2010 by the numbers

From the home office in east end Toronto, Canada…

(ed. note: Wait! Wrong type of list!)

All right. For those readers who compile lists of useless data as a hobby,  a late Christmas present.  For your consideration:

2010 At My House: By the Numbers:

Number of times we moved house: one

Number of houses we looked at before we found this one: five

Number of items broken during the move: none

Number of summer camps the boys attended: six (three each)

Number of choir rehearsals attended by Daniel: 16

Number of choir concerts: three

Number of swimming lessons the boys attended: 40

Number of gymnastics lessons: 24

Number of ball hockey games: 8

Number of references to the Harry Potter movies or books made by one or the other of the boys: too many to count

Number of visits to Great Wolf Lodge: two

Number of times Marcelle got sick after visiting Great Wolf Lodge: two

Number of times Marcelle was diagnosed with pneumonia: one

Number of cross-border shopping trips: seven

Number of cross-border shopping trips not involving a trip to Target — one

(NB. That was a trip to New York City. They’ve got other stuff there to keep me occupied….)

Number of kilometers run by Peter: 1125

Number of marathons run by Peter: one

Number of blog posts by Marcelle: 27

Approximate number of cups of coffee drunk by Marcelle: 397 +/- 10

Happy New Year from our house to yours. May 2011 count as your best year yet.


The Elf on the Shelf

Last year we started a new family tradition.  After friends told me about a magical elf that inhabits their home every December, a sucker for all things Christmas (except for ghastly themed sweaters), I was intrigued.

I found The Elf On The Shelf at our local toy store and instantly loved the story and the whimsical character.  The book is a story about an elf, which spends the month of December living in your house. Each night he reports back to Santa about all of the goodness and love your children are spreading during the holiday season. Every morning your children look to find your little elf and “magically” they will find him in a new place.  To add to the magic, your children are not to touch this special elf – they can only look at him.

For some reason my boys find this exciting.  Each morning, before their advent chocolate (I told you, a sucker for all things Christmas – and yes, I let them eat a chocolate in the morning) they search for “Tad” (not my choice for a name) and tell him all about the exciting day to come.  When night falls, they return to report their day’s details and wish him a speedy journey to North Pole.

I know that I shouldn’t use Tad as a bargaining tool, but during the month of December, I am quick to say in the face of a temper tantrum: “Ooooh, it looks like Tad has reporting to do to Santa.”  It’s amazing ho quickly teeth get brushed, shoes get put on and toys get put away.

December is approaching and as Christmas festivities begin to pack the calendar, my boys have begun to ask after Tad.  They know that when he makes his appearance, Christmas is coming and that can only mean one thing . . .  a visit from the man in red himself.

Do you have any traditions that you started with your family?


Simple Gifts

With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to miss out on opportunities to share with our children the importance of giving. Here are a few simple ways your family can help others this holiday season:

  • Make a donation to your local food bank. Many grocery stores allow you to add a cash donation to your grocery bill, which allows food banks to buy food at wholesale prices and in bulk, maximizing your donation;
  • Donate a new, unwrapped toy, book or personal care item at your local shelter or fire hall. If you’re in the Toronto area, watch for donation boxes for the CP24 Chum Christmas Wish, or CTV Toy Mountain. Local agencies and organizations such as the Yonge Street Mission also accept donations which go to help families and children in need. Check with your local community center or house of worship for more ideas for how you can help in your community;
  • Donate your time. Volunteer to help out at your local community kitchen. Children over the age of eight can sort food at the Daily Bread Food Bank. Organize a food drive or toy drive at your child’s school or at your workplace;
  • Make your teacher appreciation gifts really count. Instead of mugs or chocolates, give your child’s teacher a Canada Gives Charity Gift Card in the denomination of your choosing, and let them make a donation to the charity of their choice.

If you’ve geared up for the holiday season already, consider heading out this weekend to Jake’s Gigantic Give, a fundraiser supporting Jacob’s Ladder, the Canadian Foundation for Control of Neurogenerative Disease. In this unique fundraiser, children visit the Giving Store, where they choose and create a gift to be donated to one of six Toronto- area charities chosen by Jacob’s Ladder. In return, they receive a gift, confirming that giving has its own rewards. Tickets are $25, (plus the cost of your choice of gift) and are available online.

** 4mothers1blog’s Beth-Anne is taking a well-earned and necessary break from blogging so there’s no At Issue post from her this week, but but she’ll be back next week with new posts.