Embracing the Elf
I really resisted the Elf on the Shelf. I really, really didn't want to do it. I couldn't wrap my head around spending $29.95 on a little doll & then telling the kids that the doll was watching them to report back to Santa like a vindictive little spy, and oh, yes, if you touch it you ruin its magic. What a terrible, horrible tradition. I was having none of it.
Then, the kids started going to a friend's house two mornings a week and they had a elf. If we didn't get an elf, my kids would somehow feel rejected. Much as I didn't want them being spied on by a little doll, being rejected by one seemed worse. That's how Snowflake came into our lives last year.
I didn't do anything terribly creative with it last year, but we had our fun. Snowflake read a tiny book one day & hung from a few ornaments on the tree. She wrapped tinsel around the stairs. The kids loved her. I was indifferent but did my mom-duty and moved her around every evening until it was time for her to return to the North Pole on December 24th.
After we celebrated Thanksgiving this year, I knew we had to get ready for Snowflake's return. One more thing to do in the evening, right? Great. Then something happened that changed my perspective.
The news of November 29th felt like a gut punch. On a global scale, our standoff with North Korea freaked me out. One of my students asked, "We're kind of in a Cold War now, aren't we?," and it became my job to have that conversation with her. Then, the news about Matt Lauer really, really got to me. I've been thinking about it, and I think it's because I welcomed him into my home every morning I was around. I watched him every day on both of my maternity leaves. I watched he and Katie Couric try to do their jobs through their own devastation as the Towers fell. The news made me feel angry, betrayed, and scared. (See a great article about this in Scary Mommy-- the link is below.)
This is a hard time to be a high school teacher. The issues the kids are seeing every day in the news are really hard to navigate. They're trying to figure out who and what to trust and what a good adult looks like. As an educator, I do the best I can to help them as they enter adulthood, but I wish it wasn't such an ugly time. I'm grateful that my husband and I have been able to shelter our little ones from most of the vitriol and ugly stories in the news right now.
That brings me back to the Elf on the Shelf, because this year, I am freaking EMBRACING that Elf. We need a little holiday magic. We need something to look forward to every morning. I need something to look forward to every morning, and the kids' faces as they race around looking for Snowflake are pretty magical. I'm going to ask Snowflake to ignore when my kids are being unpleasant, not report back to Santa, and just join me in basking in their innocence. Adulthood and adult issues will come soon enough. In the meantime, I'll do everything in my power to give my kids a little magic this holiday season.
I've planned on putting together a post of kids' books forever. I know it's not the main mission of this page, but if you're feeling like you're wearing mom jeans... you might be a mom. And if you are a mom, you might be looking for kids' books, especially to give as presents this time of year. I'm not an elementary school or preschool teacher, but I was raised by a elementary school reading consultant (now principal) & I've spent quite a bit of time finding & tons of time sharing books with my kids. I'm happy to share what I've found!
I went to set up a widget (those little clickable pictures below) on Shop Style Collective, the site I use to find a lot of my links. They don't even have a major book retailer on there, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but the widget quickly got huge regardless, & all I included were books we owned! So what you'll see pictured below are books we own & enjoy. These books are appropriate for babies to age six, I'd say. Please feel free to go to town checking out any of those! They won't disappoint. If you'd like a little more direction, here are some of my other favorites that you can get on Amazon.
Board book both of my kids LOVED, Red Truck:
First book my daughter loved so much she learned to "read" (could recite), Knuffle Bunny:
-- this one was given to her by her former reading consultant grandmother -- it's so good!
First book my son loved so much he could "read" (knew what sound each train made on each page), Trains Go:
Best classic for kids, Madeline:
My daughter & I have matching teeshirts of Madeline. She & I can basically recite that book.
Book I have super happy memories of snuggling & reading with the kids, Someone's Sleepy:
And for the holidays, I asked my kids to tell me their favorite characters. Ginny said Pete the Cat & James said Curious George. Here are the holiday books starring those two crazy animals:
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas: (if you want to truly lose your mind before Christmas, download the song. My kids love it. Me, well... not so much.
Merry Christmas Curious George:
We have also read all of the books below many, many times. I hope this post gives you some new ideas for books to share with the children in your life. There really is nothing better than snuggling with a great kid & a great book!
Treasuring the Santa Years...
I know that I started this blog with an eye towards shopping for myself. I've definitely been doing that! The truth is, though, I do love shopping for my kids, especially this time of year. LOVE IT. I think I get more excited about Christmas morning than the kids do. I love the shopping, looking for deals online & picking up little things as I find them. I enjoy staying up drinking Bailey's & hot chocolate & wrapping. I love it all.
I love finding things that allow the kids to be creative. If you're looking for ideas for little people in your life, here you go! I also give the kids books at Christmas, & I'm an English teacher who was raised by a elementary school reading consultant. I know my way around kids' books, & I want them to get their own post later. Hang in there if you're looking for book recommendations! Here are a bunch of things I've actually bought & happily recommend!
I'm so grateful to have you here with me. I LOVE being a mom, but I'm trying to still be "me" while being a mom, & this blog has been a tool for me to figure that out. Hopefully it's that for you, as well. I look forward to hearing from you so that I can make this blog meaningful for you. Thanks for being here!