How to manage holiday stress gracefully and without too much wine.

Hello lovelies! Does anyone else feel like from September onwards its a mad dash toward the nothingness of January? September is all about school and paperwork, in October you’ll discover that kids have outgrown all clothes for fall, then it’s Halloween and Thanksgiving and by Christmas, well, all is not calm and bright. I am not going to tell you I know how to manage it all but I do have some good tips on how to reduce the holiday stress.

Make a list and check it twice. 

 

Photo from 11 Magnolia Lane.

I bought myself a Holiday Planner from here. It’s for 2017 but I plan to use it, well, always. Thanksgiving menu – while I might alternate some items, I usually keep it the same. I have printed out a plan for this menu, so I know exactly when to start defrosting the turkey, what to make ahead of time and when to start cooking what. It doesn’t much and it makes sense to have a standing shopping list and timed plan. I also mark down what wine worked with what dish, whether kids needed anything else etc. Same with Christmas menu or any holiday party you host. Note down what worked, what didn’t, copy down your best recipes and decoration ideas. I also like this calendar for jotting down any decorating ideas and writing down reminders to buy new timers, etc.

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Photo: SEV Design Group

Side note of decorations: I used to make my poor hubby carry out these large containers of Christmas decor (by last count I had 20 but we’ve gotten rid of some and well added some) and then proceeded to pull everything out and try to see what goes where. Ugh, it was such a mess. After organizing my Christmas decorations (read about it here), I realized I have too many and it makes no sense to bring it all up. I now try to come up with a theme and write down on my planner what goes where: colors, real or fake greenery, outside decorations etc. At least for me, having a plan makes it a little less stressful. If you need ideas, here’s a link to my Christmas board on Pinterest.

 

Buy ahead.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t hit the outlets now and get at least some of the gift shopping done now. I do a quick run to Woodbury or Clinton outlets where I can get teachers gifts, little hostess gifts, kids Christmas outfits, etc. If you know that your relatives are likely to send you a gift of sorts, buy something for them now, wrap it, box it, address it and all you need to do later is to mail it! So beats running around at the last minute when you are tired as is.

 

Thoughtful gifts: pink mace and Grandkids plaque from Etsy (did need extra time though to get all the baby photos of grandkids)

Kids are going to change their minds at the last minute but for anyone else you should buy now. And wrap as you go!!! I always stash the gifts into a basement closet, thinking I will put on some Christmas music and wrap away one evening like a blissful Elf. It never happens. I run out of tape, get all pissed off that my husband is not helping me and I am completely over it half way through. Have your supplies for wrapping in one box ready, so you are good to go. And PS! buy this handband tape dispenser. Makes your life so much easier.

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And if you and your husband exchange gifts, think of what you want now and figure out what he does, too. Black Friday morning would be great for this: get a cup of coffee and place your orders as most stores offer BF deals online as well as in stores. Do NOT leave this to December, it’ll be way too hectic and you’ll only end up getting stuff you’ll return. Do NOT let him guess what you need, quick email with links is really the best way to go. Also, do NOT over extend!

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Plan out your outfits.

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You know you’ll go to a Christmas party or two or three. Your work party, your husband’s Christmas event, neighbors get together, New Year’s Eve, what ever it is, plan your outfits out now. Hang them out in your closet, so you have them ready. Trust me, its going to make your life so much easier. I get s many emails from clients throughout December asking me what they should wear. Go get some cute sweater dresses now (red or white would be beautiful), or get ivory wool pants/skirt with a matching sweater, add festive red lipstick and voila. If you are more comfortable in all black, add some sparkle with shoes and jewelry. Make sure your kids have some outfits for their events. And schedule your hair appointments for December now, preferably during the first week. Get pedicure done – think ahead.

Prioritize. 

It’s going to be a mayhem. Even with all the planning, you’ll be a little (or a lot) stressed out. So make yourself a cup of tea (now) and then think about what this time really means to you and your family. What would your spouse and your kids really value? What would make Christmas Christmas? Are there traditions you hold dear? Do you need new ones? Think about it now. However much you plan and prepare, not everything will go smoothly but some things ought to. I’ve kept it pretty simple for us this  year. I want to take a night, unplug and spend it baking with my daughters. Since making different doughs and cleaning up (ugh how I hate cleaning up) would get me pretty tired, I am going to make the cookie dough now and freeze it.

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We are all going to go see Nutcracker and have lovely dinner afterwards. And girls are looking forward to a magic basket that elves bring in the beginning of Christmas which officially heralds the Christmas season.

