Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Many Christmas Adventures of Luke Jeremiah the Elf: Part Five. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone had an amazing holiday. I am sure that I will post pictures of the beautiful chaos that is Christmas Morning/Day later, but now it is time to post our last Luke Jeremiah post of the season. He hung around today, wishing to observe the joy of the holiday that he worked to hard to prepare for with us, but tomorrow morning he will be gone, leaving a note filled with professed love and promises to see them next year for the boys. 

I predict tears. Heck, I'm getting a little weepy just thinking about it. I know that I jumped into this whole Elf of the Shelf thing with a lot of reservations. I didn't know how we would balance the elf with our own beliefs and making sure that the boys didn't lose the true meaning of the season for our family. I think that we did a good job, and I hope that another family out there might see that it is possible to have an Elf on the Shelf there right next to your nativity. :)

Here we go! The last of Luke's amazing activities of the season.

Night Twenty-Two: Luke settled down this night with a plastic candy cane full of "Magic Seeds" and a letter instructing the boys to plant them in two cups of equal parts sugar and cinnamon. This one, I am proud to say, was mostly Daddy. I asked him to come up with something cute and magic that an elf could grow, and he marched into the living room proudly showing me his colorful "seeds" and equally colorful candy to go with them. I'm so happy we did this this year, if for no other reason than Michael and I are having a blast coming up with things for Luke to do! 

I was worried that the seeds and note might be slightly boring for the boys after so many mornings of excitement, but they were pumped to plant their seeds, and went to bed talking about what might grow from them!

Night Twenty-Three: We have candy canes! Our incredibly colorful seeds (which were quite yummy to eat on their own, I should mention) grew into incredibly colorful candy canes over night, with the help of a little elf magic. The boys were thrilled, and very sticky. Still, how often do you get to have candy canes for breakfast, right? It's not like this one time will cause their teeth to rot out. (Especially after the teeth brushing I gave them right afterwords.) 

Night Twenty-Four: Luke locked us out of our living room! Okay, maybe we weren't really locked out, but he tied it off with crepe paper after everyone went to bed last night. Not only did it look incredibly festive, but it was so much fun for little boys to burst through in the morning!

Night Twenty-Five: This is probably the naughtiest our little elf has been yet, and it got him a nice long lecture from Parker (and Daddy), about why we don't point our bow and arrows at the television! As fun as pretending to be Merida is, I don't think he'll be trying anything like this again for a long time!

Night Twenty-Six: Only four more days until Christmas! While that is very exciting, almost as exciting as waking up to find colorful Hershey Kisses covering the furniture in our living room, it also means only four more nights before Luke has to go away again. :( It's bitter sweet. (Actually, it's delicious milk chocolate!)

Night Twenty-Seven: Oh, the fun that our toys have at night while we sleep! We woke the next morning to find an exciting race going on on our living room floor while the members of our nativity watched and cheered! (Mommy and Daddy had  lot of fun with this one too!) In case you are wondering, Luke won. He's awesome like that!

Night Twenty-Eight: The force is strong with this one! Who would have thought that, in just twenty-right nights in our home, he would have become so skilled with a light saber. I suppose that Parker has been giving them lessons, though I haven't caught them at it. I don't think that Luke even needed the help of his friends, Chewy and 3CPO. He's got this!

Night Twenty-Nine: So, we were kind of boring. Twenty-nine days of fun, creative elf mischief can leave a person feeling a little lacking at the end. However, I think Luke looked enchanting all curled up in Parker's stocking with his arms around a shimmering ornament! I think he's ready for Christmas! 

Night Thirty: Christmas Eve night! This night, Luke didn't wait until we were all in bed. Instead, he worked his magic while the boys were taking their bath. Presents were left under the tree with a suspicious jingling noise that brought the boys tearing out of the bathroom, convinced that some magic was afoot! They were right. Luke sat there, surrounded by their Christmas Eve gifts of new PJs and this year's copy of The Night Before Christmas. We changed into out jammies and read our book before bundling up into the car and driving around to look at Christmas lights until our two littles fell asleep. Luke, job done for this year, snuggled comfortably in the tree. A good place to perch and wait for the glee of Christmas morning! It was a magical day, and Luke added a magical part to our holiday season this year. He's gone now, bags packed, a note left, and we will miss him. I can't wait until he comes back next year!

