Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 15

When the sun went down, we headed out on a Christmas lights scavenger hunt. We drove through several neighborhoods, a drive-through display, and found THREE different houses with lights choreographed to music. Even though we never found ice skates, carolers, or a nutcracker, it was a fun adventure!

December 16

It was a day to deliver the Christmas cookies! We made a list of some places to which we wanted to deliver, in addition to our neighbors. We visited the nature center, the police station, W's speech therapy center, the library, our leasing office, and the fire station. The guys at the fire station were fantastic, letting the boys climb all over the trucks, giving them a tour of their living quarters, letting them experience the lights and sirens, and giving them some activity books. One guy even took pictures for me and sent them to my phone, since mine had died. That led to a funny discovery that he has some friends from the same little town in Illinois where we used to live! Small world.

Later we delivered goody bags to our neighbors. We knocked on 7 doors up and down our hallway, but only 2 people opened up for us. We left the bags for the rest to discover. One sweet lady said she had heard us, but was happy to meet us. Ha! Sorry, neighbors.

December 17

We headed to the dollar store and loaded up some care packages for our car. We were able to put together 8 different bags with gloves, socks, scarves, wet wipes, granola bars, and McDonald's gift cards. Our hope is that, as we see people in need this winter, we will be able to help them stay warm and get a hot meal. We've given away a few already, and the boys are becoming more aware of others. W wanted to ask the scruffy-looking guy who was checking us in for an oil change if he was in need of anything. Thankfully I stopped him as he was rolling down the window but before the words escaped his lips.

December 18

The Nutcracker is one of my favorites. It makes me nostalgic for my own childhood. I remember sitting around our living room watching Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland dance on PBS while my mother shouted things like, "look at that! look at him jump! look at his legs! look at her toes! watch her spin!" Now those same things come out of my mouth. Also, I made the boys try to pirouette.

Having a houseful of very boyish boys, the ballet is not necessarily their favorite Christmas tradition. So we spice it up with crafts and a few different tellings of the story throughout the day. This year we made nutcracker candy jars. The idea was these adorable little coordinated jar toppers. Two thirds of my boys, though, just wanted to glue a little nutcracker on top of the jar. So. They did.

December 19

Cowtown was having an old-timey Charles Dickens-inspired Christmas celebration, complete with Santa Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge, parlor games, and Christmas carols. It was the perfect opportunity to watch The Muppets' Christmas Carol and then get bundled up for some old-fashioned fun. After all, there'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago! The boys' highlights were the crafts, printing their own bookmarks on a printing press, and playing pass the slipper. Enough fun was had that they were even willing to stand next to Santa and Mrs. Claus for a picture!
December 20

This was our Kansas Christmas! We woke up to discover stuffed stockings and piles of presents under the tree. After breakfast we gathered around to open them all up and spend a few hours playing with our new toys. We enjoyed ham and yams for a late lunch and then hunkered down for a Star Wars movie marathon! We may have started a new Christmas tradition.

December 21

This was a busy day as we tried to get everything ready for our trips east. We had visits to doctors and dentists, a grocery run, and an oil change. Not to mention packing and laundry. I didn't want it to be a complete wash as far as fun stuff goes, though. We spent some time looking back over all the fun that we have had in 2015 by going through photo albums. It was actually a lot of laughs as we retold the stories. It was a warm fuzzy way to end our day.
And now we are about to drive off into the sunrise for the rest of our holiday adventures!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The best way to spread Christmas cheer...

We are still trucking along on our countdown to the birth of Christ. This was a week loaded with crafts and music, movies, lights, and goodies.

December 8:

The symphony orchestra here put on a family-friendly Christmas concert. So we went. We tapped our feet and bobbed our heads as they played. We sang along to the sing-along bits. We might have even sung along (although much more quietly) to the not-so-sing-along bits. Because it's how we roll. We like singing. And songs.

December 9:

This was our bad day. The boys misbehaved. I misbehaved right back. It was ugly. In between the ugliness, we cut about 100 paper snowflakes to liven up the classroom. Later we made snowman luminaries and decorated our patio. Before bed we enjoyed hot cocoa and marshmallows. Even the bad days can be redeemed.

