Thursday, December 18, 2014

Blogmas 2014: Day 18 : Stocking Stuffer ideas

Today we are going to talk about stockings.....

I fill the stockings of the kids and Bill. This year I told Bill that HE is responsible for filling my stocking as the last few years I have filled my own and I want to be surprised this year. (We do stockings for the adults too, as one year Rebecca asked why Santa didn't leave us one....). In recent years we have included candy, treats, a cookie, a new toothbrush and toothpaste, coloring books, a new character cup, and/or a stuffed animal. This year, the boys are getting a stuffed paw patrol puppy in theirs and Rebecca is getting a stuffed Olaf from "Frozen."

I obviously don't have any pictures of the stockings from this year, but I have pictures of last years stockings...

One of the other stocking stuffer traditions in our house is that every year my husband gets "coal" in his stocking from Santa. Sometimes it is chocolate coal, sometimes it is a rock style....

Speaking of my husband, when I told him that today's post was about stocking stuffers, he said you HAVE to talk about my mom's stockings...

Every year, Bill's mom fills these ENORMOUS stockings (literally they are 3-4 feet tall) with stuff from the dollar tree, and she individually wraps each thing. Every year we get a tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, thin mints, a soap holder, hand sanitizer, socks, a hat, a candle, generic candy, a baggie full of m&ms, and a few gag gifts. Once year, Bill got googly eyes in his....

And another year he got a set of glasses with an attached mustache...

Usually the kids get stuff that they either break or does not last or again are dollar tree toys that aren't meant to last. Honestly, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I wish she wouldn't do these things. We have told her over and over that she does not need to do stockings, but she doesn't listen to us. She says she will not do them, but then come Christmas there they are. I typically take all the things that we can't use or I don't want my children to have and we donate them so they don't go to a complete waste.

Happy birthday Jesus cake

Today Jacob's preschool class is having a "Happy birthday Jesus" celebration. I am friends with one of his preschool teachers on facebook and she noticed that I made cakes for the St. Nick dinner at the beginning of the month. She contacted me and asked if I would be willing to make a birthday cake for their party. I, of course, said yes.

Here is the finished cake:

I like how it turned out and I hope that the preschoolers like it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blogmas 2014: Day 17: Christmas in my home country traditions and pictures

Honestly, I almost skipped over today's post because I really feel like everyone already knows what we do here in the USA. Bill and I are not overly connected to our heritages lines so other than incorporating some of the foods that I grew up with at Christmas, like the poppy seed roll and kolacky, there really is nothing that is native that we do.

The things that are tradition to us and we hope that maybe one day our own children will be doing are:

-putting the Christmas tree up the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving
-making the nativity a focal point of the mantel
-having an advent wreath and lighting the candles each night at dinner time
-following along on an advent calender and countdown of some sort
-volunteering our time or talents this time of the year (I have been baking cakes for different occasions)
-waiting until after the kids are in bed to place gifts under the tree and fill stockings
-take change with us to the store so that we can put change in the red kettles for the Salvation Army
-watching Christmas movies and cartoons together as a family
- celebrating St. Nicholas on his feast day (Dec. 6)

So those are just a few of the traditions that I hope that my children will take from our life and use in their own futures. They are special to our family, even if they are not deeply rooted in our heritage lines.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blogmas 2014: Day 16: Christmas Tree Reveal

Every year, we put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year was no different...

On Saturday, Bill lugged all the totes up from the basement and he and the kids set to work setting up our artificial tree... We do an artificial tree every year mainly due to convenience and cost. Maybe one day we will get a real tree.

We always do the same process...Bill and Rebecca put the pole together. Bill, Rebecca and Jacob put the limbs on. Bill puts the lights and garland on. Then the kids with help from me put the ornaments on, with Bill and I putting a few ornaments on as well.

And then finally.....when all was said and done.....

We had our 2014 Christmas tree!

And with all the toys underneath it that really do keep the kids from moving and touching the ornaments!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Blogmas 2014: Day 15: Christmas Decorations

Today's theme is Christmas decorations. I have scaled back some this year, in the decorating department as most of the time I find that Christmas decorations do not go so well when you have a 2 year old in the house. LOL. So there were a lot of decorations that we did not put out because they were more knick-knacky and I don't trust Benjamin to not mess with them. But I did put out a few....

My Irish Santa that belonged to my Grandma and my St. Nick figurine. 

My nativity scene that was a gift from my in-laws last Christmas adorns the mantle. 

I have a framed picture of the words to "O Holy Night" and candles in the bathroom. 

