How Halloween Saved The Christmas Countdown

I have a tendency to beat myself up over things. Right now, as I type this, a little voice is berating me because every time I check a published post, I find a typo but by the time I log into WordPress, I can no longer remember where it was.

Halloween 2012 was great fun but after an excruciating few weeks where little C never managed to earn a piece of Halloween candy after dinner, leaving her sister sweet P to work her way through both bountiful stashes of candy booty, I decided to jump on the candy fairy wagon for 2013.

It’s actually genius. You get the kids to pick out 10 (or whatever you deem reasonable) pieces of candy and the rest gets packed up to be collected by the candy fairy for less fortunate kids. In exchange, the fairy leaves a gift for the kids. For our inaugural year, I chose a small box of lego. I was so impressed with how willing they were to let go of the booty, I even stuck two lollipops on the box and a little fairy dust –aka sparkles that never actually make it into anything crafty.

The extra candy was hidden away to be disposed of when the kids were out. So of course, six weeks later, it’s sitting exactly where I left it. Every time I look at this one shelf of books, the candy bag says:

tsk tsk tsk, here I am still waiting to be given away. What’s wrong with you? You need only walk to the security gate and hand me over. Surely that’s not too difficult? Even for you?!

I could go on. Luckily, Thai Halloween candy is so unbelievably lame, I wasn’t tempted to consume it myself. Had there been decent candy, well I don’t even want to go there.

Thai Halloween Candy

Chocolate Flavored Skim Milk Tablets. Yum.

Before I know it, it’s November 31st, and I haven’t bought anything to put in the advent calendar! Crikey, what sort of SAHM am I? And then I remember the Halloween stash. Saved by my incompetence. Determined not to stuff them with sweets, I pick out a lone pack of candy for day one and vow to buy stickers and things for the next 23 days.

Day two rolls around and I have to distract the kids, while briefing Jefe where the candy is and tell him to put some treats the next box.

Later that day, I run off and buy a collection of erasers and small safari animals. I was rather pleased with myself, until I realized only the gorilla and brown bear fit in the boxes. Oh and strangely the camels. Every other creature will have to be a stocking stuffer.

This time I take it as a sign that the rest should be filled with the Halloween candy, reducing the pressure on my budget and my conscience as the voice from the book shelf is much softer now, with only half a bag left waiting for a home.

M Is For Music, Miscellaneous, and Mondays!

I’ve decided that for the month of December I will try to blog much more often. I’ve been told having thematic days helps the brain focus content so here’s what I’ve come up with:

Mondays will be Musical Mondays. Since it is December, I am opting for Christmas-themed music -Falalalala! Pretty original I know. I had hoped to persuade people to send me their favorite kids’ tunes but I’ve come up a little short so I may have to use some grown up favs as fillers. I am also open to suggestions!

And since it’s December and I feel like ’tis the month to slack off, my children will be mostly playing. I will be mostly ignoring my homeschooling duties. They already set the tone today by totally ignoring me and kicking me out of various rooms while they set up elaborate play scenarios.

Homeschool refusal. Girls free play time.

So with more time on my hands,  I am shunning productivity in order to bombard you with lots of miscellaneous stuff on Mondays…or any other day of the week I so choose.

1. Awesome Acts of Kindness Calendar

I just discovered this lovely calendar; see their terribly smart badge on the left hand side.

I’ve done December 1&2 today. Plenty of time to catch up so pls join and spread the word! (Preferably via my blog post as it’s Christmas and I’d love some new followers. I promise I’ve kept the naughty to a minimum.)

And in an extra act of kindness today, here are links to all the songs. I believe blogs are penalized for too many outbound links but hey, it’s Christmas and I am in the mood for some giving!

2. My kids’ favorite Christmas songs this week

Monday: The Peanuts Classic Christmas Tune. This is mommy pushing her own likes . No one is perfect.

Tuesday: You are a mean one Mr. Grinch. Seriously, they flip out when they hear it.

