Playing Santa is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, it IS fun. It’s kind of a rush putting together toys at midnight because that’s when you know your 4-year-old is really really asleep. Getting all of them wrapped up, arranging them just so under the tree.
But I couldn’t help but feel a tad guilty. My son and I were getting all ready for Santa on Christmas Eve. He counted out 8 carrots for the reindeer and put them in a bowl on our porch. He picked out 3 Christmas cookies he made himself, for Santa, and put them by the fireplace. He even moved them over from their original position so Santa wouldn’t mistakenly step on them on his way out of the chimney.
The look on my boy’s face was enough to make my heart melt. His eyes were wide, his voice full of excitement and anticipation. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. I felt like I was putting all this false hope into him, almost lying to him in a way. It’s strange, because as a girl, I held on to my belief in Santa for much longer than my peers. And although I think it had a lot to do with my mom’s threat … “if you don’t believe, you don’t get presents” … I think a big part of me just didn’t want to let it go of the magic.
I asked my mom if she felt the Santa Guilt with me and my brother. She said “No way.” Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive. I mean, it was a perfect Christmas. And there is something magical about a little guy waking up and counting the carrots in the bowl and saying “I really need to thank Santa for my presents.”
What about you? Did you have a twinge of Santa guilt this season? Let me know!
As you might know, I’m a big fan of Bass Pro Shops. They always have something fun and FREE going on for the kids and I always take full advantage.
My favorite is their Christmas Wonderland. They pack December full of free crafts, fun displays, games and a FREE studio-quality 4 X 6 photo with Santa. So skip the expensive mall Santa photos and head down to Bass Pro.
Crafts are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. (while supplies last) and include:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 4 & 5: Snowman Suncatcher ornament
Dec. 7 – 9, 11 & 12: Wooden ornaments
Dec. 14 – 16, 18 & 19: Reindeer ornaments
Dec. 21-23: Cookie decorating
From now through Dec. 12, Santa photos are 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
From Dec. 13 to Dec. 24, photo hours are extended to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Christmas Eve.
All games and activities are available during store hours. These include toy trains, slot car racing, laser and soft gun arcades, remote control trucks and video games.
Also, this year, Bass Pro is giving away free “Santa Bandz” to the first 150 children on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Bandz are different each week.
For more information about Santa’s Wonderland, click here.
Does anyone have this year’s “hottest” toy (according to whom, I’m not sure), the Zhu Zhu pet hamster? How far are you willing to go to get one, and how much would you pay for this $10 toy? Does anyone remember what last year’s hottest pet toy was? I don’t. Will it make or break my children’s Christmas if they don’t get at least one of the hot toys of the season?
The AP is reporting today (link here) that these robotic pets are fetching $40 or more at some auction sites from parents who are desperate to secure the latest and greatest toy in time Christmas. They look pretty cute, and if I had seen one in a store, I might have considered getting one for my children; the price is right, and the marketing has convinced me that this is THE toy they’re going to want, whether they know it or not.
However, if I don’t see it, then the world won’t end. I’m not going to fight you for it, nor am I willing to stand in line at 5 a.m. (or camp out overnight) on Black Friday for a hamster toy or any other toy for that matter. I’m willing to bet that supply will catch up with demand and these toys will be for sale again before they’re forgotten in favor of next year’s hot toy.
Am I missing something? I know I’ve missed some great deals today and probably a lot of fun looking for the perfect presents with a group of people united (or competing?) for a common cause: shopping. I read the newspaper ads and even thought, “what if”?
But then common sense, the need for sleep, and the lack of a sitter to watch my children took over my brain. There seems to be plenty of “stuff” to go around for kids and grownups, too, and I don’t think it’s all going to be gone today. They’ll have a much better Christmas if I get more sleep and forego stress over the hunt for the Zhu Zhu hamster.
But I’d love to hear your thoughts about the appeal of Black Friday shopping as well as the demand to give the latest and greatest toys to our children for Christmas instead of the almost-latest and greatest toys, pretty good toys, or (GASP) what kids would consider the lowest category of gift-giving, Things They Need.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The time around the holidays is when the Oklahoma City offers some of its most fun things to do. Don’t let the cold scare you away … you’ll enjoy great events, specials and you won’t be fighting the crowds.
Here are some upcoming events at the zoo:
Nov. 25 – Free day. No admission fee! Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 27 – Feast for the Beasts. Some animals will be feasting on traditional Thanksgiving dishes from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
December through February – Free zoo admission every Monday!
