From our family to yours, may God bless you this Christmas!

How many crazy poses could this child have on Christmas Sunday?!?!?!?

 ...and the crazy faces continue!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.  And the government shall be upon his shoulders.  And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6

As I type this...I am playing "stay at home mom" with my little boy.  So thankful for a job that let's me have so much mommy time with my baby!

Our elf, Choo-Choo, finally arrived at our house {he may have been busy elf-ing for my first graders...and he may even just be a back up elf since the "real" elf is packed away deep in storage!}....#sELFie
So in honor of Choo-Choo the elf, I thought I'd blog about Mommy's own little elf helper during our break!

Cooper has been busy helping Mommy during our break.  It may take twice as long to get things done around our apartment, but he WANTS to help.  And he LOVES to help.

And he NEEDS to help...because it's good for him.  I've never been one to wait until nap time to do chores.  I believe Cooper needs to see Mommy and Daddy doing chores.  And he needs to learn to be a cheerful servant!  And honestly, that's more fun for all of us anyways!

Cooper absolutely loves laundry days.  On days when our laundry is caught up {okay...pretty much just that *one* time...}, he goes in to our laundry room to check the dryer for more "yahnwee."  He's even cried over not having any laundry to do.

...glad somebody in this house enjoys laundry!

We've done laundry and wrapped gifts...He's loved taping on the tags and holding the ribbon down while Mommy ties...and he has felt so proud to put each gift under the tree! And our wrappings have just been a hodge podge of left over wrapping paper from Christmases past, extra washi tape, ribbons and burlaps left over from projects, and tags cut out of white notepad paper.  But I think our little eclectic mix turned out just perfect!  And more importantly, it didn't cost me a thing!

He's even managed to find a few of his own presents...and he hasn't even tried to open them!  #ChristmasMiracle

Since I pretty much couldn't even think straight during the last week or two before school was out, I hadn't even managed to think about gifts for Cooper's church nursery teachers until Saturday after break.  So, we made my mom's recipe for Christmas Scent {with a few additions} to gift for teachers.  I decided on that because pretty much one of my favorite memories from my childhood is smelling the Christmas potpourri on the stove...and because I had almost everything I needed already at the house, which is a blessing when you have to rush to put together gifts.

Mommy's little elf helped with this too...and he LOVED it!  He giggled the whole time calling out the names of his nursery teachers..."SeeSee" {Cindy}, "Beeyee" {Billy}, "KeeKee" {Kristi}, "Susan" {this one is quite clear, for whatever reason!}, and "Mehyin" {Meghan}.

There's that cheesy smile from Mommy's little elf! Such an easy thing for littles to help with too!

Turn on the heat and enjoy!  Isn't it so pretty?

You can find the recipe and gift tags for it HERE!
A little craft paper circle to add some ruffles under the lid, a string of raffia and a Christmas tag I made (grab it here) and printed on regular paper.  Simple, fun to make and Cooper was so proud to hand out his gifts Sunday.   And Mommy loves that he is learning at such an early age that, "God loves a person who gives cheerfully."

We are on pins and needles waiting on our new house to be finished in the Spring {hopefully!}.

...or more accurately put...we are cramped up in 700 square feet in an apartment begging for our house to be finished ASAP!

But seriously, I am so SO thankful for a nice apartment neighborhood to stay in while we are "between" homes.  It's cozy, but it's ours...and we are making the best of it this Christmas.

So buckle up, ladies and gents, because you're in it for the *long haul* if you finish this post.  It's a long one, full of our family Christmas traditions.  Grab your hot chocolate, sip and read, and plan to stay a while! :)

After some discussion {and realizing how UN-accessible the boxes were}, we decided against a "real" Christmas tree this year.  I know what you're can you do this to a 2 year old?? But believe it or not, he's survived just fine.  And we have managed to have several Christmas "trees" to put up...

Our Christmas card tree made with washi tape, tinsel and clothespins.  Cooper adores this tree and loves getting to "ang it" {hang the cards} on the tree when we get them in the mail!

We even barely found room for gifts under our "tree..."

And for those of you that think Cooper just HAS to have a tree he can decorate...I give you his felt tree...
 ...he may have gotten a *little* side-tracked and started decorating his socks!

He just adored his felt jack-o-lantern, so I just knew we had to make a felt tree!  Thanks to our school's die cut machine for making me super quick ornaments and lights!!  I only wish I had gotten it up sooner!  The good news is, now it's made, so I will have it out earlier next year!