Merry Christmas everyone! Merry Christmas, Luke, and all the happy elves out there that added a little more magic to this Christmas season!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Many Christmas Adventures of Luke Jeremiah the Elf: Part Four

I think it is safe to say that we in the Gordon house are having way too much fun with Luke Jeremiah. I hate to say it, but it's going to be hard when the holiday season is over and it is time for Luke to go home until next year. *sigh* Luckily, there are still a couple of weeks until that day, and Luke and I still have a lot of ideas to fill those nights!

Night Fifteen: Luke decided that the Gordon boys needed a special treat for the morning, and made super special powdered donuts, in both boy and elf size! What a cool elf we have. The boys were both super excited in the morning, both over the treat and Luke's ability to make it, and they were even more excited when some of Luke's own donuts mysteriously disappeared during breakfast. What a sly elf!

Night Sixteen: The original plan had been to have this out well over a week ago, but Luke (and Mommy and Daddy) had a really hard time finding it in a local store. Luckily, due to sheer determination (and Daddy searching unloaded pallets outside of a Walmart in the freezing cold and snow with a surly manager), we finally found our Little People nativity set, and Luke set it up for us. The boys were so excited, and playing with the "Ativity" set was the highlight of the next several days. (Mommy has now lost track of the times I've tripped over Baby Jesus. So sorry, Jesus!)

Night Seventeen: Tis' the season for excessive baking. I had wondered how long it would take our resident elf to wind up in the kitchen. Tonight, Luke mixed together all the dry ingredients for some super yummy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies so that all the little men had to add in the morning were the wet ingredients before they slapped them on a baking tray and put them in the oven. (With Mommy's help, of course.) Needless to say, this was a big hit.

Night Eighteen: I guess it shouldn't surprise me that our daredevil elf is also a rock star. He is though, and set up a concert tonight with two of our stuffed locals. Parker and Sebastian were very enthusiastic about the concert idea, and they spent the better part of the next day as members of the band. We're kind of a rock star family. 

Night Nineteen: Because of our unusual night time routine as of late, Daddy and Luke were in charge of coming up with a plan while Mommy did her best to get Sebastian to sleep. After some furious, manly plotting, I was informed that Luke wanted to play hide and seek tonight. I was encouraged to go find him myself, and did, after a bit of searching. Luke (and Daddy) were quite pleased with his hiding spot, and he spent a cozy night in our wonderful tree, "Hubert". (Everything has a name in the Gordon house.)

Night Twenty: After we went to sleep, it seems Luke had some fun with Mommy's phone. He took it and, using what I can only assume was some kind of Elf magic, took pictures of himself with each of us as we slept...even Mommy and Daddy! Parker very happily told on his elf friend when he found him holding Mommy's phone in the morning, and Sebastian walked up proudly holding both phone and elf, chattering away with all his might, also presumably tattling on the thieving elf. They were both delighted to see the pictures of Luke posing with them as they slept. It was very exciting all around. 

Night Twenty-One: What isn't fun about making a tent and spending the night curled up inside of it with friends reading? Exactly. Nothing. Luke Jeremiah and some of his closest friends snuggled together to read The Polar Express in an impressive tent that magically spring up in the living room. If you are thinking that perhaps the rest of the Gordons spent the next day in a much larger tent that appeared, if not quite as magically, drinking hot chocolate and reading Christmas stories, you might just be right. When you see a great idea, sometimes you just have to go with it!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kiss Me, Damn It!

I know, I always say it, but I need to blog more. The cooler, more put together me in my head has time. Of course, she also has a clean house, perfect children, a rocking wardrobe, dinner on the table promptly at 5:30 every night, and time to put on make-up every morning. I'm working on being that me, but until then, I think I'll start with just trying to blog more. I told hubby I need his help so that I can have at least a day a week to blog, and he said he'll try. :0) We'll see. 

