Christmas Countdown- Day 17,18 & 19

Due to a couple of children who are acting a little entitled and whiny lately, I have stopped making cards and putting them up on the board.  By the time we would get done discussing what was written on the card… and listening to their better ideas, or how that sounded boring, or that one of them didn’t want to do it… I didn’t want to do the activity at all!!  After a very frustrating day this week, and many discussions of “why” we do these daily activities and how their attitudes are making it hard to continue on… And I had a  “check myself moment” of “why” I’m doing this. Finally, we decided to continue with the activities, but they will not know ahead of time.

I could keep making the cards, but it would totally be just for the sake of this blog… and I can’t even find time to blog, so I’m saving myself time by not making them anymore. I’m sure you all understand.

So here it goes…

Day 17:

Today we first took the kids out to dinner at Old Town Pizza.  It’s pretty yummy, has a fun old atmosphere and it was close to where we were going next.


Next was to the Albuquerque Botanic Garden for The River of Lights display.  If we weren’t completely in the Christmas Spirit yet, we are now.  It was AMAZING!!  By far the best Christmas lights display I have ever seen.  And I’ve been to Disney World at Christmas, if that says anything.


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We had been told by many locals to make sure and do it, and I’m so glad we did.  It was cold, even with hot cocoa in hand. But that didn’t stop us from soaking up every beautiful display.

Day 18:

Tonight we did one of the things the kids have been asking over and over again if we were going to do…  A picnic by the tree!!



Yes, Reese isn’t wearing pants… seems to be her norm lately.  Usually she’s got a dress up skirt on instead. Silly girl!

Day 19:

And tonight was another special dinner… Dining by candlelight!  It’s the simple things that make the everyday things seem special.  We’re hoping to add more of these in during the winter.

This particular day was the day that the #$%& really hit the fan with the kids attitudes.  And after many discussions with the kids from me and Drew, and me just feeling completely defeated… It was a nice way to come back together as a family and enjoy each other at the end of the day.



Hoping to get the rest of our days caught up this afternoon!!

Happy last Saturday before Christmas!!




Christmas Countdown- Day 16

Day 16:



The Santa Claus movies, staring Tim Allen, are one of Drew’s and my favorite Christmas movie series!!  We watch them every year, usually periodically through the month.  But this year we thought we’d get it done in one day. 🙂  Then when you add in a Bronco game in the middle of it… it makes for way too much TV in one day!!  Especially for this family!  However, it was a great, relaxing, pajama day for all of us.  Reese really didn’t seem like she was into them until the last one.  She was intrigued with Jack Frost.  I think Garner and Baylee will be asking to watch them again before Christmas.  I didn’t take pics of us lying around, so this is all you get. 🙂



I was hoping to include Day 17 in this post too, but I am waiting for pictures from my hubby’s phone.   Hopefully tonight!!

I can’t believe that we are one week away already!!!  Seems to have gone by way too fast!

When we’re through all of our activities this month, I will create a printable list of what we did.  So you can print, save or pin it for next year if you want.



Christmas Countdown- Day 14 & 15

Day 14:

December 14, 2012, a day that most of this country will never forget.  My stomach was just in knots over the news of the CT school shooting.  I’ve been trying to find the words to explain my feelings about this, and I still just can’t seem to put them together.  Maybe at some point in the future.  Most importantly though, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this tragedy.

I almost felt guilty about continuing on with our plan for the evening, but I’m so glad we did.

Garner and Baylee got to go to a movie night at their school, Reese went to a friends house for a little bit, and Drew and I got to go out to dinner… just the 2 of us.  This was my 2nd Day of Christmas gift to Drew.  It was a good night for all of us.  And a big thank you to my friend Shari for keeping Reese for me, so we could go.  And since we weren’t all together, I didn’t get any pics of the evening.

It was an emotional day, but it ended on a good note for us.  And it’s possible my kids may have gotten several more hugs and kisses than they usually do.

Day 15:

No card for today…

We totally scratched the plan for this day… after such an emotional day on Friday, I just wanted a low key day at home with my husband and children.  So that’s exactly what we did.  We worked a puzzle together, hung out and played, I made more toffee, and then we finished the evening with a couple of crafts.  It was exactly what we all needed!!  Here’s a few pics from our day.




