Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Skinny on the Elf... He Lives On...

Okay, I confess: I couldn't kill him off. I just couldn't do it. Although, I did enjoy a week long break from Elf-Shenanigans.

We discovered that his secret mission was to collect broken toys, bag them up, and leave them with a note for our son on Christmas morning. My boy tends to be rather rough on his toys. This was a fun reminder to take care of the toys since Santa's elves work hard all year to make toys for children all over the world. He got the point and vowed to take better care of the toys Santa gave him for Christmas this year.

Okay, back to not killing the elf. Our elf. Handsome Little Elf. HLE, for short.

HLE DID get a promotion. He is now a liaison between scout elves and toy-maker elves to effectively communicate what toys children are wanting toy-maker elves to create.

This solved two problems for us. First, my son wanted a toy that hasn't even been invented yet so HLE will be working closely to remedy issues like this. Second, because of HLE's new title, he can only visit for a couple days before Christmas each year.

Okay, so it really solved three problems. Now, I only have to suffer through Elf-antics for a couple days instead of a whole month! And my children weren't devastated that he was gone for good but rather, happy for HLE moving up the ladder in the Elf-world.

Oh, and during that week with HLE away, we were all able to re-focus on the real meaning of Christmas. The chants for HLE began to fade as we filled our days with Christmas books and crafts reminding us that Jesus is the reason for the season and that the greatest gift we give is love.

In the end, this was a good change for our family. I simply caution you to decide if the Elf on the Shelf is for you and your family. You might love having an elf in your home... but set up your rules ahead of time to keep it from becoming overwhelming.

For another fun twist you might enjoy, consider what this family does with their elf on the shelf.

But whatever you decide, have fun and do what is best for your family. We did. :)

Smile :) donnamusing

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Elf Must Die At Some Point, Right?

The elf must die... or at the very least, he MUST go!

It started innocently enough. In 2009, a co-worker bought an elf on the shelf for her son. I thought it sounded weird and creepy. However, she said that her son would behave for the little red-suited creature. And that is when the temptation started.

Maybe this will work for our son. Maybe this little, cute, adorable, rosy-cheeked fellow would be the answer to my prayers.

(Side note: I'm pretty sure God doesn't use lies and scare tactics as miracles in our lives.)

After the temptation, then there was peer-pressure. This may very well be the only time in my adult life that I've caved to such an adolescent pitfall.

"It'll be fun," they said.
"Your kids will love it," they said.
"It can be a new family tradition," they said.

A new family tradition. They got me. We were adopting and our family needed some traditions of its own.

So, during my lunch break one day, aforementioned co-worker joined me as we drove out to pick up our new elf.

He was cute, in his creepy, eyes-never-quite-looking-at-you way.
But very fake looking. His hands and feet came to a point. Were my kids really stupid enough to fall for this?

I rushed home, hid him on a shelf, composed a letter and sent the kids to the mailbox. They came running with the companion book and letter from Santa announcing that he had sent a special elf to our house and the book would explain the rest.

My kids were ridiculously excited and spent an incredible amount of time talking to HLE. The kids named him Handsome Little Elf and call him HLE for short.

The first few days were fun. Where could I hide him that would be a little harder than the day before?

Then, one morning, my son came to me terribly upset.
He explained, "HLE didn't write to me on the board."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I asked him questions and asked him to write me the answers on the board."

You have got to be kidding me! 
Now, I have to eavesdrop on elf conversation.

Certainly, finding just the right spot for him to hide is bad enough. And, the responsibility of remembering this chore weighs heavily. But now, this.

Christmas came and HLE hibernated in a cardboard box for eleven glorious months.

Then, some yuppie moms decided to up the ante and ruin it for the rest of us. The elf needed to do mischievous acts. Wallow in a bowl of marshmallows, write on picture frames with a washable marker, leave secret messages, dance with Barbie, steal the last cookie, poop out a Hershey kiss, and leave hidden messages around the house.

And God forbid that HLE take a day off and just hide in the cupboard. Blasphemy. 

The chants came:
"HLE, hide somewhere hard tomorrow."
"I drew you a picture. Can you draw me one back?"
"I have questions. How old are you? Will you ever die?"
"Will you really leave if we touch you?"
"How does Santa make it around the world in one night?"
"Can you stay all year long?" (HECK TO THE N-O!!!!!!!!!)

Let me pause my rant to say this. The marketing on this little guy is impeccable. You can buy a birthday outfit for him so he can show up on your child's birthday just to check in on him. You can buy matching chef aprons so the elf can wear his while you bake Santa's cookies. You can even have a transgender elf by leaving a skirt out for him and then he magically becomes a girl elf. The list goes on.

In the midst of all the elfishness, my kids are no longer focused on the true meaning of Christmas. I can't take it anymore. Christmas is NOT about a free-loadin' elf looking for a good time.

This is our fourth year and sorry kiddos, but it's the last.

So far, HLE has been super lazy. He showed up on the 8th in our Christmas tree. 9th- hiding in the manger. 10th- on a shelf. 11th- clutching a sword on the wall. 12th-hanging from a curtain rod. 13th- hanging from the other side of the SAME curtain rod.

At this point, my kids are begging HLE to do something fun. Anything other than just show up somewhere. There's even whining and complaining that he hasn't even hidden in a cupboard this year. Because sitting out in the open is so four years ago!

Well, HLE ain't got no time for that!

