Tag Archives: elf on the shelf

Our jar of “good things that happened in 2013”

“I hope that this year to come, you make mistakes…Make new mistakes. Make
glorious, amazing mistakes…Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make
your mistakes, next year and forever.” ~Neil Gaiman

Happy new year! I wish you and your loved ones a year filled with happiness, love, friendship, kindness, caring, fun, and new experiences. I don’t really make new year’s resolutions anymore, but rather a list of projects I want to accomplish each year. I got a lot crossed off my list in 2013 but I have a few leftovers I’m shifting to 2014, and a lot more to add. I’m looking forward to making some things happen this year.

If you follow my blog, you may have heard me mention our jar of “good things that happened in 2013” a few times. As the year comes to an end, we tend to remember the bad but not always the good. For the first time in 2013, my boys and I used this jar to focus on the positive and help us remember all the good things that would happen to us throughout the year. As 2013 started, I was wondering how we’d get our jar full. After all, it’s quite a big jar.

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

Jar of good things that happened in 2013

But as we opened our jar yesterday, it was full to the top. And full of many great events we forgot about. So in no particular order, here are a few of our many favorite.

When it comes to nature, we were especially lucky this year. We saw baby bunnies playing from the window of our cabin while vacationing in the Southern California mountains. Apparently rabbits love to play leapfrog.

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

Bunnies playing in Idyllwild

While hiking in a local park a few months ago, we spotted a mule deer down the trail, and a few hours later watched a teenage boy pull a huge wide mouth bass out of a pond.

We saw a painted turtle laying eggs while walking in our town’s park. Something we won’t forget for a long time.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park opened Lemur Walk, an exhibit with no fence between you and the animals, so we got to walk with the lemurs. Very cool!

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lemur walk at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Oh, and let’s not forget I freed a snake by myself that was tangled in our backyard!

We saw Dino Jaws, a great exhibit with lifesize animatronics at the San Diego Natural History Museum. We also enjoyed their Mammoth and Mastodons exhibit later in the year.

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Dino Jaws at the San Diego Natural History Museum

We visited our first lighthouse. We took a 90-minute train ride on a old train at the San Diego Southwest Pacific Railway Museum.

My kids has their first try at fishing with friends of mine. That same day, we went on our first pedal boat ride and had a blast.

More things we did together: not one, but two Easter egg hunts (one at a local park, one in a museum); a very fun mother/son laser tag event at school; a water balloon fight in our backyard; apple picking in the fall; pumpkin surface carving for Halloween.

Surface carved pumpkins

Surface carved pumpkins

My kids learned to swim. They have a lot more to go but it really clicked this year.

They crashed a birthday party and got to hit the piñata a few times and collect some candy!

My youngest lost his first tooth and is now quickly catching up to his brother.

My sister came to visit us, after we didn’t see each other for three years. Great highlight of 2013.

I learned how to make homemade yogurt and I haven’t gone back to store bought since.

I completed PiBoIdMo, coming up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. It got me motivated to write picture books again.

My kids got several awards at school for their efforts and good behavior. My youngest graduated preschool and got a big dinosaur book because he was the boy in his class who did the most book reports. Dinosaurs, roar!

We got our elf on the shelf, Wink. We said goodbye to him on Christmas Eve and we can’t wait to see him again sometime later this year.

We went to Legoland California and saw the lifesize X-wing starfighter. Apparently, this was a big deal because I put it in the jar not once but three times! We also went to enjoy some Christmas lights and concerts there. We spent the evening of New Year’s Eve there watching the Lego brick drop (on right of photo below) and the fireworks. What a great way to finish a great year!

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year's Eve

Brick drop at Legoland on New Year’s Eve

Overall, this was a great experience for us and we loved recollecting each event as we read our pieces of paper. We’re looking forward to putting more good things in our jar, which now states “good things that happened in 2014”.

What good things happened to you in 2013 you’d like to share?

Meet Wink, our elf on the shelf

A few years ago, I was tempted to get the popular Elf on the shelf. I thought, what better way to motivate my kids to be good the month before Christmas? But thinking of it, I wanted them to try their best every day, not just a few weeks before toy overload day. I never thought the day would come when BOTH my kids would ask me to get them an elf on the shelf. Apparently, there’s a lot of peer pressure at school, and when a bunch of kids in your class have their own elf on the shelf, you’d better get one too. Ah, what a brilliant marketing idea…

So a couple of weeks ago, we visited our local Target and purchased our elf. Of course, it had to be a boy (once again, I’m outnumbered). We brought the packaged book/elf box home, carefully took our elf out and put him up above our fireplace. After a few minutes debating, the kids decided to name him Wink. I’m a little disturbed by the fact that Wink doesn’t have feet but I understand that frostbite can be a result of living at the North Pole.

Wink, our elf on the shelf

Wink, our elf on the shelf

Doesn’t he look cute and innocent? I asked my kids if they thought Wink was nice or mischievous. They wholeheartedly agreed he was NICE! Apparently, all elves who report to Santa at the North Pole every night have to be nice. And for the first few days, I enjoyed catching my kids talking to Wink once in a while, asking him to report some things to Santa, even ask him for “the force”. I figure, when kids can believe in the magic of Christmas, why wouldn’t they think that the force is real too? Hey, I’d like some of that!

Wink was busy on his first night at our house. When he came back from his visit to the North Pole, he made the boys some paper snowflakes and left them a note. How nice!

Wink makes paper snowflakes

Wink makes paper snowflakes

I guess Wink saw us putting together the walls for our gingerbread house because during the next night, he took a look at the candy decorations for it. I should add that he didn’t eat any.

Wink helps us with the gingerbread house

Wink helps us with the gingerbread house

Another night, Wink couldn’t resist playing with the balloon decorations the boys got. Riding an airplane while holding a sword, how fun!

Wink on a balloon airplane

Wink on a balloon airplane

Wink discovered we were doing a Christmas countdown on our white board, so he decided to update the picture for us. The boys were very impressed with his idea!

Wink draws on our Christmas countdown white board

Wink draws on our Christmas countdown white board

We have so many Lego at our house, I guess it’s hard for an elf to resist. Here he is, playing with a Lego Legends of Chima speedorz. Zoom zoom!

Wink with Lego Chima speedorz

Wink with Lego Chima speedorz

After we finished our gingerbread house, Wink stopped by to inspect it.

Wink checks out our gingerbread house

Wink checks out our gingerbread house

He must have realized there was something wrong with this house’s decorations. Yep, that’s because Son #1 turned into Hans and started eating them one by one. The gingerbread house actually looked like this when we finished it. I’m so glad I took a picture of the intact model! Do you know how hard it is to make that stuff with two boys that try to sabotage your artistic efforts?

Gingerbread house decorations

Gingerbread house decorations

I guess all that candy made Wink hungry because he eventually found our candy stash in the kitchen. Yum, gummy worms!

Wink finds our candy

Wink finds our candy

My son left his book overnight on the couch. I hear it’s a very funny book and I think Wink agrees. Look, he even got to read it with his friends the polar bear and the husky.

Wink reads a book

Wink reads a book

And when I added more presents under the Christmas tree, guess who was there to tell the kids?

Wink under the Christmas tree

Wink under the Christmas tree

All this time, Wink stayed downstairs. Well, that was until last night, when he finally ventured upstairs into the boys’ bedroom (Mama, how did Wink open the bedroom door?). He must have been very excited to see a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter.

Wink rides a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter

Wink rides a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter

And now the big question is, where will Wink be tomorrow morning? Will be stay upstairs in the boys’ room or will he go back downstairs? What do you think Wink should add to his list of adventures?