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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December Daily (or Something Like It)

For the past two years, I have partially participated in the December Daily project led by Ali Edwards. I say partially because like so many of the projects I attempt, I just haven't gotten around to finishing it. I actually took photos on all the days and have at least some notes for each day. I even have a collection of the little bits and pieces of every day life that make the books wonderful. But alas, my two books still sit in a "nearly finished" state. I love them anyway, but they do give me a sense of dissatisfaction with myself for not completing them.

So I have been telling myself that I must NOT attempt this project again this year. Instead, I should try to complete those two books -- maybe by the end of January to start the new year with a clear crafting conscience. Sounds very reasonable, doesn't it?

Sunday was the first day of Advent. Sunday our elf Sprinkles arrived at the house. Sunday I got an email that my Christmas card order shipped. And what did I find myself doing Sunday evening, despite all my reasons against it... yes, a December Daily album of course.

December Daily

I think it's going to be an Advent book, so I guess that means it officially started already. My plan is to not worry about the "daily" too much. In the past, I think my problem has been trying to capture the day's details from morning to night. I like Ali's idea to make it about a single story for the day, so I am going to stop myself when I find I'm writing down the day's itinerary. I want to summarize some of the larger activities or traditions we have. So while we may bake cookies on five different days, I want to just tell the bigger story about our cookie traditions. Or instead of writing down which holiday special we watched that day, I want to write about which movies are our favorites and why. I also want to use this book to capture some of the many drawings the boys are bound to make about Christmas, while adding in some gift lists, shopping lists, party invitations, notes from our elf, etc.

And what about those two unfinished books? As much as I want them to be completed, and as much as I want to be certain to finish the 2011 book, I do know that even the partially-finished books are still treasures. When I look at them, when I look past what's not finished, I find so much to enjoy -- a funny quote from one of the boys, a recipe, a photo of how we decorated, an activity I normally would not have photographed. Yes, they are incomplete, but there is still much to love about them.

Here's to a merry Christmas season!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Halloween in December

(Or Christmas Magic in October)

Our Christmas elf, Sprinkles, likes to stop by for a quick visit on some of the other holidays during the year. It's a good way for him to get to check in on the boys, and a chance for us to say hi since we miss him after Christmas. He has made visits on Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, and stopped in at the grandparents' house on Thanksgiving once too. 

This year he played a little trick on us, arriving in the afternoon on Halloween, wearing his costume! He even carried a tiny bag with chocolates for the boys. What a surprise that was! The boys were jumping around yelling hello to him and laughing about his pumpkin costume!
Elf on Halloween

No reason the magic of the Christmas season can only happen in December.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Counting My Blessings - 30 Days of Gratitude

30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, cover

A few years ago I was inspired to try to keep a list of things I was thankful for each day in November. I still have the notebook, but somehow I never completed the month-long list. I still liked the idea of focusing on daily thanks giving for November, and when I saw this lovely little gratitude list book by Lisa Ottosson, I was motivated to give the idea more than a passing thought. I noticed she used a journaling card from Crystal Wilkerson, which led me to the discovery of a whole set of journaling cards in Crystal's shop that I could see would make for easy pages.

30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, Nov 7

I printed and cut the cards, stamped a date for each day, added a title card and some pretty ribbon, and in the end I had a cute little book I couldn't wait to fill. Each morning, I jotted down something from the previous day I was thankful for on a bit of scrap paper and every few days I added to the cards. I tried to focus on just one item from each day, but some days are more list-style. Since it's all about being thankful, I'm pretty sure I don't need to impose any rules on myself. On the opposite pages, I may add a photo or one of Crystal's gratitude quote cards.

30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, Nov 18

I am truly enjoying this little project, and appreciating the reminder to look for the blessings in every day. With the start of Advent, I also feel this project has helped to give me a better perspective for the Christmas season too.

Hope you have been enjoying the season of thanksgiving and are looking forward to the Christmas season too.

