minutes or less

I am always on the search for family fun that will be great for the kids, but not take forever with set up and clean up.  Plus, today we were running around so much that I didn’t realize until we got home that I only had 45 minutes to do family fun and leave to our next appointment.  Today, I found TWO projects that accomplished this task – chocolate covered candy canes and joyful tea lights.  Oh, and I found a use for the 32 pie plates – holders for all the elements of my family fun projects.
Here’s what I learned about turning things into your pantry to family fun:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feed the birds . . . and then feed the kids

We’re reviewing all our photos to prepare for the holiday cards, calendars and videos that we do and I was reminded about all the family fun we’ve had this year.  Fun we’ve been missing lately because I've been busy realizing I should have failed 4th grade, oh, and I’ve been working a lot.  Well, this week Camp Heather and family fun is back.  It’s that week that every mother wakes up with night terrors about . . . school vacation.  Oh, wait, is that just me?!
To kick off Camp Heather family fun we did . . . what else . . . a cranberry project!  We made a cranberry wreath to put outside to feed the birds.  Then, it was on to a Rice Krispy treat project to feed the other animals in my life . . . I mean, the kids.
Here’s what I learned about projects with toothpicks and frosting:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If you can't beat em . . .

. . . just buy stock in Hanes and purchase every color of sweatpant and sweatshirt known to man!  The Ego (middle child) has been killing me about her clothes.  She wears the same red hoodie every day and literally the nicest thing I can get her into to go to church is a velour sweatsuit.  In the spirit of giving and forgiveness, and complete exhaustion, I’ve decided to just give in.  And here’s what I’ve learned about accepting defeat:

Friday, December 16, 2011

The show must go on!

"I barfed on my boots". . . make that my sister’s boots, and my daddy’s car and on my Christmas dress . . . Here’s a mommy lesson I learned – when your five year old tells you her tummy hurts, is laying in your lap all through dinner, goes to the bathroom twice and says to you “going to the bathroom made it all better”, GET HER HOME ASAP!  Tonight we were eating dinner and on our way to a holiday show when The Id (the baby) told me her tummy hurt.  Like any mommy in the running for mommy of the year I chalked this up to another child tummy ache and thought she’d get over it if plied with ice cream. . . and then she barfed on her sister’s boots in the middle of a restaurant.  In the infamous words of BFF Molly’s 13 year-old little brother – F#*@ING FANTASTIC!

This is a photo of how mommy was feeling after the barfing started!  Ok, it's actually The Id throwing a tantrum at the Grand Canyon, but it just seemed to fit.
On the bright side, I did take the Superego and the Ego to the show and it was absolutely fantastic!  And yes, Karma’s going to get back at me for leaving Husband from Heaven with the barfing baby.  
The show we saw was Christian Youth Theater (CYT)’s Holiday Traditions.  Very professional show with fantastic sets and costumes and an incredible living nativity scene at the end.  They even had a live camel and sheep.  There are still tickets and the show runs through December 22nd.  You can check it out at  I highly recommend it as a great holiday tradition to start with your family.  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than the Nutcracker!  J
And, following is a fantastic recipe for day 3 of cranberries:
Tiff’s Holiday Cranberry Salsa


Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 minced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup halved cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Pita crisps or tortilla chips


1.   In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 minced jalapeno (seeds removed for less heat, if desired), and 1/4 cup chopped red onion.
2.   Add 2 ripe avocados, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, 3/4 cup halved cranberries, drained well on paper towels, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper; toss gently to combine. Serve with Pita Crisps or tortilla chips, as desired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sugar and spice . . .