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Sebastian has recently decided that he is going on a sleeping strike, or at least, a bedroom strike. I have no idea why, it happened over night, but he has started screaming if we try to put him in his crib. I don't mean fussing, I mean "Oh God, giant dentist spiders are crawling into my bed intent on ripping out my teeth!" screaming. I have never heard anything like it, and it doesn't stop. We have tried all the "tricks", and it just ends up with us bringing him in our bed and waiting until he falls asleep to very carefully take him back to his bed. And, if for some reason he wakes up in the middle of the night, he is right back in our bed. It's like that for nap times too, and the result is two tired parents and a very exhausted toddler. We are going to take him to the pedi to see if there is something going on like an ear infection or reflux, but I honestly don't think that is it. Wish I could figure it out. I'm starting to think these dark circles might become permanent. 

For all the "rough" moments though, there are at least a dozen great moments, and we've had more than our fair share of those this week too. One of the neatest things is Sebastian's new "Kiss me, damn it!" attitude. One of the downfalls of being the second sibling is that you never are the "only". From the time you emerge from the womb, you will always be competing with someone for the attention of your parents. Sometimes, like when you are a tiny and new and giving those first, gummy baby grins, you will win. Sometimes, like when your older sibling decides to try and fly from the roof of the shed holding nothing but an umbrella, you will most certainly lose the competition for attention. 

We adore both of our boys, almost obsessively, and we certainly try our best to divide our attention equally, but it isn't always possible, as any parents out there who have more than one child will know. This will sometimes make for a meeker, quieter second child. A child content to sit in the shadow of their older sibling and patiently wait their turn for the love and snuggles. 

Not our child. 

Sebastian is every bit as stubborn as his brother, and, if his older brother will not willingly share the spotlight, Sebastian is more than willing to get his hands dirty to get his share. His most recent display of this has been titled "Kiss me, damn it." by an overly amused Mommy. He crawls in your lap and waits patently for all of about 20 seconds. If you do not give him the attention he then feels he is deserving, no matter if you are paying attention to Parker or the TV or talking on the phone, he then grabs your face and, with a force I imagine would be equal to that of the Hulk, turns it towards him and plants a huge, messy kiss right on your lips. He will then do this over and over again, until he is sure you are not going to go back to whatever it was you were doing in the first place, and then he will proceed to tell you whatever it was he wanted to say, in his impressive baby babble, all while keeping your face in his hands and his eyes only inches from yours. If you show signs of distraction, say you shift your eyes slightly, he will then start kissing you roughly again until you are fully his once more. 

I love it. In fact, I confess that I sometimes will look away just to get more kisses, even if I am fully paying attention to him. I haven't seen him do it to Daddy yet, so I am just going along with the thought process that I am obviously special. It couldn't be that I am just here more often, right? 

Of course, this usually starts a kissing war, especially if the original recipient of my attention had been Parker, and I usually end up in the middle of two little bodies clamoring for rights to my face where they each plant as many smooches as possible. I have to say, I quite enjoy it. Sometimes Daddy even gets involved, loudly declaring that Mommy is his, at which point the littles join forces to fight off their father and reclaim Mommy for their own.  

I pretty much love my life. Even when I am exhausted. I'm one lucky lady.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Many Christmas Adventures of Luke Jeremiah the Elf: Part Three

The presence of Luke Jeremiah, though it was long agonized over and worried about by yours truly, has been a much welcome addition, and is oh so much fun! Our first full week was a blast. Even Michael is getting into the spirit of things, often coming up with ideas that are much more elaborate than we...I mean "Luke"...could pull off with short notice in one night. We also have more ideas than we could possibly do in one year, which is a good thing, except that it leaves me wishing for more days. Maybe Luke can show up earlier next season. :0)

Luke Jeremiah has informed me that he has this week completely planned out already, which is really exciting. It means that there will be no late nights trying to brainstorm, which I appreciate since I seem to be battling a small chest cold this week. Luke is nothing if not considerate. 

