Thursday, December 29, 2011

nice {little} break

so apparently clarence the elf isn't the only one who needed a break from the craziness that is december.
the past few days have been glorious for me.
i haven't had to set a single alarm, haven't a place i've needed to be, we've had no responsibilities, no schedules to follow, and no set bed times.
rather, our days have been spent playing the wii, and building train sets, and working on crafts, and doing our nails, and figuring out our new tablets (ruby's leap pad, and my iPad), and staying in our pajamas til sometimes noon...or even all day if we've felt like it.
yesterday we met up with some friends at peter piper, and ended up staying 4 1/2 hours, if you can believe that.
i know, it was even hard for me to believe that we had been there that long.

my point is, it's been nice to be able to just veg out and let the kids play, and not have to worry about a thing.
i had every intention of doing just that this december, especially because i didn't want to overdo it and end up having a pre-term baby jude.
but when it really came down to it, i just couldn't do it.
you see, i am the daughter of a mother who went all out at christmastime.
i am the daughter of christine pitts.
yes, that same christine pitts who LOVED the holidays,
who LIVED FOR the holidays,
who was constantly planning fun things for her children, NO MATTER the holiday
(but especially christmas).
she was one who was always busy.
who never stopped running, and going, and doing, and being, and making.
she made christmas caramels, and homemade licorice (the best i've ever tasted),
but most importantly, she made memories...special, magical, unforgettable memories.
and she did it for her children...because she loved us THAT much.
and i remember all of those festive christmases, and all of those special christmas eves, and all of those magical decembers.
and now that i'm a mother, i want my children to experience all of that, and more.
and so, because i have a piece of my mother in me (or at least i like to think i do),
i wasn't going to let anything keep me from making this christmas everything it should be.

it all started with the decision to set up the tree and decorate the house on november 1st -
the day after halloween.
so in the first week of november, halloween came down and christmas went up.
and it wasn't just the decorations either.
it was the music, and the christmas stories, and the holiday scented candles.

most my life i had been opposed to celebrating christmas until thanksgiving had passed,
but not anymore.
i think the two go hand in hand just perfectly.
they're both about giving, and sharing, and spreading love, and being grateful.
in fact this year, we decided we wanted our children to catch the spirit of it all early in the season, and so we volunteered to serve thanksgiving dinner at the local boys and girls club.
last minute, we decided that asher was a little young for it - and might actually end up causing more harm than good - so we got a sitter for him.
but it was such a great experience for ruby to learn and witness for herself the humbling circumstances of so many in our very own community, and then to be able to make a difference in their lives through service.
we helped her to understand that that is exactly where the Savior would have been if he were walking the earth today;
and that he was proud of her for the love and service she gave to these families.
it was a perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
of course, we wanted to give our children more opportunities to do good in the community, to serve, and to give of themselves, that by so doing, they in turn would grow closer to their Savior... and understand more fully what Christmas is really all about;
but it was also important to us that they experience a good deal of the secular fun that christmas has to offer, too.
so the constant battle, and never-ending dilemma,
is how do we ensure that everything actually happens?
how do we maintain the perfect balance?
how do we squeeze it all in?
i often have the best of intentions, but rarely see my ideas come to full fruition because of my lack of planning, or organizing, or whatever it may be.

on thanksgiving, i was talking with my sister-in-law, brooke, who had seen some fun advent activity ideas on pinterest.
she sent me to her page, and after viewing it, indeed my own idea was spawned.
i spent the next couple of days working on an advent garland that had a little gift bag attached to it for each day.
inside the gift - that was to be unwrapped by one of the children each morning - they would find written on a little gift tag, an activity for the day.
we had something planned every day from december 1st to christmas day.
can you now see why i'm totally and completely exhausted?
if i can muster up the energy, i may have to do a post about everything we did...but for now, it wears me out just thinking about it.
and if that wasn't enough, each day we still had to follow clarence's daily antics,
retrieve the candy that he had left for the the children out of the advent house,
go do our activity each evening,
read a christmas story,
and then at the close of each day we had our nativity to do (last year my sister gave us the neatest gift. each night there is a song to sing, a passage of scripture or spiritual thought to read, and a piece of the nativity to add that all correspond with each other. our whole family loved it).
this year we even had someone do the 12 days of christmas for our family, which was a total blast...another nativity scene that the children got to create day by day.
so here's the breakdown of each day:

1) children run into our room, pull us from our beds, and we all hunt for clarence.

2) once he is found, they remind us that we have to check the advent house for the two pieces of candy that clarence had left them.

(that's the advent house hiding behind clarence and his stallion)

3) while they gobble down their single piece of candy, they both go running to the door to check for a brown paper bag sitting on our doorstep, which would contain the 12 days of christmas nativity piece.

4) then (and i need to mention that all of this happens before breakfast in the morning), they open the small gift on the advent garland, and both squeal in delight as i read aloud to them our daily activity.

5) that evening we would then complete the activity

6) read a christmas story/book

7) remove the link from the christmas countdown chain that ruby made at school

7) & sing our christmas song, read the scriptural passage or spiritual christmas message, and add a piece to our (other) nativity.

it goes without saying we had a fun, crazy, eventful, meaningful, spiritual, and downright unforgettable december.
honestly and truly, i can't wait to do it all again next year;
but i'd be lying if i said i wasn't just a tiny bit relieved that it's all over with,
and that i can now (just like our dear clarence the elf)


(at least for another day or two, right?)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

rest in peace, clarence...

At least until next December.