On the bathroom wall, I hang 2 winter signs that are on slate that my mom gifted us the first year we were married. 

We also have a lot of stuffed animals that we have collected over the years underneath the Christmas tree. We started this tradition when Rebecca was little as a way to hopefully distract her from messing with the ornaments on the tree and it worked and it has worked for the boys as well. 

So, those are just a few of the decorations, because at our house the real centerpiece this year is the tree and that will be revealed tomorrow! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blogmas 2014: Day 14: Favorite Childhood Christmas Memory

As I have been typing up these blogmas posts, I keep going back to the Christmas Eve celebrations that our family had when my Grandparents were alive. Looking back I realize that it is those memories that I hold near and dear.

Being the oldest grandchild on my Dad's side of the family, I remember when my Grandpa and my Great Grandma (Gram) were alive. I remember when everyone would converge at my Grandma's house for Christmas Eve dinner. Gram, my Grandpa, my Grandma and my Great Uncle Jim all lived in my Grandma's house. We would show up around 5:30ish, after the early Christmas Eve mass got out. It was not unusual for there to be more than 30 people in my Grandma's house for Christmas Eve. And she did not have a huge house...she had her entry way room, the living room, dining room and kitchen. That was the space where we all were. It was crowded but no one ever complained.

When you arrived at my Grandma's house you would see her porch decorated with lights and tinsel and 2 candle lights on each side of the steps. You would enter into the entry way room and you would see the tree.  I remember that there were always chocolates filled with creme and turtles in candy dishes on one side of the entry and there were candied orange slices on the other side of the entry from the entry way to the living room. In the living room,  there was her nativity scene decorating her mantel above the fireplace which was blocked by the couch. My Grandma decorated EVERY room of her downstairs and there were LOTS of decorations. Including a Santa in the bathroom that when you walked by to sit on the toilet, would start singing. LOL My grandparents had a sense of humor as well.

I remember that the front hall, where the tree was decorated, was filled to overflowing with gifts and coats. I remember my uncles having to go upstairs to my Grandparents bedroom to bring down all of the gifts that my Grandma Rose bought. I remember the grandkids waiting impatiently until it was time to open gifts. Finally, after what seemed like centuries the adults would allow the kids to pass out the presents and open their presents. I really don't remember much of what I ever got, although I do remember that there was always an envelope from my great Grandma Gram with money in it, and my Great Uncle Jim always got us a stuffed animal of some sort. I still have two of the bears that he got me.

This bear was from 1996

This bear was from 1994

 After the kids all opened there gifts, the adults would open theirs. My Grandma always bought her sons and sons-in-laws a new cardigan sweater for Christmas. It was tradition. She would get her daughter and daughters-in-law wine glasses or beleek crystal. After everyone had opened their gifts, I remember my Grandma taking her place and opening her gifts. I remember that every year she would get a bottle of "White Diamonds" perfume. She would also get a new piece of Waterford Crystal from my Great Uncle Jim and for a few years she got a new piece of Bohemian crystal from my parents. When she was done, then it would be time for most everyone to leave. We always stayed and helped clean up and we would sit and watch midnight mass from Rome with my Great Uncle Jim.

It was always a time of lots of laughter and love and pure joy. Now that my Grandparents are gone and many of my cousins are married and starting their own families, there is a sense of loss but also of a time for making new memories for my own children. It is a different stage of life and I hope that one day my own children will look back at their past Christmases with as much fondness and love as I do my own.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Took the kids to see Santa....

This afternoon, Santa made a visit to our town square so Bill and I decided to take the kids to see him. We try to take them at least once to see Santa and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We did not tell them where we were going, but once we pulled up Rebecca recognized where we were going and she was SO excited. 

As we waited our turn, Jacob seemed nervous.

When it was our turn, Rebecca entered the little area that Santa was in, and she got right on his lap and started talking to him. Jacob would NOT enter the room where Santa was and refused to even go to the doorway. I took Ben in and tried to get him to sit on Santa's lap and he would NOT. 

So Rebecca got to tell Santa what she wanted and I assured Jacob and Benjamin that we had already told Santa what they wanted as well. Rebecca told Santa she wanted "arts and crafts stuff, including her very own sketch pad." We had already told Santa that Jacob wanted a frog stretchkin and Benjamin wanted paw patrol toys. 

Santa was nice and gave Rebecca 3 candy canes to share with her brothers and 3 slap bracelets to share as well. 

Their reactions did not surprise me one bit. It was very typical of my kids. LOL

Do you take your kids to see Santa? Are they scared of him or do they do well?