Christmas Countdown Out of Whack

Well, I’m terrible at updating the countdown this year. But we have done all sorts of fun things.

Day 11: Pick out ornament for the tree (2012 was Cat in the Hat, 2013 was Tow Mater, 2014 is Minnie Mouse) This was the first year that Miss Punky picked out the ornament herself. Its going to be a very Merry Minnie Christmas. Literally. She has asked for only two things from Santa. Minnie Bike and Light Up Shoes. I have the bike in the works (her godfather is painting an old bike we had) and the light up shoes I got for her are Minnie Mouse and the bows and hearts light up. She’s going to love them.

From her moms so far I have gotten her a zebra print Minnie Mouse bath robe, because she’s so dramatic about being cold when she comes out of the tub and dries off. The small walk to her room or down the stairs in just a towel brings on the jitters and shivers. Its pretty darn adorable. I also found the cutest Minnie Mouse duffel bag for traveling and it comes with a sleeping bag. So when we go visit my family, she will have her own bag to take! Just like a big girl.

So – Minnie Mouse is the theme of this year.

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Day 12:Angel Tree and Senior Tree at Walmart. Walmart always sponsors children for Christmas. Kim and I have been picking stars off the tree for several years. This is the first time Miss Punky picked her own star. A 6 year old girl who wanted a baby doll and stroller. Miss Punky picked out the baby doll and I added the cheapest stroller(cause we aren’t made of money) to give to the little girl. Our bank sponsors seniors. I always try to take one of those as well. Punky picked a Grammy instead of a Papa and we bought their wish list item of art supplies.

I always feel bad that the paper ornaments with all the senior citizens on it are not usually touched. In fact, when I went to put the gift in the their collect box, there was trash inside of it, but no gifts. When we went back to Walmart the end day of the collection, there were still the same amount of ornaments on the tree. No one ever thinks of the senior citizens – at least that’s the way it looks. It’s pretty sad.

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Day 13: Kim’s grandfather’s union always has a Christmas Party and he gathers all his grandkids and great grandkids together for chili and nachos at 9am. We adults are getting to be a little less steel stomached for it. But they have Santa and pictures and lots of great things for the kids to do. Its a nice time normally. I didn’t get to attend, because with this midnight shift, I have been sleeping in late. So, I’m not in the family picture with Santa. But! Miss Punky is sitting on Santa’s lap! How exciting is that development?!

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Kim, Mrs. Claus, Santa, Uncle Eric, Punky, and Aunt Ashley

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I very small portion of the very large Italian family that I married into. They are all the grandkids and great-grandkids and their parents.

Day 14: We colored plastic ornament balls with sharpies for our neighbors and their kids as well as her godparents. She had fun just scribbling and it really added character to the gifts.

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Day 15: We filled the ornaments with hot chocolate and then delivered them to their new owners. They are lucky they got any marshmallows though, because she kept putting them in her mouth, instead of in the ornament!

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So that’s what we have been up to so far. I have also mailed all my Santa Letters this year. I dropped them in the mailbox to be picked up yesterday, so they are on their way to all the kids on the list. 140 of them this year!

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We have 9 days til Christmas. This has been the most interactive holiday with Punky – the one where she has participated, started to fully understand that this is a holiday, and really gotten into the spirit. I can’t wait to keep on making traditions with her!

How to Teach A Toddler The Giving Spirit

Anyone figured that out yet?

I’ve been flaking on our envelopes. I know, I already smacked my own hand.

Anyway, yesterday’s envelope was about Giving to Others. Punky was to pick 5 of her toys to give to the thrift store so another kid would have a fun Christmas with those toys she doesn’t use or play with anymore.

If you want to participate in your own countdown, it’s never too late to start. Here are my cards. You are welcome to use them and share them if you like.

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Apparently, I can’t rotate the example cards. (There’s actually a full 24 at the link. Use what you like!)

 

Back to the Day 10 Giving to Others Cards.

What happened?

Tears. Lots and lots of crocodile tears. She walked to her room in literal panic mode as she headed to the firing squad of picking out five measly toys for her to give away. Head down, tears rolling, it looked like I was sending her off to the torture chamber.

This isn’t a new subject for her or for me as her Mommy. This Christmas season has been a lot about giving to others who are less fortunate, or have less love and material possessions in their life.

A few days ago, I was cleaning our room and going through the laundry. (I procrastinate a lot on the laundry) and I found a lot of clothes and shoes that don’t fit her anymore. Sad, I know. Seriously, when I give away her tiny clothes and upgrade to the big girl clothes, I’m so conflicted. She is getting to big for me!

