Friday, December 24, 2010

December Days - 24

I have been anticipating today's advent activity for a while now: "Go snowshoeing".

Since we have no snow, we drove up to Cypress Mountain this morning (home to all Olympic snowboard and freestyle skiing events) and although it was pouring rain, it was great! I got my Christmas present from Mike a day early - snowshoes of my own! The boys all rented, and off we went!

Here are Mike and Ethan on the trail:

And Jack was mostly in this position:

We never made it to the cabin that was only 1 km from the start of the trail, due to a 6-yr-old whose nickname is Molasses, but even in the downpour it was fun.

We were soaked, but stopped for a quick burger (eaten in the car because we can't take boys into restaurants dressed only in underwear) before going to my parents to see them, my brother, my cousin, her dad, her husband and her beautiful baby daughter. We had brought clothes to change into and enjoyed an afternoon of visiting, gifts, treats, and drinks.

Now it's just about time for nestling them snug in their beds, so I wish you all visions of sugarplums and a very Merry Christmas! xoxoxoHOHOHOxoxoxo

December Days - 23

Today's advent was a cop-out, I admit. "Eat treats and drink egg nog" - well, duh! I've been doing that EVERY day! But 2 days before Christmas when I worked all day, well it had to be simple. So after dinner Jack enjoyed a candy cane, Ethan and I had shortbread and Mike had an egg nog. Then all was good, advent fulfilled and off to bed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December Days - 22

Yey! Today's activity was ice skating!

Over the Christmas holidays, one of our local arenas has daily public ice time for only $2.50 each. Stick and Puck for ages 5-12 at 11:30, then Family Skate at 12:30. Perfect!

They had a blast!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December Days - 21

Jack was pretty disappointed when today's Advent Activity was "Christmas shopping". Hey, sometimes you just have to stuff the necessary things in there, too, you know? But he was choked. So after work, instead of dragging them out shopping, we got cozy with blankets and pillows and watched the Survivor finale that we recorded on Sunday.

Jack's quote as we watched the finale: "Next time you make fish, I will eat the fish. Because I want to be Survivor, so I'd better get used to fish."

Ethan's quote: "Yeah, they'd better vote him out. He is such a threat! ...pause... What's a threat?"

Not exactly a Christmas activity, but quiet family time nonetheless.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December Days - 20

Today our advent activity was to "Wrap Presents". I've already done a bunch, but it was time for the boys to wrap each other's, and one to Mike. They also needed to wrap a friend's birthday gift (more on that later). While Mike was in NY last week, I hauled the folding table up into our bedroom and made Wrap Central in there. It's the only room with a door, and I needed secrecy (obviously). I almost got caught with secret gifts last year, and I wasn't about to have a repeat.

Back to Wrap Central - it's awesome to have it set up and ready all the time! It has been SO convenient! Mike was a little "surprised" to find the setup, but it is working well for me!

The boys went to Victor's party today, and both of them wanted to look handsome for the occasion. I had to capture the cuteness on camera! The photo shoot started out well...

but it quickly degenerated into general horsing around (as usual!)

Ah, these animals!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Days - 19

This morning the boys were excited to see that as day 19, we were going to see the movie "Tangled". I have wanted to see this movie since it came out, and I was determined to fit it in over the holidays. I had heard that this was a movie that really was a "G" rated movie, unlike some of the other supposedly kiddie movies that scare my poor Ethan. Jack's all over them, but Ethan hates movies with bad guys or anything scary.

It was great! Not a girly movie, not a boyish movie, just a great kids' movie with enough funny banter for the adults to pick up on too. Kind of reminded me of Cars that way! We didn't see it in 3D, although that's supposed to be even better, but the idea of 3D really freaks E out. He made me double-check the theatre number so he knew it wasn't going to be in 3D before he walked in the door.

The three of us all really enjoyed it - take your kids for sure!

December Days - 18

Today's advent activity was "Christmas Train" but I'm afraid we didn't get to the train today. Mike and Ethan went out for some Christmas shopping while Jack and I wrapped some things and did some crafts. Jack painted my face with a candy cane on one cheek and a snowflake on the other, and I did the same for him. I so wish I had taken photos!

