This Was the Year…..

That at some point, both children warmed up to the guy in red.

That I got over my fear of making sugar cookies.

That we trekked out on a snowy day to cut down our own Christmas tree.

That we made most of our Christmas ornaments (many with applesauce & cinnamon).

That both kids really like playing the snow, wherever we were.

That MaM was geeked to help with stamping the Christmas cards and wrapping gifts. She also got into hiding gifts for her dad and brother. “They’re in my dresser drawer, Mommy, because they won’t look there.”

This was the year…

That MaM explained Christmas to Junior through song, quoting “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” almost daily as Christmas approached.

That Junior became obsessed with The Grinch, and “his green hands!”

That we watched The Wizard of Oz together during a cold snowy night during the week before Christmas.

That I showed MaM what my Little People Dollhouse looked like when I was a girl, via gingerbread (part of this year’s display at Conner Prairie).

That we played in Jolly Days, and Celebration Crossing.

That MaM discovered Cole Porter during her “Mom and Dad” day during the week before Christmas.

That MaM got dressed up as an angel for the 4:30 Children’s Mass.

That the four of us took a second to take a family photo (we don’t do that often enough….perhaps a goal for 2011 in the making…).

Ah, it’s been a good long run, this Christmas Season.

Merry Christmas (a few days late) and Happy New Year,  Friends!

Tis the Season

Suddenly, it seems, December is upon us. Yesterday, we woke up to snowflakes and MaM exclaimed, as only she can,”This is the best day ever! God made it snow!” It was really pretty, and there is nothing better than watching kids catch the first snowflakes of the season on their tongues. Junior even wore his boots, which is a big deal because he typically only wears his Cars shoes.

Last Wednesday, I wrote the post on how we were approaching Advent, and so far, it’s going really well. The kids are getting ready a whole lot faster in the morning so we can get the next ring down before we walk out the door. It’s been great doing a short project every day, and it’s inspiring me to make a little bit more of a monthly plan to enjoy knowing that we will get to fun things every month with some planning. (Check out this idea from Heather, I love it)

Today’s activity was supposed to be write a letter to Santa. MaM was kind of intrigued, but got distracted and never brought it up again. If she’s ok with that, I’m ok with that. We did have an interesting conversation about it.

“Mom, I know what I can write to Santa!”

“You do?”

“Yes. I will say, ‘Don’t worry mom and dad, I’m out helping Santa,’ ”

“Oh that would be a letter to us, do you think you’d like to ask Santa for something?”

“Well, I’ll see presents when I help him.”

“True. Is there a present you’d like to ask him for?”

“I’ve already asked him for a pogo stick.”

“Would you like to ask him for anything else, in case he can’t find a pogo stick for you? Maybe some books?”

“Books are too boring. I need something else. Maybe a Barbie bath toy.” (last year’s gift)

And with that, she busied herself with something or other.

So here’s the thing. Actually, two things.

1) She’s kind of obsessed this year with “helping Santa”. As in, Santa is going to pick her up on his sled and she’ll go riding with him Christmas night. And that’s why she’d leave us a note so we don’t worry about her. Of course, every time she brings it up, I take the opportunity to tell her it’s not ok to leave with any Santa Claus who approaches her, anywhere, anytime. And if Santa comes knocking on her window, she must come wake us up. Strange, but I wanted to make sure all of our bases were covered. (Last year, she was obsessed with him visiting her on Christmas Eve)

2) She’s also obsessed with getting a pogo stick for Christmas. Here’s the thing, it snowed yesterday. If she were to get a pogo stick, it would sit in the garage for months before she could really use it. Also, her present this year is a Fisher-Price iXL. Have you seen these? I hadn’t even heard of them, until I went to BlogHer. There I spent some time in the Fisher Price booth, and came out a winner of an iXL. I’m hopeful that she’s as excited about it as I am for her. She absolutely loves using our iPhones, but she’ll have more flexibility with this device. There are games and a drawing program, it can play MP3’s and more. There can also be more than one user profile, so theoretically, the kids can share (we’ll see about that). I need to carefully pull it out of the box and get it ready to go for Christmas morning sometime soon. (disclosure: I won the iXL at Blogher. Just like I said. I am not under obligation to mention this fact, but OMG, this thing is cool.)

So that’s what the first week of Advent in our house. How’s yours going?

P.S. Indy friends, if you’re reading this and it’s not 5pm on Friday (12/3) yet, and you need a Christmas tree, check out this Savvy Savings deal for 50% off a live tree!

P.P.S. There are three huge gift guides over at Grown in My Heart, one for donations, one for goods, and one specifically for fair-trade. There are some amazing organizations you can support this holiday season.

P.P.P.S. I’ve got a few gift guides listed over at Persephone, arranged by age. There’s Baby’s First Christmas, Toddlers, Preschoolers and School-Agers, along with some ideas for large families/copious numbers of small children.

A Week From Now, It’ll be the Third Day of Advent

The holidays haven’t really started and I’m already looking at my calendar for the next six weeks or so and going “whoa…..”. A few things were my mind earlier today:

1) making sure we have the assorted “equipment” for the holidays. our Christmas boxes are at the very back of our P.O.D and BgK and I have voted not to unpack 12 feet worth of stuff to get to it.

2) making sure we have a day set aside for Jolly Days, Celebration Crossing, see the Nutcracker, drive around the Circle of  Lights, drive up to Reynolds, walk through Zoo Lights and a family trip to see Jingle Rails. Does your family make it to all of the big attractions in your area every year? Do hit the same ones over and over, or pick different ones to try? There are  so many events ,and they are all so much fun…..but doing it all won’t be fun, it will be exhausting a stressful. But how to pick?

3) making my shopping list and checking it twice. This year I’m using an Android App called Gift Pony on my loaner Samsung Fascinate. (Why do I have a loaner phone? Read about how I got the name “Princess Two Phones” over at Persephone) It tracks all the people and all the gifts (and where they are hidden, and what they cost, and if I have it in my possession, etc) and I’m hoping it will help keep the hunting and gathering under control.

4) making the whole thing meaningful for my family.

Enter the little booklet I bought today while at the local Catholic bookstore- Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family read it, and enjoy the season of Advent. While it focuses on a few Catholic specifics, I *think* any religion which observes Advent will find some helpful tips and inspiration.

After reading through this booklet (while dinner was baking, it’s a quick read), I feel better about all of the above. In a later chapter, Basi suggests writing out all of the activities you’re planning for the month and making them part of daily slips on your Advent calendar. I have a plan for an Advent calendar (paper chain), and I think we are going to do some prep work tomorrow while we wait for the Uverse guy to install our order. I’m going to plug each day into a special color on the Google calendar BgK and I share, and with any luck, the priority activities (Jolly Days, Jingle Rails, making ornaments for our real tree, getting gifts to the St. Vincent DePaul Christmas Store, and baking cookies) will all happen at a manageable pace.

Manageable pace ,manageable pace…….I’m taking any and all tips on how to keep it all at a manageable pace…..

Also, MaM asked Santa for a PogoStick for Christmas. Feel free to weigh in on that as well….