December 10:

We made "stained glass" Christmas trees for the sliding glass doors. Then we met Daddy for dinner and went out together to choose this year's new ornaments. At first the kids were disappointed because I didn't go to everyone's favorite big box store. They might have been eyeing some Star Wars ornaments there a few days prior. And I might have avoided it to force them to think outside the galaxy far far away. In the end, they were thrilled with what they found. N picked a golden-sequined nutcracker, W picked a panda, and L picked a kitty. So them. I love it.

December 11:

This one always tops my list of best days. We snuggled up for a movie marathon and slumber party under the tree with a few of our favorites: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This year Elf graduated from a Mommy/Daddy movie to one for the whole family, and the laughter was loud and contagious. Okay, so it didn't end up being much of a slumber party. All the men in this house are night owls, so there was no chance of any of them falling asleep during the movies (although the same cannot be said for me). The grown up boy and 2/3 of the littles immediately decided their beds sounded way more comfortable than the sleeping bags on the floor. They abandoned me and Thing 2. At some point in the night, we each retired to our rooms also. We are lame, and I wouldn't change a thing.

December 12:

The kids and I headed to the Aviation Museum to see the miniature train, grab a candy cane from Santa, do some airplane crafts, and practice our skills in the flight simulators. It's so pretty there, and it's not crowded, so we get plenty of personal attention from everyone. It was lovely and low key. The perfect end to the day was a Christmas gathering of our friends from church.

December 13:

The light rain all day kept the crowds away from the Christmas lights at the botanical gardens. No complaints from us! It was beautiful. And what's a little damp and chill when you can just pop into a pavilion for cocoa and popcorn?

December 14:

Cookie Day! Another favorite. We made our list of favorite treats to bake and eat and give away. From there to the grocery store for all the ingredients. And an afternoon of baking and decorating and sampling with my little helpers. Deliciously fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bah Humbug

I love sharing our holiday traditions with you all during this time of year.

We craft, we sing, we see lights, and we learn about Jesus. We take really cute pictures and post them to this blog or to Facebook. If I did Instagram and Twitter, I'm sure there would be sweet and funny things posted there, too. I'm too much of a curmudgeon to learn new(er) social media, however, so we are limited to just the two.

When I share, I'm not trying to brag or make us look like some sort of perfect example of what to do during the holidays. I'm just trying to share our fun.

But to be completely transparent, we have lots of not-so-fun moments. Things get pretty messy some days.
So I'm going to throw a little bit of honesty out there about our day today and how I almost...very nearly...actually let my plans and expectations (and the boys' failure to live up to them) steal my Christmas joy.

I had a couple of fun crafts planned, a little patio decorating, and the whole day was to be capped off with some hot chocolate and marshmallows.

What the advent activity for today should have read is, "do whatever the f**k you want, because that's what you are going to do anyway, you selfish little imps." I'm still considering using that in a day or two just to offset another set of expectations.

I should have known that things were not going to go at all according to my vision when I had put the entire advent calendar into the trash can before lunch and informed the boys that, if they were just too big to get excited about these sorts of things, I didn't need to waste my time planning them.

It was one of the highlights of my parenting career, let me tell you.

There were many tears, several apologies, and assurances that they did, in fact, care deeply about the advent activities. Even the ones they had complained about ended up being some of their favorites, they insisted. They promised to be good if only I would remove the calendar from the rubbish bin and give them another chance.

In the spirit of grace and mercy (and because I actually wanted to do some of the things we had coming up), I restored the calendar to its rightful place on the shelf.

It didn't take long, however, for things to go south again.

I entered the classroom and asked them to get ready for our first craft. This was met with cries of, "not yet!" from one little man while the other two flat-out ignored me. I asked them directly to clear off the table so we could get started. Nobody stirred. I left the room and closed the door behind me. Within minutes there was the sound of wild play. It wasn't until 45 minutes later that anyone even realized I had left them and we had not done our craft.

They wanted to know if the room was "clean enough." Truthfully, it looked worse than it had before, and I had had enough.

