Advent (update) + a reader idea


I’m loving our activity advent calendar. I snapped this photo on Thursday. Each day the boys discover the activity and then put that card at the back of the ring. Today we headed to the mall to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. It was very different — I hadn’t read about it or seen a preview of any kind, so I was surprised when it was not at all what I expected … I like it though!

Back to the advent, I did have to pull the activities for last Monday and Tuesday, because Trey + Taft had a crappy attitude about last Sunday’s activity. In a very non-emotional (Love & Logic) way I said, “That’s too bad that you don’t feel like today’s activity is enough for you. I bet if we take a break until Wednesday, you’ll be ready for any silly little thing.” And they were — and since then, all of my plans have been received with a bit more thankfulness.


Thursday’s activity was to decorate our new little “kitchen tree” and can I just say how much I already  LOVE this very well-made tree from Doodlebug As you can see the typical (stupid) plastic tri-pod base has been replaced by a sturdy wood box that can be filled with something colorful and/or delicious. The trunk and branches are equally sturdy and we enjoyed a festive moment with hot cocoa, David Archuleta Christmas music and our super-cheap Walmart ornaments.

Here are a few of my favorite entries so far in our little Memory Advent book:

Trey: I remember when Jayce won (the candy in the guessing jar) he was sooo happy his face went as red as a lolly pop.
Please note the illustration of Jayce with a lolly pop head.


Taft: On December 2nd we woke just to see egg nog in snowman mugs one for each of us in the fridge. My mom is awesome to use her money on tasty egg nog for us. Delicious!


Trey: Last year we had a record breaking amount of snow. Pete and I had so much fun making jumps and forts and we are looking forward to the next amount of snow. Let it Snow … Let it Snow …


Clark: This photo could have been taken in any of the four past year, because every year we set out a puzzle over break so when you get bored you help on the puzzle and for once we finished the puzzle!


Clark: I remember this Christmas very clearly because it was one of my favorites. Mom and I went on Elf Yourself and left a note for Dad, virtually to look in the closet and that’s where the skis I got for him were. It was the most exciting presents I have ever given to someone.

My intention with this little photo album was to write about these photos in order and count down the days with each page. I learned early on that if I wanted my family to participate I needed to let them pick whichever photo they want when it’s their turn to record a memory. If I let them choose their photo, I get more sincere and authentic memories.

Susan from East Berlin, CT sent me an email recently with a wonderful idea/adaptation for a Memory Advent photo album.

I just wanted to thank you for your memory Advent album idea and instructions.  We have lots of Advent calendars at our house and while we really didn’t need another, I was intrigued by your idea.  I decided to make one of these for our family, looked through our old Christmas photos, ordered prints and then bought the album at Target.  Just before I started to tackle the project though I got inspired ~ my oldest daughter is now a senior in high school and so next year at this time she will be away at college.  She won’t be able to share in the opening of the Advent calendars at home while she’s at school.  So I decided to make the album as a surprise for her; I plan to wrap it up in Christmas paper with a note and send it back with her after Thanksgiving break.  It will be like a little piece of home for her.
Now since my other daughter is only two years behind her older sister, I decided to just make her Advent memory album now too.  Of course this meant ordering another round of photos and another trip to Target but I’ll take any reason to make another trip to that store!

(Thanks Susan! )



  1. Love the little tree – and the green ornaments!

  2. I love the idea of doing the advent cards on a ring! I have a very small home and being able to keep it contained makes it easier on me. Thank you for posting this. :)

  3. Stacy-

    Thanks for sharing the Family Activity Advent calendar idea. I have put it into play and the kids love the idea but like yours, sometimes they don’t love the activity. It just isn’t fun enough. One day the card read ‘Go to the store and buy toys for the toy drive’. My 6 year old could NOT get his head around why we would buy toys only give them away. It was frustrating because he would not stop complaining the whole time and I found myself quickly losing the spirit. The next day we talked about it and he explained what we had done to a friend like it was the BEST idea ever! I guess it took him a little time to process. The whole thing taught me that we have some work to do on concept of giving to others. We will see how this week goes…might have to take a break like you did and see if the attitude improves. Merry Christmas!!


  4. Sara Mangan says:

    Love the idea of taking a break for a few days if they get an attitude. I am sorry to say I have gotten a few eye rolls with some of our activities. I am glad it is not just my children who complain sometimes.

    Thanks Stacy.

    Sara M

  5. I am so grateful for your honesty in how you blog about the not so great bits of parenting (ie the attitude of the kids)… thank-you for being so real. I sometimes feel that everyone else is having a picture perfect Christmas season & I’m the only one with less than perfect stuff going on in my family. You’ve helped me feel sane. Thanks.

  6. I’m glad to read that I’m not the only Mommy that takes activities away b/c of bad/ungrateful attitudes. I hate to do it but sometimes it’s needed to help the kids get in the “right” frame of mind. Thanks for sharing all your goodies!

  7. Like you, I realized quickly that I had to let my family choose the pictures they talked about. My daughter has very large and messy handwriting so she does not write a lot – but she likes participating. I have recorded some more of her story on the back of her cards since she gets frustrated with the “too small cards mommy”. It has been very fun to do this book this year – thanks so much for the idea!

  8. Stacy-
    Did I miss a post when you talked about your book that was a present to yourself last year? It was the book where you put pictures in there of what was curently going on and then carried the book around with you. Did I miss your update on it this year?! Please let me know!

  9. I’m using my Memory Advent album as a reflection of Christmas past and present. . .I’m using each picture as a springboard – what it reminds me of from years past – and what we are doing this year. I used all pictures I had on hand of holidays past – so it’s sparking some great memories and ways of looking at the current holiday.

    Thanks for the inspiration, and come Christmas Day – I will hae a completed album to add to my mini book basket.


  10. Melanie Cooper says:

    I loved your little idea. I adapted it to make it as gifts. I thought it would be a non-threatning way of introducing the jist of scrapbooking to friends and family. I plan to put a note in each one and explain that they can go thru pictures from the past and put them in there and tell those special stories and then it can come out with Christmas decorations and they can relive those special moments every year.

    I am even making an extra one to a fellow military wife, who also is my son’s 3rd grade teacher to on her trip to see her husband in Dubai. Thought she could jot her memories while still fresh in her mind on her flight back.

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