Motherhood is a Romance

Motherhood is a romance: This single mom sees Valentine's Day as a celebration of love: her love for her children. I was having lunch the other day with a dear friend. He recently came out of a 5 year relationship and was talking about the awkwardness of being back on the dating scene.

“There’s thing whole thing,” he said, “about what to on Valentine’s Day. Or even whether I’m supposed to be wondering what to do on Valentine’s Day.”

I realized that I hadn’t thought about Valentine’s Day in those terms at all. At this point in my journey of single motherhood, a romantic relationship is not on my radar. I’ve been amped up about Valentine’s Day. I’ve been having a grand time plotting with my girls to help them make or buy a gift for Sister with her twin knowing what it is. I’ve been staying up far too late at night making heart shaped sweet treats for my daughters’ Girl Scout troop and classmates.

wpid-Photo-Feb-12-2014-710-AM.jpg

The love I celebrate on Valentine’s Day and every other day is my love for my children, their love for me, their love for each other.

I’m not saying that my friend doesn’t feel as strongly about his sons as I do about my daughters. He was a single dad for many years, and not the I’ll-call-my-kids-once-in-a-while kind of single dad either. He was the custodial parent, the one getting phone calls from the school, the one coaching soccer games and kissing boo-boos. But his boys are older now and likely uninterested in spending Valentine’s Day with their father.

I felt a little odd thinking these thoughts, that this day devoted to romance is to me another Mothers’ Day. I felt like perhaps I was disrespectful of those of you who have rich romantic lives with your partners.

Then Liggy posted this amazing gift on my Facebook wall and I felt like it was okay… Well, first I cried. At my desk at work. Once I was done crying, I felt like it was okay for my daughters to be the loves of my life.

Because motherhood is a romance.

Silly Old Grandpa

Grandparents. Ah, grandparents. Is there a more peculiar set of people out there? These last few days have really illustrated to me how amazing, spectacular, bizarre, hilarious grandparents sometimes are, especially grandfathers.

It’s been a whirlwind of Chinese New Year celebrations around here. My dad, who is only here a couple months a year, came from Taiwan a few days ago, just in time to host a big CNY party at my parents’ home. My children, who he hasn’t seen in person since a year ago, were featured prominently in this gathering of their longtime friends.

From the time we arrived, my dad gave his entire attention to my children. This man, who I’ve always known as an extremely strict and stoic father, was completely transformed when his grandchildren were placed in front of him. I mean, a completely-unrecognizable-to-me different person. It’s unexplainable, really, where this weird smiling stranger came from. Whereas to us, his grown children, there is no great outpouring of affection, never a big show of feeling, something came over him while in the presence of this next generation. It was a very odd, yet not unwelcome, sensation to watch him study my children with adoration and pride. He couldn’t control his joy when they went to him, dropped anything else to play with them… I even saw his eyes get watery when my firstborn told him she remembered a game he played with her the last time he was here.

The kids’ other grandfather is certainly not immune to their charms either. We found out that a guest at my parents’ party is coincidentally also a tennis-playing friend of my father-in-law’s. Hilariously, he recognized my children because my FIL never misses any opportunity to whip out their picture to show everyone his beautiful grandchildren. We were entertained for some time listening to stories of him talking about his grandchildren every chance he gets, to whoever was still willing to listen.

Such endearing, unexpected behaviors, especially when we are so used to the very stern and reticent fathers they used to be. Is this just crazy weird or what?

Make-It Mondays: What To Do with Holiday Cards

One of the wonderful delights of the holiday season for me is getting cards in the mail.  I love all the pictures, the sentiments…and if you really want to make me swoon, a hand-written note makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  My girls, now almost five, get just as excited to see what treasures are in the mailbox this time of year.

For the past several years, inspired by the amazing Marcia at The 123 Blog, I’ve been preserving our holiday cards in a DSC_0949simple binder ring folder.

I use a hole punch to make holes in the cards (being as careful as possible to avoid our friends’ faces…you can see I didn’t always do such a stellar job!).  You can find binder rings at the craft store or the office supply store.