Happy Holidays! Maybe they be as stress free as possible!

-haiku

Beautifully written post about motherhood.

from @luckyorangepants

I am the keeper.

I am the keeper of schedules. Of practices, games, and lessons. Of projects, parties, and dinners. Of appointments and homework assignments.

I am the keeper of information. Who needs food 5 minutes before a meltdown occurs and who needs space when he gets angry. Whether there are clean clothes, whether bills are paid, and whether we are out of milk.

I am the keeper of solutions. Of bandaids and sewing kits and snacks in my purse. But also of emotional balms and metaphorical security blankets.

I am the keeper of preferences. Of likes and dislikes. Of nightly rituals and food aversions.

I am the keeper of reminders. To be kind, to pick up their trash, to do their dishes, to do their homework, to hold open doors and write thank you notes.

I am the keeper of rituals and memories. Of pumpkin patches and Easter egg hunts. I am the taker of pictures, the collector of special ornaments, and the writer of letters.

I am the keeper of emotional security. The repository of comfort, the navigator of bad moods, the holder of secrets and the soother of fears.

I am the keeper of the peace. The mediator of fights, the arbiter of disputes, the facilitator of language, the handler of differing personalities.

I am the keeper of worry. Theirs and my own.

I am the keeper of the good and the bad, the big and the small, the beautiful and the hard.

Most of the time, the weight of these things I keep resembles the upper elements on the periodic table – lighter than air, buoying me with a sense of purpose.

But sometimes the weight of the things I keep pulls me down below the surface until I am kicking and struggling to break the surface and gasp for breath.

Because these things I keep are constantly flickering in the back of my brain, waiting to be forgotten. They scatter my thoughts and keep me awake long past my bedtime.

Because all these things I keep are invisible, intangible. They go unnoticed and unacknowledged until they are missed. They are not graded or peer reviewed or ruled on by a court. And sometimes they are taken for granted.

My husband and my boys are kind and generous and they love me hard. And this is by far the greatest job I have ever had. But sometimes being the Keeper is exhausting. Because you feel like you’re doing it alone.

So to all of you who are keepers, I see you.

I know the weight of the things you keep.

I know the invisible work you do, which doesn’t come with a pay check or sick leave, is what makes the world go round.

I see you.

And I salute you.

#LoveHard
#Love What Matters
www.luckyorangepants.com

Drop off outfits for busy moms

A few years ago a client in a ritzy neighborhood asked me to help her with drop off outfits – so she would look pulled together when dropping kids off at school. Having worn leggings pretty exclusively I was bit confused. I mean who dresses up before 9 am? But apparently some do. I used to laugh at moms who clearly didnt brush their hair, wore slippers and pajamas because surely-surely-surely there’s time to throw on those said leggings and attempt a quick ponytail!

Well, I am not laughing now. My 8 year old came home from school to inform me that every Wednesday she needs to be in school by 6:50 am. So I finally get to do this – for those who don’t know this is Theresa from Real Housewives of New Jersey. Hair extensions excluded she is keeping it real!

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That’ll be me y’all. Though I am little stressed over finding slippers that match my pajamas. Even THIS look is not easy.

Neiman Marcus has something similar on sale for $109. I am almost tempted to get it just to see my husband’s face when I storm out of the house wearing this.

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AND the faux fur booties are on sale at Bedhead right now for less that $25. It’s like the stars are aligning.

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I am not making fun of those who actually do wear normal clothes. As a matter of face, I applaud you as I am seriously concerned that this athleisure thing will take over our lives. I do not want to go to opera or a nice dinner and be seated next to someone wearing stretchy pants and fleece top. And, ugh, I have already seen that! Wearing nice clothes (and brushing your hair) affects how people perceive you and how you perceive yourself, how confident you feel and even how powerful you feel.

For time being, I will be wearing awful lot of leggings (not see through, thank you very much) as I have little kids and a big house to maintain and I am hopeful every morning that at some point during the day, between drop-offs and pick-ups, kids activities and grocery shopping, cooking and gardening, I will find time to exercise. And bam, I am already dressed for that so time wasted. And while my husband doesn’t seem to mind (the leggings are pretty fitted, ahem), he told me the other night when I happened to wear jeans – thank you for making an effort. Which was a little sad.

How about you? PJs till noon? Coordinating sweater sets? Or something in between?

x

-h

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Back to school checklist!

I cannot believe its ONE week till school starts. My oldest has to get on a 7:06 bus and seeing that she has started sleeping till 7:45 lately, that shall be fun. And no sleeping in for me either! And I never really took them on all those fun but educational day trips, other than few lessons, they never really learned Estonian as was my grand plan. Ugh, that I am really bummed about. Colors and numbers don’t get you far, ya know?