After the kids went to bed, Drew and I got caught up on some shows on the DVR while I got some wrapping done.  Then we hid penguins in the tree for the kids to find in the morning.


Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend!!



Christmas Countdown- Day 10, 11, 12 & 13

Well, this is what happened last year… I got behind a couple of days, then that became more and more!  I am determined to not be catching up on our December Daily Activities in January!!  The compromise to get caught up though, is to make it short and sweet.  And then hopefully I can spend a little more time on the coming days.

I’m sure everyone understands… we’re all in the same boat right now… the crazy busy that is December!

So, here it goes!

Day 10:


It’s kind of hard to read… it says, “Before Bed Books & Snacks by the Tree”

And that’s exactly what we did.  Christmas Oreo cookies and each kiddo picked out a Christmas Book to read.


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Day 11:



Game night is always fun.  We don’t do it as often as we would like, but hopefully that will start to change soon.  As they get older, it seems to be  a lot more enjoyable.  Reese even was able to get in on this particular game.





Day 12:



All the treats have been made for a while, so it was time to deliver them to the neighbors.  We didn’t forget the dogs either… we treated them with dipped dog bones from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.



Day 13: (Finally!!)



Tonight was Baylee’s Christmas Play at school, The Incredible Reindeer.  We were impressed that she actually wanted to audition for a speaking part.  And we were all very excited when she was chosen for the part of Elf #3.  She worked hard learning her lines at home, and also spent extra hours a school for play practice.  And tonight all the hard work paid off.  It was super cute, and Baylee did great!!  Turns out, she’s not as shy as I once thought she was.


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After the play, we celebrated at home with ice cream!!



So, that is the short version of our past few days!! Sitting down to do this blog post is the most I’ve stopped and sat down the past 4 days.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend… this Mama/wife needs some down time. Saying I’m tired would be an understatement.

I started a 12 Days of Christmas for my hubby today too, I’m really excited about it.  Hopefully he’s enjoys it!

Until the next time…




Christmas Countdown-Day 9

Yesterday was another very full day!!  I cannot wait for things to slow down a little.  I always try so hard to get as much as I can done before December.  This year even more, and I still feel like I haven’t stopped for weeks now!

Day 9:

P1120015We got tickets for us all to go see the Nutcracker Ballet at the historic Kimo Theater in downtown Albuquerque.  We were all really excited!!  It was the first time seeing it for Drew, Garner and Reese.  But, before we could go, we had gingerbread houses to make! 😉  Reese and I will make her’s one day this week while the other two are at school.


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P1120009Before we left for the ballet, I read the story of The Nutcracker to the kids.  So they would have a fresh idea of what the story was.  It’s a pretty awesome thing, watching a story and understanding it, when there are no words spoken.  The kids loved it!!  Reese especially!!  She was sitting so close to the edge of her seat, she fell off a couple of times!  This was a local performance, and it was beautiful.  I do hope that I can someday take them to one performed by a professional ballet company someday.  In the Spring they will be performing The Wizard of Oz.  We all hope to go see that one too!




And just for fun… Have you ever laid under your tree and looked up at all the lights glowing in the branches?? If not, you should!!  It’s awesome!!


This is what ours looks like this year…



It’s the smallest things that are the most fun!!

Today’s activity, is much lower key!!  I will update again tonight!





December Countdown- Day 6, 7 and 8

Ok, so I’m behind… This happened last year too.  I ended up finishing my December Daily posts in January!!  I am determined to not do that this year!!!  And just for the sake of catching up, I am including the last three days in one post! Here is goes…

Day 6:


This was one of those days where I had a plan but couldn’t find what I needed to pull it off.  And with my hubby out of town, I needed to find something that didn’t require going to the store.  So we had another movie night watching the original Frosty the Snowman movie.  But what better way to start than to make paper snowflakes.

I’ve always admired all of the snowflakes I see elsewhere, and wondered how in the world do they make those.  So after a little internet searching, I found some print outs to help us out.  There are some pretty amazing patterns out there, but we stuck with the easy ones for Garner and Baylee to do.  Reese just watched and wanted me to make her one.  Someday I will have to let her try and use scissors… just not yet!

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Day 7:


Yesterday we worked on getting their little treat bags for their friends at school ready.  We’ll take them on Monday, instead of waiting until the last day before Christmas break begins.  I could say it’s because we don’t want to miss anyone who may start their vacation early, but really… it’s just one more thing done and out the house!!