DSC_0947Last year, I took some of the girls’ [plethora of] Christmas tree artwork and up-cycled it into a cover.  I glued it onto card stock and had it laminated at the office supply store for $1.79.

The 2013 binder is a collection of cards the girls received throughout the year, from birthday, to Easter, to invitations to birthday parties and thank-you notes from friends.

Our girls LOVE to look through our card collection.  It’s a great way to remind them of our friends and family, many of whom we don’t see very often.

What do you do with the cards you receive during the year?  Do your kiddos like to hang onto every single invitation (the way mine do!)?

MandyE is mom to almost-five year old fraternal twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Surviving the Holidays with Young Children

From hdydi,com, where mothers of multiples tell it like it isMy boy/girl twins have just turned a year old. And they also have a Big Sis who’s 3.5. So our holidays have been adjusted to meet the needs of these kiddos. Here’s how we’re surviving:

Schedule Around Their Schedules

First and foremost, we plan events around the babies’ sleep schedules whenever possible. Thankfully, the family is well trained to our kids’ strict habits so this was not particularly difficult to arrange. We even had extended family visit during Thanksgiving week and most events went without a hitch. From the babies’ first birthday party right before, to New Years’ dinner next week, everything is timed so we disrupt the kids as little as possible.

For example, we opened Christmas gifts before dinner. That’s what we’ve done since Big Sis was a part of the picture. And we eat early. Which is fine because for Thanksgiving and Christmas everyone eats a late breakfast and no lunch or just a light lunch anyway. So, when dinner is over at 6:00 or 6:30, we hightail it out of there so we can rush through our bedtime routine and get them to bed at just about the same time as usual.

Nothing is good with cranky babies, so everyone does their best to accommodate.

Don’t Get Too Ambitious

There was a time when I would have loved creating handmade gifts for the holidays, go all out with decorations, prepare all kinds of goodies. But, since the arrival of our first child, our Christmas ramp-up has gotten more simple. Our Christmas tree has gotten smaller and smaller. We still get the good-smelling live tree, but it has now shrunk to the size of my 3yo. This way, I can spend just a half hour stringing lights and hanging ornaments, Big Sis can reach to help, and it still looks very festive.

I will admit, however, that I did undertake a bout of baking this year. Since I get two weeks winter break as a teacher, I’ve always done a lot of baking during this time of year. There are a couple of recipes that my family always asks for, and it’s really too time consuming to make batches and batches of cookies any other time. This year I continued with the baking tradition, but probably at only half of what I used to make.

Only Buy Online

For years I’ve shopping on Amazon for Christmas gifts. This year, I exclusively shopped there. Even if I had the inclination to circle for parking and fight the crowds, I no longer have the time. To work around naps and get the entire family ready and out the door is just not an undertaking I want, not for something so mundane as shopping.

I can’t think of anything better. Prices are just as good online, if not even lower than in stores, and everything arrives right on your doorstep, already boxed. No carrying gifts from the trunk, hiding purchases from the preschooler, surreptitiously unhiding and wrapping. And also, it’s pretty darned exciting to find boxes at the door every so often.

Prepare Early

I started working on the kids’ holiday outfits right after Halloween. It’s amazing how many coordinating pieces there is to find with 3 kids. Don’t forget the hairpieces, stockings, socks, and shoes! I did not have to scramble for any of them because I was already done by Thanksgiving! I do need to work on getting pictures taken early as well though. This year we did our usual Picture People at the mall on a weekend about 2 weeks before Christmas. Bad idea!

I made full use of Amazon’s wish lists. Since before Thanksgiving, I’d browse a little bit online every chance I had a free moment (in line somewhere, after the kids have gone to bed, hanging out at the inlaws’), and put together some stuff at different price ranges for the kids. Sent it out to the family, and picked off whatever was left over when it got close to Christmas. And I’d buy a little bit here and there, when I saw a sale, or when a gift idea struck me. So the gifts would trickle in and I’d wrap them when I had a free moment, so it never got overwhelming. But the key is definitely getting this all going by Thanksgiving.

