Finding My Christmas Spirit

Well, the entire month of December has flown by and I haven’t written a single post. This has been such a weird and honestly, disappointing month. I had so many high hopes for a more relaxed Christmas season filled with laughter, crafts, music, and special memories. Instead it was filled with sickness, stress, and a lot of anger. I’d really like to forget the first few weeks of the month completely, so I’m not going to dwell on it. I will, however, do a quick recap of the highlights.

December first brought the start of Advent season. I love filling this little Advent house Greg got me a few years ago with cute toys and candy for the boys. I think next year I’m going to have to try and find a second one, though, to accomodate enough stuffers for both boys!

Shepard was content this year to let Caden open the doors every day, as long as he got some candy!

Early in the month we went to a “Breakfast with Santa” event in town. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was kind of nice. Just very crowded and chaotic when it came to the Santa activities. Both boys were terrified of Santa and this is the best picture I got. Caden wouldn’t go within ten feet of him.

That same day we decided to switch Shepard to a toddler bed. He’s a little older than Caden was when he made the switch so we figured he was ready. I probably can’t blame the bed change, but this first night was the beginning of two very terrible weeks. It began with Shepard waking up screaming my name while he threw up all over the bed. He threw up multiple times that night and rolled out over and over again. In the next few days we all got sick one way or another. Shepard became terrified of sleeping completely and I had the hardest days of my life getting him to take a nap and go to bed at night. After about a week and a half we ended up flipping the bed around so he’s basically back in his crib. He’s doing okay at night again, but he’s still fighting naps with everything in him. It’s been really stressful. Not to mention time consuming.

I had a list of winter and Christmas type activities and crafts I wanted to do with the boys this month. One of which was making indoor “snow” for them to play in. I thought this would be a pretty fun activity, but it held their interest for all of two minutes. Figures, right? The only craft we managed to do all month was make a batch of cinnamon ornaments.

St. Nick came on December 6th. I always look forward to this Christmas preview of a holiday. It was kind of a disappointment, though, since the boys were still sick and not very interested in the gifts I picked out. Grandma and Grandpa did come over with Culver’s that night, though, and it was such a relief to eat something other than peanut butter and have someone else entertain the kids for a few hours!

One of the things I really, really wanted to do this month was go on a special Christmas date with Greg. An actual date that happens at night, not our usual lunch date because I’m too tired to ever do anything at night. So Caden and Shepard got to sleep over at Grandma and Grandpa’s while we went on our date. We had a really nice fancy dinner at Graze in Madison and strolled down State Street afterward. It wasn’t very Christmasy, but I still really enjoyed the night out. I wish we made the effort to do things like that more often. Now that Shepard has proven he can do fine at a sleepover, we’ll hopefully have a lot more chances in the future!

This past week I finally got my act together. Mostly, I baked. And baked and baked. And it snowed – a lot. It’s frustrating that here I am late Saturday night still feeling like I have way too long of a to do list, but I guess I’ve done the best I could the past few days.

Here’s a selection of the cookies and candy I made. Peanut butter brownie biscotti, cookie dough fudge, salted caramel peanut butter cups, pistachio clouds, ginger people, mint shortbread, Finnish butter cookies, peanut butter blossoms, chocolate covered potato chips, rolo m&m pretzel bites, and chocolate shortbread. I also made chubby hubby truffles today. I’ve been busy! And eating waaaay too many of the things I’ve made.

Yesterday I made this peanut butter cup pie for my dad’s birthday. It was pretty intense.

Last night we headed over to my parents’ house for sort of a birthday celebration for my dad, even though he was still working most of the time we were there. December 21st is not a good day for a birthday when you’re a FedEx courier. We made the most of the night, though, and had a little Miracle Fruit party. My brother bought a box of miracle fruit tablets, which alter your tastebuds and make sour foods taste sweet. At least that’s the claim.

Brittany really liked the altered taste of lemons.

Tyler wasn’t sure about the limes, but thought kiwi tasted amazing.

Greg was shoveling the sour stuff down faster than I thought possible.

This was highly entertaining for the kids.

Although I noticed a slight difference in taste, I still hated the sour stuff. But I can’t stand sour food. I did, however, like the taste of salt and vinegar chips, which I don’t usually. Anyway, it was a fun little way to pass the night.

Finally, my dad came home and we all stood there and watched while he ate. I’m glad we stayed to celebrate, even though it was late for the boys.

Shepard is about to fall asleep standing up.

During the day yesterday Caden really wanted to make Grandpa a birthday present and wrap it himself, so he painted some more cinnamon ornaments. I like how much Caden enjoys giving gifts to people. He’s at least absorbing one of my positive traits instead of all the negative stuff.

And we’re finally to today! December 22nd and my Christmas Spirit has arrived! It’s been a rough month, but I’m ready to forget all that and enjoy the next week as best I can.

We’re going to be so busy in the next few days that we reserved today as our own family Christmas. Kind of early, but I prefer to be relaxed about it instead of rushing it in between all the family parties we have to go to during Christmas.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we went to a Christmas Karaoke type party at church last week. It was overwhelmingly crowded and I didn’t take any pictures, but the highlight of it was that the kids could “shop” for their parents. Caden picked out this cookbook for me. Shepard got me a bowl with snowflakes on it. They were really proud of their choices and it was sweet.

Caden got Greg a picture frame.

Caden also made me this cardboard card. He loves practicing his letters!

Caden was extremely enthusiastic about all of his presents, which was really nice. I think his favorite was definitely Greg’s old phone. We wanted to get him a new ipod because new games are no longer compatible with our old ipod, which he plays at naptime, but this was a much more affordable option! He was happy.

They settled in immediately.

Shepard gave Greg a tape measurer, which he immiately grabbed back with his favorite word, “MINE!”

Roller skates for Caden. I still can’t figure out where he even learned about roller skates to begin with, but he really wanted some and I found a great Black Friday deal on them.

All three boys got robot claws. Shepard immediately held his up and started yelling, “Shoot shoot shoot!” Oops.

New towels for a practical gift. They loved them anyway.

Greg’s present that I had to work the hardest for – a case of Earl’s Cheese Puffs from Minnesota. He loves them.

I got both boys a set of play oven mitts.

I opened up this gift from Shepard and was SO excited – my first Raggedy Andy! From my favorite doll maker! It’s supposed to be Shepard too – so cute!

And then…a Caden doll!!

And…Greg and I!!

It was the best Christmas present ever! I’m so obsessed with these dolls and having them specially ordered to fit our family is so amazing. I’m seriously in love.

Okay, last picture of them, but I’m really happy. Greg was so thoughtful to get these for me! I love them!

This is definitely going to be year of the kitchen stuff for the boys. They LOVE playing with pretend food, so I got Shepard a toaster and Caden a mixer. They played with these all day. I know they’re going to be getting quite a few new kitchen and food items in the next few days too – it’ll be great!

Considering how much junk was on the floor and that this was his first time skating, Caden did awesome! Granted they’re three step skates and he on the easiest setting, but he did really well, and loved it.

And Shepard got a new guitar. I almost returned this a few weeks ago because I wasn’t sure he’d use it, but he seemed to really like it.

Anyway, it turned out to be a great day! Truly an awesome start to our Christmas week. I can’t wait to see what the next few days bring! Merry Christmas!

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