. . . and less than 5 ingredients.  That’s the name of the game for me.  As we all eat our way through the holidays and hope that no one notices that we are wearing more and more elastic pants, I thought I’d share a few recipe ideas I got these last couple of days that were really helpful.  Plus, it’s been a slow news day and I have to keep up my 12 days of cranberries.
So Monday I had Bunco and it was pot luck.  Of course, the event started at 7pm and at 6:30 I had an “oh sh*t” mommy moment and realized that I was bringing the only salad and I had NONE of the ingredients.  My mom had shared a quick and easy salad recipe and by 7:15 I had gone to the store, made the entire salad and was at my friend’s doorstep with a fantastic salad and homemade dressing.  Of course, if you do this you may not want to enlist your father to shell the pistachios on the salad – he MAY play the "one for the salad, one for me" game which explains why I only ended up with half the bag in the salad.  Following are 3 great recipes that are easy and sure to be a hit.  And, most importantly, won’t make mommy insane!  Starting with the cranberries . . . .

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News Flash: There are NO sick days for mommies

So here’s something that every mommy knows but we don’t really talk about because we know what can happen . . . if we get sick (imagine the super quiet voice that's whispering because if it says something out loud it just might come true).  Mommies don’t get sick days – paid or unpaid!!!!  On Sunday I was not feeling well so I locked myself in my room for the better part of the afternoon and evening.  This is the first time since my stay at home motherhood that I’ve felt this bad and here’s what I learned about mommy sick days:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What happens at Girls Night Out . . .

. . . doesn’t always stay there . . . because some things are just too funny not to share.  The other day Husband From Heaven asked me “what do you DO at Girls Night Out?”  I decided to leave out the part about the strippers and body shots and just tell him “shopping, desserts, dancing, talking”.  I left out the full Bar part too (I brought cash for that, so he can’t trace how much I drank).  His reaction to hearing this was the same as my reaction to “what do you do at a football party with the guys” – he’d rather have his head stapled to the carpet than know any more details.
But, you all might be entertained by some of the things that took place during my Cherries Jubilee evening!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday traditions . . . aren't really meant for 5 year-olds!

Ok, so I know that all of you were hoping that I would write about Girls Night Out and Cherries Jubilee.  Never fear, it will be coming, but it’s going to have to wait.  I gave my camera to Nana for the night so she could take family fun pictures while they babysit the kids, and like a moron I didn’t  download the photos first (hopefully she doesn’t get curious and download them herself, there’s some top secret stuff on there). 
Before I jump into my “lessons learned” for today, I want to give a shameless plug for one of my amazing clients.  On Saturday, December 10th (that’s tomorrow), the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum will have their brand new facility open to the public for free from 11am-4pm.  There will be an old fashioned “tricked-out” fire truck, snow on the building and all the exhibits that children can explore.  This is an amazing new facility you should check out before they officially open next Tuesday.  Also, keep it in mind for Winter Break.  You can check it out at
Ok, back to today’s post.  Instead of revealing all about Girls Night Out, I’m going to share what I learned about decorating for the holidays when you have absolutely no business doing so, and perpetuating holiday traditions that were invented before television and when the fashion trends were powdered wigs and brothels.  Oh, wait, that’s a Lady Gaga TV Special. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday confessions from a foul mouthed mommy!

My children (led by my sassy 9 year old) informed me this week that I now owe them $1 for every time I cuss.  Within 4 days I will have paid for their college tuition.  Even Husband from Heaven said to me “we should make that our vacation fund, we’ll have that collected in no time”.  Smart@ss!
Below are my holiday lessons that highlight my tremendous parenting skills (oh, and a random holiday decorating tip at the end):

Monday, December 5, 2011

Who needs fruitcake . . .

