Thursday, December 18, 2014

Countdown Calendar Highlights

Christmas is more than just a day in the Riley Home...I suspect it is in most homes, but my family has actually been conditioned to celebrate for all 25 days in December with the help of the Countdown Calendar.  As the kids have gotten older, it's gotten more elaborate (and adaptive to their older ages) - and thankfully more Christ Centered with Scripture coming before anything else.  However, it has almost become a double-edged sword as I find myself trying to one-up what I've done in the past.  I can't say that's necessarily a good-thing, so I've tried really hard this year to pick activities that benefit more than just my own kids in terms of what the surprises might be.  

That's what day one was about - putting the phrases to a poem together that outlined not everything will take place just like the might expect based on years past.

This activity took place the first Friday of the month - when we were at the Schillings house to watch the Pac 12 Championship together.  It was a repeat of last year, in which the kids had to do a "Minute to Win It" activity to get their "prize" (new Christmas pajamas for everyone...).  

They had to build the tallest "Igloo" they could with toothpicks and marshmallows in a minute.  Traig thought he nailed it because his was farthest up from the floor....

Hometown Buffet.  Sigh.  This was supposed to happen last year, but with all of John's health issues, it got sidelined.  Here's the backstory - Mikayla attended a party last year (BFF, Kenady's) - that ended up here for dinner and came home telling the family how much she LOVED this place.  It made Brayden very jealous and he couldn't wait to try it out too.  Fast forward a year and we finally made it happen.  Hometown'd have thought it was Disneyland with as happy as they were!  Brayden later said, "I wish you'd never introduced me to this place because now I can't stop thinking about it - I wish we could go there every night".  SERIOUSLY?!!!  

I'm pretty sure this cotton candy has something to do with it...

Back and back they went for culinary delights of unmatched quality!  

We had the Schilling kids with us on this Sunday's Countdown Calendar activity that took place before church.  The local small town of Coburg has a tiny cafe we'd yet to try.  Since we don't do a ton of trying out new places during the rest of the year, we take advantage of these opportunities this time of year. 

That expression is one of excitement of what they had to offer.  

These two are growing up to be such beautiful women!  Happening way too fast!

These guys better learn to be some very protective brothers in the not-so-near future.  

New family Christmas picture?

Our Tuesdays are usually an attempt at some sort of community service - and then Wednesdays are termed "Whitley Wednesdays".  This is a sample of one we did last week. 

The present she opened (we all piled in Brayden's bed as it was a late-start for him and he was sleeping in) was this Fisher Price Little People Train Set with a Santa, Elf, and Reindeer.  Since then, she's insisted it goes home and then back again to my house each day.  =)  I think it's a hit.

 The Snowman Pancakes were a hit too.... (though not quite the Pinterest win I was hoping for). 

Some of the activities this year turned out to be a surprise to me too.  Like this one that included Mikayla and Christi.  Christi actually suggested and set up a pedicure for the three of us to get last Friday afternoon at the salon where she still puts in a day a week.  (Bello).  Christi came with me to surprise Mikayla when we pulled her out of school an hour early....she was so giddy!!!!  (And, of course, I was in a blissful state too!)

On Saturday, when I discovered we didn't have a volleyball tournament we had to attend, I purchased tickets for the local Christian dance company's ballet of "Narnia".  One of Mikayla's friends, Brita, had a significant role in the play and it was delightful to keep spotting her in different costumes doing different dances.  Of course, it was also a very wonderful story that was especially well done and meaningful.

Today was supposed to be a celebration eating-out occasion for the last day of school of 2014 and Brayden completing his Driver's Ed Course successfully (and thus eliminating the need to do the driving portion once he hits the DMV after his 16th birthday).  We had planned to hit a 50's Diner that just John and I discovered in Springfield a few months ago, but the kids vetoed that in favor of Hometown Buffet, again!!!  I can't imagine why they like this place so much... =)

To add to the laugh-factor of eating at such an unsophisticated place is the locale - at the mall that is in serious need of remodeling (and has actually begun the process by shutting down half of it) - and is frequently thought of as being uncouth.   But, it has a pretty string of lights on the side entrances! 

We added to our family date night with a tour around our neighborhood - all within walking distance.  While not necessarily our particular street (but, we're not bad ourselves), this area is known for going all out with their lights displays - and is definitely on the route the limo tours or party buses take if they are going around town to see Christmas lights.  

Just one more week until Christmas.  No matter how many days we have to prepare, it's never ever enough.  Oh, how I love this time of year!!!

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