Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess Trying to Have the Mostest...

(Getting excited at the boys'
Thanksgiving Feast at school!)
It's that time of year!  As a person who loves to play hostess, I'm in heaven!!  I get excited about having people over, cooking for them, serving drinks, and watching everyone enjoy themselves.  Jeremy says it's my way of showing people I care about them- and I agree!  Aside from the actual act of cooking and baking, though, I stress out waaaaay too much and forget to slow down and actually enjoy the process- and product.  I decided to plan way ahead this year and eliminate as much craziness as possible.  My first get-together:  Thanksgiving.  I host every year and LOVE it!  It marks the beginning of the holiday season for me.  It also involves lots of cooking, so I welcome it with open arms!
To avoid becoming a sweating, crazy, grouchy hostess, I decided to make a list of things that I always seem the least prepared for and..well...prepare for them!  Here's my list, along with my solutions:

Not fancy, but works for me!

Frantically finishing cooking and cleaning the kitchen!
I always seem to be frantically finishing up the mashed potatoes and/or dressing at the last minute, as people are arriving.  Sometimes, I'm even cooking for a good half hour after guests have shown up!  This leads to a kitchen that is still messy- not to mention hot from the stove and oven being on, and I'm a sweaty mess!  After thinking about it, I realized that I save the "hot" dishes until the last minute to guarantee that they're not cold for the guests.  What I failed to remember is that I have two awesome double buffet warming trays from my mother-in-law!  Duh! 
I made a food schedule so that I'd know exactly what to do and when.  Not the fanciest thing in the world, but it made me feel calmer immediately!  Yes- I even included when to get dressed bc I am rarely a decent-looking hostess when some of my guests arrive.  It was one of the items on my list, but once I included it on my schedule, it lost its spot!

What goes where?
I have now taken out all of my serving trays, platter, bowls, etc. and figured out what suits everything that will be served.  I labeled each one with a post-it note and was even OCD enough to draw a picture of my kitchen and where each dish will go.  I had to include dishes that other people are bringing, and just planned for a large dish in order to guarantee space!  Now, I won't be stressing out at noon when I'm putting everything out!  Sounds silly, but it's a problem I just had to eliminate.  (I don't think this is my original idea.  I must have seen it on Pinterest!)

Can I put this in your refrigerator/freezer?
This is the one I'm never fully prepared for.  I get so caught up in cooking and cleaning that I forget to make room for my guests' things.  This led to a grand refrigerator/freezer clean-out and organization that took some time.  In the end, I have tons of extra space and am very excited!  I also made room in our garage refrigerator for the thawing turkey! (It usually holds beers, juice boxes, and extra gallons of milk.)
Two shelves of extra space
(Oops-chopped off bottom drawer!)

I am not a person who finds much enjoyment out of eating leftovers.  I get bored after having something one or two times, and feel horribly about throwing out food that was yummy just because we couldn't eat it fast enough. I thought of the solution at my friend's appetizer and dessert party this year.  After sampling eachother's dishes, Jennifer gave each guest a paper sack with a small tupperware container and a baggy so that we could take some favorites home. 

I decided to copy her, so I found giant-sized brown paper sacks at HEB and some tupperware containers that fit just perfect!  I just had to think of a little saying to put on the bag and...Voila!  I think they came out nicely!  Plus, it was a very fun project for the kids.  Even Ross decorated a few!


Of course, having a clean house is a must!  I always underestimate how long the simplest things will take to complete.  It doesn't help that I have three little monkeys running around undoing all of the hard work Jeremy and I do!  We've done some things throughout the past week that couldn't possibly get messed up by Thursday (windows, mirrors, etc), but I am saving most for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Even vaccuuming has to wait until Thursday, though.  I just know that Ross will manage to crush his goldfish into the living room carpet before noon!  This one is more of just taking deep breaths and being patient.  There's not a lot I can do too far ahead, and I just had to learn to be at peace with that.  I am super lucky- I have a husband who really does help clean well.  He definitely does his part!  :o)

Wow- I'm happy to have typed all of this up!  It makes me feel like I'm actually prepared for Thursday!  I can look back on this next year and make sure that I am just as prepared!  Of course, this could all also end up in a frantic, running-around-like-a-crazy-person Thanksgiving...we'll see.  Until then, I'm thankful for my little attempt at being organized and prepared- and for the family and friends who love me regardless of how it all turns out in the end!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Perfect Parent?

I am a person who is constantly second-guessing myself.  Should I have done that?  Did that sound stupid?  What did that random stranger who I will never see again think about what I just did?  It's annoying and I've been unsuccessfully working on it for quite a while. 

Well, I am proud to say that I had a break-through this week!!!  One of the hardest jobs I have ever had (and will probably ever have) is parenting.  It's a doozy.  And as we all know, it does not come with a manual.  As a teacher, I had high expectations of my students, but my patience was sky-high, and I could find an endless number of ways to explain a topic to my little kiddos.  As a mother?  Not so much.  I still have very high expectations, but I can be hard on them- mostly Mia.  She is a super bright little girl and very mature for her age.  It's easy to forget that she is only seven, since she is far from the seven year olds I had in my second grade class back ten years ago.  (Or at least I think she is...) 

Some people have even told me to "lighten up" and that I'm "too hard on her".  There's also the whole "she's just a kid" comment that I always love.  I take those things to heart and begin to question my parenting.  Am I scarring her and taking away her self-confidence?  Is she going to think that everything she does is wrong as an adult?  Oh no!  What have I done?  I'm the worst mom in the world!!!  Ahhhhhhh!  (Yes, I seriously have a wave of panic and those thoughts with every little comment and look I get.)  What's weird is that I feel like it's over basic things like:  eye contact, please and thank you, manners, and basic respect protocol- Shouldn't we all be sticklers when it comes to those things?  I get confused on whether or not to back off.

Then, Friday rolled around... 
Ross had decided to be up most of Thursday night.  At 7:30 Friday morning, I woke up and went into "woke up late" mode (I'm usually up before 6:30).  I rushed into my bathroom and- there was my little angel!  She was dressed, shoes on, teeth brushed, and face washed.  She looked at me and smiled proudly at the look on my face.  "Good morning, Mommy!  I just need for you to fix my hair and I'm ready to go!"  I beamed.  She couldn't contain her excitement and walked over to me with a huge smile on her face and gave me a very long, tight hug.  I told her how proud I was of her over and over.  She had definitely earned a trip to the donut store for a special breakfast treat!  <Insert many more hugs here!>

To top off the morning, I checked my email before Mia headed out to school and saw a note from her music teacher.  We had emailed about Mia and Graham donating their Halloween candy to an organization called Operation Gratitude. (They send it in care packages to deployed soldiers.)  The principal wanted Mia to take her candy to school, where she would be on the video morning announcement, telling kids about why she was donating her candy, and helping get the movement started by the entire school!  Awesome!

Responsible, independent, proud child?  Check. 
Well-mannered, thoughtful, giving child?  Check. 

Finally, it happened- Break-through!  Maybe a small break-through, but I'll take it!  I'm probably not the most perfect mom in the world...Maybe that mom doesn't exist.  What I know, though, is that I don't need to worry about little comments here and there.  All I need to do is focus on the beautiful little people Jeremy and I have created and know it's all been perfect enough for them!