Later, Susanna, Jim and Victor came over so they and Mike could catch a repeat performance of Jack's recital. Jack had decorated brown bags and I'd popped popcorn for the kids' bags. We'd got out hot chocolate and marshmallows and Mike made coffees for the grown-ups. Susanna was a good sport and also got a Jack-designed candy cane on her cheek. I was waiting to see which cheek Jim would offer up for painting, but luckily it was time for Jack's performance. He did well, and then Ethan got in there and hammered on the keys a little as well.

Mike and I went to out annual Christmas party afterwards - our fantastic Secret Santa exchange with all of our good friends. We've known most of these friends since the early 1980's, so when we buy for each other it's usually pretty special. This year was no different - it's awesome to see how much thought goes into each gift as we buy for a specific person in our group.

We may get to the Christmas train on Sunday, but I haven't told the boys just in case we don't manage to fit it in. If so, I will post pictures!

December Days - 17

"Take a Jingle Bell Walk".

We do this every year: grab our jingle bells and our Santa hats and take a walk around the neighbourhood. There may be some singing involved also, but usually we just walk and jingle. It brings smiles to people's faces and it's a bit of peace amidst the hectic.

Mike got back from New York today and it was the last day of school so there were a lot of activities to squeeze in. But it was a good day, capped off with a really great get-together with the girls in Experience Club. We try to experience new fun things together, and for the past couple of years instead of exchanging gifts we sponsor a family for Christmas. So Friday night we got together, made pizzas, wrapped the gifts we'd bought, packaged the food and boxed up all the clothes. After everything was assembled, we dressed a couple of the husbands up as Santa and an elf (not Mike; he would have died) and they drove us around to see Christmas lights. We saw some amazing displays! We got out at a few of them to walk through the light displays, and "Santa" was a big hit with the kiddies. We were laughing as he posed for photos and handed out candy canes - it was awesome and both he and the elf were great sports. This definitely needs to be a tradition, and I'd like to involve the kids a little more next year. They gathered the food items with me, and knew we were giving our old car seat to the family, but I'd love for them to be involved in the wrapping and assembling. Without spoiling the whole Santa thing, though.

Anyway, thanks to Shannon, Jenny on the north side, Breanne, Jenny on the south side, Sonia, Jas, Tracy, Santa Kris, Elf James, and everyone who donated to the family. Awesome!

December Days - 16

I'm behind again - what a crazy, busy week! Ethan said to me at the end of school on Friday, "Isn't it great? Now we can do NOTHING for the whole of holidays!" And I was still in full panic mode. So I looked at him wild-eyed and barked: "Not. Yet."

This time of year is definitely chaotic. I absolutely LOVE seeing everyone, whether it's catching up for coffee, going out for our Christmas lunch at work, or seeing all our friends in the evening. But there is always so much preparation that goes into each event that I don't end up sleeping more than 5 hours a night. You know it's stupid crazy when you find yourself cutting evergreen boughs in your yard at midnight, by the light of a headlamp, so your boy can make his Christmas centrepiece at school.

However, the good memories are invaluable, so I do cherish this time of year. Which brings me back to the advent calendar: Day 16 was "Sing Christmas carols".

This was not a throwaway instruction - I do love the Christmas carols, and the fact that 103.5 plays nothing but Christmas music from mid-November through the holidays is very exciting for me. Almost as exciting as falling asleep to the fireplace channel (which I will have to remember to PVR so I can fall asleep to it year-round)...

The kids and I had a good time carolling here and there today. I would not have chosen "Gloria" as sung top volume by Ethan at 7 am, but who am I to judge? I hope he didn't notice me trying to snort my tea so I could get the caffeine faster.