He's so proud of his bottom heavy Christmas tree...and the teacher in me saw that he almost sorted his ornaments by color! {Mommy did the string of patterned Christmas lights!}  He might be just a tad like his momma! :)

The Mr. got battery operated Christmas lights so our little guy could have his own "ismas...yights" to brag about!

Cooper's Fisher Price nativity went up this year, instead of our fancy one that is packed away.  But it all worked out for the better because he loves getting to pick up each piece and play with them!'s our sad, 2nd annual attempt at a gingerbread creation.  My icing and cake decorating skills are a bare minimum.  Oh, well, we're still #MakinMemories I guess!

My favorite new tradition this year: Truth in the Tinsel.  Each night we read a scripture from the Christmas story and focus on one word from the Scripture.  Then, we make an ornament for our Christmas word.  We've hung it as simple garland in our apartment.  The ornaments aren't fancy, and they may not even be the cutest...some are the ones Amanda suggests, and others are ones I've made with my preschool Sunday Schoolers...but either way, they are each special, full of memories, meaning and are absolutely perfect in his eyes.  15 minutes a night TOPS, and my 2 year old can tell us what word each of the ornaments stands for!  I can't wait to do this every year and see how much more of the Christmas story our little guy absorbs.  And the Word he is hiding in his heart each night is just priceless.  This will definitely be a tradition we continue!!

Yes, our family loves putting emphasis on the real Christmas story.  And, yes, above all else, that is the number one take away we want Cooper to have from Christmas.  But, that doesn't mean we are shutting out Santa.  We believe that in everything in life there is a happy medium.  So, in our family, we do Jesus.  And Santa.  And that's just fine by us!

A BIG HUGE **thanks** to my brother-in-law who has dressed up the last 2 years so that we can get as many pictures as we want from my amazing father-in-law who's a photographer AND so that we don't have to stand in long lines!!

Cooper decided to bring a cookie for Santa. {okay, okay, it was Daddy's idea, but it was a good one! It kept the tears away, so kudos to Dad!}
 "Wanna cookie, Santa?"
 "Hey, pssst! Jax! I'll smile and you look like a crazy fool, ok?...."
 "Okay, now it's your turn to cheese it up and I'll look disgusted and 'over it all.'"
 "No good smiling pictures of both of us?  SUCCESS!  Now let's get outta here!!"
These two kill me.  I swear they plan NOT to smile at the same time!

Our annual Ugly Christmas Sweater faculty party was Wednesday.  This year, I decided Cooper had to join in the fun!  Nothing like an ugly, *free* Christmas shirt! A little felt, a few off color buttons, gold and silver bells that jingle and glitter glue...

Cooper just loved his "uh-yee shuht!"

Since before Cooper, Justin and I have always gone to the Fayetteville Square.  They have major lights as part of the Lights of the Ozarks, food, pony rides, and just lots of *free* family fun!  Cooper just loved it last year!

This year, we decided to go on a Friday evening.  Even though it was misting lightly outside...there just wasn't another chance for us!  We left our apartment at 5:00 for a 15 minute ride to downtown Fayetteville to eat first and then see lights.

...except it took us an hour to get there...with a two year old saying, "Eat, eat!" about every 3 seconds! ;)

We finally made it to one of our favorite burger joints, Hugo's, and because we got there after 6:00, there was quite a wait.  We waited in line, with a toddler, for about 30 minutes.  Then, we finally sat down to eat.  The food came quickly--which was a blessing--and it was as delicious as I remember!

5 minutes before we leave, our 2 year old says, "uh-oh, Momma...wet! Wet!"  He had wet his pants...not 15 minutes after I he had already gone to the bathroom...This was the first accident he's had in probably close to 3 months.

Which meant that I didn't bother to bring his back pack with his change of clothes, because, ya know...we weren't going to be out long and he never has accidents anyways!!

We paid for our food, and walked outside to assess the situation...and in fact the pants were soaked front to back.  I calmly told Cooper we were going to have to go home and change his clothes and do the lights another which he quietly teared up and said, "yights, peeeeeezzz!"

So we did what any good parents would do...we wrapped his coat around his wet pants and took a 2 minute tour of the square lights!  Just long enough to find a local church that was providing free pictures to families...and balloons for kids.  Thanks, Cross Church, for the perfect family picture!

