Give a Random Hug, Kick Up Your Heels and Jingle Your Bells

Last week was my children’s Christmas concert at school. I absolutely adore watching children sing. It is hands down one of my favorite things in the world.

I have been going to the same school for years now to watch this event. It started when my nieces went to school there and I would go to watch them sing. Two years ago I got to go watch my daughter Iris’s first performance and this year began the tradition with my son, Bency.

I have come to anticipate the hilarity and sweetness of this event.

My daughter’s performance was at 8:30 in the morning. Two hundred 2nd and 3rd graders filled the risers. 400 family members filled the bleachers. The children sang their hearts out, played their instruments and tried their best to get their hand motions in sync. Iris was picked to do the polka this year and her heel kicking had me in stitches! My family and I were high in the bleachers. My 2 year old son sat on my husband’s lap enjoying every minute.

Iris all ready to sing her heart out!

Iris all ready to sing her heart out!

My son Bency’s performance was at 1:30 in the afternoon. Two hundred Kindergarten and 1st graders filled the risers. 400 family members filled the bleachers. The children sang their hearts out. My family was on the very bottom bleacher. My 2 year old son was antsy. He didn’t want to sit and enjoy this performance. He wanted to run free. We tried to contain him but he kicked and whined. In an attempt to not have the gymnasium filled with screams we let him go. He stayed near us for the most part, doing spins and twirls, minding his own business.

Cesar spinning and twirling and doing his own thing during the concert

Cesar spinning and twirling and doing his own thing during the concert

I kept my eyes on Bency who decided to make up his own hand motions to the songs and put a twirl in here and there when the spirit moved him.

Bency at this first Christmas concert

Bency at this first Christmas concert

A group of 1st graders gathered on the gymnasium floor to sing a special song and play the xylophones. Cesar stopped twirling momentarily. He gazed at the performers. Something struck a chord in him because out of nowhere he ran over to one of the 1st grade girls and gave her a hug mid dong on her xylophone.

I immediately ran to retrieve him and felt hot, redness fill my face knowing the whole gymnasium of people just watched me scrape my 2 year old from the embraces of one of the performers.

As I sat there trying to recover from my embarrassment, my son Bency and his class made their way to the gymnasium floor to perform a special song with the accompaniment of bells. The music teacher began playing the piano and cued the kids to begin singing. All the kids began caroling except for Bency who stood up and began walking around and searching wildly for something. Bency lost his jingle bells.

The music teacher noticed, stopped playing the piano and announced, “I have never stopped during a concert before but this is really important.” She then proceeded to find another bell and go give it to Bency.

More redness filled my face thinking about the fact that my child was the first to ever cause a concert to be stopped before.

This was my favorite Christmas concert I have ever attended. This concert took place on December 14, 2012. This was the same day that 20 elementary children were killed in Newtown, CT. I learned a little bit about this right before I left for my daughter’s concert. I learned a little more throughout that day. Today, I know a lot.

I know that I am very blessed I got to see my children sing.

I am blessed that I got to see my 2 year old give someone a random hug for no reason.

I am blessed that Iris kicked up her heels to the polka and that Bency got to jingle his bell.

I am not embarrassed anymore.

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Does Christmas Time Make You Feel Like Crying?

Does Christmas time make you feel like crying?

Iris & Cesar Dec. 2010

Iris & Cesar Dec. 2010

 

Iris Dec. 2006

Iris Dec. 2006

Or make you want to scream?

Iris and Bency Dec. 2007

Iris and Bency Dec. 2007

Does it make you grumpy?

Cesar Dec. 2010

Cesar Dec. 2010

Maybe just a bit overwhelmed?

Iris Dec. 2007

Iris Dec. 2007

Cesar Dec. 2010

Cesar Dec. 2010

 

Iris Dec. 2008

Iris Dec. 2008

Maybe, you’re just feeling a bit blah?

Cesar Dec. 2010

Cesar Dec. 2010

Well, come on dear fellow…

Cesar Dec. 2010

Cesar Dec. 2010

Take some time to think….