The day was capped off by Jack's first ever piano recital. He's only been playing for 7 weeks, but he really enjoys it and he's doing great. The recital featured 16 or 17 of his teacher's students, from Jack (age 6) to a few teenagers. He introduced himself properly:
and stepped up to the piano. He carefully arranged his music sheets, and did a great job of Jingle Bells. Deck the Halls was a little rockier, as he got all the notes right (except for one at the end) but was a little off on the timing. He slid off the bench and gave a deep bow, muttering "hippopotamus" so he would remember to bow long enough. It was precious! I was videotaping for Mike as he was in NY all week, so Ethan was in charge of the still shots:

Then they both behaved like 2-yr-olds while the others were performing, and the precious illusion was shattered. Ho-ho-home to bed for naughty boys.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December Days - 15

"Read the Night Before Christmas" was our day 15. The boys LOVE this story! They know it by heart now, but still love to read it!

Also, they have these really annoying bears that recite the whole story. They're the ones here with the open books on their laps.

What's annoying is that they like to play them together, except they never sync them properly, and one's voice is dying, so really it's just plain torture. I much prefer to just read the darn book!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Days - 14

Given the fact that the storm we'd had the night before meant a leaky skylight and a grand total of 2 hours of sleep for me as I laid out buckets, moved the piano, got out the ladder, toweled puddles up, tarped the TV etc. I didn't much care what the Advent Calendar for the 14th said.

"Christmas Concert". Oh, phew - an easy one. Today was one of the afternoon concerts and since I was at work, my parents came to watch the boys perform and then took them home to play until dinnertime. I will have photos tomorrow as I went to the concerts on the 15th. My parents loved it and said they performed beautifully.

My little angels!

December Days - 13

"Make Christmas Crafts".

This advent was disappointing to the kids. They pointed out that they had done the snowmen as a craft (since we had no snow) and done the tree as a craft (since I got back too late to get a real tree), and did we really have to think of another craft???

My kids are not that into crafts, clearly. So when they suggested that the crafts they did in school that day should count, I was in full agreement. Here's Ethan's gingerbread house. Keep in mind that he is in Grade 3, not Kindergarten... remember I said they're not exactly crafty? He had been picking at it already, though.

Jack did something at school for his big buddy. He was pretty vague about it, but given his skill level I would say it's something like a marshmallow on a stick, called a snowman.

And anyway, my kitchen looked like this still after the shortbread-baking mince pie-making royal icing-mixing kafuffle from earlier. So I was happy their crafts had already been done.

December Days - 12

Today was also a bit of a fail. The Advent Calendar was to "Get a Christmas tree". Although we've had our two fake ones up for a while (correct that, we have three fake ones up including the one on my nightstand), we have an annual tradition of going to our friend Shannon's parents' place for a Christmas tree. I would LOVE to have a real tree every year, but Mike and Ethan would suffer dramatically and allergically if we did. But we often get a small one at Shannon's and stash it somewhere unobtrusive (like outside).

Well, sigh, I didn't get home from Seattle in time to go to her tree farm. So the kids made Christmas tree pictures instead. And Jack was so proud of his that he cut it out carefully and made it into an ornament to stick onto Madame's card. Ethan was way more careful about the shape of his, but less interested in colours or making anything out of it afterwards.

Either way, I guess we got a Christmas tree of some sort accomplished!

And I did get back in time for Ethan's hockey game, which was awesomely exciting! It was a fantastic game and Ethan did great. They were playing an undefeated team, and although our team controlled a lot of the play they were unlucky with their shots. It ended 3-2 for the other guys, but was a highly entertaining game nonetheless. And the heaters were on in the stands (which is always a huge bonus!)

December Days - 11

ARGH - I'm behind! I will catch us up...

December 11 was "Bake cookies". This was a good plan in that I scheduled this for a Saturday. Except - Mike and I ended up going to Seattle, as he was flying out of there for New York early on Sunday morning. We thought we'd do a little Christmas shopping on Saturday, stay near the airport and then I'd come home in time for hockey on Sunday. Great plan but it meant ditching the kids so secret shopping could occur! That also meant that Susan was surprised to find herself pestered to bake cookies because they HAD to; it was in the Advent Calendar!

