Elf on the Shelf 2014 – Day 4

Okay, so we’re totally slacking this year (um…sort of like we do every year). We haven’t even attempted to put up any Christmas lights, and we still don’t have our tree. To be fair, we’ve been a little busy getting our house ready to sell. But yeah, we still kind of suck at the whole “decorating for the holidays” thing. Maybe we’ll get motivated this weekend.

Maybe.

After all, our little elf is starting to give us hints that we need to make it a little more Christmasy around here. This morning we found her perched on the kitchen table with Cadence’s scissors, making snowflakes.

Cadence was so impressed with Cosette’s handiwork that she had to take the snowflakes to school to show her teachers and her classmates.

Clever little elf. We’ll get our butts in decorating gear soon, I promise.

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Elf on the Shelf 2014 – Day 1

She’s baaaaaaaaack!

December just kind of snuck up on us again this year.

Seriously, how does that happen?

After a long day of school and work, Cadence went upstairs to get ready for bed and found her sweet Cosette waiting for her with a pretty new nightdress.

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Can you tell she was just a little excited?

We didn’t even bother dragging out the big camera. We just snapped a bunch of iPhone pics and took a couple silly selfies. We’re so excited to have our little elf back again this year. Can’t wait to see what sort of silliness she’ll bring this year!

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A Perfect Day for Pumpkins

I’m having a hard time believing that it’s almost Halloween. 2014 is flying by way too fast, and the fact that we’re still enjoying 80-degree summer-like weather here in the Heartland…well, it makes it feel like we’re still in the midst of summer, and not closing in on that frenzied holiday season that always seems to end the year in a rush.

Mom, Dad, and my sister Lindy and her family all came over today to hang out, watch the Huskers put the smack down on Rutgers, and decorate pumpkins with the kiddos. Odin decided to carve. Cadence opted for paint. And, well…we all had a blast.

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Elf on the Shelf 2013 – Day 2

I had a thing for forts when I was a kid. I mean, really, what kid doesn’t? I always wanted to have some special, super secret hideout. I fashioned a few over the years–cutting a small clearing in the hedges growing along the side of our house, rearranging boxes in closets. Hell, one year when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and my family was still living in the tiny town of Bird City, Kansas, I even built a giant fort out of the hundred or so tumbleweeds that blew into our backyard one fall, but that one was pretty short-lived since Dad usually took care of the tumbleweeds as soon as they arrived by lighting a fire in a barrel in the backyard and burning them.

Part of me always hoped I might have something a little more permanent (and a helluva lot cooler). I wanted a tree house, or even a small clubhouse that I could build in my backyard. The closest I got was when my family moved to Holdrege, Nebraska and my family bought a house that had a little two-story shed in the backyard. I laid claim to the top floor before Dad could fill it with tools and useless junk, and I struck gold when I found some old pieces of carpet in the basement.

I called my friend Jenny and we raided Dad’s toolbox and spend the better part of an afternoon carpeting our new hangout. We were about halfway done when we heard a loud POP! from below and discovered that we’d been driving 3-inch nails straight through the plywood and nailed one right into the light fixture in the shed below.

Duane was a little pissed when he saw our handiwork, but hey, you live and learn right? And, after a long lecture, we were able to finish our carpeting job with some appropriately-sized nails and then spent the better part of a summer wasting away the hours in our hideout.

I eventually grew out of my cramped (and poorly insulated) loft in the shed, but it was fun while it lasted. And even if I’ve never had another proper clubhouse or treehouse, I’ve managed to find contentment in having some sort of space that was all my own. In high school, it was my basement bedroom. I could close my door, turn on some music, and write for hours. In college, it was my dorm room, after my roommate moved out and I managed to keep a single. After graduation, it was my private bed, bath and living room in a shared house, and then eventually my own studio apartment in a building a I shared with a cop, his girlfriend, and three nuns.

Sometimes the solitude of my own space was welcome. Other times, the loneliness was nearly my undoing. But either way, I learned a lot about myself in the quiet.

I’ve always been the type who needs a bit of space, some room to breathe and unwind, especially at the end of a long day filled with people and commitments and demands. There’s something about stepping into my own little corner of the world that helps me tune out the noise and find my balance again. These days, it’s a little harder to find that quiet spot, to catch a moment completely to myself. These past few months, I haven’t been very good about it at all, and I’ve paid for it with this lingering illness and this general feeling of exhaustion.

Lesson learned.

