Category Archives: holidays

Santa! I Know Him!

In my lack of writing last fall/early winter, I neglected to record some important family updates along the way. A conversation with Jack Henry yesterday reminded me that I should write about this!

So after school one day in very early December, Jack Henry, Bennett and I were in the middle school parking lot, waiting for Luke. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but Jack Henry (age 7, first grade) asked, point-blank, if Santa was real. I took a deep breath as I hesitated for a moment, thinking, “Ok. This is how this is going to go down. Remember this,” and turned towards him in the back seat.

“What do you think?” I asked tentatively.

“That he’s not real,” came the reply.

I told him he was right, and he burst into tears. My giant 7-year-old boy climbed up into the front seat of the car and snuggled in on my lap (this makes me think of Will Ferrell sitting on Bob Newhart’s lap in Elf).

(photo cred)

I explained that while Santa wasn’t real, and that Dad and I were the ones who bought the gifts, it didn’t really matter because that’s not what Christmas is all about anyway. He nodded, and then said, sweetly, “Wait. So you and Dad bought us the iPad last year?” So cute.

{BTW, Christmas with no Santa-believers was still beautiful and wonderful and magical. I know some of you out there are panicking at the thought of kids not believing anymore, but I can assure you that Christmas is not ruined. In fact, I absolutely love how it’s opened up the opportunity, as a whole family, to fully understand the impact we can have on others…none of the boys can fall back on that “Santa will just bring them what they need” mentality.}


So I didn’t go into specifics with JH when talking about Santa that the Tooth Fairy also isn’t real. I just assumed he’d put two and two together.

Uh, he didn’t right away.

He lost his top tooth in early December, after the big Santa revelation, and he still wrote the tooth fairy a note and left his tooth under his pillow. Matt and I just laughed, left the dollar under his pillow, and left well enough alone….he’d eventually figure it out.


yesterday, just waiting to pick up one of the boys…he and i have lots of moments like these.

Yesterday at snack time after school, he said, “I have a question that isn’t about what we’re talking about right now. Is the Tooth Fairy real?”

I giggled, asked what he thought, and he said, “No. It has to be you. I thought so after I lost my last tooth, but I just didn’t say anything.”

So that’s settled. He has 2 teeth about to fall out (great…you know how much I love pulling teeth, and catching my kids as they faint), and I’m wondering if he’ll just present them to me for payment or stick them under his pillow for fun.


I ran a quick errand to the mall this evening. Honestly, the awkwardness I witnessed at Aerie made me look around for a camera, and could be the focus of a blog post all by itself.

As it stands, in light of what happened after that, the story about how I saw a young 20-something-year-old man bra shopping for his girlfriend (who was not present) WITH HIS GRANDMOTHER will have to suffice as the opener. Seriously. People are so.weird.

As I was walking out of the mall, I got a text from Matt. It was a picture of our closet, with all of the belongings from the long side of the closet on the floor, and the brackets dangling from the wall.

So yes. While my children slept, and my husband minded his own business, our 22-year-old shelf in our closet decided it had had enough, and dumped all of my clothes and the few remaining Christmas gifts stored up high to the floor.


this is a first world problem. fully aware. still a major pain in the butt.


previously, this bracket was the opposite direction. this is not very helpful for holding up a shelf.

I’ll cop to having said a pretty bad word in my head when I looked at the picture a second time, and realized that the kids’ one and only Santa gift had just tumbled to the floor.

Sidenote: this is the last year for Santa in our house, and he’s going out big: the kids are getting an iPad! They have NO idea. It will be such a fun surprise. If it works after the 7-foot drop it took, of course. (I did open the packaging…the screen did not shatter.)

The following is Matt’s and my text convo before I got home:


The wine was waiting when I walked in.

And then Matt said the words I hoped he’d say: “Let’s just redo the closet.”


The timing is horrible, but it’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s ok-sized for a walk-in, but so poorly configured that the space is not nearly maximized. From the moment we laid eyes on this house, we’ve wanted it changed, but just haven’t wanted to spend the money on it.

With the brackets all busted and my belongings scattered about on the floor, this seems like as good a time as any.

So…have any of you used a custom closet company? Would you recommend them? We are not handy people, so installing this ourselves is likely out of the question, but I’ve already found a couple of online design tools that I’ll at least give a try. Fill me in on your experience!

Less Ordinary Designs Giveaway

***GIVEAWAY OVER! And the winner is comment #3, Jamie!!***

It’s time for my favorite giveaway of the year, friends! It’s a good one.

Sara at Less Ordinary Designs is offering one of you lucky readers the following:

*The card design of your choice
*50 5×7 cards and envelopes

Yay! I told you it was good!

Take a peek at a few of her amazing designs:

slc card1

slc card2

slc card3

So here’s what you need to do/know:
1. Click over to Sara’s shop and browse the cards.

2. Come back here and leave a comment about which one is your favorite (you’re not locked in to choosing that one, though, if you’re the winner).

3. Leave your comment by November 7 at 10pm. I’ll announce the winner here on Friday!

And this is not necessary to win, but I would so love it if you’d share this giveaway with your friends, tell them about how great Sara’s totally affordable design work is (not to mention, she’s fabulous to work with when designing your card!), and like her Facebook page!

Cookie Day!

