Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 12-12-11 |

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 12-12-11

This year I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, but, despite my best intentions, it happened. Last week I yelled (ok, screamed) at my kids when I was doing a Christmas craft for them. I admit it, and I’m ashamed.

The project started out with lots of Christmas cheer and good intentions, but it ended in a mess of purple duct tape, twisted red ribbon, dirty cats, crying kids and a furious mom.

I found the idea for the advent calendar craft on one of those crafty mom blogs on the Internet. It looked so easy and beautiful. I knew my kids would just love a homemade craft from their mom. Heck, my 6-year-old might even want to bring it to school for sharing day. So, one afternoon when my girl was at school and my 3-year-old boy was occupied with a movie, I got all the necessary supplies and started working.

I cut and folded index cards, stamped numbers, applied stickers and duct taped ribbon on the back of an old barn wood picture frame. The process took a little longer than I expected, but I was almost done by the time I needed to get my daughter from the bus stop. I was disappointed that I didn’t finish before I had to meet the bus, but I knew I could put the final touches on in no time once we got home.

At the house I quickly got the kids the nearest snack I could find and sat them in front of my most reliable babysitter, the TV. I restarted work, eager to see my finished crafty masterpiece. Nearly 30 seconds went by without a hitch. And then slowly, the interruptions started. At first it was just a glass of water, a different show or another snack. I kept my cool. Then it was a sibling fight, spilled yogurt and a broken toy. I was getting a little irritated. Then finally, the kids settled down. I was happy. The break gave me just enough time to realize I had cut my index cards the wrong size – all 24 of them. I was irritated with myself. Just then my kids must have sensed my frustration, because they came into my craft spot (aka kitchen counter), wanting to help. I smiled sweetly at their thoughtfulness, and then tried to bribe them into leaving me alone. But they wouldn’t be detoured.

Soon, my quiet crafting spot looked like that scene in “Toy Story III” when the daycare kids go crazy with paint. My son unrolled my red ribbon and then grabbed scissors and started cutting any random pieces of paper he could find. My daughter – an eager crafter – got busy with my stamps and stickers, marking up my “important” papers and a brand new pack of sticky notes. I quietly reminded them that this was mommy’s special project and that I wanted it to look nice so I could put pictures of it on my blog. They didn’t stop. There was fighting over the duct tape, spilled ice tea, brother to sister punches, marker streaks on the table and glue stick on the wall. I wanted to scream. The last straw was the cats. My son opened the door and let all four of the big outside cats inside. They jumped up on the kitchen counter, stepped on the calendar and stuck their dirty little black and white heads in my tea glass. I snapped.

“Why can’t you just leave me alone so I can make this special Christmas craft for you!” I yelled. “I’m doing this to make Christmas special and fun but both of you are just messing everything up!”

I don’t know if it was my tone of voice or my harsh words that sent them running to their rooms, but I was suddenly left alone with the four obnoxious cats, more spilled tea and a lot of guilt.

In a flash I realized just how little time I’d been spending with my kids. I’d been denying their repeated requests for attention while I ran around doing all kinds of “important” Christmas stuff – things that I thought would make them happy. All along though, they didn’t care a bit about any blog-worthy craft, the only thing they really wanted was to spend time with me.

Later that evening, after apologizes from me, forgiveness from my kids, and a good kitchen cleaning, I made a decision. I decided to enjoy the simple things in life with my kids this December. Things like playing in the snow, going to the church play and reading Christmas stories. And, you can bet, there won’t be another Christmas craft in sight.

You can follow Shelli on her blog at

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