A Little Advent Conspiracy

I’ve written here before about my homemade advent calendar filled with activities for our family to do during the month of December. It’s been a fun addition to the holiday season that we will definitely plan on doing again. The little daily surprise activities have really made getting in the holiday spirit more enjoyable. At least for the girls. Every day the girls jump up & down, begging to read the advent for the day.

But what about Dad? You know, the one who prefers to watch from a distance in the grinchy man cave while the girls throw around Christmas fru-fru? Yeah, that guy. Um, yeah. My bad. The advent list wasn’t written for him. 😦

Cutting paper snowflakes, stringing popcorn garlands, designing ornaments & making fudge are all great fun for a passel of girls, but not so much if you’re the only guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s faithfully done his part, cutting out snowy designs, enduring homeschool talent shows,  & even decorating gingerbread houses.  This awesome Dad has gone along with all of it without complaining. Much.

That’s my man, helping Z make a gingerbread house.

He’s such a great guy.

About 15 days in to our 25 days of fru-fru-ey madnesss, he rolled his eyes when I pulled out the paint. That’s when I began to get the sense that maybe I needed to make a change. After all, this advent thing is supposed to be for the whole family, not just the girls. So I began a little advent conspiracy.

The girls and I made a quick run to Walgreens to get some t.p. And came home with a bag full of goodies. That place is such a life-saver with their aisle of toys. Because I definitely did NOT want to go to the mall less than a week before Christmas. There are horror stories about that.

When we got home, I installed batteries while the girls did the testing & strategic planning. We stashed our surprises then waited impatiently. I threw a bunch of stuff in a pot on the stove for chili. When would Dad come home from work so we could ambush him? Cue Mr. Rogers.

Finally, the doorbell rang. Daddy was home! The girls whispered and giggled. Then they got quiet. A little too quiet. He knew something was up, but what?

It was her turn to read the advent activity.

He didn’t know what to expect.

Then he opened the present.

This could be fun…what’s the note say?

ATTACK! He never saw it coming 🙂

A nerf war outside at night with your favorite little people and chili to warm you up afterwards, what’s not to love?!

The girls ready for the ambush!

Can you tell little Z dresses herself these days ?

My Advent Calendar That Almost Wasn’t

I’ve always liked the idea of having an Advent calendar, but it seems like I can never get my act together and actually do one. But this year, in our new home, I decided to start fresh and give it another try. There are a lot of really cute ideas on the internet these days for advent activities. For example, I saw this Advent calendar over at Simple Mom last week.

And I thought, now there’s a calendar that I can make! No pressure for a huge, time-consuming project that I’d have to be Martha Stewart to do right! Except that I don’t have a picture frame. No problemo! Time for me to improvise! That’s kind of my specialty anyway…Sometimes this works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. You be the judge.

The first thing I did was decide what activities we would do on each day of the month until Christmas. Tsh was kind enough to provide a list on her blog, which I basically used as my own, but swapped some things like movies & local holiday events out to suit our needs. This took me longer than it probably should have. Because I’m indecisive like that.

Then I forgot all about it for several days and almost decided not to do it went to Joann’s with all 3 girls in tow and bought number stickers, Christmas scrapbook paper, plain bookmarks, mini-clothespins and ribbon. They kept begging to know what I was going to make, but I did not give them even a hint. I wanted this to be a surprise so their excitement would be worth the hard work love I put into it.

Then when we got home, somebody found my list of things to do and told some of them to a sister before I discovered them. Totally ruined my attitude. So much for the surprise. I was totally bummed. What is it with me letting little things like that bother me so much? I wanted to call the whole thing off, taking the easy way out for me. Yippee! Almost did, actually. But then I remembered that this wasn’t just about the “surprise.” It’s about doing things together as a family and building memories. Helping each other find the wonder and meaning of Christmas. And learning that sometimes the best things can happen when things don’t go according to my plan.

So after the girls were all tucked in last night, I pulled everything out and stayed up waaay too late and made our advent calendar. Which you can see in these poor quality pictures. The lighting was bad. Sorry.

I hung the ribbon in a zig zag pattern above our fireplace using 4 nails. There’s probably a better way to make it look nicer, but I was using what I had on hand. Maybe you can give me some suggestions.

I used number stickers for the date on each ornament

I also added a few extra touches on the wall above.

They’re definitely not works of art (I used a printer and crayons), but I like that they remind me what really matters. Maybe someday I’ll get something a little more professional looking. But the point of this project was just to do it even if it’s not perfect, right?

The girls were so excited to see it this morning when they woke up. Almost as good as Christmas morning! Like Tsh suggested, I used post-it notes to write the activities on. So I can change them if I want to. But I didn’t have mini post-its so I just cut regular sized ones in half. Also, I’ve wised up and am planning to write the next day’s activity out the night before. That way if anybody peeks, there will be no harm done 🙂

And in case you were wondering, today’s activity was to watch The Grinch (classic 60’s cartoon version). No I did not change the list or make that up.

Guess God knew my heart was a little too small.

That wall above the fireplace had been bugging me with how empty it was. Seriously, that fireplace needs a mantel!

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