. . . when you can have Fruity Pebbles!  Today’s family fun was decorating the Christmas Tree and then making our own tree out of Fruity Pebbles.
The Fruity Pebble Tree was a fun family project that although it didn’t turn out exactly how it was supposed to, it did turn out really cute.  The recipe is right below the lessons from today.
Here’s what I learned about decorating the tree and making one of your own:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

. . . Christmas!  Y’all thought I was going to say something smart@&$, didn’t you?!  Never fear, that will come below. 
Before I do my post today, I wanted to encourage you to check out my guest post on the blog "3 P's in a Pod" about Holiday Torture, I mean Travel, with kids. 
Today I had a healthy dose of holiday cheer and have improved my attitude.  I attended the National Charity League Holiday Home Tour as well as the California Center for the Arts Tree Lighting and rounded out the day with a trip to see the Knob Hill house in San Marcos.  Was definitely a family fun day, but, of course, it was the Trifecta, so there’s some entertaining lessons learned along the way: 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Tis the season . . .

. . . to be overcommitted, double booked and drive yourself f*#&ing insane.  Is it just me, or is it always the case that when you are completely stressed out, chasing three kids around a store and trying to check out as fast as you can, the song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” comes on.  Seriously?!  For who?!  I can guarantee that for all of us mommies out there who are trying to balance cookie parties, Santa lists, open houses, holiday performances, charity functions, oh, and let’s throw in a two week break from school, this is NOT the most wonderful time of the year.  Though not everyone will admit it, we’re all just hanging on until December 26th when everything is finished and we can finally sit down to rest – for 15 minutes before we have to clean up the holiday tornado that just hit our house.
Ok, ok, mommy is a bit cranky after coming home from her two week vacation.  I’m back into the full swing of double booking and over committing myself, oh, and throw in my husband’s birthday and you’ve got a recipe for a mommy who can no longer tell if she’s coming or going.  I even missed a massage appointment today. D@MNIT! 
This afternoon I thought it would be a great idea to fit in the following within two hours: 1) The Id’s 5 year old photos (because I realized that I actually need to still take them while she is 5 and not 5 and 11 months); 2) purchasing the items to finish up an ancestry project for the Ego; 3) purchasing items for an adopt a family program that have to be turned in tomorrow; 4) purchasing toiletries for the Superego’s Girl Scout project that has to be turned in tomorrow (actually it was today, but you’ll see below why I forgot about turning it in); 5) prepping for an art corps class for the Ego that will be at 8am tomorrow; and, because my mother-in-law decided to have her son on December 1st, 6)  purchasing the items for and baking my mother-in-law’s famous banana cream pie for my husband’s birthday.  I’m being punished for taking that vacation, aren’t I?!  J
For your enjoyment, here’s what I learned in those two hours:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

50 years and still cruisin'

So, the whole reason we were on the cruise was because my husband’s parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  The anniversary actually isn’t until December 30th, but this was our year to be with them at Thanksgiving rather than Christmas, so we celebrated early. 
I love this photo! 

It was such a special milestone to share with my in-laws, so today’s blog post is dedicated to them and all the things we learned while on our cruise.  Such as:
1)      Raspberry mojitos are the way to Grandma’s heart.  My sister-in-law, mother-in-law and I had raspberry mojitos one of the nights for dinner and at every meal thereafter grandma admitted that she had one!  Ok, there was only one lunch after that, but that’s a good thing because I’m certain that if she’d discovered those things sooner we would have never gotten her away from the drink cart!

2)      When you touch the wall of the Panama Canal with your husband because you’ve been told it will ensure your marriage lasts forever, be sure you’re both touching the same wall.  Apparently if you touch different walls your marriage will last forever, just not to each other!

3)      When you arrive with more luggage than your mother and father-in-law as well as sisters-in-law combined, you will be judged for your inability to pack efficiently.  We had THREE TIMES as much luggage as the rest of my husband’s family combined.  When we had to put our bags in the hallway we encroached on all of our neighbors and someone said “what, are you moving?”  Yes, we had 15 suitcases (and yes, most of that was for me and the girls), but in my defense, we had more than double the number of people and I did try to avoid having to wear the same underwear 4 days in a row.  Of course, I probably should have shared this approach with the baby who didn’t seem to change it despite having new underwear accessible to her. 
Congratulations to my in-laws who generously shared their wonderful celebration with us!