Fight Off Illness

I’ve been battling a bad cold since before Thanksgiving. Don’t know what exactly is going on, but it may have even been a couple (few?) colds back-to-back. Achy, chills, sore throat, congestion. At some point it got so bad I lost my voice for 4 days.

Even with all the preparation, with 3 young children the stress of the holidays will still get you. I am doing all that I can to combat this. Sleep every chance I get, try to go with the flow more. I’ve always had the mentality that I would just power through illness. Which may have worked pre-children, or with only one child, but that tactic is no good against twin babies plus a preschooler. You just don’t get downtime unless you create it for yourself.

Ultimately, these holidays come only once a year. By the time next Christmas comes, our kids will be another year older. Treasure these moments, love on the kids, and try not only to survive but truly enjoy. Wishing you and your family the best of the holidays and a happy 2014!

Thank-You Cards from Kids

The girls and I worked really hard making homemade holiday gifts (baked goodies, Shrinky Dinks key chains, and gift tags this year).  On the other end of the holiday, it’s important to me that I involve our girls in saying thank you to our friends and family who were so generous in giving their time and resources to us.

Since they were old enough to scribble a few streaks across a paper, I’ve worked with the girls to make thank-you cards.  Here’s an example of some cards we did when they were 2 1/2…

DSC_0468I wrote the text: “Thank you for the book about the,” and then the girls filled in the blank, so to speak.  At the time, they still weren’t drawing very recognizably, but they could choose a color for the background to the sea, and glue to it a few fish I’d cut out from construction paper.

They definitely “got” what we were doing, and why.  And I think this kind of activity helps them remember who gave them what.  They still know that Aunt Alison gave those books to them when we saw her in Alabama.

At almost-five years old, our girls can’t fully read, but they can print like no one’s business.  My plan this year is to have them write “THANK YOU” on the front of the cards, and address the inside of the card, “TO: AUNT ALISON” and sign their names.  We’ll either draw pictures, or in some cases I might take a picture of the girls wearing their new sweaters or playing with a particular toy to include in the card.

Of course the girls love to tape the envelope shut, apply the stamp, and walk the letters to the mailbox.

An art project, handwriting practice, and a sense of gratitude…it’s what’s on our agenda this post-holiday week.

How do you handle thank-yous with your kiddos?

MandyE is mom to fraternal twin girls, almost five.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Long-Distance Parenting

My kids are spending the holidays with their father at their paternal grandparents’ house. Without me.

This is just one of the realities of parenting after divorce. This year, I’m home in Texas while my girls are in Washington state, their father getting a little break from North Carolina to visit his childhood home with the kids.

I’m the custodial parent. I don’t pretend that my 3 weeks of long-distance parenting makes me an expert on the subject. I get to be there for the day-to-day realities of homework, dance lessons and play dates. I get to meet all the kids’ friends, attend school performances, and nurture friendships with my girls’ mentors. I get to go to church with them and witness their arguments. I get to play Tooth Fairy and nutritional consultant. I get to do the bulk of parenting, simply by virtue of physical proximity. I get to be the one to raise our children. That can’t be easy for my ex-husband.

Nevertheless, this 21 day separation has granted me some insight into the reality of parenting when you don’t live near your kids