Night Eight: What is life without a little risk? Turns out, Luke Jeremiah is a bit of a daredevil. He likes to live on the wild side. Tonight he decided he would like to zip line across the living room, traveling back and forth between the tree and our bookshelves. It's not the kind of thing I would do, but I figured he would be pretty safe if he fell, what with his body being felt and everything, so I told him to have a great time. Not only did Luke have a blast (doesn't he look happy?), but the boys were both giddy about it in the morning. Parker couldn't stop laughing, and Sebastian danced around underneath pointing at his little friend and yelling happily. Dangerous, yes, but it was popular. Some people will do anything for a reaction. 

Night Nine: Decorating in a house with two small boys can be a slow process. There was a time that I could pull out all our decorations and have them put up in a day, but those days are many years past now, and will not likely return until the boys are in college. :0) Luke Jeremiah obviously thinks I am slow, or perhaps just wanted to add his own twist to it, because he took it upon himself to make some snowflake cut outs tonight. I suppose it could also have been our complete lack of snow out here making the poor little guy homesick, but his creativity just happened to come on the very same day that our Advent Calendar has us making our own paper snowflakes to hang up. Coincidence, or elf magic?

Night Ten: Apparently, flying across a zip line through the living room was only the tip of the ice burg for our little daredevil elf. Tonight, Luke Jeremiah decided that he would like to try his hand at bungee jumping from the ceiling fan using nothing but a lime green Slinky and a prayer. He didn't even use a safety net. You wouldn't catch me being so restless, but I was again reminded that he would probably be alright if he fell, owing to the general feltness of his make up. Besides, I figured it would be a popular stunt with the boys. I wasn't wrong. After all, when you are three and one, what could be cooler than an elf bungee jumping off your living room ceiling fan? That's right. Nothing. 

Night Eleven: I guess I should have figured that elves knew how to fly. What I didn't know was that they knew how to fly helicopters. Apparently, Luke Jeremiah is also a pilot, and he decided that he wanted to take Parker's firefighter helicopter for a spin tonight. Mommy and Daddy had one heck of a time trying to rig up this particular set up, and Luke fell on his head more than once, but in the end it turned out great and was a huge hit with the boys in the morning. (Some support lines may or may not have been edited out of this photograph. Maybe. Maybe not. After all, this is elf magic.)

Night Twelve: Apparently after all those nights of daredevilry, Luke was looking forward to a night of relaxation with friends. He, along with some other favorite stuffed members of our family, decided to have a rousing game of Match under the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. Judging by that impressive stack of matches next to him, our little elf isn't too shabby a matcher.

Night Thirteen: Luke, presumably feeling homesick for a place with large hills and frequent powdery dustings, wanted to go sledding tonight. Due to our general lack of snow, Luke had to get creative and make due with what we had around the house. Apparently, a nice soft blanket and a stacking toy make a passable hill and sled. You can tell how often we have the occasion to sled around here, as Parker had to ask what in the world he was doing. Once understood, it was a very popular idea, one that I hope we get to try ourselves this year.

Night Fourteen: Inspired, perhaps, by our little resident elf, the skies over Idaho decided to let loose with some actual snow tonight. It was even enough to stick a bit, which was fun to experience, even if it isn't fun to drive in. Taking what might possibly be our only chance of the season to do so, Luke decided that the time was ripe to make a snowman, and I quite agreed. This is Idaho though, and there is no assurance that the snowman would survive until morning outside, so Luke and I decided that it would be best if he built it on a plate in the freezer. Oh yes. We now have a resident elf and a Freezer Snowman. That's how we roll in the Gordon house.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Many Christmas Adventures of Luke Jeremiah the Elf: Part Two

As worried as I was to begin this, I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun with our elf, Luke. The boys are having fun too. Parker eagerly asks me every morning if we can go find where Luke is, and when we find him Sebastian usually carries him around for a bit babbling away to his new little friend. I am having a blast coming up with new, fun things to do every night, and I think I might have more ideas than I can actually manage in one short holiday season. Good thing we plan on making this a tradition. 

Here are our first days of Elf on a Shelf. I'm looking forward to what these 30 days will hold for us. Parker is already worried about when Luke has to leave us, though I assure him that he will be back next year. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye though. 

Night One: Our then unnamed elf arrived with a book (that Mommy altered slightly to fit how we celebrate Christmas) and snuggled into the tree to wait to meet the boys in the morning, holding onto a letter he wrote just for them.

