Friday, December 23, 2011

A New Family Tradition

I kept hearing about this "Elf on the Shelf" idea and although it sounded like fun, I was a bit apprehensive about spending $30 on a non-essential item when we're trying to cut back. After some mental debate, however, I decided it would be worth it if we made some fun family memories, and that's why we adopted our own elf this year. He made his appearance before Thanksgiving, even though I had initially intended to wait until the day after Thanksgiving. (It turned out that the kids needed some motivation to work on their behavior, so along came the Elf on the Shelf, just in time.)

We decided to name him Coconut E. Butterfly, and we call him "Coco" for short. Brett had suggested "Ferdinand," and while I thought that was cute, it was easiest to mesh together the kids' ideas and give the elf a first name, middle initial, and last name. Mia suggested "Coconut," because it's a favorite word of hers and "Butterfly" because she loves naming things "Butterfly" right now. Unless it has changed, at least one of her baby dolls has "Butterfly" as part of her name. Logan suggested "E" because this is how he says "read." He says, "E" whenever he "reads" a letter or word. It was fun registering our elf's name and reading that it made Mrs. Claus smile when she recorded it in her book. Obviously, who wouldn't smile when reading that our elf is named Coconut E. Butterfly?

I wouldn't say that having the Elf on the Shelf has made huge improvements in Mia and Logan's behavior. Really, if kids are going to be naughty, they are naughty, but it doesn't hurt to have a reminder that someone is watching. Mia was skeptical from the get-go, insisting that he can't really talk to Santa because he's just a decoration. Brett eventually got her to agree that even if Coco can't talk, he can share with the other elves, who can report to Santa for him. Then, she and Logan became more and more excited by our elf. By mid-December, they were truly wanting Coco to have good reports for Santa, and even mentioning to each other and to me when they thought they had done something that would be labeled "good" or "bad."

The most important thing is that we are having fun with our new family tradition. I would almost say that I am having the most fun because I get to determine what Coco will do each night after the kids go to bed. It's a fun challenge for me to keep coming up with new ideas. The kids, of course, look forward to finding him in the morning, and often giggle with surprise and excitement when they discover him. It's now the last thing that Logan and I discuss when he goes to bed. He happily murmurs, "Elf" in anticipation of finding him in the morning. Here's the run-down on what Coco has been up to for 2011.

{Coconut E. Butterfly sits on the mantel after the kids find him. The kids know they aren't allowed to touch him, so Brett or I move him each morning.}

{The first morning ~ Chilling in the kids' chair.}

{Hanging on the bathroom doorknob}

{Coco says it's "Time for some fun!"}

{Not sure if sitting on a candle was the smartest choice, but it seemed okay at the time...}

{On the Christmas tree ~ An obvious choice}

{I worried he would blend in with the wreath too much, but Mia eventually found him.}

{I just realized it looks like he slid down the banister, not my intent, but funny, nonetheless.}

{Coco relaxes on a photo frame.}

{Sitting on the window ledge}

{Hanging out by the Advent Calendar, another family tradition.}

{Maybe next year I will add fishing line for a "Mission Impossible" elf.}

{"Chilling" by the refrigerator...}

{Coco isn't one to throw in the towel ~ in the kids' bathroom.}

{Caroling with the snowmen}

{This lampshade has since been broken, so thanks for the memories, Coco.}

{Feeling a little fruity, perhaps?}

{Hanging around on another picture frame}

{Sitting on the sofa ~ because sometimes you need to keep it simple!}

{Keeping watch over the baby gate at the top of the stairs}

{Sitting on the centerpiece. At first I had him straddling that candle, but it just looked wrong.}

{After running out of places to put Coco, I decided he needed to start "doing" things.}

{I forgot to move him this time, so I tucked him under my shirt, ran upstairs, and put him by Logan's lamp. The kids were none the wiser and Logan was thrilled because when had gone to bed, he was sure "elf" was going to be in his room in the morning.}

{Drinking a glass of water ~ Mia asked, "Mama, did Coco get thirsty during the middle of the night?" Then she answered her own question, saying, "I guess he did!"

{Coco built a Duplo tower, in Christmas colors, of course.}

{Elf to the Rescue!}

{Naturally, the next time I forgot to move Coco, he somehow wound up in Mia's room perched on her dresser.}

{Coco made some new friends.}

{Chatting with the Man in the Red Suit}

{Perched on top of a candle holder on the cupboard}

{Coco wrote his own Christmas list. Well, okay, I may have helped. Luckily, Mia and Logan are too young to recognize my handwriting! And since you're probably wondering, Coco requests the following: 1) new clothes 2) girlfriend 3) candy 4) pillow + blankets 5) puppy. Mia wondered if Santa has clothes small enough to fit him. Ditto with the candy and puppy.}

{Going for a sleigh ride, er, shoe ride?}
{A friendly little game of Chutes and Ladders}
{Coco made an elf angel in flour on the kitchen counter. I saw the idea online and thought it was cute, but messy. I wasn't sure if Coco should do "naughty" things since he is supposed to be encouraging the kids to make it on the "nice list," but it's his grand finale for 2011.}

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