I told them that, if they didn't care about me, my time, and my plans, then I didn't care about theirs. I didn't care if the room was clean. I didn't care if they were finally ready to sit down with me. I didn't care if they didn't get to do today's advent activity or any other advent activity the rest of the month. I was on a roll.

I told them that they didn't care about the abundant awesomeness that I had planned for them, that I really wanted to give them. They didn't care that there were marshmallows and hot chocolate just waiting for them. They didn't care that I had really wanted to take them to the pool today. They didn't care about any of that because they were too wrapped up in their own little "right now" to see. They couldn't get past the fact that they were having a little bit of fun and understand that what they were missing out on was actually much better! They were too selfish and single minded to see past their temporal pleasures into the abundant blessings which awaited them!


Somehow that took a theological turn.

I am sure glad God doesn't rain down lectures on my head the way I do on my children.

Or, maybe He does. He just uses my own mouth to hammer it into my brain.

Anyway, I digress.

Well, my 3 sons had 3 very different reactions.

My praise whore set to work immediately cleaning with an intensity I've never seen before. Then he admitted the ways he had been disrespectful and inconsiderate and asked if we could please do what I had planned.

My sensitive soul wept bitterly and then quietly cried out to me that he was so sad that we weren't going to do the activity because doing things together as a family was the very best thing about every day. He was so sorry he hadn't acted that way.

My resolute spirit sat in stoic silence. He had nothing to say to me. He was unwilling to admit he had been wrong in any way. Until...I began doing a craft with his brothers and he was not able to participate. Only then was there contrition.

We finished up our holiday activities after a very exhausting and emotional afternoon. The only thing we missed out on was a few hours at the pool, which had been traded for time outs and extra chores.

Everyone even got to have hot chocolate with marshmallows before bed.

Only one mug had a shot of rum in it, though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Let the countdown begin!

It's that time of year again, and we are SO. EXCITED.

We like to take the days leading up to Christmas as a time to prepare our hearts to worship Jesus and thank God for the greatest gift He has given us, His Son. We also like to sing at the top of our lungs and have more than a little bit of fun along the way.

Here's how we spent the first week of Advent this year.

December 1:

We hauled boxes out of the garage and decked our halls. We don't have any balls of holly, but we do have stories to tell for each and every ornament on our tree. Around here we don't have the energy or patience for magazine-perfect trees. We each get a new ornament every year, and on decorating day, we remember where we were and why we picked what we did. And no decorating day would be complete without mugs of steaming hot cocoa!

December 2:

A trip to the library to pick out some new-to-us Christmas books began our evening of reading holiday books together, singing carols around the piano, playing "mystery carol" pictionary, and "hide-and-sing" (a musical version of hot and cold). This day was so simple, but has been one of my favorites so far!

December 3:

We found a local pet shop that had an "angel tree" for adoptable rescue animals. Since we aren't really in the market for a pet (well, one of isn't, anyway), we wanted to find a way to help out some sweet creatures. Each of the boys picked one adorable fur baby from the tree and bought several items from its wish list. Then we loved on some rescue animals for several hours. I was strictly warned not to "get any ideas." It was (is) hard not to!

December 4:

The nature center here had a lovely Christmas party filled with crafts, carolers, snacks, stories, and games! Not to mention the displays and critters that are always there. Daddy got to come along with us, which is always a treat, and we had a delightful evening!

December 5:

It's Gingerbread Day! This year we baked and decorated Ninjabread cookies and decorated a house. What house doesn't need ninjas protecting it?

December 6:

Happy St. Nicholas Day! We learned about the true St. Nicholas and participated in his spirit of giving by filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. You can, too! The boys are always very generous in theory. They do get a little look of panic on their faces when they realize they are giving some of their own money, but manage to get over it pretty quickly. Then we made some adorable Santa ornaments with paint and duct tape. The highlight of the evening for me was a mini recital of "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" by the twins.

December 7:

We took another trip to the nature center and learned about the different ways that animals cope with winter: migration, adaptation, and hibernation. Back home, we used pinecones and felt to create our own winter creatures: an owl, a mouse, a penguin, a cardinal, a squirrel, a snowshoe hare, and a fox. They are adorable just sitting on the shelf, but the boys love to play with them, too!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...