Gingerbread people

I cheated. I feel a tad guilty. I really am a good baker. I have no time anymore. This sucks. I must confess to using (gulp)pre-made gingerbread dough to make gingerbread people and other Christmas decorations.

I can make the stuff, honest! My excuse is two-fold. I've been busy trying to keep two children fed, happy and entertained. I've also been busy prepping the house for renovations (which started today...YAH...super should see the mess...aaagh...renos are for another post...don't have time here...MUST FOCUS!).

Anyway I bought some Pillsbury cookie dough in roll. To be honest it worked fine for my purposes. The kids adore baking but we needed some instant results tonight, especially considering we didn't get home until 5:45pm and our supper of left-overs didn't fully reach our bellies until 6:30 pm. We rolled and cut the dough. We even found a few pieces of raw dough making it to our mouths (always a secret pleasure of mine). The cookies took minutes to bake and kept their shape. When we went to decorate them, I realized I was out of icing sugar (used it all for the icing of my mocha frosted drops that I took to a cookie exchange on Friday...again here is another blog worthy topic...I need more time!!). I remembered I had some leftover tubes of icing from a birthday a year or so ago (good thing these bought products have a shelf life that seems to last an eternity). We decorated and devoured the cookies. The event worked but in hindsight it was too rushed and caused too much anxiety. I will have to amend future weekday events to easier projects or activities.

The worst part was that I think the joy of baking was lost tonight, especially when you factor in monkey boy's tears and my anger. Monkey boy decided he didn't like gingerbread cookies and wanted a candy cane instead. I told him I didn't think that was a great idea. He melted down and started crying, moaning and whining. He filled his mind with worry and anxiety over the thought he would have to eat a cookie he didn't like. I told him he could have some candy cane but not much. In his desire to please he said he wouldn't have anything. I became exasperated. I started moaning and whining too. It made him laugh (which is good) but I was done in (perhaps I should also get more than 4 hours of sleep the night before I take on baking, even in its abbreviated form). After what seemed like hours (but in reality was only 5 minutes), we compromised. He decided to decorate a cookie but have some candy cane if he didn't like it. Well he liked the did my girl. In the end, they enjoyed rolling and cutting out cookies as well as decorating their one cookie. I hope to have more time to create a better cookie decorating experience in the near future. Usually it is a fun affair but I think I need to be in a better frame of mind and with more than a half an hour to complete the task.

Crafts are a fan favorite in our household. We can't seem to get enough of them. Today's advent event was naturally a hit. We made paper snowflakes, both blue and white. It was fun watching my boy figure out how patterns were being made and duplicated when you cut a folded piece of paper. Lil bug even had fun with the project but required a little assistance getting her scissors through the thick paper.

My plan is to hang them from ribbon around the house. Haven't actually done that yet but the intention is good.

After an early and chaotic supper, we piled into the car to make our way over to OC Transpo's Park and Ride. We hopped onto the 95 route. Several stops later and in a bus crammed full of other families and regular passengers, we arrived downtown. We pushed our stroller (much easier to put lil bug in this contraption versus carrying her 36 pounds and snowsuit clad body around on my hip) down Bay St to Wellington. We conveniently parked ourselves on the North side of the street in front of Library and Archives Canada. Then we waited and waited. Finally we heard the sounds and saw the lights of the Santa Claus Parade.

Monkey boy loved looking at the floats. His favorites were antique fire trucks, and anything with lots of Christmas lights. Both kids thought it was fun to receive candy canes (which they were giving out in copious amounts). Monkey covets candy canes so it was interesting to overhear him say no thanks to one of the firefighters. He told me that he was only suppose to get one so that there were enough for other kids. Cool kid!!!

Unfortunately I neglected to haul the charity gifts we had picked up for the occasion. The kids handle the disappointment well though. We decided it would be okay to just take the toys to toy mountain next time we were at a mall. I did give them some money to put in a stocking that all the firefighters were carrying. It was fun to observe a couple of families approach to the charity aspect of the event. One mother had provided her son with a sock full of change. He seemed to enjoy being able to give to as many firefighters as he could.

The highlight of the parade was Santa of course. Both kids seem to really get the idea this year. Monkey is full of questions about the whole concept. I'm trying to create a mystical feel for him and the girl. Monkey decided that Santa had brought his real sleigh with him and put it on the float. He was a little disappointed that the reindeer weren't there but thankfully a young girl (of about 8 years) had already filled him in on the fact that they were home napping to get ready for Christmas eve. Aaah the falsehoods we tell our children. For some odd reason I can live with this one.