Every mom blog and Pinterest is full of back to school readiness checklist. Let me sort this out for you. Following pointers are from metroparent.com

1.Take inventory of clothes and supplies.

I really like this except I ordered the supplies through school (and hope you had the basic common sense to do so too) and as far as clothes go, it’s still really warm. I am sure there’s a fleece or two I should be getting but seeing that they are packed aways and unneeded now, I’ll deal with that later. Shoes, though, shoes I do need to check as they tend to outgrow their perfectly good sneakers the first day of PE.

2. Check for supplies.

Seriously, order it through school! I went to Staples with girls last August thinking it’d be so cute to pick out their stuff. It wasn’t. The store was mobbed and they were out on half the stuff I needed. Jumbo glue sticks? There was only size, regular. Can I send 2? Pencil size #4. Crayola thick washable markers. They had thick and then washable but not together. Crap. 2 pink big erasers. Do they have to be pink? Can’t find pink. And thus forth till I gave up, came home and ordered it from Amazon Prime. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.

3. Mark your calendars.

Done. I am pre-historic in a sense that I still dont use my iPhone calendar but a desktop one. Whew September is busy, better book the sitter for all those literacy nights!

4. Visit the pediatrician.

Of course you can get an appointment a week before school. No worries.

5. Summer homework and reading readiness.

Again, tad late for that! That should be something that’s done through out summer as they do fall behind. Crap, never did teach her the multiplication table past 3s.

6. Lunch planning.

Yup. I need more bars (healthy kinds). I do like Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s bars. Snacks need to be nut free which makes it bit tricky. Lunches, oh I hatehatehate making lunches. My youngest ends up bringing most of it back as is. Fingers crossed they want to do school lunches again. Just in case, better get lunch boxes etc out and few meals planned.

7. Haircuts.

? I mean, if they look like they haven’t even touched a brush all summer, then sure. Otherwise, totally something that can wait.

8. Plan a playdate.

This week is super hectic as is but I did want to do that with my youngest as she knows almost noone in her class. Must get on that asap.

9. Set back the bedtime.

I hear you.

This wasn’t listed but I would add that you absolutely must organize your mudroom. I am half way there. I just need to figure out what to do with 50+ pairs of flip flops. I have these on the wall, one for Olivia and the other for Melanie. The plan is to have the library books go back there when done, so I can send them back on timely manner and don’t have to hunt for the books throughout the house. The letters are from Michaels (I painted them white) and file holders from Ballard Design.

And I need to go clear out their desks etc and make sure the playroom is no longer hazardous. And what else, oh right, hair appointment for me. Ta-da!

Happy back to school week!

x

-h

Buying a Hermes bag.

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I got a call the other day from a husband wanting to surprise his wife for their anniversary with a Hermes bag. It’s obviously an iconic bag and has great resale value but definitely not something you just get. First of all, there’s the price. Hermes bags retail anywhere from $12,000 to upwards of $300,000. Price depends on style, leather, color, hardware etc.   Often times the second hand market is a great resource, I know Portero and TheRealReal carefully authenticate bags before selling them. I’ve also seen a variety of fakes, good ones can sell for $4-6,000. The replicas of Hermes belts are all over Ebay. I would definitely advise not to purchase from Ebay but use an online store that hires experts and guarantees the authenticity.

Purse Blog has a great article on how to buy Hermes bags overseas.

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Photo: purseblog.com, Hermes Etoupe

Now, I talked that husband out of it. I had never heard his wife even mentioning  wanting an Hermes and however beautiful the bag, I feel like it is less about the bag and more about showing that you can spend this much $ on a bag. But if you have the money and love the design, go for it. If you can, shop around and go to the stores, research the leather and hardware options. Clemence and Togo leathers are textured and hold their shape much better than Swift. Since I carry everything but the kitchen sink with me, weight is important as well. Chevre is the lightest I think and all the exotic leathers are very light but consequently, most expensive as well. Here’s a good comprehensive guide into types of leather used by Hermes.

And much to my surprise, Saks Off Fifth is selling vintage Hermes bags, both Birkins and Kellys, (discounted by 3 cents, seriously) but it’s not the price here that matters, it’s the ability to buy one online and get it delivered without dealing with stores and sales people. Make sure you know what size and color and leather you are into before buying as these are final sale and not returnable. Great selection of colors, IMHO.

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Screen shot from SaksOffFifth.com