Archive for the ‘Family Outings’ Category

This year BusyBoy and GigglyGirl could truly appreciate and anticipate Christmas!  The day after Halloween, they woke up asking “what is next?”  After Thanksgiving, they were ready for Christmas and now they are ready for New Year’s.  Each day they would ask, is it Christmas today?  I would reply “No, it is not Christmas today but it is Christmas time.” 

We did not do as much this year as Mr. Right and I have done in years past.  With Mr. Right looking for a job, our financial instability, and major life changes this year, I decided that it would be in my best interest and therefore the entire family’s best interest if I kept Christmas low key.  We focused on the most important aspect, that of our Savior’s birth, and we we also focused on things that brought our family together and created or enhanced Christmas traditions.

We decided the major Christmas activities with the children would be sititng on Santa’s lap, eating Breakfast with Santa, GigglyGirl’s Christmas ballet recital, and my planning and preparing for the children’s class Christmas party.  Each activity was special and very fun.  Our calendar was not so full that we could not enjoy and savor each moment.  I was calm throughout the holidays (for the most part) and that calm permeated our family.

Since we are in a bit of a financial strain right now, we only allowed the children to ask for 3 items each from Santa Claus.  We emphasized how Jesus Christ received 3 gifts from the Wise Men and that is why they would only ask for 3 items.  

On Christmas Eve night, we went to church at my father’s church.  This was the first time he preached on Christmas Eve in 6 years and I was so thrilled to hear him preach again.  After the service, my brother went out to purchase my family (including parents, sister and her family, and brother) fast food for dinner.  Since my father had to preach again in less than 2 hours, we could not have an elaborate meal.  Also, we did not plan (as we probably should have) to have dinner either catered or cook dinner for the church staff.  After dinner, Mr. Right, the children, and I headed home.

The children did not fall asleep in the car on the way home.  Normally, their bedtime is about 6:30 but on Christmas Eve they did not get to bed until 11:00.  When we got home from church, we had Baked North Pole.  The children unwrapped one of their gifts, which was a set of pajamas for each of them, and got ready for bed. 

About half an hour later, Mr. Right and I thought we heard Santa in our garage and went to see if we could help him out.  Little did we know, BusyBoy was still awake.  He slipped downstairs and startled us in the kitchen.  He was so excited about Santa coming into our house while he was asleep that he could not fall asleep.  We took him back to bed, told Santa to come back later, and watched a little more television.  Then within 5 more minutes, BusyBoy was up again.  I decided to go help him fall asleep by sitting in the rocking chair in his room until he fell asleep.  When I went up to his room, he was not in there.  I could not find him upstairs.  As it turned out he was hiding in the kitchen.  I took him to bed, read 1 last story to him, and then sat in his room for another 25 minutes until he was asleep.

Santa made a stop by our house shortly thereafter.  Mr. Right and I went to bed around 2:00. 

In the morning, Mr. Right woke up first and then the children did.  They were so excited they could hardly wait to get downstairs to see what Santa brought.  We took pictures of them before they went downstairs and then again as they walked into the family room to see what Santa brought.  There was so much joy and excitement.  Mr. Right and I loved watching them.

GigglyGirl received a baby doll, a Groovy Girl doll and unicorn, and a jewelry making kit.  BusyBoy received 2 dinosaurs, a Cars Racetrack, and a Little People Pirate Ship.  (He is probably getting a bit old for Little People but he still plays with one and this is what he wanted.)  They also received a few other little things like small stuffed animals, fruit, and stocking stuffers.  Santa and the Spirit of Santa was truly generous to our family this year.  We will never forget this generosity!

After they played with their toys a bit, Mr. Right and I cooked homemade doughnuts for breakfast.  At one point, BusyBoy and GigglyGirl ran to their Advent Calendars to change the date to the last day!  They were so excited because they knew which one to change it to without asking for help.

Throughout the day on Christmas we each were able to take a nap.  The only person who did not take a nap, was BusyBoy.  We wore our jammies all day long.  Around 4:00, it was time to go to my parents’ house for Christmas Dinner and to open gifts from under their tree.  The only one who actually changed out of jammies was Mr. Right.

