Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 23

Can you tell that Alysse is giddy? After all, Christmas is almost here. She knows because the pile of countdown gifts is down to one. The kids are counting down the minutes ...

Found inside today's package were small snow globes that contain gingerbread letters. Three "a" gingerbreads for the girls and a "t" for the Traceman.

Monogrammed snow globe fun!

Christmas countdown, day 22

Tiny holiday-themed magnets were found in package number 22.

Since the kids do much drawing, writing and creating, they were thrilled to have new magnets to secure their masterpieces to the fridge doors.

To put their new magnets to work quickly, they immediately made new doodles for display.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 21

If nothing else, Alysse tries. Her guess for what was in today's package was a paint set. The clue referenced Russian playthings. Like I said, she tries. I suppose Russian children have paint sets.

She discovered, however, that her speculation was wrong when nesting doll sets were wrapped inside. I suppose she had the "sets" part right.

Trace especially enjoyed this gift. His set was disassembled and reassembled countless times this evening. The baubles have the manipulative draw of blocks with the added bonus of judging size ... just up his alley.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 20

Gotta make this quick people ... Santa's got presents to wrap. Lots and lots of presents to wrap (while trying to hide the tape from the kids so it isn't gone before the wrapping is done).

Alysse has been waiting for this. On several occasions (after getting over the tooting rabbit), she incorrectly guessed the days' packages contained a nutcracker. While she didn't make that guess today, she finally got her nutcracker.

These wooden guys brought smiles ... and attempts at actually cracking their own nuts.

Christmas countdown, day 19

Sunday was the day we went from this ...

Dolled (and gent-ed) up for a holiday party.

To this ...

After a day of traveling, celebrating and gift opening. However, while pooped and asking for their comfy clothes, they had one more present-unwrapping in them.

And inside they found snowmen and Santas that are part night light, part snow globe, part lava lamp. When on, the glitter inside floats inside, with a light that slowly fades from one color to another.

A nice way to light up the season.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 18

Today, the pictures tell the story.

And some had to have their pictures taken individually.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 17

Today's countdown gift was a real treat and something the kids will thoroughly enjoy doing. The giant pad of picture searches immediately caught their attention.

Especially for the two searchers who always turn first to the hidden pictures pages of their "High Five" magazine each month, the activity pad will be a favorite. With holiday themed scenes, the searches provide both picture and text lists so readers and non-readers alike can take part in the fun.

Happy holiday hunting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 16

The theme of the day around here was snowmen. Before the flakes even stopped falling this morning, the kids were in the backyard equipped with hat, scarf, walnuts, carrot and raisins to construct a Frosty.

Try as we might, the light, fluffy snow in our yard simply wouldn't cooperate. After futile attempts, they were off to make snow angels, zip down the snow-covered slides (slick snowsuits make for really quick rides) and bury their faces in the snow (quickly realizing this isn't a good idea).

What they found wrapped for today's surprise, though, remedied the lack of a snowman this morning. A singing, dancing Frosty. Once you help him in placing his magic hat on his head, he sings and twirls in a circle.

Frosty also came wrapped with a "The Snowman Band of Snowboggle Bend" book. Seeing that we spent this afternoon re-reading the books from yesterday, this put some fresh reading material in our hands.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 15

It was just today during lunch conversation that the kids and I decided what, in our opinion, makes the "best" Christmas gifts.

First, Alysse declared "books." This coming from a house with three bookshelves full of kids' books. The operative word being FULL. Where we'll put another (bookshelf, that is), I don't know.

Alivia then chimed in with "games" ... to which we all agreed. Our memory games are popular, as is the Hisss game that, by Alivia's tally, we've played 299 times. I would certify her estimate as quite accurate.

Finally, we rounded out our list with movies. The kid-friendly kind that everyone hunkers down to watch on Friday night (with a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms). "The Search for Santa Paws" is the latest favorite among the gang.

So, having compiled our list, the books wrapped up as today's countdown gift were most definitely well received. I don't know that books have ever NOT been welcomed around these parts.

Needless to say, we quickly got to reading.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 14

Here are two little faces with Christmas all over them. The peace, the beauty, the excitement, the smiles.

This view of Christmas is brought to you by the small, equine ornaments they unwrapped today. Appropriately suited to each kid, each has its own personality and theme.

The ornaments are adorning the tree, as the smiles adorn these faces.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 13

Our kids know the famous Clement Clarke Moore work "Twas the Night Before Christmas" well. So well, in fact, that the older girls could probably recite most if by heart. It's been a part of our Christmas reading for years.

Imagine their surprise when the quaint, holiday house they received today tells the story to them with the push of a button.

With glowing lights and a snowy rooftop, the house recounts the Christmas favorite aloud to the little listening ears gathered around. With 12 days left, even the smallest listeners will be retelling the tale by Christmas day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 12

Ignoring Sunday morning's unbrushed hair and lazy day clothes, the unwrapping continues. The kids are still going strong in their training for the big day of paper tearing.

Found beneath the gift wrap today were holiday window covers. Once attached, the light from within the house illuminates the Santa or snowman illustrations for passers by.

Christmas countdown, day 11

Number eleven might take the cake for most unique surprise of advent. Now chilling (literally) in the yard, I'm going to bet we're the only house in the neighborhood (township?) that's got one of these babies.

The kids actually got a little put off that Ben was staked outside. They were hoping he'd stay inside, I think.

And, yes, his name is Ben ... at Trace's insistence. There was a naming discussion among the giftees after opening the package, but Trace (after hugging the lighted Steeler) was most adamant the player be named Ben.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 10

Let's talk adjectives that succinctly describe our children ... nuts and cheesy. Now, wrap up those adjectives and you've got two-thirds of today's surprises.