Anyway, she was helping me fold and helping me sort the clothes into her clothes, dirty clothes or the new basket, “Cousin’s basket”. She has a girl cousin that lives in the area, visits frequently and happens to be younger and smaller than Punky. This is the first time that Punky has helped me with the weeding out of her belongings that don’t fit and aren’t worn anymore for her cousin. Let’s say she wasn’t very thrilled about it.

Literally, my kid (because I swear I am a retail therapy-aholic) doesn’t generally wear the same clothes more than once or twice, before she’s outgrown them or they get cleaned and they don’t fit anymore. AND, because she needs her own apartment for the amount of clothes and shoes she has. Its not all my fault. Her aunt works in a kids’ clothing store too, so she’s been getting clothes that way too. As well, her godparents have a thing with buying her all the cutest stuff for no real reason at all.

This doesn’t just mean clothes, she has more toys than she ever plays with. Case and Point: anyone else remember her birthday party?

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That’s what it looks like at Christmas too. And don’t get me wrong, I am so happy that my kiddo is so loved and so very very spoiled. But, a weeding out process is kind of a must!

So, needless to say, she has plenty of clothes and no need to keep the stuff she doesn’t fit in anymore. The concept however, has been super tough on her. Especially for her shoes. She got the cutest little light up shoes for her birthday last year and she loves them. However, she has outgrown them. Unfortunately, for all of us, because they are Sketcher’s Twinkle Toes and they are awesome. But, they went into the basket for her cousin to enjoy. Punky didn’t see it. (Maybe I was trying to be sneaky, avoiding the inevitable meltdown – don’t judge me! LOL)

Anyway, as fate would have it, her cousins came to visit the next day. I came home for lunch from work and found that her cousin was actually wearing Peyton’s brand new tennis shoes (she doesn’t have many of those actually) and I was concerned she might accidentally go home with them when I went back to work. So, I changed out those shoes for the light up shoes. One to appease the toddler who I was taking shoes from and to experiment with the giving idea with Punky again.

Of course, Kim said, “This is going to cause a problem.”

And I simply didn’t mind. Punky and I had already had a conversation about other things her cousin was getting. That we give away our clothes and shoes that don’t fit anymore and after many attempts to put her feet in some shoes (Cinderella step sister style) and with no success, she got the concept, I thought. Now, it was time to test the theory.

Her cousin was delighted when I showed her how the shoes lit up and how she could stomp around and make them light up. Punky came to see what the commotion was and realized very quickly that her favorite shoes were on another kids’ feet. It didn’t take long for the protest and the tears. We sat down again and had another talk. I told her that her cousin would love to play with the shoes she couldn’t wear anymore and she had to learn that Christmas wasn’t just about getting presents, but about giving presents as well. I suggested to Punky that she teach her cousin how they work. And, for a bit, that was fun. She was the big kid and she was teaching a little kid how to do something.

Of course, it didn’t last and her two year old brain just couldn’t handle the idea that her cousin was taking her favorite shoes home with her. But, it happened and I think the light up shoes are no longer on her brain, but it really brought the idea home to me again that we need to continue to instill in Punky the real spirit of Christmas.

As her moms believe the real spirit of Christmas is about giving and its about spending time with her family. She has lots and lots of family and family friends who love her and spoil the crap out of her and I don’t want to take that away from her, she’s a very lucky little girl – but I also don’t want that to overshadow the giving spirit. I want to nurture the idea of giving to other kids, to sharing her luck and love with other people, to be generous and kind; not just during the Christmas season, but all the time.

So, when we opened this envelope today and it said she was to go up to her room and pick out 5 toys to give to another child, we at tearful struggle and sad conversation about how, again she was a lucky little girl and not everyone got to have the things she had and she needed to help another kiddo have a good Christmas. She got hung up on all the things she didn’t want to give away. Her favorite doll Ellen, the Dreamlight my sister got her, her Minnie Mouse blanket.

To redirect her, I suggested things. Like the rocking horse she hasn’t played with for months. Its also too small for her, in reality. What did she do? Much like the shoe incident the other day, she tried it on.  She hopped right on that horse and said, “No, Mommy see. It still fits. Its not too small for me.”

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*Insert eyeroll here*

We still live with my in-laws, so technically all her toys are mixed in with the community toy room toys. Once she finally got the idea that we didn’t have to give away anything she didn’t want to give away, but she had to pick five things she could part with. She picked …. random toys that weren’t really hers to give away.

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I suppose its a step in the right direction, anyway. When we are in our own home next Christmas and she only has her toys to pick from, it won’t be as much of a surprise, because; like it or not, this will be a tradition she will participate in. I feel very strongly about it. Last year we picked all the toys we gave away – to make room for the gobs of toys we knew she was getting for Christmas from other family and friends. She wasn’t part of it. So this was the first year.

