Thursday, December 25, 2008

Just because ...

Because a house full of little ones at Christmas time epitomizes the spirit of the season.

Because lighting up Rudolph's nose with a tap is better than all the other lights at the Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights.

Because aunts who save their laps for you are about the greatest luxury little girls could ask for.


Because having your own box of dress up clothing means options expanded beyond Cinderella gowns and pink boas.

Because frolicking under the table at a holiday party beats dancing on top of it.

Because Santa getting your request just right makes Christmas morning even better.

Because anything with wheels is positively fascinating.

Because amongst the wrapping paper mountains, a book is always worth finding.

Because one day you'll be all grown up and remember the Christmas memories long past.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 24

"And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
'Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill to men!'"

Knowing what had to be inside, they tore the paper. The baby Jesus was waiting, after all, to complete the scene. Once the wrapping was tossed aside, they found not only the baby Jesus they had hoped for, but additional sheep and a shepherd.

And it's complete. Telling the story in all of its glory and a representation of peace on earth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 23

They have the gold and myrrh, it's the frankincense that proves the stumbling block. Perhaps a bit archaic, the term frankincense doesn't typically come up in daily conversation. But we're getting there, especially since we had three wise men to add today.

Each carrying his gift box, the three worshippers took their places in the unfolding story, as Alena made sure space remained for Mary and baby Jesus. Yes, baby Jesus, the most anticipated member of the Nativity in our house.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 22

They're getting there. Almost an entire Nativity to admire. Just a few finishing touches and the major players to add.

Today came the finishing touches, minus the stars of the show. Shepherds, camels and sheep. The camels may be my favorite pieces yet. Majestic, yet they seem so very calm. The pair really added something to the scene.

A scene which began empty, but has grown to be occupied. Waiting and hopeful, they've come.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 21

Animals were the theme of today's gift. A few furry friends to help populate the Nativity the kids are adding to each day. All wrapped up were two goats and a pair of oxen. Lovely additions to the angels in waiting.

I'd like to think our kids have a good understanding of the birth of baby Jesus for their ages. Building this sacred scene only adds to the discussions and their knowledge of what the season is truly about.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 20

Angels. Four of them, actually. Could it be they represent the four gift unwrappers?

Two were angels of learning ornaments, one an angel of prayer and the final an angel of courage. Despite the loops on the ornament angels, all were placed at the Nativity scene so as not to upset the other angels.
Now they wait ... for what's to come.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 19

Today's advent gift? A creche.

How many of you need to click on over to www.webster.com to look that one up? Admittedly, I did. Of course, seeing the gift opened, I knew what it was; however, was unfamiliar with the term appropriately naming the gift.

According to www.webster.com, a creche is "a representation of the Nativity scene." Essentially it's the backdrop or stable of the Nativity scene which epitomizes this holy season.

Included with the creche was a book of the Christmas story. Alena and Alivia loved the book, and Alena gave a tour of the creche, pointing out where Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus shall go.

I suspect once the scene has been completed, this will be the highlight of the advent gifting for Alivia. She is surprisingly taken with Nativity scenes this holiday season, and admires them with appreciation much beyond her years.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 18

When you open a package that has four boxes of chocolate dipped peppermint sticks inside, a frenzy could ensue.

Trace was determined to get inside, one way or another. He began by tearing the paper box and later chewing at the cellophane wrapper. Ahh, the power of sugar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 17

We know these treats as show lights in our house. Our first taste of the fun came at a Disney on Ice performance where the $3 lights are sold for $62 (yes, this is an exaggeration).

Holiday show lights are even more exciting, though, since they have lights AND flying snow when the magic button is pressed. A small winter wonderland at your fingertip ... enchanting.

Trace, apparently, needed a really close look.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 16

She's only watched Sesame Street once in her 22 months; however, Alysse loves Elmo. Really, I'm not even sure how she knows Elmo.

Maybe books or the fact that the pediatrician always "looks" for Elmo in her ears when they are being checked. Besides those two guesses, I'm kind of amazed at the origination of her Elmo fascination.

