Good Deeds and “Good Tidings”: Part 2

Continuing the Low-Down from our Family Christmas Count-down! (See \”Good Tidings\”: Part 1 and Counting to Christmas: 25 Ways to Count Down with your Kids)

Thanks to my good friend and fabulous pianist Lorn Howard (94) who accompanied us

Day #16 – Mommy Manders Outreach Project. Christmas caroling at a nursing home has been a tradition in my life since I was a little girl. And years ago, B.C. (before children), I always took my children’s choirs, bell choirs, and music students to spread joy and cheer this time of year. It is special (though more challenging) to now include my own children in the tradition. I was nervous about taking them since we’d been up since 5:30am with no naps, but my parents were there to help “control” them so I could lead the other tots, parents, and residents in singing. (Yet again, a big “THANK YOU” to GareBear and Beffa, along with a BIG sigh of relief that we will be staying in Dallas where they live, too!) We decorated and passed out Christmas cards, MJ passed out his “Kid Dinosaur Expert” business cards, Ellie turned somersaults as I sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and played her drum to “Jingle Bells” as the rest of us played, well…..jingle bells! Though we were small in numbers, we were BIG in spirit! And an unexpected good tiding for me…I  discovered that a local mom (of two little ones) from Argentina has been reading my blog. She told me that because of the ideas I’ve given her, this is the first Christmas since moving here that she’s not been terribly home-sick for her family, but enjoying making new traditions with her children here. That just made my day!

Ellie passes out stickers

Deck the Halls: We popped out for the "tra la las"

MJ plays "Joy to the World"

























Day #17 – Gingerbread houses with dear friends, another family tradition! We shared a relaxing laid-back morning away from the hustle and bustle, just spending good time with good friends. In addition to eating/ decorating graham cracker houses, we learned how to play the “Dreidel” game, played Hide and Seek, read together, and played outside!

"Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" teaches counting, subtracting, taking turns, fine motor skills, and reading symbols

Of course, many of our “good tidings” have been unplanned.

  • Like the discovery that the kids will gladly drink milk in the form of a “hot chocolate” tea party with E’s plastic tea set! And something about the little teapot inspires them to use polite manners serving one another: “Would you like some more, Brother?”… “Thank you, Ellie.”  (Inevitable spills are involved.)


  • And MJ’s outdoor discovery of a see-saw branch at White Rock Lake. We had a few minutes to stop for a special “Mommy and Me” date before going to my chiropractor together. (Dr. Smith kindly gave machine-crazy MJ a behind-the-scenes tour, and even let him operate a few machines for Mommy. I knew he’d love it! )\”See-Saw\” Song


  • Ellie is now “Nutcracker” obsessed – it is her favorite story-book to read, and she and I have been dancing to the music all week. MJ and Ellie like to play the “statue” game I’ve been playing with my music students… I pause the music during  “the March”, and we pose like one of the characters, and then guess. (Clara sleeping or holding her beloved nutcracker doll, The Rat King with sword raised, the Nutcracker standing like a soldier, the Sugar Plum Fairy like a ballerina.) Another favorite to wear us out before bedtime is the jumping and kicking in “The Russian Dance”! (Save for a few winter walks, this has been my only exercise of late.)


  • A Mommy-Daddy “date” to Ikea for kids’ Christmas presents and cheap Swedish meatballs! (MJ has been asking for a desk after Daddy got one, so Ellie gets a little one, too.) And another good tiding – Mommy found herself an “as-is” armchair for our room in an effort to make a peaceful little sitting spot to escape the chaos (at least, that’s the idea). I wish I could just live at Ikea!


  • Though Mommy would prefer to sing some other Christmas carol lullabies at night, Ellie always requests “To Bethlehem They Go” at bed-time, along with the first Christmas story. The text to the simple melody changes to tell the whole story, and she has mastered it! I like to move my “walking” fingers along her body, and “knock” at her door (tummy, head, or back). Here she is singing it with a favorite book, The Very Special Baby. (Ellie trying not to get upstaged by big brother)


  • Getting a sub to teach for me while I play “Mommy” and  see MJ as “The Little Drummer Boy” in his school’s Christmas pageant, followed by Ellie’s class Christmas party where I led some musical fun for the kids.


  • While driving to dinner one night, we passed a “Santa” of sorts in front of a liquor store. Ellie happened to have just been working on her Christmas card for Santa with a blue marker in the back seat, and MJ had just told me that he wanted to mail his card to the North Pole, so I figured “let’s check this off Mommy’s list!” I pulled in, rolled down my window, and told Santa he was gonna save us a lot of time and trouble! I handed him Ellie’s card (which, in her own written language, said that she wants colorful Cheerios for Christmas), he managed an unconvincing “Ho Ho Ho”, and we were on our way. Another “good tiding”.

More “Counting Down” adventures coming up:  a pizza party for Daddy and his friends at the hospital, road trip to see the Oklahoma grandparents, taking the train to the “Tuba Christmas” downtown, Christmas Eve Brunch with friends…In the mean-time, I hope you and the kids are sharing some “good tidings” of great joy as you continue your countdown to Christmas!