I have a confession that makes me sound like a horrible mother, but here it is:

I don’t really like baking with my kids. Shhhh…

I SO WISH my mom was still here (for a multitude of reasons, of course) so I could ask her if she actually liked baking with me and my siblings when we were little. Because it was, from my perspective, always fun. So either she really liked it, or she did a darn good job of faking it.

Anyway, for the first time this year, I let the boys help with cutting out the sugar cookies in addition to icing some (as always, I only let them frost the ones they get to eat; if they’re going to neighbors or for me to eat, I take care of that ;)). The cutting out part was a little stressful, but overall, much more fun than I’d envisioned.

Plus, we cut them out one day, I baked them the next, and they frosted them the next. Spacing it out made it much better, too!

Apparently, We’re Raising Alex P. Keaton.

This is Jack Henry today at his preschool Christmas program. {side note: this is our final preschool Christmas program. Sob.}


Evidence he’s Alex P. Keaton despite having never seen an episode of Family Ties:

1. He chose his own outfit. For real.

2. He didn’t want to tuck in his shirt, and I wanted him to, so I offered him a quarter. He wagered back with 2 quarters. Deal.

Love him!

The Elf on the Shelf Returns After 1-Year Hiatus. Read All About It.

If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve no doubt seen the millions of cute, creative ideas people are using with the Elf on the Shelf. I would see them and think, oh, that’s cute, and wish I had Pinterest for inspiration several years ago when we started with JoJo, our elf.

JoJo was a gift from Matt’s mom several years ago, and for the first few Christmases, we used him faithfully. It was fun, Luke and Bennett weren’t freaked out by him (Jack Henry was too young to know) and his ability to watch them and fly to Santa at night, and Matt and I mostly remembered to move him every night. On those nights he didn’t move, we just made up something about how he must not have had anything to report to Santa that night, so he stayed put.

Sometimes, though, our lazy elf would stay put for a couple of days. The last year we had him out (our first in this house), he didn’t even show up until close to Christmas, and even then, didn’t do a very good job.

Which, I think, is primarily why last Christmas, JoJo stayed suffocating in his box. I was tired of sucking at moving the elf. Plus, Jack Henry didn’t make a peep about it, and neither Luke nor Bennett believed in Santa, so it seemed unnecessary.

However, last week, I decided to get him back out. Jack Henry has an elf at school that just showed up on Wednesday, and he told me all about it. He was so excited that I decided we should do it again. One more time, at least.


Because I may tell him about Santa after this year. Yes, I know he’s 5. And I know some of you right now are thinking I’m crazy or stupid, and I’m fine with that. Please know that these are just my thoughts, and no reflection on what I think other people should be doing.

The truth is, I’ve struggled for years with the idea of Santa. We’ve always kept Santa’s gifts pretty small, and we’ve never talked about the naughty/nice aspect of Santa, though I did once use the Elf to try and bribe Bennett, in the thick of his “rough years”, which *shockingly* didn’t work (Katie wrote an awesome post about the Elf and behavior modification that I LOVED). I hate the lying to my kids that keeping the story of Santa involves. I’ve probably also mentioned this before, but I also hate how when my kids make a Christmas list, and I’d talk about how Matt and I spend money conservatively through the year and we can’t (and WON’T) buy them everything they want, they pull the “I’ll Just Ask Santa” card.

Last Christmas was our first with 2 boys not believing, and it was still magical and amazing and fantastic. It wasn’t sad or lacking.

But here’s the kicker for me, and why I’m considering telling JH fairly soon: several weeks ago, we were preparing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. As we were deciding what to put in there, Jack Henry said, “Why doesn’t Santa just bring those kids what they need?”

It’s difficult to really teach your kids how to be the hands and feet of Jesus when they think that a make-believe character can deliver toothbrushes and soap to kids in third world countries. And though I gently explained that just like Santa only brings him one or two things from his list, he can’t bring kids everything they need and want, no matter where they live.

But really, I hate that answer. So much. If I want him to grow up to know that we are called to care for the poor, that it is our responsibility, then I want to be able to fully teach him that now while he’s so impressionable.

So that brings me back to the elf, which we are having fun with again this year. Going out with a bang? Maybe. But it’s making the older boys smile and wink at me, and Jack Henry gasp, when they walk in and see JoJo playing Candyland with Buzz Lightyear, Sheriff Woody, and Mack Truck!


For now, it’s a fun game of hide-and-seek, while I work out this inner conflict I’m having.

(for an incredible blog post that REALLY got me thinking last year, read this, The Christmas Conundrum, and psst…take a look at that advent calendar! Look familiar?)

Thanksgiving 2012, In Bullets, Because Now It’s 6 Days Late.

*I hosted Thanksgiving for my side of the family last week! It was a success, if I do say so myself. We had 11 adults and 6 kids, and I made a boatload of turkey (recipes will be posted to Three More Bites soon!). It was my first time cooking something with a carcass a turkey, and while I didn’t love the process at all, the end result was quite tasty!

*I made this thankfulness tree, and I was happy that people participated! Here’s how ours looked:

*The only other fun Pinterest-y thing I did was use Mason jars and label them with our names, which was an easy solution to the “we don’t have enough glasses” problem I was facing:

*On Friday, we headed to Effingham to hang out with the Diehls! We ate til we were stuffed yet again, and enjoyed some good times with the family. I have to get better about getting my camera out at these gatherings, because I have no pictures of the boys playing with their cousins!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!