So, when today's gifts were opened and inside were four Christmas ornaments, there was only one she was interested in. The Santa ornament that was given to her by the others just wasn't cutting it after she saw Alivia holding Elmo. She didn't even bother looking the direction of Alena who had Rudolph or Trace who had a snowman. Elmo was it.

It was as though Santa had cooties. Alivia didn't want him either when a trade for Elmo was suggested. Finally, Alena, in a charitable mood, agreed to take the Santa, leaving Alysse with Rudolph for which Alivia did agree to swap for the prized Elmo.

Whew. Who knew Elmo was so popular, especially with one-time viewers?

She was just as big as she could be when it came time to place Elmo on the tree. Look, but don't touch, though, he's all hers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 15

The name of today's advent gifts escapes me. Perhaps they don't really have a "name." Thus we'll call them whatchamacallits.

Regardless of the word you slap on the novelties, the kids were taken with the two-in-one magic of them. Pushing the small plunger inward, created music, turned lights on and made the snowman (or Santa) drop away in quarters revealing another, smaller friend inside.

Alivia was especially fascinated with the mechanics of what was going on as the affect to her plunger-pushing cause. A fun two-for-one trinket all wrapped up in a thingamajig.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 14

unwrapping :: hours and hours of fun.

examining :: the exact spot you should place the teddy bear sticker.

sitting :: side-by-side working, playing.

admiring :: the terrific job completed in decorating the page.

loving :: the holiday sticker books opened today.

Holiday goodness

Welcome to a hodge podge of holiday treats and fun we've accumulated over the last couple of weeks. Included are short snippets of what we have being doing both out and about, and at home, all the while getting in the spirit.

GINGERBREAD CONSTRUCTION ZONE

A sale on gingerbread house kits at Target last week prompted me to pick one up for the kids as a break-up-the-week project. With chili in the crockpot ready for dinner and a little extra time Thursday evening, we dove into the construction.


Honestly, I was surprised the house's structure withstood the prettying up the four decorators laid on it. Initially, the majority would have rather eaten the candy than actually decorate the house; however, after a bit, everyone caught onto the "put the candy on the house, not in your mouth" game.

The treat turned out surprisingly well considering all the little hands that poked, pushed and helped with it. And, what's more amazing is that it's placed on a table low enough that they can admire their work, and it's remained in tact.

BUSY IS, WELL, BUSY

Our Elf on a Shelf is a new tradition this holiday season, and one well worth implementing in any house with small children.

The small little elf doll, ours by the name of Busy, helps Santa sort through the good and not-so-good behavior of little boys and girls. The premise is each night he magically travels to the North Pole to check in with the big guy only to return, positioning himself in a new location, and, from his perch, catch everything said and done over the course of the day.

Not only does Busy's presence help correct behavior going badly, as he can simply be mentioned to let the offender reconsider the direction he or she is taking, but each morning Alena and Alivia race off to see where he landed upon returning from the North Pole.

SANTA BABY

Last Friday we visited Santa at Cincinnati Mills mall. Two of the four kids hoping to make it onto his good list climbed upon his lap.

Trace couldn't even look in the jolly old guy's direction without crying and Alysse wasn't quite sure what to make of him, but knew there was no way she was going to sit anywhere near him.

Alena didn't hesitate to climb up on Santa's lap and rattle off her list (yes, she's been talked down from a real convertible that she and dad could ride around in, to a toy one she could put dolls in). Alivia, however, was a bit timid, but bravely took her place to request her pig and guitar (a purple sparkly one that Santa better get cracking on).

EEWWY, GOOEY FUN

Most of the time when I come up with a hair-brained project, I have some preconceived expectations of how successful said activity will or won't be. Even before mentioning it to the kids, I've projected who will enjoy it most, what kind of mess I'll end up with in the end or what the end result will most likely be.

That said, our Friday afternoon cooking adventure far exceeded what I figured the outcome to be. Alena, Alivia and I, while attempting to make homemade peppermint marshmallows, actually surprised me with a festive success.