I’m not sure how to make this process less painful for her or to make her understand what she is doing is really a good thing, the right thing to do. She’s two, so I don’t have much of a high expectation, but its something I’m very passionate about and I’m sad she doesn’t go along with it, better. But, she’s two. I just have to keep telling myself – she’s two!

What traditions do you have this time of year? Anyone else trying without avail to instill that generous and giving spirit into your child this holiday?

I’d love to hear all the tips and tricks you have tried!

2014 Christmas Countdown Day 4,5,6 And the headless wise man…

Yep, I suck at blogging this year when it comes to the Christmas Countdown this year.

Day 4 – Making Christmas Cards for family and friends. She got to color all the cards and then we put wallet sized pictures of her and Santa inside and will mail them to our family and friends. Mostly, my family who is out of town and we don’t see them as much as we do Kim’s side of the family.

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Day 5 – Write a letter to Santa.

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I think she really enjoyed the letter writing to Santa. This year, she’s really getting interactive and that’s why the activities that I picked for this year’s countdown was more interactive and meaningful. If you notice, she asked Santa for … TWO bikes. I also love that she made her squiggles on the lines, like she was really writing a letter.

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Day 6 – Christmas Movie Night with Moms. We watched a movie on Netflix called Little Brother, Big Trouble. About a little reindeer who has to come to terms with his family being different than he wanted. His dad was Prancer and he lived with his mom. His mom was getting married again and the new step reindeer dad had a son. He was not happy about a new ‘dad figure’ or a ‘little brother’. It was kind of touching and nice to see a family with divorced and remarried parents. I don’t remember seeing much of that, reflecting my own family dynamic growing up.

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So far the countdown has been quite the success – and its awesome because she’s sooo interactive. She’s so excited about Christmas and since its my favorite holiday, I’m excited share it with her.

Of course, with this holiday, comes the beginning of the questions that haven’t been asked yet, but I am mentally preparing myself. She loves all the decorations, all the fun stuff around the house, and thus far, she hasn’t really caught on that Christmas, to some people, is not just about baking cookies and getting presents from a jolly fat man who flies the world. To some people its something more. Something we don’t necessarily believe in – her mama and I.

I’ve been bracing myself for the questions. For the why and who and what for that kids always have – and maybe this isn’t the year that will happen. Maybe this year, it will be simply having fun and celebrating with her moms.

She loves all the decorations, especially the talking Santa.

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But, she also loves the Nativity that Grammy has out right now. Complete with Mary, Joseph, the wise men and baby jesus. She likes to play with the little figurines, so much so that the heads have been popped off of the porcelain people.

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She knows that the baby in the manger is baby jesus and she isn’t supposed to hide him. She knows that the two people next to baby jesus are his parents, Mary and Joseph. That’s the extent of what she knows. She likes to hold the baby jesus – even though she hid him that one time. She likes to hold them. So far, she hasn’t asked why Grammy has a Nativity or what its for. She just knows its fun decorations for Christmas time.

I know, the time will come – when she wants to know the story behind that Nativity. And its a story I know well – I can recite it in my sleep. But, Kim and I have not really discussed how we will approach the subject when it comes up.

I mean do we proactively tell her the story that other people believe or do we wait until she asks. Is she really too young to have that discussion? We have lots of different faiths in the family right now. Our own family – her moms – are atheist. We don’t really believe in the ‘spirit of Christmas’ in the same way that Grammy and Papa do. Of course, we also have a set of cousins that are Jewish converts, they are celebrating Hanukkah this year and won’t be having Santa visit their house.

With all the different beliefs in our blended family – what is the appropriate way to approach the subject? Or, maybe I’m just making it too complicated.

I’m so on guard about how we will discuss it. I’ve just recently, in the last few years, myself been more in tune with my non-believing side and what that comes with. I have grown up as a Christian – listening to the story of Jesus’ birth every Christmas Eve, listening to the Christmas carols and thinking of the Christ who saved us, and attending or participating in the Christmas pageants at church.

So, like all things that come with the religious upbringing that has been put in my head from a very young age, it still creeps up. It also makes it difficult to decide how we should approach the subject with our own daughter. The daughter we want to make her own choices, ask her own questions, think her own beliefs.

But, she’s two. She’s interested in tutus and fairies (that’s what she calls the angels around the house) and Santa. So why complicate it with another story, about another imaginary man in the sky?

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I suppose I will enjoy the innocence. The oblivion to the religious undertones that surround her during this holiday. The history and the stories – the beliefs and non-beliefs of her family and friends. She just thinks its a pretty holiday – one filled with magic and presents, and soon with our countdown it will be one of giving as well as receiving, so in the end, that’s all that matters.

But, I struggle with the anxiety of what to say, when the questions come. Because they will come. She’s a smart cookie. She has questions. She’s full of curiosities. It is going to be inevitable. My anxiety disorder is starting to dampen my on Christmas spirit, with the whys and what ifs and the questions that are soon to be coming. I just have to keep reminding myself that I have to enjoy the non-questions this year, and simply wait until they come.

