Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Calendars, Karate, Loud Children and an Unwanted Elf

Tonight was a crazy night. My kids were all over the place--and I don't just mean the bouncing off the walls. We had poor sports in a game, unkind words, bad manners, tears, made-up jokes and obnoxious behavior. Of course we had company over to witness the whole spectacle. Except these people are really great friends, and it was such an enjoyable, relaxing evening that hopefully they'll only remember the good stuff.

(The pics and write-up of the dinner will come later--when I write about one of my favorite December traditions.)

Anyways--while our children were practicing karate moves in the center of our family room, (Which incidentally I have never seen our kids show any remote interest in karate until tonight when the adults were trying to have a conversation.) I rolled my eyes and *accidentally* spoke my thoughts aloud: "I can't wait until Drew leaves on his mission."

You know what that would mean, right? Means Mike and I would be in the empty nest stage-- that typically I try to never think about because it makes me cry, and instead I long desperately to freeze time.

Yeah well. Not today. Tonight I briefly dreamed of a quiet, peaceful December Evening with just my husband and I enjoying the company of others.

And then our wise friend interrupted me about wanting to fast forward time and said (in essence), "Oh no you don't. You should see my parents." (His mother just graduated into the empty nest stage this last fall, and things are far too quiet at her house.)

As the conversation steered somewhere else, I momentarily thought of this empty nest mother that I am barely acquainted with, and wondered for a second what a typical evening may have been like for her fifteen years or so ago with her six children at home. And even though I felt momentarily envious of her life NOW, my old typical sentimental feelings won, and I realized I'm really not ready for it to be quiet just yet.

And so despite the chaos, excitement and over-zealous behavior around here lately that seems so wearing some days, there are so many things I don't want to forget about THIS December, while my kids are THESE ages.
**Ellie's paper chain she made at school that has kind deeds or Christmas to-do's on it. It seems she takes it off at such inopportune times. Like the time she was supposed to "set the table for mom" just seconds before company arrived and it was clearly already set. Or the one where she's supposed to sing "Away in a Manger" and she proceeds to sing it to me while I'm talking to someone on the phone.

**Our advent house that Nana and Grandpa gave us last year. A cute little Victorian style house that has 24 little doors in it which open to retrieve a little surprise each morning. Too many mornings in a row when they checked it, Mom had forgotten to put anything in. So to get ahead of my game, I put the next three days in all at once. Yep that would be 15 pieces of candy Drew ate in one day!!!!!! (5 kids=5 pieces of candy x 3 days) So much for that bright idea. I now walk into the dining room and put the candy in just as someone laments there is nothing there. Not exactly the way an Advent calendar is supposed to work. But seriously 15 Rolos in one day is kind of a lot for a 2 year old, so what else am I supposed to do?

**Speaking of Advent calendars... My mother gave us a beautifully packaged Christmas Countdown with 24 nice little packages tied up with ribbon. Each little package contains five little pieces of candy and a nice scripture reference with an accompanying activity and/or question to ponder. It's not exactly going too well. To start with, we're kind of on an every other day thing with it, and then when we do remember, the kids forget whose turn it is to read and open it. Somebody inevitably cries and Mom's patience is predictably hanging by a thread. We've yet to really feel the spirit of how I am sure it is intended to be done. We still have 12 more days to go, we can always hope they go better than the first 12.

**The &@*% "Elf on the Shelf" that has become a source of contention tradition to find each morning. The Elf, named Jingle mysteriously moves spots each night (except some nights he doesn't and Mom scrambles to assure the children, "Must be because he thinks that is a good spot to watch your behavior and he has decided to stay there for 2 (or 3 or 4) nights in a row." Without fail, each morning Ellie finds Jingle first and declares to everybody else where it is. To which we hear, "Ellie, don't tell me. You never let me find it." or "I've never found it first why does Ellie always have to blab it?" Consequently, Ellie has received strict orders with dire consequences if she tells where the Elf is. So instead, she'll say something random like, "Hmmm-that would be funny if Jingle was on the fan and it turned on and he flew across the room." Which naturally causes one to look in the direction of the fan and VOILA there in the clear line of vision is...THE ELF.  And VOILA--we have some contention. All the while Ellie maintains her innocence that she "did not say where Jingle was."

**The train that I just had to buy for my two little boys who will be grown up before I know it. Enough said.

**Drew singing "Jingle Bells" and Joshua's obsession with Santa's reindeer.

**Singing a Christmas carol around the piano the other night with every single person joining in happily. (Okay so I admit, we did have to start over 2-3 times to get those happy participants.)

**Ellie's off-key, yet tender version of "Silent Night"

**The altruistic planning, shopping, choosing and wrapping that each child has shown as they ready their gift for the sibling whose name they have drawn.

**The excitement in the air with five young children at home during the Christmas season, that I know without a doubt, I will one day miss.

Happy December!

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