Alivia is a marshmallow connoisseur, who would eat the fluffed sugar mounds until she made herself sick if you allowed her to do so. So, when stumbling upon the recipe, I put logic aside and we set out to make them in her honor.

I measured, the girls took turns pouring and stirring, then we waited the 15 minutes my Kitchenaid mixture whipped the concoction. Two hours of cooling and a nap later, we had small squares of soft peppermint sweetness.

Not only did we learn we could make homemade marshmallows which surpass the store bought ones, we also discovered Alysse, too, would continue shoveling them in with reckless abandon.

NATIVITY, ANIMALS AND BELLS

The Paul R. Young Funeral Home has offered the community a semi-live nativity scene for as long as I'm able to remember.

The holy family and wise men are sculpted wax, but the nativity features live animals. This makes for an interactive, entertaining nativity for children. To continue the tradition we started a couple years ago, we visited Saturday night with lettuce and crackers in tow for drawing the animals near.

We picked the perfect time to stop by, as we were the only lookers there when we arrived which meant the kids had the animals all to themselves. They took turns feeding the sheep and donkeys, sharing the roll of crackers the animals were enjoying.


As an added bonus, previously unbeknownst to us, they were offering horse-drawn wagon rides to nativity visitors. The girls were thrilled to see the horses and grateful when the horses' owner asked if we'd like to ride.

While the whole riding on a horse drawn wagon thing was the initial highlight, once the team started trotting along the streets and their sleigh bells were jingling, it was the lovely holiday noise the girls liked best.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 13

CANDY.

When most of the time you can pass off granola bars with mini chocolate chips as candy bars to your kids, getting a package of Lifesavers, chocolate covered marshmallow snowmen and foil-wrapped chocolate Santas is like a little pot of gold to them.

As such, Lifesavers in the middle of the afternoon can make one do this ...

and this ...

and this ...

Everyone received two pieces of the candy, with the remainder put up for treats after mealtimes. If mom and dad stay out of their stash, they should have chocolate all the way up until Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 12

Small, soft balls with pictures of Santa and snowmen are perfect for sharing ...

and throwing.

Some throws ended up under the Christmas tree, others behind the couch and one in a glass of eggnog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

He is Santa's elf

Offering a little holiday entertainment is Trace and his "We are Santa's Elves" hat. I really think he likes the song, as he has laid claim to the singing hat and wears it often. He's so cute, he could actually be an elf.

video

Days of Christmas, part 11

If there's one thing you don't mess with, it's our kids' meal schedule. When it's 7:45 a.m., 12 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. they are either eating or mean. That's the schedule, and alterations aren't acceptable.

Don't think you can skip a lunch for a 2 p.m. get together involving food. If it's 12 p.m. they expect lunch. And don't try to blow off dinner because they ate at a 4 p.m. party. They'll be asking when it's dinner time by 6:35 p.m. Strangely enough, they'll eat at that 6:35 p.m. dinner as if the 4 p.m. feeding never occurred.

Food ... it's important.

Therefore, the holiday plates wrapped up as today's surprise were much appreciated by the eaters. They not only featured holiday graphics, but, as an added mom bonus, are the four-section variety for which I've sworn off all other plates. Let's eat.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Days of Christmas, part 10

They light up lives, how appropriate they receive little lights of their own. Holiday night lights, that is. What was brighter, their smiles or the lights, is a toss up.

Besides casting a warm glow, three of the night lights are lava lamp like, with glittery liquid inside that moves as the light warms.

Alysse's night light is an angel. She so liked how it lit up when plugged in that she hugged it.

Alivia choose a snowman holding a rope of sparkly snowflakes. While it doesn't have the lava lamp affect as the others do, hers, in my opinion, is the cutest of all.

Alena's Christmas tree night light, with dangling ornaments as an added touch, was admired by everyone, especially her.

Trace, in his spread 'em for a pat down pose, is hugging/blocking his snowman night light. Being the king of the "unplug it and run" posse, he must have been having a guilty conscious the same would be done to his new light.