Dec. 1 – 24 – Deck the Zoo. Bring and edible wildlife ornament and get admission to the zoo for only $1!
Dec. 5, 12 and 19 – Cupcakes with Santa. Kids can decorate their own holiday cupcake. They’ll create some unique holiday crafts and end the day with a visit from Santa himself. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Cost for children age 3 and older is $20 for ZooFriends members, $22 for nonmembers. Adults are free with a paid child. Pre-registration is required and must be made one week prior to the event. Register online at http://okczoo.recware.com or call 425-0218.
Dec. 5 – Wreath making class. Everything to make a holiday wreath will be provided. Cost is $20 for ZooFriends members, $25 for nonmembers and the class is for age 16 and older. Register at the same site or phone number listed above.
Dec. 7 – Coffee Connections. This is a new, FREE program for ages 16 and older from 9 to 10 a.m. Meet at the Rosser Conservation Education Center to learn about the zoo and its happenings while sipping a cup of joe.
Dec. 14 – Santa is stopping by the zoo to delivery goodies to the animals from 10 to 11 a.m. Guests in the Canopy Restaurant can enjoy free hot chocolate and doughnuts and get pictures with Santa. Activity is free, no reservations are required.
Dec. 29, 30 – Winter day camps are available for ages 4-11. They are from 9 a.m. to noon and cost $20 for ZooFriends members, $25 for nonmembers. Snacks will be provided, but bring a lunch. Advance registration and payment are required. Enroll at http://okczoo.recware.com or call 425-0218.
For more information about upcoming zoo events, go to www.okczoo.com.
So Christmas has come and gone. Santa has probably brought your kids a toy (or ten) and now you wonder what you can do with all those toys your kids don’t play with anymore or have outgrown. I look at all my son’s baby toys and wonder what I can possibly do with them, as I am quickly running out of room.
I took some suggestions from friends and family and here are a few:
1. Keep them. If you plan on having more kids, you’ll be one step ahead and not have to buy all those toys all over again.
2. Give them to friends. Especially expecting or new parents. It will help cut down the costs for them and you’ll surely win friend points.
3. Consign them. There is a big consignment sale twice a year in Oklahoma City and Norman. It’s the Just Between Friends sale and they take tons of toys, clothing, strollers, you name it. They pay the consignor 65% of the sale. Not bad if you have a ton of stuff and would like to make a little back to put toward future toy and clothing purchases. Go to their Website to sign up or get more information. In Oklahoma City, go to http://okc.jbfsale.com. The sale will be at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In Norman, go to http://norman.jbfsale.com. The sales will be at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Registration begins in January and the sales are set for March.
4. Goodwill. 84 percent of the revenue brought into the Goodwill stores goes to their employment and training opportunities, which helps people find good jobs. Go to www.goodwill.org or your closest Goodwill store for more information on how to donate.
5. Infant Crisis Services. This local nonprofit helps the youngest of children. If you have baby toys that are gently used, they will gladly take them to give to families in need. You can donate new or good used clothing (preemie to size 6) and shoes, and new or good used toys, among many other items. Call 528-3663 or go to www.infantcrisis.org for more information.
These are just a few suggestions. There are probably many more charities or organizations that can take your children’s used clothes or toys. It’s one way you can keep giving, even after the holiday season is over.
If you have any other suggestions you’d like readers to know about, leave your comments here or email email@example.com. I’d love to share them.
About 120 third-grade crafters at Chisholm Elementary School in Edmond met Thursday in the cafeteria to create gingerbread houses, a tradition that’s been around for years.
They spread the icing and stuck on the candy on roofs, eaves, front walkways and more. This year, quite a few of the students used the red licorice or red hots to form the letters “OU” or “Sooners.”
If you wanted to, the tradition seems easy enough to start at home, without any of the usual complex baking. At school, parent volunteers created the framework of each one in advance by sticking two pint-sized milk cartons together and gluing graham crackers across the angled tops of the cartons to make the roof and on the sides to make the walls (see photos below). Ice cream cones formed the base of the trees outside the house.
Then, in addition to the peppermints, gumdrops, m&m’s, little cookies and more, the parents handed out bowls of white icing and popsicle sticks to spread it and let the 8- and 9-year-olds go to work on the decorations. Most of the students were concentrating so hard that very few of them were eating the candy itself.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Here are some photos. Click on them to see them larger. Video is above. To see more photos after the jump, click on “more” below.
