This year, I thought it would be fun to keep a mini journal of each of our December day’s activities. A little play-by-play for my memory and your enjoyment…
December 1: Pick up tree and decorate house
Always my favorite day of the year! It was cold and there was a Santa walking around the tree lot who weighed less than me and handed out candy canes to good boys and girls. Coen of course told him he wanted a T-phone and then cried when he dropped his candy cane mere seconds after receiving it. Mabel gave him a high five, but I think it was mostly out of fear. For the first year ever, the tree got tied to the top of the vehicle and the kids thought that was pretty awesome. This act also led Nate to believe he needed to research knot-tying, which apparently is a good skill to have for him, ya know, since he works in IT. For the next six hours, we decorated the house, hung lights, and placed ornaments carefully on the (mostly lower) tree branches. Upon completion, we watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and fell asleep peacefully in our pine-needle-scented house. Favorite day of the year complete.
December 2: Write out cards for soldiers
“What’s a soldier, mommy?” I’m not from a military family and, my oh my, was that evident in my attempted explanation to my son the day we wrote out Christmas cards for soldiers. “A soldier is a man or woman who protects our country and all of us.” “Protects us from what?” Good questions, kid. “Bad guys” was the only answer I could come up with that his little Ninja-Turtle-loving head would comprehend. “Oh, like Foot Soldiers, Shredder and the Krang?” I’ll go deeper in to America the Free another day, but for 2013, I’m going to let him think there are wonderful men and women out there protecting us from full-suited, nylon-wearing, sword-swooping ninjas…and cartoon brains. And, darn it, those people deserve Christmas cards!
December 3: Clean out gently-used toys and bag up
I was able to get Coen really excited about donating some old toys by telling him where and who they would be going to. After a long day at school and daycare, and a quick family dinner, we all headed down to the toy room, plastic bags in hand. Three minutes. That was the extent of the attention spans we were forced to deal with this night. Coen threw in some nice toys, like his remote control bus and one of those rollercoaster-y bead thingies they always have at the dentist office. I pulled out all six of their toy bins and we then encountered lots of “MINEs” mixed with some whining. We were able to collect three garbage bags filled with giveaways, all in pretty decent condition. Of course, in doing so, our basement turned into a war zone (thus giving me the opportunity to organize their play room…which I did).
December 4: Make M&M pretzels
Well, this was a disaster. I must admit, I’ve never seen my daughter so proud of herself as when she first ripped open a Hershey Hug…all…by…herself! Coen and I both cheered loudly for her, and that was all the motivation she needed to proceed to open two bags’ worth. And she only ate four, which I found very impressive. I’ve never claimed to be a baker (or a cook, or a chef, or a culinary ANYthing), so I’m not ashamed to admit that I burned the mother living hell out of these things and they wound up in the garbage can. I sent curse-word-laden text messages to Nate, frustrated with my lack of abilities, but it turns out my children have short attention spans and never even asked about the finished product. So, mission accomplished?..!
December 5: Deliver toys to ShopTotallyKids
We live in Minnesota. It is December. And I’ll be darned if we were about to go out on the highways in this heinous snowstorm. We postponed toy delivery until tomorrow. Today, we were grateful for our little home with just enough room in the living room for a Christmas tree and an air mattress. Great day for Christmas movies (and the Toy Story trilogy, of course).
December 6: Grocery shop for food and deliver to St. Louis Park STEP
Now that the roads have cleared a bit, we were able to accomplish this one! After swimming lessons, we hit up the local Cub Foods and I led the kiddos to the canned and boxed goods aisle. RUN FREE! FILL ‘ER UP! It was fun watching them pick out some of their favorite things (mandarin oranges, pears, noodles, spaghettios) and stand on their tip-toes to dump them in the cart. While they were doing that, I grabbed some items that were actually on STEP’s “wish list” and just like that, we were done. Fastest Christmas Joy List item ever. And, if throwing all the food you can hold into a cart isn’t thrilling enough, the store was slow enough that Coen was able to utilize the self-checkout (with his mother’s monitoring). Now THAT brought joy!
If any of you live in or around St. Louis Park, I strongly recommend you check out STEP. They have volunteer opportunities for all ages (and for full families) and they do so much good…in a community of which we are actually a MEMBER! Check them out here.
