Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 7

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 7

Tonight we went to the annual Geneva Christmas Walk.

It was SO COLD!

But this event only comes one night a year…and it is tradition!

[I’m usually not a fan of doing anything purely for the sake of tradition – but I suppose the Christmas season is an exception.]

So we bundled up the kids….

[And I mean bundled. Jo could barely move under all the layers.]

…and we headed to downtown Geneva to do the Christmas Walk thing – which is really just an excuse for most people to shop at the local shops and eat at the local restaurants. We don’t do any shopping though. We wade through the sea of people to countdown to the lighting of the big tree in front of city hall and we stand in unbelievably long lines for half an ounce of melted chocolate and a piece of freshly pulled candy cane.

For those three small things, it took one hour and forty five minutes.

😱

We must be insane. This is what Christmas does to us.

But it was cool to watch them make candy canes in the Graham’s shop window and to eat them just after they were made – still warm!

And there were carolers on the street corners, and a living nativity, and Christmas lights on the trees, and Christmas music being blasted in the streets… all good Christmas cheer type of stuff that I love.

Last year, we waited forever to take the kids to see Santa, but after a potty emergency and all of us losing feeling in our faces and all of our digits, we decided to skip Santa this year and hightail it outta there! [We literally ran most of the way back to the car.]

I think next year we’re going to skip it unless it’s above 20Β°…maybe 30Β°.

Brrrr…I’m going to go sit by the fire and try to thaw…

πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 6

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 6

Tonight we took the kids ice skating.

Well, only the older two skated, but JoElle and I had fun watching and hanging out in the warming shelter. πŸ‘πŸ»

This is another one of our annual traditions and gets more enjoyable each year as the kids get older. However, it was really cold tonight and the kids can barely stand on their skates, let alone actually skate. So we only lasted about thirty minutes. But we still made fun memories.

That’s what it’s all about, right?

Afterwards, we always go to Noodles and Co to get warm cheesy noodles. [It’s the only way to bribe Brett into skating the kids around the whole time – way to take one for the team, babe!]

Good times!

β›Έ β›Έ β›Έ

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 3

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 3

Today the kids and I went to Brett’s store to decorate his office and the back room for the holidays. It wasn’t exactly easy to make the place look festive, with big racks of clothes and employee lockers as a backdrop, but we did our best.

The kids put ornaments on two small trees and we strung a few strands of lights and hung a big wreath.

The real excitement was just visiting daddy at work. The kids were so excited, they woke up talking about it and cried when we had to leave. [And we actually visit his work pretty frequently.]

This was the first time JoElle has been to his store since she started walking. She LOVED exploring and just tottered back and forth down the hallway the whole time.

β™₯️ β™₯️ β™₯️

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 2

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 2

Today, the kids and I made Danish woven heart ornaments to send to their cousins and friends with their Christmas cards.

This past summer, I read a wonderful book called The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.

[By the end of this short book, I had fallen in love with Scandinavian culture.]

In the book, I found this handy guide for making paper woven hearts, which is a Christmas tradition in Denmark:

I knew the moment I read about this simple and beautiful Danish tradition, that we would have to make them as one of our 25 Days of Christmas Activities.

They were tough for my 2 and 4-year-olds to do alone, but they did surprisingly well once they learned the pattern.

We made a bunch.

I’m sure they don’t look as good as the ones in Denmark, but I’m proud of our first attempt.

Then, to keep with the Danish theme, we baked Danish butter cookies to take to Brett’s work tomorrow – but between Brett and the kids, they won’t make it to tomorrow.

Karis

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 1

Carlson Countdown to Christmas 2018: Dec 1

Our annual December tradition of 25 Days of Christmas Activities began today.

[We usually put up the tree and decorate on the first, but I worked in the morning and Brett will be working until midnight, so we did our decorating yesterday.]

To kick things off, the kids and I created a countdown to Christmas paper chain. It’s hanging on our chalkboard and currently reaches the floor. Each day we will take a link off the chain so the kids can get a visual of how many days left until Christmas.