Wednesday: Disney Princesses 12 Days of Christmas – what happens when you leave your children alone with an iPad. They fight to have their cheek touch the princess image. #smh

Thursday: The girls make me sing Jingle Bells relentlessly. I usually pull up this version  with Andrea Bocelli and the Muppets. I find it fun to change tempo with the girls and who doesn’t want to watch Animal sing!  Thanks Fozzy, I too wonder what on earth bob-tails are.

Friday: Petit Papa Noël. This is a favorite in our household. Failing to find our lovely version but here’s a nice clip where you can follow the lyrics.

Saturday: The all time favorite: Santa Claus is Coming to Town. This isn’t their favorite version, but it will be when I am done with them. (oh and he  parler francais a bit here too!)

Bruce Springsteen Christmas

Sundays: Silent Sundays, because we all need a break from Merrys and Happys and Joy.

Tune in tomorrow for “How Halloween saved my Christmas” and a very late submission for a lovely series on Neighborhoods around the world.


The Advent Calendar: Cardboard Windows, Mediocre Chocolates and the Christmas Countdown.

advent-calendar-little-angels via

Turns out, as I sit here, fingers poised, waiting until the last possible second to get this post written, it dawns on me that the advent calendar tradition never really was that much of a tradition in my house. That said, I do have this wonderful childhood memory of occasionally having these. What I remember loving most, were the calendars my mother bought that featured a dense Yuletide tableau. I could spend hours staring at the little scenes depicted, transporting myself to a world more colourful and exciting than mine ever seemed to be, all while hunting for the right number and my chocolate treat, knowing that this gesture was bringing me ever closer to my favorite holiday.

The other anticipation I recall enjoying was not knowing what the chocolate would look like; would it be a teddy bear? A christmas stocking? Of course by the 24th, you could be sure that upon opening the last cardboard flap, you would find yourself, face to face, with Santa…well not Santa per se but a tiny chocolate reproduction of him. This foretold the arrival of the real Santa, hopefully ladened with toy-booty, most of which would hopefully be tagged with my name.

The truth is that the chocolate advent calendar was mostly a torturous time. Early on, I was so so so desperate for my chocolate each day, it actually hurt. As I got older, I would succumb to my naughty urges and ‘eat ahead’. This would be followed by my wallowing in guilt, with the horrifying knowledge that I had zero self-control. So of course, why wouldn’t I share this ‘wonderful’ tradition with my kids?

As it turns out, I had in fact completely blocked out the memory of the advent calendar, that is  until I came across one in a Singaporean supermarket. Surrounded by tropical jungle and intense sunshine, I needed every bit of help I could get my hands on to help me into the Christmas spirit. I bought two of these, one for my three-year-old and one for my husband. The baby was too young and I had numerous public trysts with Starbucks chocolate molten cakes under my belt to warrant any additional sweets. Of course the SGD30 price-tag helped encourage moderation.

The plain-jane picture should have raised the first red flag. The confirmation of a complete waste of money award was the lack of attention my husband paid to the calendar after eating December 1st.  This is a man who *must* have something sweet after dinner and went to bed ‘without’ for a month.

I vowed never again. And then, the next tropical Christmas arrived, and my fingers twitched, reaching out for yet another over priced Advent Calendar, this time in a Bangkok market. I held off, barely, and vowed to make my own. One Ikea shopping trip later, I had my cardboard Santa and 24 small drawers to fill with goodies for my two little elves.

For the price of a reusable Santa and all the goodies —a selection of jelly beans, stickers, hair-clips and some chocolate coins— I still spent less than one of those rubbish imported store calendars. More importantly, the experience was intensely personal and I felt a great sense of satisfaction, which is pretty ridiculous since all I did was unwrap little items and re-package them in the pre-made drawers.

 Advent2012 cc CNdR

Maybe next year, I’ll take it up a notch and go the Danish route, preparing a ‘packet calendar’. I was fortunate enough to have one made for me in a previous life: twenty-four little packages tied along a string, hanging down. It was like having a touch of Christmas every day, which is the point really…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Yule, Saint Nick and Sadeh. And let us never forget: a Festivus for the rest of us.