Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

It was a full and memorable advent season for our family.  We rode trains and made marshmallows, we had hot chocolates in the car while looking at Christmas lights, we cut down our tree, sent packages to family, made crafts, decorated ornaments, and made snowman cookies.  We watched Christmas productions, had movie nights, visited with family, attended parties, and played in the snow.  We made gingerbread play-doh to give to Silas' friends, delivered treats to neighbors, gifts to babysitters, read Christmas stories and cut out snowflakes.  

We did it all. And I am pooped. 

I mean, I am ready to tear down the Christmas decorations. Right. Now.  I enjoyed wringing every last drop out of Christmas this season with our boys, but this mama is ready to package it up and ship it on out (please, oh please can I take it all down yet?!)

We had many wonderful moments with our boys: watching them LOVE their new drum set (yes- we bought it for them, and yes- we might be crazy), scooter, baking gear and balls that they got for Christmas (thanks grandparents!) We received amazing generosity from unexpected places and were richly blessed by shared meals with our life group, with family, friends, and with co-workers.  We loved watching the boys' eyes light up on the Stanley park Christmas train and loved watching them engage in giving, making, and sharing. Candle-light Christmas Eve service, Silas' pre-school performance, snow-fort building with cousins, ginger-bread house decorating....I could go on.  But I am D-O-N-E.

The pros of planning advent for the kids: sustained energy, continued anticipation, intentional giving and community activities, advanced planning, and wonderful memories.

The cons: fatigue and the actual somewhat 'burnt out' feeling when Christmas actually arrives.

Here's a collage of some of our best memories:

I don't know that I would change a lot about what we did but next year I want to...
1. Do Christmas photos in the summer 
2. Try not to do more than one outing in one weekend (we had 3 Christmas parties in 4 days and also crammed in a late outing to Williams Park and Stanley Park train back to back.  Too. Much)
3. Definitely go back to the Stanley Park Train.
4. Have less candy and junk food for the boys (ugh, behaviour suffered from too much sugar).
5. Don't wrap up Christmas books for every day- it just got to be too much.
6. Abide by the: "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" Christmas present shopping guide for kids.
7. More rest time, reflection time, time with God.
8. Continue to pick out 1-2 Christmas ornaments during the year that signify something important that happened in our family (so that our tree becomes a memory tree!)  This year we pulled out an ornament we bought on our family vacation to Hawaii and I can't wait to see our whole tree fill up from memories we've shared as a family!

And now....onto planning Silas' birthday (will the event planning never end?!)  From November through January it is non-stop with every member of our family celebrating birthdays, and Christmas.

Phew.  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of memories to cherish.
Good-bye Christmas, until next year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Real Me

It's been a lovely Advent season for us here so far.  We've had a lot of fun activities together as a family, and I have to admit that the craziness of planning December early has paid off.  I love having an idea of something to do already for the day rather than being stuck inside, in the cold, without any thoughts of how to entertain my rambunctious boys.  It makes for a crazy November but a sweeeet December.

However, it MUST be said, I have had a lot of comments via facebook about just how 'perfect' I seem to be (doing all these organized crafts and all) and I want to reassure you, this is simply NOT TRUE.  Most days look like the following:

  • 7-8 Get up, get the boys breakfast.  Get me some java before I turn into a pillar of salt. "More milk! More cereal! He spilled! He's pushing me! I'm still hungry!"  Crying, gnashing of teeth, etc.
  • 8-9 Get frustrated trying to spend 5 minutes doing my hair while the boys fight while they are left alone.  It's not too much to ask, is it?  But they are rarely able to be in the same room without supervision and apparently 5 minutes for me to do my hair is enough time for them to get into trouble.  ARG
  • Pack our diaper bag
  • Spend 30+ minutes trying to get the boys on their potties, in their clothes, and out the door.  I hate this part. It usually leads to a partial mental breakdown, lots of huffing and puffing and shortness of breath, and a few mild reprimands.  But, I do it anyways because if we don't get out the door in the morning, we will all be frustrated, irritable and annoying by the afternoon.
  • 9-11:30 Then it's off to pre-school for Silas (2 days a week) and errands for Toby and I, midwife appointments, library runs, visits with friends, time at Strongstart, meetings at Church, grocery shopping, etc.  I have the most energy at this point in the day so this is when we have to do errands.
  • 11:30-12:30 See above regarding mealtime.  We are all a little done at this point so it's a matter of food in mouths and kids in beds.
  • 12:30-2 I crash.  Toby crashes. Silas does whatever he does in quiet time in his room.  It usually involves me needing to tell him to be quieter at some point and a few potty runs.  I'm not going to be ashamed: this is when Silas gets to play with 'his phone' (read: our old, broken iphone that we've crammed with games and home videos). But unlike most people think, I am ridiculously unproductive at this time of day.  I fudge around on the internet, read, do devos (rarely, but sometimes), take a rest in my bed, stare at the wall (who rarely argues with me and doesn't need to be dressed/wiped/fed).  The point is, I don't hardly DO anything other than eat cake, act like a vegetable, and take a mental break from the kids.
  • 2-3 Spend time with Silas (he loves to sit and do activity books with me), do some housework, baking, or dinner prep before Toby wakes up
  • 3-5 Survive until Daddy comes home.  Snacks, advent activities, go outside if the weather is permitting, do some dinner work, and this is when the TV comes out: for those last 30 minutes before Daddy is home. Enter: babysitter Bob and nanny Dora. It's either TV or no dinner, folks.
Literally, this is my day, everyday.  When I'm not working or there isn't some other rare occurrence, I am not nearly as productive or perfect as people think.  I have a lot of mini meltdowns when things like potty runs and getting shoes on takes more time than it should.  Or when I've cleaning up spilled milk for the 10th time or, the kicker, when the boys are fighting AGAIN.  If we don't get out in the mornings or go outside in the afternoons, they are on top of each other and it gets old, very fast. I hate getting kids in carseats (which is, unfortunately, only going to get worse) and the thought of having to grocery shop with the boys pushes me over the edge.

So, there you have it.  Anyone out there still think I have it all together?  Most any productive activity happens at night, when the boys are in bed and I stay up too late.  But often I just want to crash in the evenings. 

Still need more confessions? I have anger management issues.  I am a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, I should spend more time with God, I get NO exercise other than running up and down the stairs getting new pairs of underwear and lifting boys into car seats, and I spend no time sewing curtains or hand-making bread or whatever those incredible domestic home-makers do.  I don't scrapbook my boys photos.  I am 2 years behind in photo books.  I buy cards and rarely make them.  There is a thick layer of dust on most pieces of large furniture and if you saw my Tupperware cupboard or baking cupboard or pantry, you'd probably laugh and recommend a home organizer.  

Those are my confessions for you.  I'm a real Mom with real struggles and I never get done what I hope to in a day and most days I'm trying desperately just to love my children with the little energy I seem to have after taking care of all our physical needs. 

These advent activities are really just a creative outlet and a way to keep us busy while stuck indoors in the winter.  I promise you most of my life is spent doing what You are ALL doing as well: wiping noses, cleaning floors, making dinner, preparing snacks, etc etc.

Just want to make sure that those of you who have been so gracious with your comments about 'how creative' I am and 'how organized' and 'how on top of things' have a more accurate picture of my real life.  

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