Until that time, we will spend time with our daughter and celebrate the magic and joy of Christmas.

The Holidays Are Here

Where the hell did 2014 go? I also can’t believe it’s taken me so long to update this blog! I’m one of those people who get sad when people have their babies and then get “too busy” to blog… and here I am, I inherited a toddler suddenly and I am “to busy” to blog!

Believe me, if I could stick this two year old back in the bottle I would. She came with a demon inside her. Literally. I don’t know what happened, but she has such a mouth and an attitude that would infuriate just about anyone. We also just got the first “I hate you.” and “Mommy I don’t love you.”

On a brighter note, we had a nice Thanksgiving, hanging out with family. Where she stole my camera and took her own pictures of everyone. She’s really become such a little photographer.

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And she helped her Grammy make lots and lots of sweets. And of course she got to taste test them.

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Last Saturday we had a little date day, and she got to get her haircut and blowdryed at Shear Madness for Kids. I will highly recommend them always! They are just awesome for kids. She got to pick out the car she sat in while the girl cut her hair. She also watched Frozen the whole time. Afterwards, she got a new bow for her hair.

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Have I mentioned that my aversion to large bows and headbands has been overridden? This kid loves all things bows and headbands. SIGH. She wore the new headband when we went on our cupcake picnic. When we go on a date and get her haircut, she usually gets to pick between a cupcake(Smallcakes) or frozen yogurt(Yogurtini). This time she picked cupcakes. The place was packed, so we had to eat outside. Luckily for us, the weather didn’t get bitterly cold until after that weekend!

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Sunday we went to the local mall and saw Santa. It’s been something interesting every year. The first Christmas, she screamed and screamed. Last year, she just sat near him but she clutched her doll the whole time. This year, she almost cut the whole line to tackle the big jolly Santa. I had to stop her before she could get to him and we could wait our turn.

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And then, in true Punky fashion, once it was our turn, she got up there and didn’t want to sit on his lap. She almost didn’t sit at all. Which is why Santa had his hands in his lap, he didn’t want to scare her.

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But, she did tell him she wanted a Mickey bike…. where the hell she got that …. I have no idea. Not to mention that we aren’t really sure when she will get to ride that, since Christmas around here usually turns into Snowmageddon and we won’t be doing bike riding for quite some time.

After we visited Santa, we took a ride on the carousal. That’s another thing that she has always been afraid of. I have tried to get her to ride the horses in the past, or the riding toys in the grocery store and she would just scream and scramble to get off the thing. This time, she  climbed right up there and had a blast.

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And on Monday, we started our Christmas Countdown. We started this little Christmas tradition last year. I made a similar envelope and card system for her. Since we are still living with my mother-in-law, we don’t have anywhere to hang it like last year, but its still been pretty fun. You can find my Christmas Countdown cards here. You can download them if you would like, or come up with your own! I’d love to see what other people are doing with their kids this holiday.

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Day 1 – She got a message from Santa. (I used this site and its free). I didn’t take as many pictures of Day One as I would have liked. But, I have video of the whole thing.

Day 2 – We got to help out up the Christmas Tree and decorations with Grammy, Papa, and her cousins.

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Day 3 – We made a salt dough hand print and compared it to last year’s hand print.

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So far the end of the year has been pretty good. Last year I tried to post our countdown every day, so I will do my best to do that again this year. I swear, this kid is a handful, my Etsy Shop has been blowing up since the legalization of gay marriage everywhere and so many new two mom families have been emerging. I’m also working late shift at work, so I am constantly tired when I get home!

Well, I’m off to catch up on all the blogs I’ve been missing out on! Hope everyone’s holiday season has started out as special as you want it to!

Day One: Message From Santa

Day One of the Christmas Countdown began as soon as Mama woke up. We got a message from Santa  and I couldn’t wait to play it for her. Like I mentioned before, Punky isn’t really very happy about Santa, in fact, she shies away from any mention of him.

Anyway, I let her pull the envelope off the ribbon and she opened it up. This envelope had M&M’s in it and an activity card.

Message From Santa

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We watched the message from Santa on Mommy’s laptop and at first she was not really interested, she looked at me like, “You know I don’t like this hairy man!” But the more he talked to her, using her name and making the experience more personal, she was hooked. Waving hello and poking his face on the screen. I think the elves had some hand in making her more interested in him. She waved goodbye and marched off to eat her afternoon snack of M&Ms.

A couple hours after she got her message from Santa, she came back for more envelopes and I had to tell her that she could have another one tomorrow. Likely when Mommy gets home from work at 5! Needless to say, I think the Christmas Countdown was a hit!

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