There are some things I am good at. I can’t really think of one off the top of my head right at this moment, but I am confident there are areas of life where I do ok and maybe even excel.

One area I do NOT excel in – fashion and design. I think most people who know me would use the word “dramatic” to describe my emotional state but never my sense of style.

I know what I like when I see it, which is probably why I love Pinterest so much. No creativity required, just one click and my board looks like I could be hosting a make-over show on HGTV. But if I try to actually put together a room around a cohesive design style: luh-ame. If I try to create a remotely interesting work wardrobe, heck outfit even, drab and dreary.

Which is why when my daughter asked me yesterday morning if she could help me get dressed – so I could “look pretty” – I figured why not? I have known for quite some time that Emma far surpasses me in the GirlyGirl category, so why not let her loose in my closet and see what she comes up with?

At first she chose a long gauzy summer skirt – tie-dyed with sparkles sewn in. Think BollyWood by Old Navy. When I explained I thought it would probably be a little chilly for the expected 35+ degrees of the day she explained impatiently “Well mommy, you could wear TIGHTS.” DUH. I steered her away from that and she fixed on another summer outfit, silk capris covered with large pink and orange flowers (what in the h*#@ was I thinking? Clearly a drastic cry for help.) Again I explained the summer/winter issue and that I would be too cold to do any work if I wore that particular outfit, but hey, fthanks for playing.

With reluctance and some nudging from me she settled on a dark wool skirt and a nice blouse from Coldwater Creek with a tank top underneath it. More conservative than she wanted to go for sure, but she seemed mostly pleased.

Then she asked to choose my jewelry. I allowed it and she chose a nice pair of turquoise earrings (thanks Joc!) and a matching necklace that she made for me with the help of our last au pair Claire. I put the jewelry on and marveled at how nicely it went with the outfit I had on. No really, it did. This girl can accessorize.

Throughout the day I got no less than five comments on how nice I looked, with specific and multiple mentions of the jewelry. It is not lost on me that although I mostly chose the clothes and artfully convinced her that she had, the choice of jewelry was all Emma.

Today I am in another Emma inspired outfit, complete with necklace and earrings. While yesterday’s theme was “pretty”, today Emma told me she wanted me to look “fancy”. The second person who laid eyes on me in the office said to me “Ooh you look so fancy!” True story.

Maybe next week I should go with the flowered capris.

I love the holidays. I love Thanksgiving, I love Christmas, I love New Year’s, I love my birthday and Emma’s birthdays (which are all mixed up in there) and I pretty much love the month of December in it’s entirety.

Holiday Card 2011 >

I also love when the month is over and January shows up with it’s quiet calm, cold and dreary to be sure, but still and contemplative.

In the beginning of December when the tree goes up and the decorations come out and the cookie recipes are shuffled I can never imagine a time when I will be happy to have the tree gone and the wrapping paper back in its place. And yet, every January I take a deep sigh of relief. I love the celebrations and the time together – and even as we put the decorations away I can’t wait for next year. – but I also love the time I have in January to reflect on what a great time we had during the holidays, what we can do differently next year, and especially how happy and grateful I am to have had another special holiday season with my family and friends.

So, Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a peaceful and joyous 2012.

A Halloween Movie, originally uploaded by Justpowers.

In which a horse sees his image for the first time, and a fairy princess tries to decapitate him.

Happy Halloween!!

This week I am in charge of snacks for my daughter’s pre-school class. This means I am responsible for providing healthy, fun, well-rounded snacks for 14 three and four year olds on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Holy Kitchen Nightmares, I haven’t been this stressed out since my family took the class guinea pigs home for the summer in fourth grade.

I know I know, it seems like such a simple task right? Throw some carrots and cheese and pretzels into a basket and you are good to go right? Oh no my friend, it is far more complicated than that. You must have the perfect combination of nutrition and variety with extra points thrown in for creativity.

So here is my snack fantasy: I breeze into school with fruits, vegetables and a protein formed into zoo animal shapes and contained within cages formed from pretzels. The teacher looks at me and says “Wow! I have never seen that before! So creative – and yet nutritious too!” Then later, at the mandatory co-op meeting she brings up MY snack to the other parents as the example of a perfect snack.

When the snack is presented to the kids they all laugh joyously as they pick out their favorite zoo animal and then eat everything because it just tastes so good. They all want to play with Emma after snack, because she is the one who brought in the best snack EVAH.

The other mothers call me or email me that night to tell me that their kids were still talking about the snack when they got home and could they please find out how I managed to get their kids to eat veggies. Oh and also could they please be my best friend.

I am snack genius and pre-school hero.

Here is how it really went down:

On Monday I provided square pretzels, cut up cheese sticks and red seedless grapes. When I was putting them out the teacher said “You know next time you could get the pretzel sticks and then the kids could make little barbells with the grapes!” GREAT Jen, great – snack FAIL. I could just see the teacher making a mental note “No creativity. Lazy mom. Poor Emma.” CRAP.

So I spent the last two nights scouring the internets for some creative snack ideas that would really wow the teacher (oh yes, and provide nutrition to the kids, that too of course). I came up with a few things, but nothing I could do without a trip to the grocery store (and just as an aside, what is the deal with “Ants on a log”? Raisins and peanut butter? How gross is that?). So I opted to make lace cookies with Emma yesterday (from my Grandmother’s recipe, points added for tradition maybe?) Then this morning we made cheese sandwiches and cut them with heart shaped cookie cutters. Then we cut apples horizontally to show the little star in the middle where the seeds live. Fun, right? Healthy, right? Pretty, right?

When I arrived today to set up the snack, the teacher came in and said “Wow, that’s a lot of food.” CRAP. And then came the mental note “Overachiever. Martha-Stewart wanna be. Poor Emma.” I. Cannot. Win. And she didn’t say it, but I could see in her eyes that she didn’t think cookies were a good idea AT ALL. (Even though in the handbook it says we can bring a sweet ONE time during the week – I swear it does.)

I have another shot at snack on Friday, and then again in December, so I guess I might yet figure out how to make the zoo animals etc., but at the moment I think I am just going to throw some carrots and pita chips into the basket and leave a tub of hummus with the teacher. Emma will just have to figure out another way to become the most popular kid in the class, and I will just have to give up on making the teacher like me. Or having friends.

Bethany 2010, originally uploaded by Justpowers.

We got back yesterday from our annual trip to Bethany Beach in Delaware. Can’t wait until next summer so we can go back.

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