In light of the recent terrible events we are extra attentive to our little one. Kids are sensitive to the world around them and as much as I'm trying to guard her from the news I know she has picked up on somethings. We had to speak of evils and what do if she should see "a non-police man with a gun," just lots of conversations we weren't ready for or even wanted to discuss. The event has made us look a little more at what a gift our child is. I didn't think we could possibly love her anymore then we do, but I think sometimes as a parent we take everything for granted. For every bath-time and repetitive story reading there's another parent out there missing out on such things or wishing and wanting for their little soul to come into their lives. So hug your little one a little more and try to make the most out of the moments we are so lucky to have.
Now down to business, SORRY! It's been far too long between posts, but we've been busy busy making the most of the Holiday Season.
Photo Courtesy of Maximo Photography
This year it's been us taking advantage of everything there is near us. We live in San Diego so we have plenty all year round, but I'm sure you can find enough free, cheap or worth the price things to get into!
If you live in our neck of the woods, check out San Diego Family Magazine, lots of listings of what's going on.
We must admit it's pretty awesome living near a ton of major theme parks. Thanks to radio and news stations there always seems a chance to win a few tickets here and there. The biggest key is have a Facebook and follow each, they normally do additional giveaways on there if you can't always be near a television or radio with your phone in hand.
We got lucky this year and my sister also won tickets to SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration (lasts until Jan. 5th) so we all got to go as a family. It was raining and cold, but nothing a good jacket and some rain boots couldn't help! The whole night was tons of fun, lots of Christmas decor and characters at every turn. The penguins and Wild Arctic just made us feel that much more in the winter spirit. If you are close to one I really recommend trying, if you can swing it in your budget check into their Fun Card program, it's a price of 1 day but covers a year minus a few of their busiest days. They also are offering a deal on a 2 year membership, but I really don't know the details.
One of the greatest things has to be "Holidays at Disneyland!" It lasts until Jan. 6th. Last year was not only my kid's first time seeing the park during the Holidays, but mine as well. Totally AMAZING! I must admit this year with Cars Land now open at California Adventure it's even better! But, my absolute favorite has to be the "Nightmare Before Christmas" take over of the Haunted Mansion. As you see from my shirt, I'm kind of a geek for that stuff.
The best of this season has to be another "Thanks to Groupon!" Every year they seem to offer discounted tickets to The Nutcracker Ballet and this year Riley was finally old enough to be able to attend. It was fantastic! We all got to dress up and head out to the Theatre and enjoy a show. As you see Riley even got to meet a few Ballerinas Since that night it's been non-stop "Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker" music and a little dancer all over my house. I love it! I'm all about supporting her love of classical music and dance.
One of the biggies in this town is "December Nights" in Balboa Park, if you follow our Facebook page you may have seen a link for it. It's lots of fun but getting more an more crowded as the years go by, so the park has been trying to offer shuttles to help. But, to be honest we skipped it! I know the pics lead you to believe we didn't but we totally did. But, we couldn't be more fortunate to be part of a awesome Church that happened to have a Christmas event in Balboa Park, right before the "December Nights."
It was a great night of hot coco, gingerbread men Christmas decor, a Nativity Set, and Riley preforming her heart out to "Jingle Bells," and a little time with Santa. Up until this year I haven't thought twice about the whole Santa thing. I don't mean the telling of him, I mean the debate that Christmas is for Christ and has no room for Santa. Honestly, I never even knew this was a train of thought but as I read more and more of other people's parenting philosophies there are some things that take me by surprise. If you feel this way and it works for you, great, but it's not for us. I believe in letting Santa be. in my mind he s kind of a symbol of childhood. A symbol all about embodying the giving and loving spirit with a little bit of hope an magic, plus he was a real man once upon a time.
Art Project from her Sunday School
It's all about balance and letting the focus fall on the history and explaining why we celebrate it. Our Riley doesn't run around the house saying "I can't wait till I GET presents!!" But, she actually runs around the house saying, "IT'S ALMOST JESUS' BIRTHDAY!!!" She gets it! Also it may help that we put more emphasis on the giving, less on the receiving.
What we've been doing to make it more about the giving is for the past few days it's been a crazy mess of baking and lot's of hammered candy canes! Yesterday, we finally were able to package up all our goodies and drop them by some of our awesome neighbors, friends and family. The best part is that people don't expect anything from us and though it's not much everyone was so gracious and Riley just beams after every delivery.
One of our Christmas traditions is a gingerbread making night. Lots of fun, if you aren't already doing so, start tonight. Riley is becoming a pro at this, less and less messy as the years are going by. It's the fun of letting your kid do some more in the kitchen and as a family getting creative. It's great for kids to learn how to use tools and it works for some bonding time. The awesome thing about this year is we got to use these cookies for her class' cookie exchange, talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
Just in case you were looking for something a little less mess and extremely easy, but will occupy hands, get out your white coffee filters and scissors. Cutest snowflakes, hands down! Let the little ones go to town. We folded them down to a nice triangle and started with the cutting. My kiddo felt her's needed some color so I let her. They look great in the windows and were fun to make. I actually enjoyed doing and looking at these way more then the old paper way. It's also easier on little hands because it's thinner and easier to cut then paper.
Last but not least. this year we lost a loved one and I wanted to do something a little special just to keep the memory of him. If you remember last year I made a few beach themed ornaments, well this was kind of similar. For this funeral we traveled to Chicago, my husband's hometown and where most of his family still is. Well it was that perfect time of year in the Midwest, when it was just starting to turn all the colors of fall. During one of the days with the family my husband grabbed a branch so my daughter could show her class all the beautiful leaves once we got back home. We keep them and they dried so nicely. Well I took a trip to the craft store, got me a clear plastic ornament and some white paint pens. I stumbled upon this quote and saved it before I knew what/or exactly how I was going to do something, "Because Someone we Love is in Heaven there's a little bit of Heaven in our Home." It was too perfect, so once I filled the ornament carefully with some of the leaves I wrote the quote on one side with a heart and the other side with "Grandpa Archie" and his birth year and parting year. I hope you didn't lose anyone this year, but if you did this maybe a great idea to hold them close. Just fill it with something special to that person or maybe some dried flower petals from the service, even pictures. Do what feels right in your heart.
Just remember this is,
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time." - Laura Ingalls Wilder
On that note, Merry Christmas everyone! An don't forget to take advantage of any neighborhood light displays let your inner child run free. ;)