According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, injuries kill more children each year than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined. Children age 4 and younger account for nearly half of toy-related injuries and almost 90 percent of deaths. In Oklahoma, about 130 children through age 15 die each year from unintentional injuries. For every fatality, approximately 45 children require hospitalization and 1,300 require emergency treatment.
These are numbers that aren’t to be taken lightly. The health department offers these tips when purchasing a toy to keep those numbers as low as possible:
1. Always consider the child’s age and maturity level. Purchase a toy suited to the ability, skill and interest level of the child.
2. Toys intended for children older than age 3 should never be given to infants or toddlers. They may have small parts that pose a choking hazard. Children younger than 3 should not be given toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches. Cords longer than this can get wrapped around a child’s neck.
3. Children younger than age 8 shouldn’t be given toys with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity (not including batteries).
4. Older children should be taught to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
5. Look for well-constructed toys. Check the toys periodically for broken parts that should be repaired or thrown away.
6. Consider the weight, size of the toy.
7. Make sure toys do not contain toxic paint or lead.
8. Costumes or pajamas should be labeled “flame retardant/flame resistant.”
9. If you give a child a bike, roller blades, skateboard or scooter, don’t forget to include safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards as part of the gift.
If you started holiday shopping early, you can also check toys to be sure they haven’t been recalled since your purchase. Go to www.cpsc.gov to be sure they aren’t on the list. And if you have children of your own, I highly suggest signing up for the website’s email announcements. As soon as a toy or other children’s item (such as clothes, cribs, etc.) is recalled, they let you know via email, complete with pictures of the items, where they were sold and when, and what to do with the recalled item.
Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time, especially for the little ones. Let’s all be extra diligent in keeping it safe for them. If you have any other good safety tips, comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year. The lights, the parties, the festivities, the shopping, the trees, the STRESS of the holidays. Most of us have more to get done than we think we can possibly handle, especially if you add kids into the mix. But are there ways to at least reduce some of the stress this wonderful season brings?
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department offers some valuable tips on simple things you can do to make this season a little easier:
1. Save decorating until a week before the holiday. Save irreplaceable decorations for later years when children are older. My son is two, so I won’t be buying any Swarovski Crystal or Tiffany ornaments this year.
2. Shop ahead, throughout the year, while children are at school or home. Good advice, unless you’re like me and just HAVE to close the mall down on Christmas Eve, just for the fun of it.
3. Limit the number of times children stay with babysitters while you attend events. Not a problem in my house – my babysitter is terminally unavailable.
4. Avoid forcing a frightened child to sit on Santa’s lap. Young children often enjoy stories and pictures but the real thing can be overwhelming. I tried to force my son to sit for a Santa picture last year. All I got was a photo of a distraught toddler with red puffy eyes.
5. Avoid forcing children to welcome unknown relatives with a kiss or by handing them over to be held by a stranger. Allow the child time to warm up. Also good advice, unless you’re my mother ‘Gwennie’ and in that case, there will be no warm up time. Because she said so.
6. If weather permits, encourage outdoor play to release extra energy. OK, we live in Oklahoma. This is not hard. It won’t be cold until at least Febraury.
7. Keep routines as normal as possible. Be sure to expect behavioral changes anytime routines change. I find that this is pretty much a given with a toddler, at any time, in any season, for any reason.
8. When traveling with a young child, allow extra time on the road. Take some familiar objects from home. Establish a routine as close as possible to your regular routine and be assertive with relatives about how you enforce limits with your child. Unless, of course you’re ‘Gwennie’ and under her roof. Then it’s her rules … or else.
9. Limit holiday candy; give healthy treats along with the seasonal goodies. So pumpkin pie counts as a vegetable, right?
Any more tips you’d like to share? Leave your comments here or email me at the address below.
A lot of mothers — both married and single — sometimes do without to make sure their children get what they need or want.
As a mom, I know this to be true.
A story in today’s New York Times just bears this out.
Moms, it seems, are putting off their own needs to make sure their kids get their Christmas wish lists fulfilled, according to the story “To Buy Children’s Gifts, Mothers Do Without.”
Moms, does this resonate with you?
Do you put off buying things for yourself or doing things for yourself to ensure that your children are taken care of and have what they need?
Do you put off exercise and doing other things for yourself because of your children’s schedule or routine?
Let me know. Send an e-mail with your comments to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name, hometown and a phone number where you can be reached. Your views may be used for a future story.