  1. Communicate with your children every day. Every. Single. Day. If you can’t telephone, write to them. If you don’t know their address or they’re too young to read, fill notebook after notebook and write to them for the day they’re able to read your letters. That day will come, and you will want to have been a parent every day of their lives.
  2. Foster individual relationships. Your kids have different needs and interests. Resist the urge to talk at them or to have the same conversation with all your kids. Listen to what each of them has to tell you. Remember what they’re interested in and who their friends are. My girls made friends with a couple of their grandparents’ neighbourhood dogs. You can be sure that I’ll be asking my babies whether they run into their new puppy friends again.
  3. Maintain discipline. Yes, I’m 2000 miles away. My kids still don’t get to get away with bad manners. I overheard my daughter M yell to her sister to, “Stop that noise!” I wouldn’t let it go until she amended her request to “Please be a little quieter.”
  4. Be honest. Yes, it’s tempting to present only your best self to your children, especially if you only get a few minutes each day. They can detect inauthenticity. I promise they love you despite your imperfections, just as you love them.
  5. Resist the urge to lecture. Your time is limited and alienating your children doesn’t gain you anything. Confirm that they want your help before offering it. They may simply want to tell you about a difficult moment or challenge they’ve overcome without asking you for a solution. I’ve noticed that this listening without offering solutions can be especially difficult for male parents talking to female children. That may be just my family, though.
  6. Don’t share information with others without your child’s permission. My daughter J needed help with a holiday homework assignment but was insistent that she didn’t want to ask her father for help. Being far away, it was very tempting to just ask Daddy to help her out, but all that would have accomplished would have been losing my daughter’s trust. Instead, I helped her as best I could over the phone, locating age-appropriate websites she could use for her research on the city of Seattle. I encouraged her to ask Daddy for help, but promised that I wouldn’t do that for her.
  7. Be sensitive to their schedule. The fact is that you’re not there and your kids have things to do other than talk to you. When it was obvious to me that my conversation with my diabetes was keeping them from going out in the snow, I cut our conversation short with a commitment that they’re tell me all about their snow adventures.

Have your children ever been away from you? How do you parent them at a distance?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Elf on the Shelf: Why We Don’t Participate

   A picture of us, the stick-figure family, at a Christmas light show. 

Growing up, my Decembers were filled with family Christmas parties, Christmas lights,candy canes, homemade glittery sweaters made by my Great-Grandma C, decorating sugar cookies, hand-print paintings of wreaths and reindeer, the Christmas parade down the local boulevard, Christmas trees, homemade tamales by my other Great-Grandma C, singing Christmas carols, attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service, doing gift exchanges, lots of shopping, watching Christmas movies galore, and more. I didn’t have the Elf on the Shelf and, here’s a shocker (or maybe not), neither will my children.

I don’t know much about Elf on the Shelf,  so I had to look up what it was all about and I found on their official website that “The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.- Elf on the Shelf“.

First off, let me quickly say, that my children are young (I have a 2-1/2 year old little boy and 10 month old twin girls) and right now, they have no idea what Elf on the Shelf is. When they do get old enough, it’s just another thing to take care of when the kids go to bed and… I don’t have time for that.

Most importantly, for me and my home, Jesus is the reason for the season. We know that Jesus forgives our naughty sins when we ask for forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t keep tabs. And quite frankly, I don’t want want to teach my kids that Santa does and then emphasize the Naughty or Nice list.

We try to parent with Jesus in mind, with unconditional love, grace, and mercy. And Elf on the Shelf doesn’t really fall in line with those values.

But, that doesn’t keep me from laughing aloud at the pictures of all the mischievous Elves my friends have “adopted.”

Nadia Cakes

              An elf behind the glass eating a cupcake at a local bakery.

I have a tendency of eating my words. But, this one, I am sure is a “for sure” kind of thing.

(For the record, my children are allowed to believe in Santa as long as they want to. I think it builds their imagination. But, it is mine and my husband’s job, to ensure that our children know that Christmas is about Christ; and that Christ is not just about Christmas.)

Kayla at Chasing a Daredevil and Twins

Kayla is a wife to her best friend and a full-time mother to her two-year-old Daredevil and her ten-month-old twin girls. Kayla draws stick figures and blogs about motherhood and other meaningful life experiences at Chasing a Daredevil and Twins. She also lives on the edge by undertaking new adventures, her latest of which is raising chickens. Connect with Kayla on Facebook and on her blog

The Magic of Santa: All in the Details

The Magic of Santa from hdydi.com

Image modified from original by kevin dooley

Starting Out: Misgivings

I used to feel torn about whether to bring the magic of Santa Claus into our family. After all, I’d committed to raising our children Christian. I worried that the focus on Santa and gifts at Christmas detracted from the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

As an atheist myself, I found it hard to fathom setting up two fantastical myths for the kids to believe in, only to ask them to stop believing one when they were old enough. Santa and God, to my mind, were both white guys with beards who judged the goodness and badness of our behaviour and intentions, one rewarding us with gifts or coal, the other with Heaven or Hell. It didn’t make sense to me that my kids would continue to believe in God when they inevitably would discover that Santa was a communal practical joke.

