Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ho, Ho, Here we go!

I love this season.  I love the shopping, the socializing, the decorating, the music, the Christmas specials on TV, and the general air of goodwill that fills the air.  It (typically) doesn't stress me out, because I made a deal with myself long ago that I wouldn't let it.  I hate the idea of "well, let's get though this" for a season that is supposed to be about love and joy.  The funny part is, since I took that attitude, it's just come naturally.  I love letting fall be fall, but once Thanksgiving is over, and the calendar turns to December, it is ON.

So Ho, Ho, Here we go....the beginning of my holiday adventure as a mom of TWO little ones!

I always kick off with Black Friday.  I LOVE Black Friday.  I can do 75% of my shopping, enjoy great deals and some solo time, and be home by lunch.  The perfect start to the season (seriously).

Because I hosted a party (granted, a party for two year olds, but hey, they had parents who are my friends too!) I had a goal to have the interior of the house decorated by this past Saturday.  That is incredibly early for me.  As much as I love my decorations, it is a process to get them up and I usually don't manage until mid-December.  Having them done before the clock ticked to midnight on November 30th was a huge win for me.  My house looks so pretty and sparkly.  Adam did the exterior and it's the best he's done yet (and you should hear his plans for next year!)

I've definitely made some adjustments though.  Madison was only 5 months old at her first Christmas, and definitely not mobile, so I could decorate just as I always had.  Candles, glass, tablecloths, etc.  Last year that was NOT an option.  Actually, Madison was better than I anticipated a 17 month old to be, but I still wasn't going to offer her an open flame, a breakable ornament, or something to pull down.  This year, with TWO mobile girls, it was even more important.

However, streamlining all the decor has actually improved the look of my house!  I have all the Christmas trinkets confined to two places, and everything else is simple and elegant.  And twinkly.  Madison loves twinkly and sighs every day "Oh, mommy.  It's so pretty.  I love Christmas lights".  You can't beat that kind of review.

Festooned with "hair bows".

My only "danger" spot.  Luckily they haven't gone for it yet.  Our elf has hidden here.

Our fireplace may be my favorite spot.  This picture does NOT do it justice.

Dining room looking fancy!  We keep this room gated, so I can be fancy here!

I went back and forth on the Elf.  I have NO desire to have an Elf who makes a lot of mischief.  I know it's fun for the kids, but I don't really understand how an Elf, who is supposed to encourage GOOD behavior, is allowed to create huge messes.  I also think it's a little creepy to tell a small child they are "being watched". 

But we were gifted an Elf.  (I don't see myself paying $30-$40 for one).  And it's fun to add a little more magic to the season.  So our Elf delivered the book as a gift from Santa when he showed up on December 1 (25 days is plenty for me).  As we read the book before breakfast, we focused on that our Elf would be certain to let Santa know all the good things the girls were up to.  Our Elf, who is originally named "Christmas", has moved around, always out of reach, but hasn't created any messes or mischief.  We have a well behaved Elf.  Madison finds him in the mornings, but isn't obsessed with him. 

Our elf delivered a gift from Santa!
One place our elf was hanging out...

Another spot (although he only lasted until nap before falling down the lampshade).

OK, I said I love baking.  That's KIND of a lie.  I love baked goods (especially cupcakes, but cookies will do).  That's obvious.  But I don't really bake.  I didn't even ask for a kitchen aid mixer at my wedding because I couldn't see myself using it. I really hate baking recipes that have a list of ingredients that is longer than the number of cookies it produces.

I am however, an expert at baking from a mix.  It's embarrassing at cookie exchanges, where you need to provide a recipe, but it's great for parties.  I made chocolate peppermint cookies, sugar cookies, and pumpkin cookies (2 ingredient ones I found on pinterest!).  And now I have cookies to enjoy with a nice hot beverage or bribe Madison with.  The other great part is that Madison can help, because it's pretty hard to mess up.  She can pour the mix into a bowl and stir without me worrying about excess flour or sugar or baking soda messing things up.  Fun! 

Shhh....my secret recipe!

We've started watching the Christmas specials.  Since Madison is so into dance, I decided to introduce her to the Nutcracker.  I'm such a glutton for punishment.  This is the first year that I am NOT teaching and thus, spending December watching/listening to/doing projects with the Nutcracker with 50% of my classes.  So naturally, I show it to my daughter.  Sigh.  We also revisited my old favorites:  the cartoon Grinch, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Charlie Brown, and of COURSE, Small One.  I cry EVERY TIME I see that.

Seriously, I could probably dance it at this point.

On Saturday we kicked off the festivities with TWO events.  We left our newly decorated house and headed to the church Christmas Fair with friends.  Madison had a blast decorating a gingerbread house and making crafts.  She tore through the craft fair, landing on the perfect ornament (a ballerina made out of an old fashioned clothespin) and begged for chocolate covered pretzels in the cookie area.  We had a lot of fun.


Madison's masterpiece!

Santa Fail.

Sidenote:  Santa was a giant fail at the church fair.  I was discouraged until I remembered that Santa was a giant fail at the church fair LAST year, and then a big hit at the mall two weeks later.  So hope is not lost for a smiling Santa picture!

After a nap, we welcomed friends from my breastfeeding group for our annual Christmas party/playdate.  Although two friends weren't there (they both became big sisters this week!) we had a great time.  The kids painted, opened gifts, and played with every toy we own.  I'm so glad we managed to continue the tradition this year.  It was early...December 1, but having an event to kick off the season was perfect.

There's still a lot to do.  My cards have arrived, but I haven't gotten them out yet.  We'll be getting our tree this weekend and putting it up at some point next week.  We still need to visit Santa at the mall, and I need to wrap all the gifts.  Not stressed though, there's plenty of December yet, and we're enjoying every moment of it!

I'll be picking the winner of my book giveaway on Friday!  What a great gift!  To win a signed copy of What Daddy Did Today...

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