At my parents’ home, we had our traditional Steak and Shrimp Christmas Dinner.  YUM!! It was so good.  Then we had to do about 200 different poses in front of the tree for Christmas pictures.  After that we opened the gifts and headed back home. 

While we had two very late nights and very little money this year, it was one of the best Christmases Mr. Right and I have had in a long, long time!  The children were so excited about Christmas!  They loved every minute!  We loved watching it and living it through their eyes!

Now, they are looking forward to New Year’s and then the second most important holiday:  Mr. Right’s birthday!

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This post has moved to JenuineJen’s new url: http://jenuinejen.com.  Please click to read Breakfast with Santa Buckhead Style.  Thanks!

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Seeing Santa Part 2

 Yesterday, I blogged about my experiences sitting on Santa’s lap.  Today, I want to elaborate more about what it was like for BusyBoy and GigglyGirl to see Santa this year.  In the morning before our 6 PM appointment to see Santa, the children and I sat at the computer to create their Christmas Wish List.  I told them they could ask for 4 things for Christmas this year.  They each picked out the things they would like to have and I printed the list for them with photos of each toy.  Don’t you love how easy the internet makes things in life?

At lunchtime, GigglyGirl asked if Santa would still give them gifts even though they have been a little bit bad.  I told her yes.  I said Santa gives you gifts because he loves you.  He loves you whether or not you are good.  He wants you to be good but he still loves you no matter what.

The children got dressed up in their nice Christmas outfits and we set out to the mall.  This mall is about 40 minutes from our house and they were very mellow the whole ride.  GigglyGirl said they were trying not to fight over each other so that Santa would know they were good children. 

When we got to the mall, we met up with my parents and siblings and niece and nephew.  GigglyGirl and BusyBoy ran up to each of my parents to give them big hugs and kisses and they also gave kisses to their cousin.  We stopped in the restroom for a quick break and then made our way to the line to see Santa.

The whole time we were I line, which was about 15 minutes, they were extremely excited and could not stand still.  They were cutting up with their cousin, laughing, and jumping up and down.  Then right as we got to the front of the line, GigglyGirl told me she had to go to the potty.  I knew it was her nerves and I told her we would go as soon as we finished seeing Santa.  She said she really had to go right now and tried to walk off.  Luckily, she stayed calm.  I told her I could go with her to see Santa if she needed me to. 

When it was their turn to sit on Santa’s lap, GigglyGirl forgot about her nerves and did sit on Santa’s lap.  She did not need me to hold her hand.   She and BusyBoy both told Santa what they wanted for Christmas.  GigglyGirl who is very reserved around strangers, even talked to him. 

Afterwards, we took several family photos and then headed back home.  When we pulled off the expressway onto our exit, BusyBoy said he saw a red and white light going through the sky with something red and white in it.  I said it must be an airplane.  He corrected me and told me it must be Santa because it did not have a roof.  I agreed and told him Santa must be going back home to the North Pole since he was done working for the night.  Mr. Right told BusyBoy that Santa was taking their wish lists to the elves so the elves would know what to make for them.  Both BusyBoy and GigglyGirl were very happy at this prospect.  When we got home, they did their evening routine without much fuss and went straight to sleep.

I hope they are dreaming of Santa’s sleigh and their visit with Santa this evening.

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Seeing Santa


Throughout my life there has been a particular Santa at a particular mall that we go to every year.  We went to see the Santa at this mall every year when I was a child.  In fact the Santa from this mall was at a different mall and we followed him from mall to mall.

There is almost a 13 year age difference between my youngest brother and myself.  Since he was so much younger than me and I knew more about Santa than he did from the day he was born, my mother said the only way Santa would visit in her house was if all four of her children sat on his lap.  So, there I was at 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 sitting on Santa’s lap with my younger siblings.  I have to say that I was more than a bit embarrassed at 17 and 18.  It helped that my other brother was 14 and 15 those years and I knew he was just as embarrassed as me.  Still, once we would get up there to see Santa, we forgot our embarrassment and enjoyed the moment.