Night Two: Having been christened Luke Jeremiah, our resident elf got to work. He showed his artistic talents, drawing a Christmas tree for the boys on their canvas chalk board. Delighted, Parker announced to everyone "Mommy, you were right! He is magic!", which made me more happy than I could possibly express. (This was after informing me the day before that he thought his elf was really neat, but not magic.)

Night Three: Apparently, Luke is not only artistic, but skilled in construction. He waited until the boys were in bed and then built this impressive block pyramid for them to find in the morning. Parker was thrilled that Luke had built him a special tower. 

Night Four: Despite my better judgement, Luke decided he was going to toilet paper the Christmas tree tonight. I was worried that this might start a theme in our home of decorating the tree with random items ("Mommy, look! I put my underwear on the tree!"), but Daddy was on Luke's side and said we would just have to tell them it was a "special Elf thing". Apparently, despite my misgivings, that explanation has worked thus far. At least, I haven't found any underwear or dirty socks on the tree.

Night Five: Luke went finshing for goldfish, complete with his own arc...I mean "fishing boat". I personally thought it was a little unsporting of him, fishing the poor goldfish in a barrel, but he threw his game back. I can't say the same for the boys, who gobbled them up with much joy when they found them the next morning. Parker was also delighted with Luke's little fishing pole and carried it around for several days after.

Night Six: As the next morning was December 1st, Luke used his sixth night to hang up our brand new Advent Calendar. (I will have to post a Pin A Week blog to show how I made it soon.) I think the Advant Calendar is going to be pretty popular in our house, since it has something new we have to do as a family on it every day leading up to Christmas. For example, the first day we popped popcorn and watched a Christmas Movie (The Christmas Toy, which is one of my favorites!). I think it will be almost as popular a Christmas tradition as Luke is becoming!

Night Seven: Tonight our cheery little Elf decided to turn the boys milk red. I think, perhaps, it could have been redder had he used a half gallon instead of a full gallon, but still...pink milk is kind of cool too. At least, it was to Parker, who was practically giddy the next morning, even after I explained that pink didn't mean it was going to taste like strawberries. It might just be the most popular thing Luke has done yet.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


And it was hard! Some days I didn't meet my planned word count, some days I exceeded it, some days I had complete writers block and drove my husband crazy bemoaning my complete and total ignorance and inability to finish even this simple task. But here we are, the end of 30 long days, and I am an official NaNoWriMo Winner!

I even have proof!

See that? Only winners get that! Apparently I can even buy a shirt. I just might do that. You never know. 

I came in at 50,207 words. My novel isn't done yet. In fact, I am at a very detailed and exciting part of the story. I wrote 50,207 words in 30 days though, and I am pretty proud of that fact. It is raw, unedited, probably filled with misspellings and incorrect punctuation, but I have 50,207 words of a novel written. I did that! (A ton of other people did too, but I am tooting my own horn right now. Sorry.) 

It's a raw and imperfect little thing, my new novel, but I am proud of it. I might even finish it one day and let someone other than myself read it. Who knows? Right now I am just happy that I did it and completed this thing that I started out to do back on November 1st. 

I look forward to next year.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Many Christmas Adventures of Luke Jeremiah the Elf

Well, here we go. The beginning of a hopefully long lasting family tradition, our own version of Elf on a Shelf. We've taken the tradition and find tweaked it to fit our family and how we celebrate Christmas. For one thing, I have never liked the "You be good because Santa is watching and you won't get any presents." threat. I would much rather my children choose to make good choices in their behavior based on their own merit, not the threat of less toys come Christmas morning. So our elf is here not to report back to Santa about our misdeeds or positive behavior, but to help us prepare for the holiday and Baby Jesus's birthday. Another thing we have taken liberties with is the rule in the original book that the children must not touch the elf or there is the threat that the magic won't work. We have certain decorations in our house certainly that are carefully put up to be admired but not touched, but I don't feel that something that is this much centered around the children and their imagination and fun should be one of them. So the boys have been informed that our elf very much enjoys hugs and kisses as long as they are done with loving hands. He's already part of our bed time routine, watching over them carefully while they brush their teeth, and it's only now the first day. 