I got the bags at Big Lots, and then we filled them with mini candy canes, Hershey Kisses, and some of my homemade dipped pretzels.  I make them with almond bark instead of white chocolate… so much better!!

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Reese and I had a busy day before they came home from school… I got my Christmas cards all done and mailed and we did a little shopping.  Reese was having fun trying on the hats!

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Day 8:


Today was the day we were going to make gingerbread houses!!  The kids were overly excited.  I was too!!  I like to make them kind of early, so we can use them for decoration.  It’s been a tradition since Baylee was 3, so this is year 5.  We were ready to start getting things out to make them when we realized that I didn’t buy the pre-assembled ones!!! AHHH!!  So then we weren’t making gingerbread houses today.  Everyone was really dissapointed. It takes too long for them to set up and dry before you can decorate them.  And I had plans this evening, so there just wasn’t enough time.

So we did other things to fill our day…

1.  They played with the Gingerbread Playdough we made the other day.

2. They had Christmas activity coloring books they colored in for a while.

3.  We added candy canes to the tree… Finally!!  And ate some, of course!

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4.  Then we made lots more paper snowflakes.  We didn’t print patterns out today… I think I’ve got it figured out now.


5.  Finally, to end the day… Garner, Baylee and I went to see a friend in a play, at her church.  It was awesome!!  A great reminder of what Christmas is really about.  The message was that “The message of Christmas doesn’t change, the message changes us.”  Isn’t that the truth!!


I guess the day wasn’t a total bust after all!!

Sorry about bombarding you with so much in one post!!

Tomorrow’s activity is the one I’m looking forward to the most!!  So excited!!!

Now it’s off to build a gingerbread house with the hubby, so they kids can decorate it tomorrow morning!!

I hope you all are enjoying these daily activities… I will have to put together a list of all of them for you and the many more I have in mind for another year.




December Countdown- Day 5

Day 5:


Our December daily activities are going great!  Today we made and played with Gingerbread Playdough!  I had bought some cookie cutters and mini pans for this activity last year, but never got around to making it.  I found the idea on Pinterest and it took me to this blog.  Here’s the recipe from that blog.  There are also really great pics of the process there too!

Gingerbread Playdough
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp orange extract {optional}


  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water, oil, and orange extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.




It took longer to measure out the ingredients than it did to actually make it.  A lot easier than I had envisioned it to be.  Like on the blog I borrowed this from, I am going to make a batch for a gift.  Next year even more!

Here’s the kids and some of their creations…


I had imagined that after an hour of playing with it that it would dry up a little, but much to my surprise it was just as soft as when they had started.  So I packed it up in these cute tins until next time.  (Purchased at Walmart for $1.00 each.)



For anyone needing something new and festive this weekend, you should give this playdough a try.



December Countdown- Day 3 & Day 4

Sorry I missed yesterday… it was one of those left dishes in the sink and went to bed kind of nights.  So this post will include days 3 & 4.

Day 3:


This particular activity may not seem exciting to some of you, but in Baylee’s words… “What?! We get to watch a movie on a school night!?!?”  You see, starting Sunday evening to Friday at 5pm, there is no TV in our house for Garner and Baylee.  Reese gets a little bit, since she’s still home all day.  Though today, we didn’t turn it on at all! Yay!!  Anyways, it’s a really big deal for them.  It was probably really good for me too, to just stop for a little while.

Here there are enjoying their popcorn!


Day 4:


So, if you’re confused by this… don’t feel bad, so were my kids.  Usually I go and buy their Christmas PJs for them.  Maybe would have surprised them before bed.  But this year, all three seem to be in-between sizes.  I needed them to go with me so we knew what would fit.  So, we met Drew at Children’s Place to get their annual fleece jammies.  And since they went with us, they got to pick out what colors they wanted.  Garner was the only one that picked a different color than I would have… I would have chosen blue.  They were pretty excited.  And, I went ahead and let them wear them tonight, instead of washing them first.

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After shopping we went to Chick-fil-A for dinner and walked into this…

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And here they are all ready for bed!!


Night night from the Darling Kids!!



December Countdown- Day 2


Today we decorated the tree!!  At least with ornaments.  We will give it the finishing touches later in the week.