And thank you to Cosette for reminding me today, just how important it is for each of us to have our own sacred space, a place we can go to unwind, relax, and recharge our batteries. You know Cadence was thrilled when she woke and found that Cosette built her a special little place, but if we want to continue using our dining room table for meals, I guess this means we’re going to have to do a little brainstorming for a more permanent clubhouse.

But for now, we’ll just have fun…

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Elf on the Shelf – Day 9

Why is it that time speeds up during the holidays? Does the earth start spinning a little faster this time of year? Is it just the trick of light? The shorter days? Some sort of deeply ingrained instinct to want to hibernate when the weather turns cold? Whatever the cause, the effect is always the same…Christmas has a way of sneaking up on me.

Doesn’t matter how much I plan, how early I make my lists, how hard I try to keep it all straight, something just sort of shuts down in my brain when the holidays roll around. Add any sort of stress or obligations on top of it, and I’m easily derailed.

With my Dad’s cancer diagnosis and surgery this year, it’s no surprise that we’ve fallen a little behind in the decorating department. Mom and Dad brought us some lights from their collection (since Dad has been harassing Steven to get in on the Clark Griswold-style holiday light competition since we were married five years ago), and a new 4-foot tall lighted giraffe to put in the yard, just for Cadence.

So far, the lights haven’t made it on the house, and the giraffe is still sitting (fully assembled and beautifully lit) in the living room. But, we’ve got big plans to finally do things up right this weekend.

We’ll see what happens.

Apparently, Cosette is a little concerned that we haven’t yet put up the Christmas tree…

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Sweet little elf. Don’t worry, Cosette, the tree is on the list for this weekend too. 🙂 Especially now that Miss Cadence  has been notified that our lack of tree is an issue.

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365 Project – Day 351 – It’s Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas

Christmas has never been my favorite holiday. Don’t mistunderstand, I am far from a Scrooge, but I am definitely not one of those people that immediately starts counting down to next Christmas the moment this one is over. I enjoy giving gifts to my loved ones, but I don’t rack up ridiculous credit card bills to do it, and I wouldn’t be caught dead camping out in front of a department store just to snag some bogus Black Friday deal.

Call me old fashioned, but I love the simple things about Christmas–the candlelight service at church to celebrate Jesus’ birth, sharing a delicious homemade meal with family, and snuggling in a warm house with a cup of coffee or cocoa while keeping one eye on the window awaiting the snow.

Somehow, Steven and I just haven’t been able to get the hang of Christmas since we got married. Every year, something has gotten in the way of us being able to throw ourselves in the decorating and creating our very own family traditions. Our biggest roadblock is the fact that somehow, we seem to move just in time for the holidays. It’s hard to get excited about putting up a tree or any decorations when half of your belongings are still in boxes in a cluttered house.

The closest we came was Christmas 2009. I was 8 months pregnant with Cadence, and we were just finally starting to feel settled in our home in Arizona. We bought a tree and decorated it with lights and the few ornaments we had collected. I put out the nativity scene that my friend Jenny and her parents got us as a wedding gift. And in exchange for Steven agreeing to get a real tree, I agreed to let him buy a Yoda tree topper, completely with light up lightsaber…

Yeah, I know you’re jealous.

After moving from Arizona to Nebraska the week before Christmas last year, we both swore that we would never move so close to the holidays again. But damned if we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot again this year, closing on our house and moving just after Thanksgiving and just before the first big snowstorm of the season. With Steven working full-time, me working to finish up photo orders before the end of the year, and a house full of half-empty boxes that we’re still sifting through to get ourselves settled, decorating for Christmas has fallen by the wayside here in the Romano house again this year.

Then yesterday, Cadence’s godmother Tammy came by to drop of Cadence’s gifts, and in true Tammy-like fashion, she brought a little bit of the Christmas spirit right to our doorstep. We may not have a big fancy tree or a Griswold worthy light display this year, but it is beginning to look a little like Christmas around here after all. This year, we get to celebrate our second Christmas as a family gathered around Cadence’s very own Christmas tree. Here are a few quick shots of Cadence and her favorite godmother doing a little decorating together…

"Ooh! What's this?"
Tammy telling Cadence how her daughter Katie has had her own little tree just like this for Christmas every year!
Checking out her new doggie ornament
"I wonder if Mommy sees me taking my ornament off the tree?"
Getting the lights just right.
Of course Electra has to come check it out and make sure it is not edible
Oooh! This feels funny!

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to my favorite Tamatha, Scott and Katie for making sure Cadence had a little bit of Christmas in her new house this year. Next year, no excuses. We’re gonna Griswold it up in here! 🙂