At some point, we began taking a gift to Santa every year.  Our family received so much pleasure from Santa’s presence that we wanted to express our gratitude to him.  He began to remember us and expect us.  I guess with so many grown children it is hard to forget them.  When Santa’s minister retired, his minister became the associate minister at my dad’s church.  This connection is what really made us stand out to Santa. 

Eventually, the question became:  when will we stop sitting in Santa’s lap every year?  At some point, my youngest brother was even too big to see Santa.  By this time, visiting Santa had become such an important Christmas tradition that we could not stop.  So every year we would continue to go see Santa, even when I was 21, 25, and 30.  We even went when I was 23 weeks pregnant with twins at 32 years old.  Talk about embarrassing!  Still, this Santa was incredible and mystical.  He was everything Santa is supposed to be.  He looked like the real Santa.  He was the real Santa!  Just look at his photo at the top of this post!

When my children were born, of course they had to go sit in his lap.  I think I had to sit in his lap for a family photo that year before we took the children to sit in his lap.  This was to get a photo of my pregnant sister sitting in his lap like I had done the year before.  The next year, when I was 34, was the first year we broke the sibling tradition of sitting in Santa’s lap.  Still, I wound up being with Santa because GigglyGirl was too frightened to be there without Mommy.  My youngest brother missed see Santa that year so much that he and my mom made a special trip by that mall on Christmas Eve just so he could get a peek at Santa.  When Santa saw him and my mom, he knew exactly who my brother was and made sure my brother sat on his lap.

In the spring of last year, this particular Santa spent his last days on earth.  He was a man of faith and I have no doubt he is in heaven today.  Last year, it was so hard to be back at this mall and see a new Santa.  I had to hold back tears because it would not do to have mommy crying when she looked at Santa Claus.  How would I have explained that to the children?  I made it through without crying.  GigglyGirl still needed me to hold her hand so I was with Santa again for another picture.

This year, was the first year in my 38 years of seeing Santa that I did not sit on his lap for a photo.  It was strange but it was also good.  I am glad that GigglyGirl did not need my hand to hold this year.  I am glad she is breaking out of her shell.  I am glad that both BusyBoy and GigglyGirl are continuing my family’s tradition.  My sister’s children sat on Santa’s lap right before our children did.  We were able to get a photo of all four children together with Santa.  Both of my brothers were there as well to watch.  It was a wonderful continuation of our tradition.  I am happy my brothers were there tonight as well.

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Today we took the twins bowling for a family outing with my local Junior Service League.  You might think that the true test of bowling skill and ability is getting a strike or better yet 3 strikes in a row.  Anybody can knock the pins down. 

The true test of bowling skill is whether or not you can roll the ball and make it stop precisely in the middle of the lane.  Not in the gutter.  Not close to one gutter or the other.  Exactly in the middle of the lane.  Now, that is the true test of bowling skill. 

My children have mastered this skill.  So have a few of the other children who were playing today.

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According to NASA tonight is the best night to see the Great Persedian Meteor Shower in 2007.  Around 4:00 am there should be about 1 shooting star per minute.  Tonight is a new moon and the moon’s light is not going to be interfering with the stargazing.

When I was a child, my dad would wake everyone in the house up to go look at various astronomical events:  eclipes, comets, shooting stars, etc.  For example, when I was about 8 years old, we all got up to watch a total eclipse of the moon from our front porch.  When I was in high school, my dad got us up several times, including school nights, to look at Haley’s Comet. 

Several years back, my father got a telescope for Christmas.  We have used it at his house on several occasions.  The first time Mr. Right used it, he saw the rings around Saturn.  When my dad heard that, he shoved Mr. Right out of the way and then barely let anyone else use the telescope because he was having so much fun looking at Saturn.

While we have explained to BusyBoy and GigglyGirl what shooting stars are, their 4 year old minds have a hard time conceptualizing it.  In the spirit of family tradition and educating young minds, Mr. Right and I are going to get up at 3:00 am, get dressed, get the children up, drive about 20 miles north to a good viewing spot, and watch the sky light up with shooting stars.

Note we are going to wake 2 sleeping 4 year olds up at 3:00 in the morning to go look at shooting stars.  Are we crazy or what?!  At least, I can claim the insanity is inherited.

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