Posted in Parenting

Advent Calendar Obsession

I don’t know why this year I find myself obsessed with Advent calendars. I have given this subject a lot more thought than it deserves this year considering that I didn’t even know that such a thing existed when I growing up and it’s just now Halloween/Samhain and I’ve been obsessing for 3 months already.

For my children’s life their grandmother has taken care of it but now that they are older I have wanted to jump on the bandwagon and I don’t mean just open a little door and get a piece of chocolate.

My obsession started when I saw the Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar last year but at $40 it felt like too big of an expense at a time of year when the limited funds should be going towards the main event. There is a Lego City Advent Calendar that is a bit cheaper but it’s still $30 and not as cool in the eyes of my Star Wars obsessed children.

Then add in the fact that if I do it for 1 child, it’s only fair that I do it for the other and adding a $20 Hot Wheels Advent calendar that my 3 year old would like would mean spending $50 from my holiday budget between both kids.

Pinterest has lots of ideas for creative and inexpensive Advent gifts but I always struggle with sensory overload whenever I navigate that site. I really liked this book idea.

24-days-of-books-advent-calendar-alternative

Back in August I decided that this is what I was going to do and planned on buying 24 used books for each kid, wrapping them and giving them a book a day. My plan was to visit the library sale section were they usually have books for $0.25- $0.50 over several months until I had enough.

Sadly things didn’t work out that way. With limited transportation and having the kids with me the few times I get out, it’s impossible to buy for a surprise with your kids watching your every move. I haven’t been to the library as much as I wanted so I only have 8 books with 40 to go and their sale section is always so limited that there is no way that I could find the quantity left on time. The combo of busy schedule/ lack of transportation means that thrift store and garage sale hopping aren’t an option either.

There is on-line shopping, there are many used books ranging from $0.01 to $1 but with shipping average of $3.99 PER EACH book, my $25 book budget would be gone long before I got them all, it would be worse buying new at Amazon or Barnes & Noble with my educator discount.

So what to do?

Since I still had my heart set on a Lego Advent Calendar I decided to get creative. I had heard of people buying a Lego set and breaking the build so the kid got only a few bricks at a time to build over 24 days. But then, what set would be appropriate to buy?

lego holiday trainI needed to only look as far as my closet. I recently got this limited edition Lego Christmas Train as a “free with purchase” gift; I really wanted to build it but motherhood has made me selfless so I have decided to separate the pieces per instruction page and have Shammy build it over 24 days, I think that will be fun.

Now for Zen…. I am sure that he’ll want to do something similar to his brother but at an easier level. So I have found easy instructions to build a Christmas tree.  And the good news is that I have enough pieces from our collection to build it for free!
lego advent tree

I think they’ll like it.  Now to figure out a way to package this nicely without breaking the bank….

Posted in Parenting

Easter’s Contact Sport

I am done taking my kids to public Easter Egg Hunt events. We have tried different event venues throughout the years and it’s always the same experience. Our attempt at the mall yesterday was the last straw.

It always comes down to the parents ruining it. These are hunts geared for ages 0-5 so I would expect gentleness since there are babies and new walkers present but instead people run over and my kids get overwhelmed and scared by the intensity while they watch adults push other people’s toddlers out of the way to get the egg for their kid. It’s almost like watching a football game.

easter cartoon

I almost had to reduce myself to their level (minus the pushing) to ensure that my kids could get 1 egg each. I have since learned that this is not unique to my area and such craziness has made the news before even leading some event organizers to cancel egg hunts due to the parent’s behavior.

So instead of taking the safety risk and dealing with the stress of dealing with these crowds in the hopes that my kids will get 1 egg with candy that I don’t want them to eat.  We witnessed children crying because the hunt was over in seconds and they didn’t get a single egg while other kids had baskets full with at least 10 of them courtesy of their parents.

This exaggerates but it gets my point across.
This exaggerates but it gets my point across.

I have decided to do our own hunts at home from now on. Over the years I have accumulated a collection of plastic eggs from previous hunts and I will proceed to fill them with raisins and other snacks, coins for their piggy banks and small treats such as stickers and erasers. I will hide the eggs in our backyard and let them free to hunt and find the eggs at their leisure and without pressure while we let the crazies tackle each other.  And while I am at it I may actually start to do them in Ostara next year instead.

Posted in Team Fox

Changes

It has been a while so I’ll give a recap… In the last couple of months we moved to a new house. One that is in a (supposedly) safer and quiet community (so quiet that we didn’t hear fireworks on New Years) and is right next to a park. It is a 2 story house villa which I love despite the inconveniences that living in a 2 story unit with kids brings.

One of these inconveniences is that our computers are upstairs while I spend most of my time downstairs with the boys. This meant that every time I felt inspired to write something it didn’t happen because the computer was no longer in the living room like I was used to. To try to remedy that I have a bluetooth keyboard now so I can write on my Kindle Fire without cursing the touchscreen keyboard’s existence.

Babyproofing a set of stairs when renting can be challenging. We have a pressure mounted gate at the bottom of the stairs which although it won’t stop Zen if he is determined to go up, it does work well as a deterrent and keeps them from trying to play on the stairs. The top of the stairs is still open and after 3 months it hadn’t been an issue until last week when Zen figured out how to climb down, at least he did it safely!

At our new house we converted the master bedroom into a computer/play room and chose a secondary bedroom as our sleeping room. This room has wall to wall mattresses on the floor and no other furniture making it the perfect cosleeping space.

Cosleeping heaven- wall to wall sleeping space (pardon the mess)
Cosleeping heaven- wall to wall sleeping space (pardon the mess)

During this time Shammy has made excellent homeschooling process. Since he is only 3 years old I wasn’t pushing any curriculum or lessons, just trying the whole homeschooling thing on for size and it’s been working very well. Shammy is now able to read at a primary school level and is starting to write. I admit to using a lot of technology tools such as ABCMouse for math and social science and Kindle Fire apps for writing. We do reading the old fashioned way though in addition to e-books.

While the holiday season was very enjoyable, it also meant the end of the daycare that the boys were attending 1 day a week while I worked at the WIC office. I didn’t expect it to be so hard to find alternate care but it has turned into a 3 month nightmare. Despite the things we didn’t like about the old daycare we now miss it because it has been so hard to find anything after searching for so long with no luck. Granted, we may have higher standards and a lower budget than some parents but it had never been this hard to find the right match. In the meantime my mother in law has helped out but I can’t count on that as a long term solution and I fear that we may reach the point when I may be faced with having to quit my job (which only has me out of the house 1 day week) because of this.

I did the math and working full time after factoring the cost of daycare and other expenses wouldn’t allow me to provide any extra contribution to the household budget than I do now unless I got a REALLY good paying job, something that doesn’t exists in this area.