Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Update: Week 2

After Week 1's festivities, I was excited to dive into Week 2; however, working full-time and single parenting really started to wear on me by Monday night. A big round of applause for those of you single mommas out there who do this full time. I have no idea how you keep your sanity. My heart goes out to each of you!

Anyhoo, back to Advent. After leaving work late Monday night, packing for our weekend trip to Granny & Papa's, and an extremely late dinner, there wasn't much time left for our original Day 8 activity so I ripped open a pack of glow sticks, threw the tot in the tub, and turned off the lights. It took her a while to figure out what was going on, but she couldn't stop staring at the colorful lights in the water. This activity went over so well that I plan on keeping a pack of these on hand year round. You know, for full on meltdowns and other toddler problems that I just can't seem to control. Parenting at it's finest here, folks.

Day 9's activity stems back to October when we came across a collection of the classic Peanuts holiday stories while out looking for a Halloween costume for the tot. The Peanuts characters have always held a special place in my heart thanks to many hours spent watching Charlie Brown's holiday specials when I was growing up. So when I came across the tales in book format, I simply had to grab it! Yesterday was also my mother's birthday and since she helped to instill my love for Charles Schultz's famous characters, I thought it only fitting that we read "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown" on the night of her big day. I'm sure this will be an advent activity that we continue to do every year.

By midweek, we were both missing Jake something fierce, so Day 10's activity was Surprise Daddy at Work with Coffee! After I picked up the tot from daycare, we waited in line for 20 minutes swung by Starbucks to get a Venti cup of joe then headed to Miller's to "surprise Daddy" (although he actually knew we were coming). Despite his super busy schedule, he was able to grab a quick 15 minute break with the tot and I. He downed his java, Tay drank her milk, and they both snacked on goldfish crackers. I took full advantage of being in a room full of adults and caught up with a few friends I hadn't seen in a while. During our break, a few of Jake's co-workers ooh-ed and ahh-ed over how big the tot has gotten, and she gladly welcomed their attention. This girl is never shy around a crowd! Shortly after, it was time for us to say goodbye but not before we snapped a quick pic in front of the Miller's logo. Although we miss having him home with us this time of year, we're extremely grateful that he works for such a wonderful company that takes care of both him and our family. 

Day 11's activity was one of my favorite activities to date (second to watching Elf and eating cotton candy, of course). We were both in stellar moods Thursday evening and whipping up some cinnamon ornaments while we danced to Christmas music only made the night better! I highly recommend this fun and easy activity for kids of all ages. Just mix 1/2 c applesauce and 1 1/2 -2 c cinnamon, then roll out the dough onto a clean surface (adding extra cinnamon as needed). Cut out shapes then use the end of a straw to make out a hole for hanging (clearly, I was having too much fun dancing and forgot this step). Bake at 200 degrees for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until ornaments are hard. Taylor loved rolling out the dough, using the cookie cutters, and watching them bake in the oven. An added bonus to this activity is that your entire house will smell amazing. Who doesn't love the sweet smell of warm cinnamon?

Friday evening after work, we packed up the car and headed to my hometown for the weekend. With Jake at work all weekend and my strong need for adult interaction, I thought it best that we spend the weekend with family. Friday night just so happened to be my oldest niece and nephew's annual Christmas program at their elementary school, so Day 12's activity was to attend their holiday program. The terrible lighting, our horrible seats, and the madness that ensued during this program left me unable to snag a single decent photo; however, my niece was kind enough to pose for a pic after the show. She really is the most genuinely sweet kid you'll ever meet.

Since we were at my parents' house Saturday morning, we made the most of a lazy morning and stayed in our jammies as long as possible. Taylor was cracking us up in her raccoon earmuffs which she refused to take off. She played quietly on the floor with them on for the longest time! I swear, she's the funniest kid ever.

That afternoon, we went to my sister's house to babysit my nephew and twin nieces and complete our Day 13 activity - build a gingerbread house. Since I knew we would be attempting this task with three little ones, I bought a pre-assembled gingerbread house. My advice? Do this. It is SO much easier when working with little ones. Although the house was already put together, we still managed to make a giant mess while constantly removing pieces of candy from three little mouths throughout the entire process. They are such sneaky little things! Overall, our finished product came together pretty well. It didn't look exactly like the box, but it was finished and no one lost a limb or choked on anything. That evening, we celebrated my mom and niece's birthdays with homemade pizza and brownie sundaes. Taylor had a blast playing with her cousins, and I was able to have a conversation that didn't include the words "No, Taylor" fifteen times.

After a long and busy Saturday, I was more than ready for Day 14's activity which was to attend the Christmas Cantata at church. Taylor was so good throughout the entire thing, sitting on my lap, snacking on her Teddy Grahams, and waving at the people in the pews around us. She clapped and danced along to the songs and had a great time. It was just what we needed to put us into the Christmas spirit! Later that afternoon, after lots of hugs and smooches, we headed back home. The tot must have been exhausted because she was fast asleep as soon as we pulled out of the driveway. After such a great weekend, it was hard to leave knowing we would have to return to an empty house. Thankfully, Daddy arrived home shortly after we did allowing him to have dinner with us and put Taylor to bed for the first time in weeks! Definitely a great way to end an already stellar weekend.

Only 10 days to go until Christmas! With a busy work week ahead and lots of wrapping, baking, and packing to do, I hope we are able to squeeze in the rest of our advent fun. Don't be surprised if Week 3 contains a lot of glow stick and Santa beard bubble baths! They may be repetitive but at least they're still festive!