I raised my concerns with my husband, who was Catholic and the reason we were raising our daughters Christian. He poopooed my concerns. After all, he’d figured out that Santa wasn’t real and his religious faith was none the worse for it. Santa and God were nothing alike. I halfheartedly agreed to “do Santa.”

As with many of the joys of the world, my twin daughters eventually won me over.

The Magic of Christmas from hdydi.com

Suspicious

At age 2.5, J and M were rather suspicious of this strange man who could break into our house at will on Christmas Eve. Here’s what I wrote about that Christmas:

M and J weren’t too sure about Santa Claus. J declared rather early in December that she didn’t want Santa coming to her house. In fact, when we were discussing the girls’ need for new pajamas, [Daddy] suggested that Santa might bring us some. J’s response: “No, Mama Daddy buy it, please.” On Christmas Eve, J finally gave into the idea of presents and begrudgingly said that Santa could visit. M suddenly decided that she no longer wanted Santa around. By bedtime Christmas Eve, though, the idea of setting out muffins and milk for Santa was too exciting to skip. (I was barred from any additional cookie baking, so I, I mean he, got mincemeat mini-muffins with his milk.)

Santa brought the girls two movies (Mary Poppins and a Backyardigans DVD) and the ultimate gift: a bicycle each. Given what a hit the bikes were, I figured that Santa was now a beloved addition to our family.

Not so. This morning, when M couldn’t find one of her dolls, J’s immediate suggestion was that Santa had taken it. We found the doll under M’s covers, but J still considers Santa to be a highly suspicious character.

Children Bring Magic

Every Christmas, my twin daughters, M and J, would receive gifts from both Mommy and Daddy and Santa. We didn’t bother with having Santa have his own wrapping paper or gift tags. The kids loved Christmas and that’s what mattered.

When the girls were about 4, I think, they figured out what was going on. Mommy and Daddy were actually Santa. I confessed, but asked the girls to remember that Santa was the idea of generosity at Christmas. They needed to play Santa too, and keep quiet about their discovery so that their friends could continue to believe in Santa. They did pretty well, but my friend Amanda told me that J had tried to burst her son’s bubble. We had quite the talk.

The following year, M and J had had enough of reality. “I choose to believe in Santa,” M told me, holding my eyes with hers with even more intensity than usual. I got the message loud and clear.The Magic of Christmas from hdydi.com

Keeping Santa Real

Now that I have marching orders from my girls to keep Santa real, I go at it with full gusto.

It seems to be working. The other day, now 7-year-old M told me, “Santa brought us presents even the year we didn’t believe in him. I think it’s because Grammy and Grampy are personal friends.”

It’s all in the details. My daughters are bright and want to believe. Together, we’ve come up with some pretty good rationalizations of Santa.

  • Santa’s gifts are the goody bags from Jesus’ birthday party.
  • Santa doesn’t use his own stationery or gift wrap. His sleigh is intended for gifts only. He uses whatever supplies are provided at the host home.
  • For homes that lack fireplaces and chimneys, Santa has a skeleton key that works only on Christmas Eve. He cannot let himself in any other day, and non-Santa entities can’t make the key work.
  • For divorced families in which kids celebrate Christmas twice, once on Christmas Day and once on another arbitrary date, Santa can make a special visit on a date other than Christmas Eve. He came to our house on December 14 and will be showing up to Grammy and Grampy’s house again on Christmas Eve. To make this work, the parent celebrating the non-traditional Christmas date must write to Santa.

