Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Chaos

Christmas has got me like...

For some reason, I feel like time is moving at twice its normal pace this Advent season. I can't explain why, but everything feels hectic and more complicated than usual. As a result, I've been feeling frustrated more than I'd like to admit.

Despite all that, we have been managing to have some pretty amazing days and spending quality family time together. Check out what we were up to the first 2 weeks here.

Sunday the 11th started out with a dead battery thanks to one badly aimed thrust of my T-Rex arm. Our attempts to jump start it only lead to the anti-theft alarm to sound endlessly, much to our neighbors' dismay. Our fun was not thwarted, though, and we got a new battery installed just in time to go ice skating. Despite a few blisters, the boys loved it.
And to top off the fun, the hubby was handed 4 box seats to see the local hockey team play that afternoon! So the kids enjoyed watching their first ever hockey game and $80 worth of pretzels. Yikes.

The 12th brought us a fun evening of (not homemade) cookies and all of our favorite holiday story books cuddled up together in the living room. The kitty even joined us for the fun. This day gave me all the warm fuzzies.

On the 13th we painted a Christmas lights masterpiece, went on a Christmas lights scavenger hunt, and incorporated a little Bingo into the mix. We got changed into our PJs, put on our Santa hats, grabbed some burgers at the drive-thru and headed out and about. We found so many amazing displays!

December 14th was our day to assemble care bags for the homeless and load up the car. The boys always insist that we spend some time driving around specifically searching for people in need to kick start our bag giving. The highlight of the night for me was to see an immediate need met, as a young girl immediately opened up her bag and put on the gloves we gave her.

On the 15th we said "Meowy Christmas!" and headed off to the pet shop, where they were collecting donations for a local shelter. N picked out a dog toy and some dog food. W and L each picked a cat toy and a huge bag of litter. I'm proud of their hearts for all creatures. While we were at it, we bought a few special treats and toys for the Iz and got her a stocking for the first time in her 14 years.

She's so excited.

Friday the 16th was gingerbread day! We made ninjabread men, built a gingerbread house, and decorated ugly sweaters. We had a messy lot of fun, and my heart was a full.

The boys really like icing. Can you tell?
Poor Hansel looks like he's coughing up some blood. Guess they didn't push the witch into her oven soon enough.

December 17th was The Muppets Christmas Carol and playing in the snow. We don't see much snow here, so this was quite a treat in our Santa hats and rain boots. When it got too cold, we warmed up with some cocoa and the movie.
 We even painted our very own blizzard with gouache and hot glue!

This was our last week of trying to fit in all the things. That is, having a regular school day plus the Advent activities. I'm really hoping that the more relaxed pace of this last week helps me feel less stressed out and focus my heart a little bit more on the birth of Christ.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Two Weeks of Advent

Somehow the Advent season always sneaks up on me. I think I am going to be prepared for all of its wonderful craziness. And yet, every year, November 30th rolls around and I realize that somewhere, hidden in the boxes of holiday decor is the wooden Advent calendar. The one with all those neat little doors to open and reveal a family activity for the day. The tradition I, in a moment of insanity, started several years ago. So long ago that the children cannot remember a Christmas without it.

There is one problem, though. And it's YUGE.

Each and every one of those 25 little doors is empty.

And so for the first few days of December, I am scrambling to plan the entire month and stuff festive little slips of paper into those doors while no one is looking.

I've got to confess that it causes me a bit of anxiety.

This year has been no different. I got busy. I got stressed. But somehow, I haven't yet missed a day.

On December 1st, the halls were decked and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. We had to improvise a bit and make our own fireplace this year. It came out pretty cute.

On December 2nd, we went to the Nature Center for their "Jingle Owl the Way" party. For some reason, this is the only picture I took from that evening. I guess that means we were having too much fun to be bothered. You'd never know it from the looks of the faces of these two bell ringers, though!

December 3rd was Daddy's Thanksgiving. He got sick and all our plans for actual Thanksgiving were messed up. I don't mind a second round of turkey, yams, and pie, though!

On December 4th we learned about Christmas traditions in different countries. W picked China and liked the idea of Christmas karaoke (this is the first evidence I have seen of my genetics having any influence on this kid). N chose Australia and loved the fact that Santa has to trade his reindeer for 6 white boomers (kangaroos). L wanted to learn about Italy. He thought la befana the Christmas witch was a funny part of their traditions.

December 5th was a great night for hot chocolate, snacks, movies, and a living room campout.

On the 6th we enjoyed a concert put on by the local symphony orchestra, attempting to bring a little culture to our day. Some of us liked the listening bits, while others preferred the sing-along portion. One sweet boy was disappointed that "Rudolph" was not among the selected songs this year.

We celebrated St. Nicholas Day a day late this year with our tradition of Veggie Tales St. Nick and packing shoeboxes online for Operation Christmas Child. This year each boy also got to design and make a wreath inspired by Santa Claus.

December 8th was Gift Wrapping Day!

On the 9th we tossed together some quick costumes and went to the bookstore for Harry Potter's Yule Ball. Professors Trelawney and Dumbledore had a blast with Draco Malfoy, Hedwig, and Dudley Dursley.

The 10th was a day to continue the tradition of a new ornament for the tree every year. Instead of buying them, though, we grabbed a needle and thread and made them! The end result was pretty amazing. Thanks to Red Ted Art for the inspiration.

And now in the blink of an eye, we are on the first day of the 3rd week. And the chaos continues.

I'm excited to see what the next 2 weeks bring. Already all my careful planning has been trashed. One mistake by my t-rex arm led to a completely dead car battery this morning, missed church, and possibly a disappointing change of plans for the rest of the day if no vehicle is available.

Oh well. Christmas is not supposed to be about how many cool crafts and activities I can fill our month with. Perhaps this is just a reminder to me to relax, slow down, and breathe in the moments.
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