We filled our home with different renditions of traditional and not so traditional Christmas music. We have a limited selection of Christmas music. Here is the list of titles we own on CD:

»Barenaked Ladies. Barenaked for the Holidays.
»"A Charlie Brown Christmas" featuring the famous PEANUTS characters. Original sound track Vince Guaraldi.
»Bruce Cockburn. Christmas.
»The Edge of Christmas. (compilation including Pretenders Pat Benatar, Queen, Kate Bush, Pogues, Ramones)
»David Francey. Carols for a Christmas Eve.
»How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
»Loreena McKennitt. To Drive the Cold Winter Away.
»Sarah McLachlan. Wintersong
»The Promise of Ages : a Christmas Collection. Andrew Parrott, Taverner Consort & Choir.

David Francey, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Cockburn get the most air time in our home. The kids tend to favour tunes like jingle bells. Jingle Bells can be an annoying little tune when you hear your children repetitively singing it.

We enjoyed listening, singing, dancing and rocking to the music. It definitely put us in the Christmas mood. Though I think we need to invest in acquiring a broader selection of tunes.

Letter to Santa

We worked on letters to Santa tonight. They started by decorating a card. My bug who is quite prolific when it comes to crafts, was on card number three by the time I encouraged her to tell me what to write.

Monkey boy on the other hand has become quite thoughtful in his craft design. He even decorated the inside margins. He chose to write his own letter this year. I said the words, he attempted to figure out the spelling and when stuck I gave him the letters. I wrote one word as I needed to speed up the process as the clock was striking 8:15pm.

Both the kids and I are enjoying our Christmas countdown though I am finding it hard to work in activities during the short period of time we have in the evenings. Oh well, it gives our evenings a little more focus and before you know it we are off to bed.


Today's event was to buy a Christmas gift that we could donate to a child in need.

I want to instill in my children a sense of responsibility, respect and understanding towards the needs of others. I've explained to them that we share and give to others because it shows we care. Sometimes I wonder if they are grasping the concept. They are only 5 and 3 years old.

When I presented the event to them tonight, they accepted the mission with gusto. They each began to talk about what they wanted to give. Monkey boy's response was quite interesting. He talked about how it is good to give to people who don't have as much as us. In our conversation he even explained to me that sometimes families had to buy their kids had clothes and food first and didn't have enough money for toys. My young man chatted away about what he wanted to give a child. I was paying attention but also trying to figure out the logistics of getting everything done until a comment of his stopped me in my tracks. Monkey boy asked how we were going to pay for the gift. Before I could explain how it would work, he said, I have money momma. I can use my money from my piggy bank. My heart burst with joy. My boy was willing to forego his own cash for another. A part of me almost said don't worry momma can handle it but I thought no this is a learning opportunity. My curtailed response was that I thought that was a good idea and perhaps we could share the cost of the toy. Fine by him.

We went to the mall and they choose their toys. Monkey boy picked out a miniature transport truck packaged with other cars and my bug chose a playmobil horse with rider. We could have put the items in the toy mountain right at the mall but the kids wanted to give the firefighters the toys during Ottawa's Santa Claus Toy Parade this weekend.

Parenting does have some good moments. It looks like our countdown to Christmas is starting off with a bang.

Advent Calendars 2009

Last year Karen introduced me to an idea for a new family tradition originating from Andrea at A peek inside the fishbowl. Last year I chose not to create an elaborate calendar but focused on finding a unique and/or necessary activity to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas. I had so much fun, see my posts with the tag 25 days to Christmas that I knew I had to delve into this activity again.

This year I decided to create a visual display of my activities by adopting the envelope idea. Initially I wanted to make my own envelopes but in reality I work 35 hours a week, take care of two kids, barely get supper on the table and tend to walk around on a sticky kitchen floor because I just don't have time to dig out the mop. So I compromised. I found some cute little cards at Michael's and decorated the accompanying envelopes. The result was pretty sweet as you can see if you check out Karen's blog. I originally hung the envelopes from our mantle but changed my mind once I found the stockings and realized they looked better on the mantle.

Our activity today was to decorate the house. The kids and I pilfered through the contents of a couple of Rubbermaid containers. We managed to decorate the house with the small collection of items I own. Through this process I've realized that I need to start collecting some quality Christmas decorations.

Watching my children discover items from Christmas past, I was reminded of how special my mom made our Christmases. I remember rifling through the Christmas tins and boxes filled with ornaments, linens and decor items. It always seemed like a mini-treasure chest that held delight, sparkly items and memories. Mom often had a story to tell about where an ornament came from along with a plate of cookies at the ready for us.

Mom not only created a vast world of memories I can draw from but she continues to make Christmas special. Among the few good Christmas items I have is a nativity scene. Mom gave my sis and I the main set and then added onto it for us. It is a nice treasure to share with my kids and forces me to remember the meaning behind Christmas.

Keep posted for more Advent Calendar updates. Hopefully I can find time to post before midnight on a work night (then maybe I could add some pics as well)