I thought it would be fun to have the kids make Christmas cookies for their teachers this year:
Colin got ahold of the mitten-shaped cookie cutter, and loved it so much that I finally had to stop him. There were just too many mittens! ;) Plus he didn't quite get the concept of using it each time on a fresh piece of dough, so he kept stamping it over and oved in the same spot.
Connor mentioned making a gingerbread house a few weeks ago. I found this one at Michaels. I had thought about doing a real one, but this way, he could keep it in his room if he wanted. to. Instead, he wanted it to sit on the bay window so that he can look at it when he eats.
There were two gingerbread people that came with it, but he likes to play with them,
Keira is scared of the real Santa and of fake elves. Apparently she is also now scared of toy Santas as well. And Santa ornaments. My mom has a small tree in the living room that is decorated with only Santas. Keira does not like this tree. Yesterday, Mom had the twins because they have colds (which they graciously shared with me). Anyway, there is basket of Christmas toys that can be played with under supervision (plastic snowglobes, Santa dolls, etc.) Keira was immediately scared of the two Santa dolls, so my mom told Colin to follow her and they would put the dolls away so Keira wouldn't have to be scared anymore. Colin said ok, and started to follow my mom. My mom suddenly heard screaming. She turned around, and saw Colin chasing Keira around, trying to touch her with the Santa. Sneaky little fellow.
Mom called me yesterday, during the twins' naptime. She said I would never guess where she found Colin. At once, it dawned on me that Colin is supposed to be in the playpen, napping. Apparently, he climbed out of the pen and into my nephew's crib. Where he then found himself stuck. I think my dreams of having the twins in their cribs until they turn five have been crushed.
It's not that my husband is anti-Christmas, he just is grinchy sometimes. ;) But on Saturday, we watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation together. And on Sunday night, he turned on my other favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. And actually sat and watched part of it with me. However, when I suggested we branch out and watch other musicals together, I got a very nasty look. Hee hee hee.
On my birthday, I was serenaded with three different versions of Happy Birthday by my three beautiful children. Connor sang the entire song. Keira sang "Happy Mommy" over and over. Colin sang "Happy" and clapped. Then they ate their dinner of french toast sticks, while I dined on my favorite enchilada meal from my favorite Mexican restaurant. (Keith surprised me with dinner.)
Today is my birthday. The nice thing about having a birthday on a Monday is that you get to have a birthday weekend!
On Saturday, my sister, mom, and I went to a Victorian Christmas (in a nearby town, there is an old house owned by the historical society and every Christmas, they decorate the house and you can tour it.) The plan had been to have dinner with my family to celebrate my birthday and my dad's birthday (on Wednesday) yesterday. But we figured he would be called out to snowplow (he was - he works for the DOT), so we moved it to Saturday night. We had lasagna and then birthday cake! My parents got me a beautiful ring, along with a sweater and a shirt. My sister gave me a brown sweater, some french vanilla coffee, and Lover Mine in paperback to add to my BDB collection.
On Sunday. as I was upstairs putting laundry away, I heard whispered voices downstairs. A few minutes later, all three kids came up singing happy birthday and giving me their homemade cards. (I kind of figured something was going on, since I heard the kids downstairs singing "Happy Birthday Mommy" and then Keith saying "Shhhh, be quiet" for about 10 minutes beforehand.
Today I came downstairs and Keith had my card sitting on the counter. He also gave me penguin socks and this:
Every birthday is happy when you give jewelry! ;)
I wasn't expecting it because he also ordered me a gym bag (complete with lots of pockets!) from Amazon. It should be here in another day or two. So this was a totally wonderful surprise! The only thing that would make this day perfect is the knowing that Colin's cold is going to stay just a cold, and not turn into another episode that requires a hospital stay. (Three stays in 2010 have been enough for me!)