The kids also forgot to tell her that we had cookie dough already in the freezer, so she stopped and picked up some Christmas sugar cookie pucks and they baked those. All in all, it worked out!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

December Days - 10

It is hard to "build a snowman" without snow. This was our dilemna on Day 10 of our advent calendar. So we got creative!

Ethan's all about the traditional snowman, whereas Jack doesn't exactly play by the rules. But you knew that already, right?!?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December Days - 9 = hours of entertainment and an easy-out for a Christmas activity on a busy work day. That was our December 9th advent!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December Days - 8

The Wafer family Christmas tradition is to watch A Christmas Story. Nothing says Christmas to me like "You'll shoot your eye out!"
Day 8 of our advent calendar was to watch A Christmas Story. Was this for me or for the kids? You decide...

Also please note to Ethan's left: the array of Christmas tree ornaments that get re-decorated on a daily basis. Tonight I vow to finish the tree and restrict all future re-decorating and re-distributing of ornaments...

Deember Days - 7

Today was the day we were slated to deliver poinsettias. Actually, we had already distributed them this weekend to those who had ordered them through the kids' school. They were very beautiful, although I suppose I should think to water them one of these days!

Monday, December 6, 2010

December Days - 6

Our Advent Calendar told us today to visit Santa, and although we saw Pere Noel last Wednesday and Santa yesterday, my boys informed me that neither one of those was the REAL Santa - HE comes to Semiahmoo Mall and we needed to go get our annual picture with him.

It's so great getting their picture taken there. There are no line-ups, Santa chats with the boys for about 10 minutes, and he gives them a magic apple, and they always take a great picture because they're with the real guy, NOT just any helper in a suit.

And on another note, I got to Target today and got a few things knocked off the list. Bring it on, Christmas - I will be ready for you!

December Days - 5

On Sunday our advent told us to go to a Christmas Party - so we did! It was our annual children's Christmas party at work, and the kids had a blast! There were bouncy castles, balloon animals, face painting, games, cookies and Santa with presents!

Can you believe how big the boys are?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Days - 4

Advent Activity for December 4th: "Groceries for Food Bank"

We just assembled some extras we had around the house; we'll give more later this month! And we did get a star on our tree today, but not without a little effort!

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Days - 3

Today was "Decorate for Christmas"

I wish I had an awesome picture of them on a ladder putting the star on the tree, but no. It was a busy day capped off with a birthday party so we only decorated a little and the tree is still star-less. But I must share a very sweet picture of Jack flaked out after his exhausting day today! (It's hard to be good and he was on his best behaviour at school)

Now c'mon, Santa. Surely this boy is not on your Naughty List?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Days - 2

The beauty of creating your own Advent Calendar is that you can stack the deck - I know what days I'm going to be working, so I stuff the easy activities into those days, when I know I'll have only about 30 minutes with the boys before bed.

Today was "Letters to Santa":

For Jack! Everything has an exclamation point!
Dear Santa Please! 2 Jango Fett Lego! Jack Lego (not sure; does this exist?) 3 Beyblades. Blue! 2 Walkietalkies! 23 Bakugan!
Love! Jack!

Ethan's a little calmer, but there are some unexplained arrows and very unnecessary apostrophes.
Christmas Wish List: Camera, Basketball, Beyblade's and Battleset, Bakugan, (DS) Video game's and Kinect, Laptop, Sudoku (Travel)

Love these boys! Now if only they can behave long enough to actually receive presents this year...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Days - 1

I'm back! It's been a while since I've been here; I know, I know.
I thought I'd bust back in by reporting on our December activities. Every year, we do an advent calendar like a lot of families. In ours, there are pockets with a strip of paper in each. Every day has something fun to do for the Christmas season!

December 1st: Go to Pere Noel Event.

This is an annual event put on by our local chapter of Canadian Parents for French. This year was the best year yet! There were games, crepes, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, an angel craft, balloon animals, face painting and of course a visit from the big man - Pere Noel himself!

They had a fantastic time but ate WAY too much sugar. When Jack's balloon sword popped, that was our cue to leave! Off to bed to rest up for another December fun day!