Bency Dec. 2007

Bency Dec. 2007

Iris Dec. 2007

Iris Dec. 2007

Sit back and relax a spell…

Cesar Dec. 2011

Cesar Dec. 2011

Anticipate the joy and surprise that Christmas brings…

Iris Dec. 2006

Iris Dec. 2006

Iris Dec. 2006

Iris Dec. 2006

Take time to act silly…

 

Bency & Iris Dec. 2008

Bency & Iris Dec. 2008

Find something that makes you smile…

Bency Dec. 2007

Bency Dec. 2007

Cesar Dec. 2010

Cesar Dec. 2010

 

Iris Dec. 2005

Iris Dec. 2005

And please folks, have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Iris Dec. 2008

Iris Dec. 2008

The Wish Catcher

As I mentioned before, I am a Girl Scout Leader for my daughter’s Brownie troop. This week we wanted to do a Christmas craft. Seeing as we are a new troop and don’t have any money yet it had to be something not only simple that this 7-8 year old age group could do but more importantly not cost a lot of money.

Two weekends ago, I went to an estate sale and bought a huge bag (about 40 unopened rolls) of crochet thread for $1.50. I put my mind to work to somehow utilize this in our Girl Scout craft and this is what I came up with:

The Wish Catcher

The Wish Catcher

After I made one it dawned on me that it resembled a dream catcher so I decided to name this the Wish Catcher.

I turned to my sister who is an amazing poet and asked her come up with poem to include with the ornament. This is what she wrote for me:

Make a special Christmas wish, as you hang me on your tree. I will catch your wish and send it out to the Christmas Wish Fairy. So close your eyes and wish away on Jesus’s Birthday each year and just BELIEVE it will come true sometime in your Happy New Year!

Supplies:

  • Heavy paper or card stock (I used brown paper grocery bag)
  • Glue
  • Crochet thread or any thick string
  • Glitter & sequins optional

Directions:

  • I traced an oatmeal container on my piece of paper for the circle (you will need two for one ornament)
  • Next, I traced a smaller bowl in the middle of each circle
  • Cut out the middle so you are left with the shape of a wreath
  • Line glue around your circle
  • Begin laying your thread in different directions
  • Once this step is complete glue your other circle and place on top to seal this together
  • Decorate with glitter and sequins
  • Punch hole and add string hanger
  • Make your wish

There is Room For One More Christmas Craft

If you are a mom with small children, you may share my plight. It’s Christmas time and every inch of your house is filled with decorations. There is no table top or tree branch that is not filled with something. In order to find the remote control you need a GPS system to alert you as to what Christmas pillow it is under.

Yet, Christmas time is the time for creating. Children are excited and anticipating Christmas projects galore.

This year, I came up with a solution to our lack of space that still allowed us to do projects and fulfill their creative minds.

The creation itself is not innovative. I cut out various Christmas shapes out of construction paper. We had snowmen, stars, Christmas trees and ornaments (circles). The kids decorated these with the supplies of choice (markers, stickers, glitter etc.).

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The part the kids were most excited about though is the fact that I hung them from the ceiling.

It gave their artwork center stage because you clearly cannot miss things dangling above your head.

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This was a win-win for our family. Not a lot of mess, the kids still got to make Christmas projects and I wasn’t banging my head trying to come up with a place to put yet one more craft!

The only one who kind of suffers from the deal is my 6’3’’ husband who has to dodge and maneuver his way through the living room!

Getting Down To Business With Santa

Last week, Santa sent a video message to each of my children courtesy of http://www.magicsanta.ca/homepage.html. The kids were all delighted except for my 5 year old, Bency who was perturbed that Santa stated incorrectly that Bency wanted a construction set and showed a picture of tools when in all actuality Bency wants an Angry Bird game that you physically construct yourself with blocks and shoot down the plastic replicas of angry birds with a sling shot. When Bency heard Santa’s mistake, he literally shook his fist at the computer and said, “Oh Santa, you got it wrong” in a gruff, exasperated voice.