Instead of HLE, this is what my kids found when looking for him today.

This is just preparation for the final good-bye. The big adios. Maybe HLE will get a promotion to oversee all the scout elves in our region. I'm still working on that.

For now, HLE is camping out on the top shelf in my closet. Maybe I'll bring him back in a week to share the big news.

This mama is done with the elf.

My advice. Read this carefully. DO NOT START THIS TRADITION!

There are a bazillion better traditions out there.
Some of my favorites that we do are decorate a gingerbread house together, bake a birthday cake for Jesus, bake cookies for Santa, watch classic Christmas movies, and we buy a book for our kids every Christmas eve and read it to them.
That last one is my favorite.

I wish you all much success with the passing... I mean, promotion of your elf.
If you have done such a thing or are contemplating it, please leave a message on my blog. We'd all love to read it.

Keep an eye out on my blog for the final good-bye from HLE.

Okay, I feel so much better now!

Now, off to bake bread and make Christmas Pretzel M&M Hugs with my kids. Something fun and delicious. Not menacing and annoying.

Smile :) donnamusing

Monday, December 2, 2013

How to NOT make an Advent Calendar... or Something Like That...

It all started innocently enough. Yesterday, I had planned to have hot cocoa with my kids and maybe watch a Christmas movie, but then I saw it- a facebook post of my friend's son holding up his Advent Calendar. Suddenly, I remembered that ours had broken last year.

I can do that, I thought. Pssh, it'll be easy, the creative voice whispered inside my head.

In a couple of clicks, I found myself on pinterest perusing all the lovely options. I chose an easy one. Soon I would have my own mini muffin tin Advent Calendar to enjoy with my kids. And what's even better is this was going to be Fun! 

As most adventures go awry, I didn't bother with directions... Seriously, it's a collection of decorative circles with magnets on the back. What could go wrong???

After lunch, I gathered all the necessary tools and took over the kitchen table as I prepped my kids for the super-awesome craft that their super-awesome mom had planned.

It was all a ski slope from there.
For starters, I didn't have a shape maker to cut the perfect size circle which meant I had to cut circles the old fashioned way... with scissors! And my kids didn't want to help cut the circles.

I even learned how to tie a bow on a fork for my eighth day.

I started with card stock and scrapbook paper and we began gluing away with the most evil, non-helpful glue known to man. (Just wait for it!)

Finally, after getting all of our designs done (except for the numbers and 3D elements) it was time to add the magnets on the back. I had some sheets of sticky magnets... except all of the sticky had worn off so I retreated to the glue.

After gluing on the magnets, I began to notice that our cute little circles were beginning to curl up on us. But never fear, that's what old dictionaries are for, right? At least I attempted to flatten them with the old beasts.

After an hour or so of that, I called my troops back to the table. Well, one of them showed up. My son was beyond bored at this point. My daughter and I started to add the numbers and final embellishments. That is, until she got bored, too. She actually said, "I think you've had enough kid time, do you think you could finish this by yourself?"
Thanks a lot, daughter. Leave me in the trenches... This is all for you, you know.

At some point in the six o'clock hour, my son came to me and said, "Mom, I'm not trying to complain but I'm starting to get hungry."

Okay, just five more minutes, kids!

After making dinner, I stopped to take a photo of how far we'd come.

Not bad, right? Well, I thought it was decent. Still, it took too much time, but decent nonetheless.

Decent, that is, until I lifted it to hang it up.

The magnets worked fine but the designs were too heavy and the weird gel glue began to make the paper curl. I wish I had thought about my double-sided photo tape.

Here's a view of what they looked like from the side.

Um, yeah. That's kind of disheartening after all that work.

That's okay. I'll be able to fix it tomorrow, I attempted to console myself.

Today, I decided to conquer the project once and for all. The sad news is they were in even worse shape this morning. Many of the magnets had already come apart from the paper, leaving behind a dried gel glue residue. You have GOT to be kidding me. Deep breath, it's okay. 

I tried to use the photo tape and put the magnets back on.
Didn't work.
I ripped all the magnets off and threw them in the garbage.
Spirits lifted slightly.
I attempted to use photo tape over the dried glue to just adhere the circles.
Go ahead and laugh.

This meant war.

Okay, what is stiff enough to get the curl out of these things?
I tried adhering them to a manila folder and laminating them.

But I couldn't do that with the pieces that had 3D images and guess what? I had just made them heavier.
What. A. Joke.

This was supposed to be fun and done yesterday. And I hadn't even considered what to put in the tin slots yet and I was already a day late.

Time to face the music and count my losses. I REALLY didn't want to do that but what other choice did I have. I might lose the battle but not the war- I would have an Advent Calendar to hang on the wall if it was the last thing I did... okay, maybe not that far, but I'm a pretty determined chick!

At last resort, I headed over to etsy and found a set of adorable PRINTABLE perfectly sized, already decorated, just print on your own card stock, designs for the LOW price of $2.00!!!!

And here is a much happier result. No funky glue. (that glue has been trashed, might I add)
No magnets, just one double sided photo split on the back of each one. No crinkling. And it is hanging up! Yay!

There's just one more thing. I still have to put the goodies in the tin. I'll do that tomorrow. I'll only be two days late by then.

Smile :) donnamusing

P.S. Check out Flip Chick Designs on Etsy to find your own SIMPLE project. Don't do it alone. Don't reinvent the wheel. Spend the $2 and get it done in a fraction of the time.