Second Graders, Frosting Bags and (Avoiding) Walmart

Its been more than a week, and I have survived 11 second graders making gingerbread houses, secret santa and a Mario Kart Wii shortage everywhere except for Walmart (which in case you’ve forgotten, I HATE…Walmart, not Mario Kart or Wii).

First, Saturday evening after Jack’s friend birthday party, I called my BFF and told her to remind me next year when I think it is a good idea to have a party with children at my house because it will be fun and cheaper than going someplace else. I told her to remind me that $100 is NOT too much to spend, that it is worth every single penny and that to interrupt me if I every start to talk about becoming an elementary school teacher. Since she already upholds this philosophy, it won’t be difficult for her to remind me. THANK GOD!

The kids weren’t that bad aside from all the wrestling, but 11 kids for two hours takes a lot out of you, particularly when you give them frosting bags with tips. Stupidly, I forgot that just because Jack has used a frosting bag and tip and knows that you MUST twist and hold from the top, it doesn’t mean that any other 8 year old know this technique. Thankfully, all the kids were able to make it to the sink before the frosting overflowed onto the floor.

These kids were genuinely fun, just maybe not ALL at one time while they are hopped up on candy and frosting.

Jack chose a chocolate chip cookie bar tower for his cake which saved me a lot of time and energy.


I chose to take part in Secret Santa at work because Secret Santa is fun. I like finding the right gift for my giftee. This year I’ve experienced two problems. The first is completely selfish and indulgent. I got what I asked for: mechanical pencils and Nutella. I was thinking those little packets the size of peanut butter packets at Perkins (say that 5 times fast) , but I got a regular 13 oz jar of Nutella.

Me+13 oz Nutella+a fork=6 oz of Nutella

Of course, I keep forks in a baggie in my desk drawer for my lunches. Of course, the Nutella jar was taunting me sitting there between my monitor and my keyboard.  And, of course, one of my favorite things EVER is being the first person to dig into a smooth, silky mess of peanut butter or NUTELLA! Aaron once got into a little pickle because he dug into the peanut butter without offering me the opportunity, but this is not about issues that I discuss with my therapist…

The second Secret Santa problem is this…my giftee’s wish list included a .5mm z4 Bic pen, movies and Scrabble. I thought the pen should be no problem, but I was wrong. A movie ticket could not be accommodated in the $10 Secret Santa budget, so I opted for specialty popcorn from a store nearby. Scrabble was a toughie…I was hoping to find some word-ie type of fabric to sew up into something fun. Unfortunately, I could find nothing word-ie that was not babyish as well. I found fabric with dominos, bingo and crossword puzzles, but not a single Scrabble related theme.

My next thought in Jo-Ann’s was buttons! Make something and sew on buttons that would fit the theme. Nothing. Ribbon is next to the buttons. Nothing. Scrapbooking supplies surely would have something suitable. Nothing…until I found these capital letter stickers that were BROWN and SQUARE. I found a pack of 8 blank greeting cards and two pieces of fun scrapbooking paper. With my 50% off coupon for the greeting card pack, my total purchase with tax was only $4.83. What a bargain!

I was counting on Aaron for help since he is typically far more creative than I am when it comes to paper items…remind me to post about some of his handmade Christmas cards to frat buddies. I needed him to make something that could resemble a Scrabble tile rack. Just as I suspected, Aaron came up with a pop-up three dimensional tile rack, but it wouldn’t quite work given the time constraints (about 60 minutes for 8 cards). While he cut paper, I dug out Scrabble and added numbers with black ink to all the tile stickers. The previous night, I searched for good 8 letter words (7 tiles PLUS the tile on the board). So, this morning, my recipient got a pack of greeting cards with a Scrabble theme.


Secret Santa left this in the mail room…


I’ll be looking for a used Scrabble game on because Santa’s final gift is this…


As it turns out, Santa has completed his shopping for the boys in our house, but mom and dad have not. I have had a serious lack of inspiration for Jack’s xmas gift after getting him the BEST birthday present ever – a new snowboarding sled and a helmet. Both of these boys have their birthdays in Nov. and Dec. so that makes it that much more difficult. I did get an inspiration the other day with Mario Kart Wii only to find out that no store in all of Des Moines had the game. I went online and everyplace was out –,, Ebay was asking too much. The one place it was available was I searched for another hour online…craigslist, facebook, etc.

For one hour I asked myself again and again if my boycott of Walmart should “ruin” Christmas. Then I thought, good god, I volunteer with the Cub Scouts despite my well documented distate for discrimination against gays. What more do I have to do? I succumbed to the motherly urge to not ruin Christmas only to find that my hour saved me and ruined Christmas – was sold out.

This morning, I searched some more and my last search (before Walmart) was proved fruitful! had it in stock, but you can never be sure at because sometimes items look like they are in stock only to have the out of stock show up at checkout. It looks like I saved Christmas AND avoided Walmart! Yippee!

Here is a picture of one of Jack’s gingerbread houses from school…he cleverly made a door that opens and put a waving gingerbread boy inside. In this picture, it looks like ET. I think he sorta looks like ET in person too.



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