Well hey there kids.  If you’re popping over from Jen’s place, welcome!  Welcome!  I’m honored to be taking part in the 3rd annual Holiday Homes Tour.  This might be a bit different.  You won’t see much of my actual decorating featured here.  But I hope you’ll enjoy this look into our home.

How’s your holiday going so far?  Yes, I just define everything from Thanksgiving through New Years as “holiday”.   Because really, if you’re not celebrating at that moment, you’re probably planning a celebration, prepping for an impending celebration, or cleaning up from a celebration.  So yeah.  How’s your holiday?

Oh please.  Let’s get real here people.  I’m just a fanatic for this time of year.  I love winter.  (Um, caveat – I love snow.  I do not love blistering cold, bone chilling wind, and no snow.  That is not winter.  It’s the arctic.)  I also love all the festivities.  Hey.  Any excuse to throw a party.  I love the twinkly lights.  The trip to get the trees.  I love trying new things, and I definitely love tradition.

I always remember Christmas being a big deal at our house.  We’re not of the particularly religious vein.  It was more the smells, the sounds, and the time spent with family and friends.  For a number of years I’d spend the night before Christmas Eve, along with one of my cousins, at my Grandma’s house helping her get ready for the big family Christmas on Christmas Eve.  Baking cookies, decorating her little tree, wrapping presents.  And Christmas morning?  Yeowza.  Let’s just say Santa was always VERY good to us.

Back to the here and now.  We’ve got two great rugrats ’round these parts (known as The Boy and The Girl.  Where’s my Pulitzer for creativity?).  I wanted to be able to pass on my joy of this season to them somehow.  They’re kids.  They’re easily excitable.  But I didn’t want it to be JUST about the ending – Santa and what fabulous gift he’d bring this year.

And so I decided to work with the idea of an advent calendar.  We had a felt advent calendar for the longest time.  A big blue wall hanging with little pockets and little felt pieces that went in each pocket.  We also had the usual store bought themed calendars with bits of chocolate for a few years.  And during high school and on into college, mom would wrap up 25 little gifts, toss them all in a gift bag.  Gum, jewelry, hand warmers (I went to school in da UP, eh), candy, bookmarks.  All sorts of goodies.  And can I tell you?  My mom is so awesome she even made advent bags for my roommates when I lived in the dorm.  And the first year I lived in a quad.  4 girls.  FOUR!  Yes, it’s an affliction that runs in the family apparently.

Any who.  Here comes the genius idea… Combine the treasured advent calendar with activities instead of goodies!  It wasn’t hard for me to come up with 25 daily “events” to celebrate.  Some of them are big.  Some small.  This will be our second year of the advent adventure and I’d sure love to share a bit of it with you.

The Boy opening the door for the day.  It’s amazing what motivation this is to get a four year old out of bed in the morning.  Sometimes a bit too early…

I’ve aimed for a wide mix of activities this year.  As the Boy grows, I want this to be partly personal favorite things about the season.  The Boy is a huge Polar Express fan.  He’s just a huge train fan in general.  And living in the Hills with the 1880 Train, it’s no surprise he loves Polar.

Hot cocoa after work and daycare?  Yes please!

Of course we have a picnic under the Christmas tree.  Doesn’t everyone?

I also want to teach them about the true spirit of the season.  Besides Toys for Tots, we’re also giving to the Food Bank, and cleaning out old toys to take to the Salvation Army.

Look at that cheesy grin.  So proud.

I also aim to knock off a few holiday tasks and get the kids involved.

Mmm!  Mint chocolate chip cookies ready to be baked!  The Boy picked out the chips – he’s a fan of all things mint right now.  We also made gifts for the Grandparents.  And sent homemade holiday cards to some of our favorite people (don’t worry – you’re getting the regular photo card too).

Big thanks to Grandma for spearheading the card making.  She’s well supplied for such things.

And of course, I want to pass on a few traditions from my childhood.

This will be tonight!  I can’t wait.  I know the house will smell wonderful with the bread baking.  And I want to see how the Boy feels about kneading the dough this year.  Bit too sticky for him last year.

I’m pretty sure this one is the Boys favorite.  He keeps asking if it’ll be today…this is the local version of Polar Express.  A ride on the 1800 Train, about a45 minute ride out of town to “The North Pole”.  Santa gets on the train and gives every kid a jingle bell and candy cane.  Everyone gets cookies and hot chocolate.  The joy and wonder on all those little faces is incredible.  We’re also lucky that our town is the home of the South Dakota Railroad Museum.  For Christmas they decorate with dozens of trees and the local hobby railroad club sets up hobby trains to run around the trees.  It’s a train addicted little boys dream come true.

So that’s a quick peek into our holiday season.  I hope you and yours are staying warm, sipping hot cocoa, and enjoying the wonderful company of friends and family.


(If you’re looking for more of my decorating, you can find last year’s post here.  It’s about the same.)