I know that for some, this is not the time of giving, but the time of being overly stressed out about all the thousands of things that need to be done. As a mother of 3 young children, I am used to having a to-do list a mile long, so I don't find that my stress is anymore apparent than during the other months. I have noticed though that I now have a lot more deadlines! Packages to be mailed, cards to be ordered (DONE!), cards to be mailed (almost!), Christmas shopping to be completed, and presents to be wrapped.
Some of the ways that I try to make this time of year less stressful (or perhaps that should say - ways that I try not to add to the stress already living inside me) are easy things to do, if you just commit. And start planning a little early.
Create a budget. By October, we had money set aside that we would use for Christmas shopping. I also created an Excel spreadsheet that helps me keep track of the budget. Working with cash is also useful because I can see what's left. There were a couple of things that needed to be ordered on-line, but other than that, I used cash. (And coupons!)
Make lists. Early! I have to say that I start holiday planning in November. I have a list of what I am getting the children, where I can buy it, and how much it costs. The toy catalogs come early these days, so I am able to do my pricing from home, which means I am not driving from store to store comparing prices. One of the other lists I have in my planner is an idea list. Anytime someone mentions something that they like, or things they want to do, I make a note and refer back to it at Christmas time.
Plan ahead. A few days before Thanksgiving, I made a calendar of all the things I wanted to get done during Christmas. This list included the gingerbread house Connor wants to make, when I'd make the cookies, Holiday Lights, Polar Express, etc. This way, I know ahead of time what's going on and Keith can plan his schedule around me. *wink, wink*
Take a break. Things get hectic and busy. Sometimes I forget about me. I was looking for something new to read, and something Christmasy. I found this:
Now I should mention she is described as a romance-paranormal author. No vampires though, so I was only a little disappointed. ;) Actually I'm almost finished with the first of the three short stories and it was really hard to put it down after my lunch break was over. After Christmas, I'm headed to the library to get started on her Dark Series (along with all the other books I'm itching to read)!
A few years ago (before all the Hallmark hoopla), I read a blog about some mom who had an elf come visit her children every year around Christmas. I loved the idea, so I borrowed an elf from my mom's collection of old Christmas stuff and waited until Connor was older.
This year, our elf came to visit on the first of December. His first hiding spot was in the downstairs bathroom, as a hint to the kids to be good while getting ready for bed. (In the evenings, there is a lot of arguing - and screaming and crying - about who gets to brush their teeth first. Why, I have no idea.) Anyway, the kids loved to see him. A few days later, he had made his way upstairs.
Connor noticed him first and mentioned how the elf was now upstairs. I told him that sometimes elves can be sneaky and they never want us to see them move. So they wait until we aren't looking, then they jump to a different spot.
All is well and good.
Until, two days ago.
The elf made his way to the top of a picture frame near our Christmas tree. Connor was excited to see him. Colin was excited to see him. Keira took one look, burst into tears and ran screaming from the room.
Needless to say, our elf friend has been banished to the North Pole. She still walks around, her beautiful blue eyes darting around fearfully to see if he has snuck back. She even woke up this morning, asking if the elf was still gone.
We had the opportunity to visit a local Polar Express. The train is an open train, which meant we bundled up with blankets as we rode around the lake. Keira was missing from our party - my dad took her home early due to her not feeling well. (Turns out she had pink eye, a middle ear infection, and a sinus infection!)
Colin doesn't look like it, but he was having a great time on the train. The kids really liked the tunnel, as well as the hot chocolate we got after the ride!
On December 6, we celebrate St. Nick's Day. This is a tradition I grew up with. I remember my mom having us put our shoes by the door before bed and then waking up the next morning and seeing a small present or two inside.
This year, I had to modify it a little because mornings are rushed, and Connor leaves with Keith before the twins are up. So yesterday at the twins' nap time, I had the kids put their boots outside, then Connor went downstairs to watch his new favorite movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
When the twins woke up, I told Connor to look outside the door.
They each got a Christmas book and a shirt.
Please ignore the chaos behind Colin. That's how it looks on the weekends in my house.
