On the nineteenth day Rider got into some bubble gum and blew a giant bubble. We noticed that his Elf Pox were a little better that day, too.
On the twentieth day he brought a matching game called The Boss is Watching. The kids had fun playing with it while we were on vacation.
On the twenty-first he went with us on vacation where the floor was lava. The kids were impressed that he stayed off the floor. They also noticed his Elf Pox were almost all the way better.
On the twenty-second day Rider got a little naughty. He was caught drinking syrup right out of the container and had gotten himself all covered with powdered sugar.
On the twenty-third day he presided over some car races. That red one always seemed to go just a little faster than its competitor. We were very happy to see that his Elf Pox were completely resolved.
On the twenty-fourth day we said good-bye and see you next December to Rider. He had his suitcase all packed and his plane ticket ready to go back to the North Pole.
On the twelfth day, Rider brought a secret message for the kids to solve. Of course Zeke did it right away. He loves the little games Rider brings.
On the thirteenth day, he brought a pin the heart on the Grinch game. He came ready to play with a blindfold over his eyes.
On the fourteenth day he brought a dish with Skittles and instructions to add hot water to make an amazing rainbow. Much to our surprise and excitement it worked just as promised. Very cool.
On the fifteenth day he was sleepy so he took a nap. The kids made sure to tell me to be quiet so as not to disturb him.
On the sixteenth day he brought an Among Us cutout. I didn’t think the kids would understand that one but it turns out Zeke’s friend has told him all about the game so he recognized it immediately.
On the seventeenth day Rider dressed himself as a Hershey’s Kiss and brought a few for the kids to eat.
On the eighteenth day he came down with the dreaded Elf Pox. The North Pole doctor sent a not saying how to take care of him as the spots disappear over the next few days.
Every year we drive up to Marble Falls to go through the Walkway of Lights. The lights are so beautiful. It’s mostly the same every year but it’s still worth going.
We accidentally made going there a tradition when we went to Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet and stopped in Marble Falls on the way home six years ago.
We’ve taken the twins to the Walkway of Lights in Marble Falls four times now. The rest of The Six have gone three times.
This year included complete sensory overload for one kid and an autistic meltdown for another. The lights really are very bright.
As usual we stopped at Dairy Queen on the way home for Blizzards. Everyone loves those. Maybe we’ll be able to take a leisurely stroll through the lights again when the twins are about 12. But in the meantime we’ll keep going every year because the kids love that trip every year.
On the fifth day Rider brought some farm animals (strangely the chicken was bigger than the pig… animals must be different in the North Pole).
On the sixth day he brought a seek and find puzzle. Zeke completed it before leaving for school that morning. And he solemnly thanked Rider for bringing it which, of course, made the whole Elf on the Shelf thing 100% worth it.
On the seventh day he brought gumdrops and toothpicks to make a stable for the reindeer. This resulted in mostly just eating gumdrops after poking them with a toothpick.
On the eighth day Rider got to play with the leprechaun again. This time they played a exciting game of cornhole. Rider was red and the leprechaun was green of course!
On the ninth day Rider laid out in the sun thinking thoughts of the beach. He brought the kids some tiny seashells. Not sure where at the North Pole he got them.
On the tenth day he brought some tiny Christmas trees and tried to sell them, but the asking price was just a tad too high and the trees were just a tad too small to decorate.
On the eleventh day he put Santa hat stickers on three of our pictures and the kids had to find them. This might be their favorite activity yet. By the time I got up the Santa hats had been moved to other locations including my backpack (which was, apparently, absolutely hilarious of the kids to do).
This year we have four Advent Calendars. One is big dinosaurs, one is small dinosaurs, one is Legos, and one is cars. The littles take turns opening the doors each evening.
We go in age order. So, for example, on the 1st of December Zeke opened the book and Mayci went first to choose which calendar she wanted to open (she picked Legos), then Anthony, then Nicholas, and Noah got to open the last one (he let Joel help him pull out the figure).
We move down a kid each day so the second Mayci opened the book and Anthony was the first to pick an advent calendar. On the third Anthony opened the book and Nicholas was the first to pick. And so on through their ages like that rotating each day who does what.
The kids love pulling out that day’s surprise. Nicholas is especially happy that we’re adding so much to his dinosaur collection. These advent calendars just makes December, and waiting for Christmas, a little extra fun.
We have twenty-four Christmas books for children that we wrap up and the kids take turns pulling out that day’s book each evening. We read it for their bedtime story.
Most of the books are wrapped and numbered at random, but we always read The Story of St. Nicholas on the 5th since St. Nicholas Day is the 6th and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
We finally broke down and got an Elf on the Shelf. The kids named him Rider. They’ve been having fun discovering what Rider is doing each morning (and then Rider sits up on the Echo on the wall for the rest of the day because in this house he’d no doubt be lost by the end of the day if left loose… the whole no touching rule doesn’t seem to be sinking in here).
I got a kit from a local mompreneur with 24 premade things to put out each night. The first day was an airplane and an I’ve arrived note.
The second day was a naughty or nice chart. We don’t actually use it because I don’t like behavior charts like that, but the kids were really excited that the clips were on extra nice.
The third day was letters to Santa to fill out and a pencil to fill them out with. Mayci immediately went to work on her (very long) list.
The fourth day was a cute little Connect4 game. I set it up with Rider playing against a leprechaun we got several years ago in Ireland.
Between the time the kids put out their shoes and I filled them with candy and morning I totally forgot yesterday was St. Nicholas Day. Right up until they went downstairs before school and I heard excited voices saying “CANDY!” Amazing how a few pieces of chocolate can make a kid so happy.
Christmas traditions are very important to some of our kids. Before it was even December Mayci asked if we were going to go to the place with all the lights and Anthony asked if we’d do that thing where they put out their shoes and get candy. Traditions help them feel secure and like they belong. They like to know what to expect. And, honestly, it’s a lot of fun to do these traditions with them because it makes the season extra magical exciting.