On Saturday, I announced to the kids that we were going to see Santa in person. My 2 year old, Cesar had no idea what was going on but is always excited to leave the house. Bency grabbed his Christmas list and my 7 year old, Iris came out with a whole armful of things.

Iris clearly looked like she was ready for a business meeting rather than a friendly visit. She had a bag with a present she made for Santa, the letter she wrote to Santa asking for a ride in his sleigh Christmas Eve night (check out the post here for the full letter) and 5 toy catalogs that had everything she wanted, circled in red pen.

We arrived at the local museum that Santa and Mrs. Claus were visiting.

Cesar immediately ran over to Mrs. Claus, snuggled in and never left her lap during our whole visit.

Cesar sitting on Mrs. Claus's lap

Cesar sitting on Mrs. Claus’s lap

Bency immediately walked over to Santa and set the record straight no less than 5 times that it was the Angry Bird game he actually wanted and not a construction set. The way Bency kept repeating himself, it appeared he was looking for an apology from Santa who obviously had no clue about his mix up.

Bency going over his wish list with Santa

Bency going over his wish list with Santa

Next up was Iris. She was ready to get down to business.

She handed him his present.

Iris handing her present to Santa

Iris handing her present to Santa

Next, she brought out her letter pleading her case for the Christmas Eve sleigh ride. Santa started reading it and after a brief moment he let out the loudest laugh or “Ho-ho-ho” and belted out, “Oh no, you can’t go on my sleigh, there’s no room for you with all the presents.” Mrs. Claus, unable to hide her surprise started rumbling with laughter too and said, “Oh no honey, I can’t even go on the sleigh with Santa either. There’s just no room.”

Everyone laughing when Iris shows Santa her letter!

Everyone laughing when Iris shows Santa her letter!

Iris was slightly knocked down a peg but handed over her catalogs and started pointing out the things she had circled. A few of the choices Iris had indicated, Santa shook his head to and said those were awfully messy looking. The elf nearby, shook her head and said, “My, that does look messy.”

Everyone looking at the catalogs Iris brought and confirming everything is too messy!

Everyone looking at the catalogs Iris brought and confirming everything is too messy!

After the kids said their good byes to the Claus’s we went on to the next room with a table filled with treats. Each kid picked out a cookie and was sitting eating when Mrs. Claus popped on back by us. No other children had come to visit yet so she wanted to get a cookie as well and talk to my kids a bit more.

The spread of treats for all the kids

The spread of treats for all the kids

Apparently, Iris had been holding out on Santa with one more wish. Perhaps, she felt she would be shot down after the head shakes to the messy things and denial on the sleigh ride. For whatever reason, she ran over to Mrs. Claus and said, “Can you please tell Santa that I would like a puppy for Christmas?”

Mrs. Claus’s eyes got wide and said, “Oh Iris, I can certainly tell him but you know a puppy also has to be on your parent’s wish lists as well.”

Iris said “thank you” in a melancholy voice knowing full well a puppy was not on her parent’s wish lists.

All in all, it was a good visit with Santa. Cesar got plenty of snuggles and hugs. Bency set Santa straight on his wish list and Iris…well, Iris’s business meeting didn’t go as planned but she’s a determined young girl and I’m sure she’s only fueled more to go back to the drawing board for next year!

All of the kids posing with Santa and Mrs. Claus

All of the kids posing with Santa and Mrs. Claus

 

A Children’s Christmas Play

This year I became a Girl Scout Leader for my 2nd grade daughter’s Brownie Troop. It’s been a lot of fun! Our last meeting was probably the best one yet! I wrote a Christmas play for the girls to perform! It was not award winning material but it contained a good message. It was easy enough for this age group and it was short enough that we were able to run through it 3 times during our hour long meeting to give each girl a chance to play different parts. Each girl was also asked to bring in some of their used toys to donate to a local thrift store that uses its proceeds to help families in need. I felt this would really give the girls ownership in helping others if they were giving up something that was theirs!

My daughter playing the part of Narrator

My daughter playing the part of Narrator

 

The Christmas Spirit

 

(A family of four is putting decorations on their tree and smiling and laughing while two sisters across town are huddled over a small fire with sad looks on their faces and rubbing their hands and bodies trying to stay warm.)

