I see your Elf on a Shelf, and I raise you a group of snowmen on the bathroom counter

After a fairly warm fall/ early winter, the world is suddenly covered with a thick blanket of snow and very, very cold. It looks very pretty and of course the children are delighted with the festivity of fluffy snow a week before Christmas, but on Wednesday I had an early-morning spot on the news and I woke up to 10 cm of snow and traffic in a snarly mess. This happened the last time I was on the news, which filled me with slight foreboding. Fortunately, I got there safely and the spot went off without a hitch. However, I have been incorporating all the appetizers I made for the show into dinners since then, so as not to waste them. It’s filling my entire family with puzzlement. You know that you’re a rigid person when your husband is completely SHOCKED to discover tortilla wraps for dinner on a Wednesday, and tacos on a Thursday. “What next?” he asked last night as he warily filled a taco shell, “Are we not having pitas for dinner tomorrow?” He almost fell over when I told him no, we weren’t.

Today is the last day of school, and all pretence of academia is long gone. Speaking of which, I forgot to mention the added-insult-to-injury of Jake’s week-long field trip: each child was required to pay an extra $50 for the honour. $50 so that the kids could be bored out of their minds and learn nothing, with the only highlight being the indoor garden. OUTRAGE.

Anyway, it’s pajama day at school, and after many years of shunning pajama day, my children trudged through the snow with their flannel bottoms tucked into their boots. I’m not the biggest fan of it myself – but at least the kids will be comfortable as they watch movies and eat party treats. Mark is watching the Polar Express with his Grade 1/2 buddy class, which he says is lame, but okay for the buddies I GUESS.

It’s a tradition of mine to send festively-shaped sugar cookies to class for every special occasion: birthdays, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. I’ve been doing it so long that now the boys’ longtime classmates ask if I’m going to send cookies. Frankly, it makes me feel a bit like a rock star when I see them in the halls and they tell me that my cookies are superior to every other cookie they’ve ever had. I mean, you cannot hear that kind of compliment without it going to your head a little bit.


Between appetizers, cookies, and making peppermint bark and truffles for teacher gifts, it’s been a busy week in the kitchen. Main teachers also get gift cards, but I like to send chocolates to the office staff and the teachers who supervise the crossing guards. My kids are both crossing guards and the supervisory role is a stressful one, given the asshole way people drive through the crosswalks.

So the boys went loaded down with cookies, teacher gifts, and snowpants, since they are going to be sledding with friends after early dismissal this afternoon. And just to make my life even more awesome, they are at the age that I don’t have to stand in the snow and wait for them. I’m dropping off the sleds and then going back to my cozy house; they will sled and then WALK HOME, IT IS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. I mention this to give hope to all you mamas out there who are working up a sweat wrangling your children into winter gear, freezing to death watching them narrowly miss the brick walls of the school, and then managing both the tears when faceplants in the snow occur and sudden meltdowns because snow is in the mittens. One day soon your children will walk home when they are done, carrying their own sleds, with no supervision. IT IS GLORIOUS.

Another glorious thing: we got a Roomba. Someone was mentioning the other day how hard it is to really “wow” teens and tweens at Christmas. I mean, at a certain age they are just not going to be as excited getting a video game/ books/ shirts/ new gloves (all things my own children are receiving this year) as they were when a Thomas the Tank Engine table magically appeared in the basement. That’s part of the growing-up process UNLESS you decide to do something incredible like BUY A ROOMBA. We ran it in our carpeted basement this morning and two things occurred to me: a) our vacuum is clearly too old to be effective anymore because the filter needed cleaning twice, grosssssss, and b) watching a Roomba maneuver around furniture and exercise equipment was more fun than anyone could have imagined. We were all cheering the Roomba, giving it positive reinforcement (GREAT JOB, ROOMBA!), and projecting human feelings onto it (YOU’RE SO SMART, ROOMBA, WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!). No need for a late-in-life baby, we are all embracing the Roomba like the Christmas miracle that he is. Who knew we had an empty space in our hearts, filled only by a robotic vacuum cleaner?

Also filling empty spaces in our hearts is our tiny snowman collection. When I had a tiny light-less tree in my first apartment, I bought a set of tiny snowmen to decorate it. They were cheap, from Wal-mart, but very cute. Almost twenty years later, all their hooks have fallen off, but I put a handful of them on the bathroom counter to make showering and other bathroom activities super-festive.


One morning I finished my breakfast to see that my husband had rearranged all the snowmen, so that instead of the dull little groups of two or three I had them in the bathroom was transformed into a snowman hide-and-seek game.

hide and seek hiding snowman

And, like Donkey Kong, it was on. We have all been switching the snowmen to different vignettes and then seeing if anyone else can guess what they are doing. I admit, my ideas run towards the dull – a yoga class, a conga line, everyone in a circle singing Christmas carols – but the testosterone in the house has led to slightly non-Christmassy themes.


Such as, Anakin brutally slaying the younglings so that his power, Herod-like, would be unchallenged.

The other day Jake said “I call the snowmen today!” and busily rearranged them. It was a bit later when I went in to see the initially startling result:


Before you express concerns that I have a Rosemary’s Baby kind of situation around here, it is a LIGHT SABER. Just a light saber. We are going to see The Force Awakens tomorrow, and excitement is through the roof and coming through extensively in our snowman-vignette game. Light saber. Not work of the devil.


  1. Oh my God!

    I love this so much!!! 😀

    Happy last day of school!!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Teacher gifts. Crap. I knew I was forgetting something. Well, we still have three days of school next week….

  3. Both kids’ schools have just embraced the inevitable today and given in to the lack of attention by scheduling long assemblies at the end of the day that involve singing, fooling around, and general kid spaziness. It’s for the best since I imagine being a teacher on the last day before Christmas break is an exercise in futility.

    So only marginally related to your snowman story, but still a fine example of boy’s minds is the 7th grade film festival I went to yesterday at Oldest’s school. Oldest’s class broke up into small groups in their history classes and spent a month writing, performing, filming, and editing 3-5 minute movies about various historical times and places. I don’t think even one of the groups that had boys in it managed to complete a film without a character being stabbed, run through with a sword, maced, etc. Sure, they were covering feudal Japan, China, and England so times were hard back then, but the number of battle scenes and the mortality rate in these films seemed . . . suspiciously high. Sigh.

  4. Of course it was Star Wars related! And that IS a huge compliment about the cookies. I bet they’re yummy. I made peppermint bark and baked cookies for teacher gifts and had to give it all away–there wasn’t enough to keep. Time to remedy that tomorrow!

  5. So, in a somewhat creepy but hopefully flattering way I’ve been back reading your blog because o just enjoying it so much! Thanks for the encouragement regarding sledding with littles. Have you been observing my family from afar? Actually, you probably have! What you can’t observe is how the sweat I work up getting everyone ready to sled quickly turns to ice mist inside my parka as I watch my offspring squabble over the sleds. Thanks for reminding me that it won’t always be this way!


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