After those minor tweaks and a couple more, I can say that I am not as anxious as I was just last night about introducing this particular tradition into our household. In fact, I am quite having fun planning out the different antics that our resident elf might get into this month leading up to the most blessed of holidays.

Our elf was placed carefully in the tree, nestled between ornaments and lush green branches and holding on to a letter he wrote special for the boys, where he was found quite early our first morning, smiling up at his new family with enthusiasm. He was met with just as much enthusiasm, especially by Parker, and we snuggled together as a family to read the book (complete with Mommy's alterations) and come up with a name for our new little friend. 

It was a close thing. Several names were thrown out that Daddy and I had to gently direct away from, knowing that they would be favorites now, but might seem a bit odd in another ten years. Though "Tiger", "Darth Vader", and "Han" would all probably be unique to the Elf of the Shelf world, we finally came to and agreed on "Luke" as a suitable name for our little pal. At Parker's insistence that he have a middle name too, we picked "Jeremiah", though I haven't registered him at Elf on the Shelf's website yet, knowing that Parker might have come up with a middle name he likes better by morning. He is three after all. 

After a fun filled day getting acclimated to our family, and reading the book a couple more times, Luke was hugged and kissed thoroughly before bed time. (And tossed off the bed once by Sebastian, though I assured him that Sebastian was just trying to see if he could fly like Parker insisted he could.) Then it was time to figure out what fun thing he was going to do this evening for the boys to discover in the morning. 

The internet is an amazing place, and the ideas for Elf on a Shelf, especially somewhere like Pinterest, are endless. I do want to stretch my own levels of creativity too however, (and Luke agrees with me) so I am hoping that we can come up with some good ones as the month goes on. Tonight, Luke and I went with fun but simple, and he used the boys canvas chalk board  to color them a picture, complete with his signature "Luke J. Elf", in a hand that might look oddly familiar to some. 

I hope the boys like it. I am certain;y looking forward to what we might come up with next. Even Daddy is getting involved in the planning, which just makes it that much more fun. :0) Children really do make even the simplest things magical again, which makes them the greatest blessings of all. 

Stay tuned, folks. This is going to get interesting!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Fighting A Losing Battle

And no, I'm not talking about keeping up with my blog, though that seems to be a losing battle too. How is it possible that it's been almost two months since I've updated, and that I still have a ton of old posts that I need to post, especially from my Pin A Week projects? (Which I did do, I just haven't had time to post!) *sigh* I need to start making time for myself to blog at least once a week. I would like to do it more. I always seem to put making me time on a list, but it usually falls somewhere near the bottom and so gets overlooked. I promise I am going to do better. For the love of goodness, I need to blog. It relaxes me.

I digress. The losing battle I am talking about tonight is the Santa Battle, though I am trying hard to keep the good fight going on our side. You see, we are those parents. The ones who decided years ago, when our oldest son was still growing in my tummy, that we were not going to do Santa the "traditional" way. We always wanted our children to know and be thankful for where their presents came from. To appreciate the thought and effort that went into the gifts sent by grandparents, uncles, aunts, great-grandparents and what their Daddy and I picked out for them. We didn't want them thinking that some mythical fat elf was bringing them toys from the North Pole based on their level of good behavior that year.

We also wanted them to understand the true reason behind the season. Not only about the birth of our Lord and Savior, though that is certainly the most important part of it, but the spirit of giving and love and the joy and blessing it is to do for others instead of just for yourself. So, in addition to teaching them about the birth of Jesus and the religious aspects of the holiday, we also have told our oldest about St. Nicholas. The real St. Nicholas and how the stories of his generosity and good will, especially towards children, have shaped and morphed into the beautiful story that is Santa Clause today. We have explained to him how it is fun to pretend, and it makes parts of the season seem more magical. We have also explained to him that many children truly, truly believe, and that it is important that we don't take that magic away from him. He is very good about keeping our "special secret" and goes right along when any of his little friends talk about Santa, usually giving me a big grin from across the room like we are sharing our own secret, which makes it more magical to me in a way.