...and for the balloon that literally entertained my sweet boy for hours on end Saturday!

We may be sharing only 700 square feet of space between the 3 of us, but our Christmas traditions certainly didn't lack in any way this year!

Friday was our pancakes, pajamas and Polar Express party!  And, goodness, was this one memorable!

I got to school at the crack.of.dawn. Friday morning to get our gift from Santa laid out before curious eyes came around! {You can read about that HERE.}

We do our class Christmas party right off the bat.  We dress in our pajamas and cook pancakes...and then after lunch we drink hot chocolate and watch The Polar Express.  Such a fun filled day!  But this year, it got a little more interesting...

By 7:45, I had each of the shake and pour pancake mixes ready, all 3 griddles turned on and hot and was ready to go.  I had parents coming shortly to help me.

At 7:50, after I had poured pancakes on all 3 griddles and was waiting patiently for them to bubble, I realized that none of them were bubbling.  Then, I realized the griddles weren't hot anymore!!

By this time a dad had come in to join the party and so I asked him to take a look.  A breaker was blown.  Of course it was.  Of course.

Luckily, my principal had come in to check on our party and when I told her what was going on, she just went and flipped the breakers back.  We decided that one wall of outlets was overloaded so we moved 2 griddles to the other wall.  *Phew*

We were running behind, but by this time I had 4 parents helping and we were rockin' and rollin' on pancakes!  Half the kids had plates of pancakes and blueberries ready to enjoy!

....and then another breaker blew.  Pancake flipping was halted--again!  I tried to call and track down someone to switch the breaker, but no luck.  So we moved some more griddles to another wall and were back in business.  All pancakes FINALLY were made and the kids were eating their pancakes and blueberries happily!

We played our first pass the present game with the gift and instructions that Jingle the Elf sent us!

They were thrilled to get gen-u-ine bells from Santa Claus! With personalized labels, no less!

...and then the Christmas tree lights went out and the Christmas music stopped.  I mean. REALLY.  In 9 years, never...

We weren't going to let a little "Bah, Humbug" get Room 210 down though!  On to decorating Christmas trees!  We started this tradition last year and I'll be doing it every year.  It's so much easier with a class than doing gingerbread houses and a change up from just decorating cookies!

{A bit of a caution if you do this extra cones.  The sugar waffle cones are what I buy and they come in 12 packs.  I bought 3 packs for 25 kids.  Last year I didn't have a single extra left over because several were broken...}

Sugar waffle cones, icing {which I usually die green, but left my food coloring at home this year...SNOWY trees anyone??}, MMs and sprinkles, and a few left over blueberries and you are all set!

With the Christmas music still out {or, rather, the breaker the music was on...}, we started our next game...

Do You Want To Build a Snowman?

I had grand plans, to have the Frozen song playing in the background during the game, but, alas, no music....

Until our principal walked in again to check in on the party and realized we had more breakers she went and fixed them again!  Bless her sweet heart!!

So with the music up and running and our Christmas lights back on, we were ready for our game.  The mission was simple: build a snowman with 3 marshmallows on the end of a wooden craft stick...while the stick was in your mouth.

Build a snowman and keep it on there long enough for me to get a picture of it and you and your partner get candy.

No problem at all.

Except it's not as easy as it looks!  But they had so much fun!  The giggles were just out of control!  And what was hilarious was because it was so hard, they started problem solving really fast.  One set of partners built this...
 ...a smashed up, "melting" snowman.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but they played by the rules I gave them!

Another one built this..."3 baby snowmen!"

During the 2nd round {we switched who held the sticks and who built the snowman...after getting all new supplies, of course!}, I told them they had to do it without squishing to challenge them a little more.

So they went to building...

One little guy even tried doing it on his own!

And then finally some REAL snowmen appeared!

I got several pictures of partners that had built snowmen and were actually getting them to stay without falling....and then I wondered...and asked,

"Did you lick the marshmallows?"  Smarty pants first graders of mine.  They had come up with more ways to build a silly snowman than I had thought of as an adult!  Props to the creative problem solving skills!

Check out this leaning snowman...

The rest of the day included pictures with Santa, hot chocolate and The Polar Express.

Yes, they were full of the Christmas crazies...Especially with having inside recess that day...{Boo for rain on the day before break!}

...But I can't imagine a better job than one where I get to work in my pajamas all day long on the last day of work before a 2 week vacation!
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