There’s also some behind-the-scenes work I have to do, as well as the occasion for quick thinking.

  • Santa’s correspondence, whether in the kids’ school journals, is consistently in the same ink (brown permanent marker at our house) and in all caps to disguise my handwriting.
  • I make note of at least one toy, book or movie that each child has requested when we’re out and about that I’ve had to deny because of time or budgetary constraints. I make sure that Santa brings one of those things to each child.
  • I do my Christmas shopping online, since there’s no way for me to sneak out to the store without the kids. I don’t have anyone else to watch them without hiring a sitter or arranging a playdate. I suppose I could skip out during work, but my leave hours are rather limited after all the time I take off to attend school events and other extracurriculars.
  • I buy myself a Christmas gift from Santa. This year I/he got myself an Otterbox cover for my iPad. It was something I wanted, needed and saved for, but I could wait a few days to open it alongside the girls’ Christmas gifts.
  • I fill my own stocking. I got myself a book of crosswords from the dollar store, a candy bar and two Christmas DVDs the kids have been dying to see. They don’t need to know that the DVDs are really for them. They get joy from the magic of Mommy getting her own “surprises”.
  • I found a great trampoline for $200 off in October or November and bought it as Santa’s gift to the kids. I didn’t have a great place to hide the massive box, so I just stored it in the garage with the label side turned out of view. After over a month of it hiding in plain sight, M noticed it on December 14, the day before we were to celebrate Christmas. I thought very fast. Santa, I told her, had asked me store it for him because it was taking up too much room in his sleigh. He would come by and put it under the tree that night. J was shocked. “Did you see him?!” No, I told her, he’d just left a note.
  • On the subject of hiding gifts, your car trunk is a great place if you have kids who search for hidden presents. Their own closets are also remarkably effective hiding places.

Do your kids believe in Santa? What are your tricks to keeping the magic alive?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Do You Celebrate Christmas?

It’s hard not to get swept up in the ‘Christmas spirit’ when you are immersed in a winter wonderland that lights up every December with magical lights, Christmas carollers, bustling shopping centres and generally happy people.

Every year around this time people ask me if I celebrate Christmas. My answer is this: I celebrate it on a social level – not on a personal level.

My family is from a Muslim country where Christmas is observed by less than 2% of the population. December 25th is a national holiday in Pakistan, but not for the same reason as it is here in Canada. There, it is the birthday of founder Quaid-e-Azam, who along with Mahatma Gandhi, carved the country out of the Indian subcontinent. The major holidays in the Pakistani calendar are the two Eids: one commemorating the end of Ramadan, the other for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

My hubby – Mr. Mama – hails from British Guyana where Muslims, Christians and Hindus celebrate their other’s festivals. His experience with Christmas is different from mine. A Guyanese Christmas includes many of the Canadian elements, plus a traditional meal of pepper pot (delicious sweet beef stew) and festive Caribbean music.

Growing up Canadian, we were introduced to local and Gaelic Christmas traditions by our ‘Chachi’, an Irish lady who married our uncle. As kids, my cousins and I would go over to their place on Christmas Day to decorate their tree, watch holiday specials on TV, gorge on candy and junk food, then proceed to eat a whole turkey dinner complete with the trimmings. It was an annual event, and lots of fun. Oh and it was kids only which added to the excitement! I suspect our parents were more than happy to have us out of their hair.

Back at home, my parents never put up a Christmas tree, and I don’t remember ever asking them for one. It was enough for me to go over to Chacha and Chachi’s and celebrate it in their home. I was content with watching TV specials throughout December, getting gifts for friends (if I wanted to, no pressure there), and wishing people ‘Happy Christmas’, Irish-style.

Once we all grew up, things went back to December 25th being another day except that businesses and stores are closed and people stayed home from work. Often, our family and friends would take this opportunity to host dinner parties for no other reason than to get together. These dinner parties did not have any special themes, nor were they held in homes decorated for the holiday. The food was always served buffet style with an Indo-Pakistani menu.