Narrator: Its Christmas Eve night. There is a light snow falling outside. A family is inside their warm house busy decorating their Christmas tree and having fun.

Father:  Children, help me hang the last of the decorations on the tree and then you can open the presents that me and your mother bought you!

Mother: After we open presents we can eat the dinner that I cooked! I made turkey, potatoes and cherry pie!

Narrator: The children hang the last of the decorations and sit down as their Mother and Father hand them their presents and they begin to open them.

Girl 1: Oh, Mommy and Daddy! I love my new doll and thank you for the new hat and mittens!

Girl 2: Look at this new game! I’ve always wanted this! I really like my new scarf too! Thank you so much Mommy and Daddy!

Father: You are very welcome children! We love you very much and hope you have a wonderful year!

Mother: Dinner will be ready in 20 minutes. You can play with your new toys until then.

Girl 1: Can we go for a walk outside and wear our new hat and scarf until dinner is ready?

Father: Sure, just be back in 20 minutes.

Narrator: The girls go for a walk outside and not far from their house they meet two little girls who are huddled over a small fire on the street. They look sad, hungry and cold.

Girl 2: Hi! Merry Christmas! We are just out for a walk until our dinner is ready. What are you doing?

Girl 3: Hi! Merry Christmas to you too! Our parents had to work tonight and we are just sitting here trying to keep warm.

Girl 4: Our parents left us some bread for supper and they gave us each a beautiful rock for our Christmas present that they found down by the river.

Narrator: The girls who had just come from their nice, warm house looked surprised. They began whispering into each other’s ears.

Girl 1: My mother is making a big dinner. Would you come join us?

Girl 3: That is really nice of you. We would love to!

Narrator: The four girls all hold hands and walk back to the nice warm house. They can smell the turkey and cherry pie as they walk in the house.

Girl 2: Mom! Dad! We’re back! We made some new friends. Their parents are working so we invited them to come have dinner with us!

Mother: Hi girls! That is wonderful! I’m so glad you can join us!

Father: Merry Christmas girls! Pull up a chair and let’s sit down and enjoy this delicious dinner!

Girl 1: Wait! We need to do something first!

Narrator: Both girls run over to their presents and give some to each of their new friends.

Girl 2: We received so many nice gifts and we want you to have some of them.

Girl 4: Thank you so much! This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us!

Girl 3: This is the best Christmas ever!

Narrator: It was the best Christmas for everyone. They all made new friends. They all truly felt the Christmas spirit glowing inside of them.

Everyone: Merry Christmas!!

(everyone takes a bow)

Me Yoga Girl, You Gym Teacher

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, is a mover and a shaker. She is full of ideas, has a kind heart, is always busy and is constantly trying to change the world.

Yesterday, Iris asked me for several small gift bags.

Apparently, Iris is in full Christmas Spirit mode because she had created gifts for all of her teachers. I asked her if she perhaps thought it was a little early for Christmas present giving but she disagreed. It clearly is never too early to start doling out Christmas cheer according to her.

I had to hide my chuckles when I saw what she came up with.

Personalized cards in the shape of a Christmas tree with a special message on back and each teacher received some of her Halloween candy.

Iris’s homemade Christmas cards

 

The messages on the back of the cards were the hit of my day:

To: (Mrs. Art Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching me about lots of art paintings! My favorite thing you teached us is to make portfolios. Did you know the elephant is kind of simple? From Art Girl, Iris

To: (Mrs. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching us ALMOST everything! I really like stuff you teach us! From, Gym Girl Iris

To: (Mrs. Librarian)

Merry Christmas! Did you know I love books? Thank you for letting us check out books! From your book lover, Iris

To: (Mr. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! I really like what you teach us in P.E. or gym! Do you know my favorite thing in gym? Yoga!! From Yoga Girl, Iris

 

Iris said she still has more teachers to give to so she will be working on more throughout the week! I can’t wait what other monikers she gives herself!!