Clarence is our family's elf.
We adopted him in November of 2010, so we've had him for two Christmases now.
I just have to say that he was definitely one of the highlights of our Christmas season -
mainly for the children.
Every morning, they'd run into our bedroom and ask if they could go find Clarence.
Before we even had time to wipe the sleep from our eyes, we were being dragged out of bed,
so that - together as a family - we could go and see what shenanigans Clarence had pulled this time.
Two years ago, he was quite boring...hiding on a shelf, in a plant, or hanging from a chandelier; but this year...this year i tell ya, he kept all of us on our toes.
He's a pretty creative little fellow, I must say.
But I also think he must've collaborated with his other elf friends to get some ideas...
perhaps maybe he even found a few mischievous schemes on the internet...
dare i say.

On the night of November 30th, we read our story Elf on the Shelf, and I told the children that if they were good, and went straight to bed, that Clarence might just make an appearance in the morning.
I was right.
And he was a busy little elf all month long...well that is until his job was finished on Christmas Eve, and he was able to go back home with old St. Nick himself.

December 1...

He was found all snuggled up in one of Ruby's doll blankies, lying on top of two packages...
which turned out to be Christmas pajamas for each of the children.

December 2nd...
We found Asher's bin of cars dumped out on the family room floor, and Clarence was lining them all in a row...exactly how Asher does.

December 3rd...
Clarence was giving one of Ruby's stuffed animals a well-check.

December 4th...
He was dressed as a Shepard boy, and trying his best to fit into the Nativity...
poor guy stood out like a sore thumb.

December 5th...

He was galloping all over our house on Ruby's Barbie's horse.

December 6th...
He got into the kids' jar of incentive puff balls, and ended up trapping himself inside...leaving a mess of puff balls everywhere!

December 7th...
He drew with green marker all over mom and dad's engagement picture. I was so mad, until I got out the windex, and found that the marker was not permanent...phewwww.

December 8th...
He put on a rock n' roll show.

December 9th...
He lit our Christmas candle all by himself.
I reiterated to the children that what Clarence did was totally off limits to them.
Only moms and dads and Christmas elves are allowed to light candles.

December 10th...
He sat at the art station in the children's play room, and drew them a christmas picture.
He is such a great artist.

December 11th...
He was caught giving himself a shave.

December 12...
He and barbie went out on the town. That whole day Asher kept saying,
I can't believe Clarence has a crush on Barbie...
and then he would laugh hysterically.

December 13th...
Clarence was reading a story to some of his his little elf friends.

December 14th...

He must have skipped his midnight snack at the north pole, because he was found inside our container of fruit snacks.
He had singlehandedly eaten 5 packages, and was working on the 6th!
In fact, when we found him, he had a red fruit snack half way in his mouth.

December 15th...
Man, they must have had a shortage of sweets at the north pole, because again, Clarence was found in our kitchen.
This time he had climbed on top of our gingerbread house, and was helping himself to a gumdrop.

December 16th...
He brought some disney prince dolls back from the North Pole for each of the Children, and was trying to disguise himself as one of them.
Clarence, we're a little smarter than that...don't you think?

December 17th...
He stayed up all night cutting and hanging beautiful snowflakes for us to enjoy the rest of the season.
Clarence, thank you...but next time could you please clean up your mess?

December 18th...
Ruby made snow globes to give to all of her friends, and Clarence decided it would be funny to make himself part of a beautiful winter wonderland scene.

December 19th...
Clarence found some red paint and gave the children rudolph noses in the night.
They didn't find that one to be very funny.
Both were extremely embarrassed to look at themselves in the mirror.

December 20th...
Clarence and Santa had some serious fun playing in photo booth.
When we woke up, the pictures below were displayed on our computer's monitor.

December 21st...
Clarence typed up a letter, which in reality was a direct message from Santa Claus himself... inviting them, once again, to hop aboard the Polar Express to pay the dear old man a visit.
I think this one was Ruby and Asher's Favorite.
They could hardly contain their excitement as I read Clarence's letter to them.

December 22nd...
He had somehow snuck the bells that the children had gotten from Santa (on the Polar Express the night before), and had them hanging around his neck.

December 23rd...
In an attempt to give our house a little extra Christmas spirit,
Clarence got all tangled in a strand of lights, and somehow ended up hanging upside-down from the ceiling.

December 24th...

Finally his job was finished...
and he could


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the ever growing belly

i know i haven't posted much about the pregnancy lately.
it's not because i haven't wanted to.
in fact, i had every intention of writing my sweet jude a letter every week,
which would also include a pregnancy update,
but the truth is, i just still feel pretty terrible.
i keep hoping i'll reach that magnificent moment when all of the sudden you just notice that you feel better
(with ruby that happened around 23 or 24 weeks);
but i'm now almost 31, and still feel lousy, have no energy, haven't much of an appetite, etc, etc.
so i've now swallowed the fact that i probably won't feel better until this little one is out of me.
and then it's just a whole new set of pains that mostly have to do with sleep deprivation...
and breastfeeding...
and if i remember right, (i mean, it has been over 5 years)
i recall the recovery not being the biggest party of the century either.
now i'm starting to sound like a big bag of complaints.
i do realize that these things just come with the territory, and are really such a small sacrifice in comparison to the blessing of a new little one.
i can't wait to meet this sweet baby boy.

i have, however, despite the fact that i loathe being in front of the camera,
tried to get some sort of belly shot every week, just to document it's perpetual growth.
i seriously feel like it's getting bigger by the day...
at least that can be said of my buns and thighs without question.
it's funny, too, how different outfits can really accentuate the belly (and buns and thighs).
like, take a look at week 23, for example.
hmmmm.....i'm starting to wonder if perhaps blue's not really my color??