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?)


Kim said...

I'm very impressed. It looks like your children had a blast! Way to go.

sarahtuckett said...

Way fun! You are such a good mom Nicole! And your 4 1/2 hour trip to Peter Piper reminds me when my kids were little my friend and I went to McDonalds to let the kids play, after who knows how long, we went to get ANOTHER refill on the diet coke, and we had been there so long that our cups were all disinegrating, and the worker said, "Let me get you a new cup, this one is about to fall apart)