Day 7: Attend Murphy Christmas party
I woke up this day with a killer cold and felt like my head weighed about six billion pounds. A majority of the day was spent lounging and resting on the couch while my wonderful husband got things done around the house. By 4:00, I had pried myself from the couch and was in actual clothes, ready to go to the Christmas party. The kids (and parents) had been looking forward to celebrating at the party because there was rumored to be a planned appearance by the Jolly Red himself! By the time we hit the party, the kids were both rested and Nate and I were ready to mingle. It was nice meeting new people and drinking some vino. And, sure as the stars shine, St. Nick showed up right on time. My kids have been afraid of up-close Clauses since birth, but tonight was different. Not sure if it was the excitement of all the other kids surrounding them, or the fact that they were trapped in a small room and had no other choice, but it was magical. Watching Coen’s eyes light up when Santa told him he knew he wanted a T-phone and that he made the “good list” this year was something I’ll never forget. And Mabel wouldn’t go near him, but in her defense, she had been awake since 4:30am. I think that may have been our Santa breakthrough moment for Coen. The fear is gone, and he is most definitely a believer!
Day 8: Christmas Shopping and Visiting Santa at Brooklyn Center Community Center
Slight change of plans this day since I published my list. My parents kindly volunteered to watch Coen and Mabel so Nate and I could enjoy a FULL day of Christmas shopping sans children. This. Was. A. Big. Deal. We were at the Mall of America by 10am and shopped straight through til 5pm, with one pitstop for flatbread pizza and beer. Back home, my sister and niece came to spend the day with G+G and the kiddos. They baked cookies and little pizzas and wound up going to visit Santa in Brooklyn Center after all. I’m so happy the kids got to go, and actually enjoyed it! I still have no clue how they got Mabel to sit on Santa’s lap (she must’ve been drugged!), but when Julie sent me the picture, I teared up right there in front of Hallmark. Our shopping was complete – so excited about our purchases! Thanks to mom and dad and Julie and Lance for making our kids’ day so memorable. See ya in a couple weeks!
Day 9: Visit Santa’s Workshop in downtown Macy’s
This is a day I look forward to every year, and the older my kids get, the more fun it gets! We spent an hour delivering all the things we had in the house that hadn’t been delivered yet (toys, food, clothes) and then the kids were “rewarded” with a trip to the Elves Workshop on the 8th floor of the downtown Minneapolis Macy’s. Before we even entered the village, we were greeted (and hugged) by Mrs. Clause. As my friend stated, “Behind every good man is a great woman” and I believe Mrs. Clause is a vital part of Christmas tradition, so I was very happy my kids were introduced to her. The elves were of course awesome, and I almost died of shock when my kids CHOSE to enter the door to see Santa. No line and smiling kids? I wasn’t about to turn it down. Coen told him about his Zurg laser and his T-phone and his Batman helicopter he wants so badly, and Mabel even chimed in with (what I’m sure only I understood as “Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies and Thomas.” She seemed proud and shot him a killer smile as we walked out holding hands. After another hour running the skyways and eating pizza slices, both kids were beat and napped immediately. Today surely brought this mama some serious JOY.
Day 10: Create edible Christmas trees with ice cream cones
This was a fun little activity (that only took up about 15 minutes of our day), but the kids enjoyed it. I dyed white whipped frosting green and covered an upside-down ice cream cone. I laid out a variety of nummies to decorate the trees and let the kids go to town. I was surprised how particular they were about the placement of their candies. And, no disasters until Mabel’s blue sprinkles exploded mid-pour. “Uh-oh, messy, mama.” Yup. But worth it.
Day 11: Purchase treats at PetSmart for the Humane Association
Tonight was simply too cold to brave the outside with two kiddos. And I’m not usually one to complain about the temp. But, -7? That’s where I draw the line. We cozied up and ate tacos and finalized our handmade Family Rules. The kids went to bed and Nate and I watched “Gravity.” Every mom deserves a night like this mid-December. Oh, and yes, there was Malbec involved.
Day 12: Another day, another raincheck…
I’m starting to feel like I’m just making up excuses now, but Sojourner’s House emailed me and said we couldn’t drop-off until Monday so looks like we will save the shopping until that day. In case anyone wants to support this cause, they are in need of teenage boy items from their holiday wish list and deliveries need to be made by December 20. Looks like Monday will be filled with gift buying and donating, AND Salvation Army bell ringing. Gonna be a good day!