Other years, we would travel during the holidays as far away as India & Pakistan for a few weeks, or as close as Toronto for a few days to visit relatives. I remember being very surprised when we visited New Delhi one year in December and saw inflatable Santa Clauses all over. The lack of snow and other North American symbols made me forget it was the holidays and that many people in India celebrate Christmas.

One of my favourite things about the holiday break was when non-celebrating friends who had moved away came back to visit their families between Christmas and New Years. It was a great opportunity meet up because, like me, these friends were free on the 25th!

In my opinion, it’s not about whether you have a traditional feast and open presents on December 25th. It’s about the mood during the entire month leading up to the holidays. Over the years, I’ve learned all the non-religious Christmas carols by heart, sang at old age homes during the holiday season, and wrapped gifts for less fortunate children. Last but not least, I’ve shopped to my heart’s content up to and including Boxing Week… scooping up deals for myself to last the whole year. Why not? I was single then.

Now that we are responsible adults, we will share gifts with our close neighbours and exchange cards with office colleagues. I considered getting gifts for the educators at Missy and Missy’s daycare, but it’s hard to think of what to get so I think we will just stick with cards decorated by the little ones themselves.

I’ve embraced the best of the festive spirit of the country in which I live. All without compromising my personal beliefs and values, and without the pressure or stress that comes with finding the perfect gift or hosting an elaborate feast.

Mister and Missy are born in Canada to parents of the same faith yet different cultural backgrounds. They like their Guyanese curry and roti, Indo-Pak tandoori chicken, Christmasey eggnog, and Quebecois French fries. Now the question is: how will they view Christmas when they grow up?

It’s only one week away from Christmas Day. What will you be doing on December 25th? And do you think Christmas is mainly for the kids?

Happy Holidays!

2Cuteblog lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and their three year old twins. You can read about their multicultural adventures on her personal blog at http://2cute.intiaz.com or follow her on twitter @2cuteblog

Decorating the Christmas Tree with Kids

My friend Arleen always has a perfect Christmas tree. The ornaments are always within an elegant colour-scheme and perfectly distributed. I look at her tree and I drool. One day, when I grow up, my Christmas tree will look like Arleen’s. There is no reason her tree should be perfect. She has 3 kids and two dogs and is constantly on the go, but her tree and home are always, always perfect.

My tree is seriously imperfect, but decorating it brings my daughters joy. They don’t know my aversion to clumps of ornaments lumped together on a single branch. They have no idea how badly I want to place my 12 Days of Christmas ornaments in order, spiraling around the tree. They are unaware of the thoughts of seizures that run through my mind at the sight of blinking tree lights; I’d prefer a constant glow. They share with me my disappointment at having to pack away our breakable ornaments for fear of Scout the Destructokitty. (Seriously, his new bird-on-a-string toy lasted 15 minutes before he ripped the string off its stick. Our other cats can play with the same toy for months without breaking it.)

Watching, and even more hearing, my girls decorate the tree makes every imperfection tell a story and bring me happiness.

Why are all the dark blue ornaments up high, where only mommy can reach? Because they’re the night sky, mommy.

Why are do you want blinking lights in only the top half of the tree? Because it’s a snowstorm, mommy, and that’s the lightning. The solid lights beneath are the lights of the city.

Why are the snowflakes all in the front of the tree? Because it’s snowing on the town, mommy. It’s a winter snowstorm miracle!

Why are all the elves hanging on one of two branches at the bottom of the tree? Because they’re having a winter snowstorm miracle party, mommy.

Why is there only one red ornament on the tree this year? Because it’s Rudolph’s nose, mommy. He’s driving Santa (our tree topper).

storytree

*I forgot to take a photo. Oops. Enjoy my clipart!

My kids remind me that I’m a story-teller, not a homemaker, and that’s okay. If I want my kids to see what a beautiful home looks like, I can visit Arleen. If she wants to her kids to get sugar and flour all over them, she can send them to my house.

How does your tree look when you have kids at home?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.