[This is super handy because I have to convince them every morning that it’s not Christmas yet.]

We also made snowmen ornaments for the tree. [They were leftover crafts from last year.]

The kids watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and we brought out our collection of Christmas books and read a lot of beloved holiday stories that we haven’t seen in a year.

And now I’m addressing our Christmas cards.

I debated whether I should send Christmas cards this year, because of going “green” and all that, but it is a tradition that I love.

At least they aren’t printed on photo paper so they can be recycled… πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Happy December, ya’ll!!!

πŸŽ„ πŸŽ„ πŸŽ„

Karis

Our Gratitude Tree

Our Gratitude Tree

I love November. I love the fall. I love the cool weather. I love the leaves. I love Thanksgiving.

Of course, I think we should be grateful all year, and I think it’s about a lot more than just saying something your thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner. Gratitude is really a lifestyle that results in contentment and generosity and fulfillment. At least, that’s what it’s done for me.

My chalkboard now says “Let our lives be full of thanks and giving,” which has become the theme for our entire year as we focused on what we have rather than what we don’t have and tried to give more rather than get more.

It’s been transformative.

I’m always trying to teach my kids the importance of gratitude, and this month we began what I hope will be an annual November tradition: the gratitude tree.

The kids and I talk about things we are grateful for each morning over breakfast and I write them all down and cut them out of construction paper and we attach them to the tree. Our table sits right next to this sliding door – which happened to be the only free space we had for the tree – and the kids have loved watching the tree accumulate leaves.

Each day I pick a theme to help them think of things. We started with people we are grateful for, then foods, then things we own, then things outside, etc. It’s been a really fun exercise and they are very thoughtful about their choices.

Today we talked about places we are thankful that we get to visit. My son said “visiting daddy at work” and “the beach” and my daughter said “Ikea” πŸ˜‚ and “going to the movies with Auntie Paula.”

I think I am going to make these gratitude talks a permanent addition to our mornings – just without the leaves. We are running out of room on our tree already!

🍁 🍁 🍁

Karis

Simple Pleasures: Playing in the Snow

Simple Pleasures: Playing in the Snow

My two older kids were up at 6:30am screaming excitedly about the snow on the ground and convinced it was Christmas morning no matter how many times I told them that it wasn’t. After they hunted for their Christmas gifts and found none, they were pulling on their snow pants and snow boots and begging me to HURRY, as if the snow might melt in the next two minutes. I helped them with some zippers and scarves and also lent them each one of my gloves because they couldn’t find any and then let them loose in the backyard.

It wasn’t even 7am yet.

[Good ol’ Daylight Savings.]

And of course, it wasn’t long before they were calling for me to help them build a snowman. So I pulled boots on [over my sweatpants] and put on a coat and used a pair of thick socks for gloves [gotta do what you gotta do, you know] and went outside to play in the snow.

Being a parent is so much fun because it gives you full permission to embrace your inner child and get excited about the things you used to love as a kid, like trick-or-treating, raking big piles of leaves to jump in, driving to see the Christmas lights, and playing in the snow.

Sometime between age 16 and having kids of my own I started hating the snow. It was cold. It was slippery. It cause traffic and delays and blah blah blah.

Man, what the heck was I thinking?!

Snow is awesome!

We built a snowman. The snow was perfect for packing and we did it the old-fashioned way: by rolling snowballs around the yard [occasionally rebuilding them when Daisy destroyed them] until they were the right size [or we got sick of restarting because of Daisy – which is why they are so small].

We threw snowballs at Daisy. We caught snowflakes on our tongues. The kids made snow angels, but I was wearing sweatpants so I wasn’t about to lie down in the snow [I haven’t embraced my inner child quite to that extent yet]. When we finally came inside, the kids had hot chocolate before we even had breakfast.

It was a special morning. The first snowfall of the season.

Reminded me of how much I used to love the snow and…honestly, I think it’s growing on me again.

❄️ ❄️ ❄️

Karis