First, a can of holiday nuts. In an ironic turn of events, our "nuts" love nuts. The two pounds of assorted, in-shell nuts we recently purchased at Jungle Jim's lasted approximately five days. With their new can of holiday crunchiness, they should be able to quicken the shoveling of nuts into their mouths since these came sans-shells and their mouths won't have to be held up by our "slow" cracking and discarding of shells.

Second, cheesiness is involved by way of an entire can of popcorn. While we must make mention that Alysse guessed the package would contain a super big marshmallow and was subsequently disappointed when that wasn't the case; she quickly warmed up to what WAS inside when she realized the can contained popcorn. Yes, they love popcorn (almost as much as nuts).

These snacks should last about as long as the final treat - Disney's "A Christmas Carol" on DVD. Good munching must always accompany a holiday flick. Can you hear the crunching?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 9

This is always one of MY favorite packages in the advent parade of gifts. The fleece, the holiday patterns, the cuddle factor all combine to make for cozy holiday goodness. There's something extra cute about kids in holiday pjs.

Oddly enough, a couple nights ago the kids were putting on their passed-down holiday pajamas from last year and someone was without a pair. The odd-kid out had to put on *gasp* pjs sporting no Santa hats, reindeer or ice skating kittens.

Problem now remedied.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 8

The kids have already got today's surprise set aside for Friday night ... movie night.

Four, small rectangular pillows with stockings and Christmas trees are perfect for propping up little heads while watching "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty the Snowman."

Some have even been practicing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 7

"Snuggies" ... this chorus as the wrapping paper made its descent tells the whole story.

Blankets with sleeves, in fact, which resemble Santa's red suit - white trimming, belt and all.

And after all the excitement, you find this ...

this ...

and this ...

lying around the house.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 6

Today's clue suggested decorating with fun things ... even in the bathroom. Of course, this led to the return of the "big rabbit" guess from Alysse. It IS what every bathroom needs. Would someone please get this child a large bunny?

But definitely more fun than a gassy bunny is the Jolly in the John Snowman they found inside. Motion activated, this little guy makes wise cracks like "Are you okay? You look a bit flushed. Get it? Flushed." They bust out laughing every time Mr. Jolly John says that one.

I'm thinking bathroom visits of the future just got a little longer.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 5

Oh what fun it is to watch as the wrapping paper flies.

Today's guesses included a shout out for "underwear." Yes, apparently a clue that references fun and a package that is soft and squishy equates to underwear.

Far more fun than underwear, though, was the real gift of holiday hats. Which, apparently, leave some room for interpretation depending upon the wearer.

Christmas countdown, day 4

Day four's package was one of those small ones that packs a big punch. A box just a bit larger than a letter-sized sheet of paper. But while not huge in size, the contents were a huge hit.

Titled a Christmas Box of Fun, the surprise contained holiday stencils, coloring and sticker books, and a learn-to-draw guide. In other words, everything little artists need to make wonderful creations for the season.

Everyone got straight to work and our fridge is covered in a menagerie of snowflakes, Santas and stickered fun.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 3

Meteorologists may talk of lake-effect snow or Albert clippers in referencing weather patterns, we have our own phenomenon around here called the snowball effect. One person snags something they're not supposed to have and gets away with it, and we then have three others making demands; one kid is given a chance to do something and the next thing you know a line has formed. Things tend to quadruple or snowball very quickly.

The snowball effect was a full on system this afternoon when it came to guessing what was inside today's package. After reading the clue, Alena was so confident in her guess, it suddenly snowballed around the ring of wrapping paper shredders leaving no one with a guess of their own (yes, not even tooting rabbit girl).

So when the "Christmas outfits" theory panned out, there was nothing left to do but model the new threads. Red velveteen dresses with snowmen and fir trees (along with candy cane striped leggings) for the girls and a moose appliqued sweater (with plaid shirt and cords) for the long ranger.

All new outfits are tumbling in the dryer now ... our laundry lady was given strict instructions to have the new duds ready for wear tomorrow. Yet another thing that snowballed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 2

Good lordy, the guesses. Today's gift might have contained a "really, really big TV," according to Trace. We'll not make issue that the top of it was squishy and the dimensions were about 12 inches by 18 inches. And Alysse, well, she's sticking with her flatulent bunny guess.

What was actually inside (the squishy top) were Santa chair covers to decorate our kitchen dining chairs. They slide over the top of the chair back, leaving a big, happy Santa looking out.

Then once bottoms are seated on smiling Santa chairs, dinner can be served on the second part of the day's gift ... Mr. and Mrs. Snowman place settings. Mugs, bowls and plates are now waiting to serve up the season's favorites.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas countdown, day 1

We're dusting off this old blog for a comeback of the Christmas countdown extravaganza. Literally ... wiping off the drywall dust. The blog has been neglected the past couple of months while we drywalled and finished the walls in our basement. We've now got electric, ceiling and walls, so let's mark off the days until Christmas before we start slapping on some paint.

For those not in the know, the countdown means a package(sometimes small and simple, sometimes large and not-so-simple) each day of December until we reach the big 2-5 and Santa's arrival.

Having experienced this generosity of Jason's parents the last several years, the kids know the drill and flock each day to the wrapped surprise. New this year are clues attached to the top of each gift that Alena can read to the crowd. This may prove most amusing as they can each make a guess as to what's inside before the shredding frenzy begins. Note: Alysse's guess for today was a big rabbit that would hop around the house "tooting."

While there was no large, gassy hare, there were four stocking hangers with numbered blocks to change each day noting the number of days left until Christmas, and a three-dimensional advent house.

They quickly arranged their numbers to read "24" (except for Trace who's telling of "42" days until Christmas) and agreed to take turns each day opening a door or window on the gingerbread house.

Let the counting begin ...