(Supplies: Spring/Summer 2011 - Journaling Cards, by Crystal Wilkerson, binder rings, ribbon from Making Memories, date stamp from Staples)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Elf on the TV

Looks like Elf is making his television debut this week -- "The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story" airs on November 25 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Description from the CBS website: "'An Elf's Story' follows one of the many scout elves from the North Pole who helps Santa Claus determine who to put on the naughty and nice lists."

Looks like we have our first holiday special lined up.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

25 Ideas for Christmas Elf Antics

Meet Sprinkles, our elf who visits with us for the Christmas season and reports back to Santa each night.

Elf in the Wreath

He brings mischief and merriment from the day after Thanksgiving through December 26th, or even till New Year's Day. He's supposed to fly back with Santa on Christmas Eve, but Santa gives him permission to stay for Christmas Day to see the boys open their presents. Sometimes he stays longer, if he's just too tired to make his way home after all the Christmas preparations.

As more of my friends have elves arriving in their homes, I thought I'd share some of Sprinkles' ideas for bringing magic and delight to your home this Christmas season:
  1. Arrive with an Advent calendar for the kids.
  2. Hide in the Christmas tree, maybe with a new ornament.
  3. Hide in the freezer.
  4. Hide in the car to greet the kids after school.
  5. Arrive with elf or Santa hats for the kids.
  6. Hide in the Christmas village -- it's like being back at the North Pole.
  7. Hide in the bookshelves, maybe with a new Christmas story.
  8. Write a tiny note in funny elf writing.
  9. Draw a picture for the kids -- of them in the snow, of him and his elf pals, of Santa.
  10. Leave tiny elf prints around the house.
  11. Steal mom's camera and take pictures of himself making mischief.
  12. Hide in the fridge after turning the milk green.
  13. Nibble elf bites out of the Christmas cookies when you're not looking.
  14. Sit in the kids toys -- a doll house, a play garage, a baby doll stroller, a remote control car.
  15. Hide among the stuffed animals.
  16. Surprise the kids with a mini Christmas tree for their own room.
  17. Show up at a friend or family member's house while you're visiting there.
  18. Hide in the stockings.
  19. Build something out of the kids' Lego sets.
  20. Bring a sweet treat -- chocolate Santas, candy canes.
  21. Hide in the wreath.
  22. Sit in the chandelier.
  23. Hide in mom's china hutch -- a tea cup is a perfect spot for putting up your elf feet and relaxing.
  24. Bring a toy or treat for the family pet.
  25. Bring new Christmas pajamas for the kids. (Maybe mom and dad too?)
Elf on a Shelf, in a Vase

When the boys were younger, and less able to refrain from touching him, Sprinkles usually stuck to the higher places for hiding -- the top of the TV or dressers, curtain rods, the top of a seldom-used lamp, in the china hutch and in the chandelier.

Since our boys have enjoyed Sprinkles' visits so much, he's been known to visit on Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day and even Halloween. When he visited on St. Patrick's Day, he joined the leprechauns in making some green-themed mischief.

Elf's Visit on St. Patrick's Day

Do you have an elf who visits at Christmas time? If so, I'd love to hear about his antics in your home.

(Note: I have no ties to the Elf on the Shelf company or products, and only wanted to share ideas we have done in our home with our elf, or are planning to do this season.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Simple Things: Boys + Day Off + Imagination

Since the boys had Friday off for Veterans' Day, I worked from home and got to enjoy watching and listening to their pretend-play adventures. They took out the Tinker Toys and Robby made potions while Joey made "fire-blasting rockets." I love how their creations were unique to their interests, yet their play flowed freely into each other's worlds. There was some jumping on the couches. A few short-lived squabbles broke out. Then the couch cushions became a house, which they set about "furnishing." They ate a real snack there, but also cooked an imaginary feast for their stuffed animal pals and celebrated a birthday for one of the pals. Later the house became a store, where they sold art, writings and flutes. After lunch they played with Play Doh and then made leaf rubbings. We cut out the leaves and they pretended to be trees and tornadoes, throwing the leaves around the room and laughing with joy.

I love seeing them play together as the best of friends, using their imaginations to enjoy all sorts of adventures. The perfect simple pleasure for a once-in-a-century day.

Check out more "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.