As he has gotten older, it has become a harder tight rope to walk. You see, Santa is so ingrained in everything Christmas, that it is almost impossible for children not to hear of him. It was never our intention to completely eliminate Santa from the Christmas traditions we enjoy as a family anyways. The boys have always had their picture taken with Santa, though we have always explained that it was a person who enjoyed dressing up and pretending to be Santa, just like he likes to dress up and pretend to be a firefighter, Spider Man, or Darth Vader. We read a new copy of The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve, which of course is entirely about Santa Clause, but we also read the story of the first Christmas and the birth of Jesus and talk about it with him at length as the season unfolds around us. It's a balancing act that, until very recently, has been working very well. 

It still isn't so much that it isn't working, but that there are certain traditions that I find I would love to share and that I think they, especially our oldest, would really enjoy, but that make me worry that we'll somehow be sending him mixed signals. For example, the Elf On The Shelf that several of my friends have been doing with their littles for years. Taking away the fact that I think the little Elf looks just a little creepy, I think that there is the potential to have a lot of fun with it. I know that it would delight Parker to wake up every morning and search the house for what mischief our Elf had been in the night before. But isn't that going directly against our wish that he not think some fat, jolly elf is watching him and judging his behavior to decide how many presents he deserves? If we don't do stuff like that, will they be missing out on important parts of their childhood? 

It's been an issue that, early as we are into the season, has already given me much pause this year. I have started to realize recently that my worry that he might lose sight of what is really important might be making it harder for me just to sit back and enjoy the magic of his imagination. I don't want to brag, but I have a pretty bright kid, and I think I have been severely underestimating his intelligence in this aspect of our lives. When he dresses up as Darth Vader, part of him very much believes that he is Darth Vader, but he also knows deep down that he isn't. I think the same can be said about these kinds of things. Does he know that Santa isn't eating the cookies and milk we leave out? Yes, he does. But it's also fun to pretend. Will he believe that a little toy elf is really dancing around the house at night while we sleep causing mischief? Probably not, but I think he'll have a fun time pretending he is. We balance precariously on the thin line between not wanting to take away the magic but still wanting him to keep a firm handle on what is truly important about the season, and I don't think the whole thing is as complicated as I have been making it out in my head. He doesn't have to truly believe that these things are 100% real to have fun pretending, and I don't have to compromise our desires as parents in order to give him (and his brother and our future children) traditions and memories that he will hold with him for years to come. 

I personally remember setting out milk and cookies (and carrots for the reindeer) well into my teens, far past the time I believed, but because doing it still kept some of that magic alive that we all need so much of in our lives. (I also remember my brother being teased sometime in first grade because he did truly believe, and I had to be the one that sat him down and told him the horrible truth...which might be why I am so conflicted in this particular subject in the first place.) 

So, we will continue to go see Santa at the mall, to put out cookies and milk, and to read The Night Before Christmas as we snuggle together in our brand new jammies on Christmas Eve night. We will also continue to talk to the boys about Jesus and his love for us and the joyous occasion of his birth, and about the real St. Nicholas and how he taught about being generous of heart. The boys will not have gifts under the tree from Santa, but rather from the people in their lives who love and care from them most. We will also start a new tradition this year. Creepy little face aside, Michael and I stopped by the book store tonight on our date night to pick out our own little Elf On The Shelf. He came home with us and is currently awaiting his naming, which will probably happen tomorrow. (I might have another battle on my hands entirely in order to keep him from being named Darth or Castle Crasher, but that's another story.)

Yes, I find him creepy (Though I wish my sister, who is terrified of dolls, was here right now. I would have so much fun with that!), but the point is that I think the boys will get a kick out of him. (And I am having a lot of fun planing out his month of mischief, I have to admit.) He isn't so much going to be reporting to Santa as he is going to be helping us get the house read for Christmas and our celebration of Jesus's birth. It's all about balance, and why I am sure that I've put way too much thought into this, at least no one can accuse me of doing anything on a whim.

This could be a fun blog series. The Adventures of ________ the Elf. Hmmmm. There is potential there.