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.


S is for Santa. Right, More Like Stasi.

Santa Claus_Watch_1 via www.global-customer.com

Have you listened closely to the lyrics of Santa Clause is coming to town?

It’s not so pretty. I had a choice to make. I could cut this song out of our Christmas repertoire or I could capitalize on it.

Here’s the thing. I am half French half American. And this puts me in a difficult position. On the one hand, many people expect my kids to be well-behaved. I mean I am half French right? Everyone knows, thanks to Pamela Druckerman, that French kids are the example to which we should all aspire.

On the other hand, full-blooded French people look at my kids, waiting for them to misbehave.

Aha! That tantrum! Surely that is because you caved. You didn’t stick to the cadre – you are just one of these American parents, easily manipulated by your kids, who confuse self-esteem and creativity with letting kids run wild and boss you the adults around!

Yes folks, most Europeans expect, as a general rule,  American kids to be brats. They may not tell you this straight to your face, but I assure you it’s true.  They will compliment your kid’s ‘free-spirit’ and ‘independence’. These are thinly veiled terms for ‘you have no control’. But I digress. What I am trying to say is that I am feeling the pressure from both sides of the Atlantic!

What does Santa have to do with all of this? Santa, when I am tired, is an extremely effective parenting tool. One with a terribly limited shelf life so best to ‘consume’ while you can.

I love the holiday season, not simply because I can justafiably (yes I am aware this isn’t a real word) remain sozzled while pulling out my maternity pants and indulge in all things rich and calorific. I love it as I’ve got my kids’ full attention when I talk about a special elf-like secret police and the battles melt away like cotton candy on a toddler’s tongue. Readers note:  I don’t buy into elf on a shelf. What!? Am I supposed to carry that thing from room to room? Also, I’m in a rental folks, I don’t make holes in the walls for shelves and/or elves as a rule!

elf-on-the-shelf-ransom-note via crystalandcomp.com

Though I use Santa year around, he is most effective post Halloween.

  • Acting up at Dinner… watch out Santa’s watching.
  • Won’t get undressed for shower time – Santa’s making a note.
  • Refuses to take my bra off her head? He’s got his eyes on you.

Creepy, yet the girls lap it up. 

This year I got a little more creative. The girls watched The Rise of the Guardians. In this movie, Santa is this fantastic Russian character, with tats and all. He also has a big globe with red lights indicating where the kids who believe in him live. When questioned by P as to how Santa can really monitor everyone, I said something along the lines of ‘the lights start to blink slowly when a child misbehaves, increasing in speed the longer they take to listen to parents.’

Rise of Guardians Santa and Globe picture

I can stop unwanted behavior in 2 seconds flat by simply saying ‘light blinking’ and flicking my finger up and down.

There are moments, where I ponder whether it would be better if I stuck to my ‘French’ methods, enforcing boundaries, time outs, etc. rather than creating a culture of fear. But then, it won’t last for long, and with Santa watching, Mama has more time to put together all that holiday cheer and pour a nice Christmas-colored glass of wine.

Merry Merry everyone!

(PS. Santa if you are really watching, can I please have anyone of those Pointer Sister dresses? Bring back the bouffe!)

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

advent-calendar-little-angels via saras-toy-box.blogspot.com

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.