Not the best picture, but here is our dollar store advent calendar. I'm making it more fun for the kids by inserting slips of paper into most of the slots with fun things to do.
Yesterday was the Polar Express for daycare/school.
Other things coming up are dinner on special Christmas Mickey Mouse plates, watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Holiday Lights at the Zoo, driving around to look at Christmas lights, making the gingerbread house, baking Christmas cookies... and tons more!
I thought that this month, I would celebrate my own 25 Days of Christmas.
Some days will be posts about the children and their preparations for Christmas (and Santa!).
Other posts will talk about the holiday, traditions, and other fun things!
Today I want to share a quote about the season of Christmas. Because to me, it's a whole season, not just one day. It's a feeling, one that resides deep in your soul, that you must cling to and remember the whole year, not just in December.
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred,
and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit,
This past weekend, my wonderful sister-in-law offered to give us our Christmas (and my birthday) gifts a little early. She got Keith and I tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I have to say, they put on an awesome concert. We had pretty good balcony seats - 3rd row - so we got a great view of everything.
Fire! I love pyro at concerts.
I'd really like to make this a yearly thing with Keith. Although, he is the guy who sat next to me, barely moving throughout the performance. (But he barely moved his head at Slayer either - he just doesn't show his excitement at concerts!) The man next to me was more my people, I told Keith. He actually seemed to enjoy himself. ;) Anyway, I am so glad I got to see them again. It really got me into the holiday spirit!
When I first had Connor, I made our Christmas cards. But once the twins came along, we barely had time to put up the Christmas tree and wrap the presents, much less worry about what I was sending out to family and friends. I was delighted to find that Shutterfly makes this process easy-peasy!
I had used Shutterly in the past for photo books (because who has time to make a baby book when you've got twins???) and calendars (which make my office at work seem more like home). As I looked at the other options on their site, I smiled when I saw the variety of holiday cards that they offer.
The thing about sending photo cards - which is what I like to do - is trying to get a nice family shot, where all the kids are looking at the camera AND smiling. At the same time. Which is near to impossible with a four-year old and two-year old twins. The nice thing about Shutterfly is that I am able to choose a format that allows me to use various pictures of the kids. So I can take 3 single shots, where each child is smiling, and put it on one beautiful card. Because that's what the grandmas love the most - happy pictures of the kids!
I'm in a deabte over which card I should get. I've narrowed it down to three:
Which one do you like the best? After letting me know, check out Shutterfly's site for more great options!
Disclosure: I was not given any monetary compensation for this post.
Shutterfly is going to provide me with 50 free cards for writing this post.
There is still time to participate in this promotion if you are interested.
When I got home from work, the kids saw the turkey pin I had on my coat. They got really excited because they know we get to go up to Gigi's (my grandmother) house for Thanksgiving. I'm trying to find an easy art project we can do this weekend so that the kids can make a centerpiece for Gigi's.
Last night, I went to my abs class. I left to one child screaming for me. That's normal. I got home, and Keith told me that Colin quieted down a few minutes after I left. Keith even went back in to check on him after he put Connor to bed, and Colin was happy in his crib. I went upstairs to check on the kids, like I normally do. No wonder Colin was so happy and quiet. Kids that are naked usually are. Pajama pants and diaper thrown haphazardly on the floor.
This morning, Keith took Connor to his mom's for the day, and the twins went to my mom's house. They were happily eating breakfast before we left. The thing is, on these rare moments, I get a glimpse of what life with two kids is like. It's calm. It's peaceful. It's not loud at all. Keira was very helpful getting Colin his coat and hat. Then we packed up the miscellaneous items that Keira always wants to bring with her whenever she leaves the house. She put her bag on her arm, gave Colin a bag for his frog (Hermie the frog is visiting this weekend from school), and we headed out.
Normally we are an extended rear-facing family (the twins are two years, 5 months old), but in mommy's car, only one seat is RF. (The other is FF for Connor.)