This was always a fun tradition growing up.  It was fun seeing our ornaments from previous years and remembering who and/or where they came from.  I’m not sure about my sisters, but I was alway very particular about where my ornaments were hung on the tree.  My “baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament was always near the top… and though it’s  not my favorite ornament for looks, it seems to have the most sentiment.

Now, with an almost 3, 5, and a 8 year old… it’s almost more stressful than it is fun. (I wonder if my parents felt that way until we got older.)  They were just all so excited and have no patience.  But in the end, I am glad they helped and I know they had a great time.  There are sections that are really crammed, mainly at the bottom…  But, it’s perfect and they are very proud of it!


It’s hard to get pictures when you’re busy helping, so that’s all I was able to get.  More and more I am finding that I want a new camera… Digital SLR, maybe Santa will bring me one next year.

Tomorrow, I will be putting a tree up in our bedroom.  It is my favorite room in our house, it’s very spacious but also cozy.  A Christmas Tree and a fireplace both glowing in the dark… sounds perfectly romantic to me.

Here’s a quick pic from dinner tonight… Reese’s first corn-on-the-cob!  It was a big hit!


We had a great start to our week and I hope you all did too!



The Countdown Begins!!


The countdown to the most Magical day of the year, has begun… at least for children.  I remember when I was growing up the anticipation of Christmas morning was so exciting.  Laying in bed trying to stay awake to hear the reindeer’s hoofs on the roof, then waking up to all of those gifts left under the tree and stockings overflowing. And to be repetitive, it was Magical.  I of course knew what the REAL meaning of Christmas was, and as a family we participated in all church activities.  I wish I had the picture of one play I participated in… if I remember correctly, the costume/uniform was awesome! 😉  We spent time with family, friends and each other.  I loved it!!

Now that I’m a parent I want  this time of year to be just as magical for my children.  Christmas morning was different for me and my husband growing up.  Santa was a big deal in my family, usually brought the “big” gift and more.  My husband’s big gifts usually came from his parents and Santa filled stockings and brought a little something.  Therefore when we began this magical responsibility as parents we had to decide which route to take.  Being that I’m the one that takes care of the planning and most of the shopping… we do it more like my parents did.

So after a couple of years of just doing without much thought, and then a couple of years of falling into the materialistic part of Christmas, it was time to make some changes.  Though Santa is still big in our house, we have been working on refocusing the attention during the month of Dec to family and of course the birth of Jesus Christ.  Three years ago we started this transition, and not without family drama.  Change is hard for everyone, especially when disrupting traditions.  But it was time for us to create our own traditions for our little family.

That first year we decided that all gifts would wait until Christmas morning.  There were other factors that played into that decision… in a nutshell, by Christmas morning our children were already so overwhelmed and exhausted that we didn’t get the best of Christmas with them.  And without being overly dramatic, it was heartbreaking.  So we spent the month of december that year crafting, baking, spending time with family and then celebrated at Mass on Christmas Eve.  Then Santa came and we woke up to a day filled with gifts from him and family.  Aside from the drama and being absolutely exhausted at the end of the day… it was all worth it.  I felt very peaceful about the decisions we had made and so grateful for my husband and I coming together to make the changes that were best for our family.

Then my OCD took over last year… for all of you that know me, I’m sure you’re laughing and not surprised.  I am not sure how I came up with this.  I maybe heard it from a friend that a friend of theirs was doing it, or maybe I read a blog that mentioned it.  I don’t know, but I was all in!!  For the month of december, I planned something “Christmasy” (I like to make up words.) or family focused to do with the kids everyday.  You can see what we did last year if you look at my Dec and Jan archives… too many different posts to link them all here.  Anyways, it was awesome!!  The kids were so excited to get up every morning to read that little card with the days activity.  Some things were just things we would have done anyway, and some were new.  For 23 days, it refocused their excitement to what we were going to do TOGETHER that day.  And now for the last month or so, they have been asking me if we were going to do it again. #parent success!!



Like last year and many years before… as long as I can think back.  December 1st always is the day to start Advent Calendars.  So that’s what we did.  Cheap chocolate filled ones… and to limit the fighting for this particular thing, we got 3.  The excitement for such simple things in priceless.


I hope you all find fun ways to celebrate this month.  I will try to post everyday about our activities, and maybe pics of my december daily album.  Happy December!!!