Night of Extraordinary Lights Holiday Village

There is no shortage of things to do around the holidays.  Unfortunately for us, any activity, especially one in Tucson, takes away from preparing for the girls’ grandparents to arrive on Christmas week.  Thankfully, Fort Huachuca has plenty of holiday events.  And when one of the biggest of the season is literally a block from our house, there is really no excuse not to grab the girls and join in on the fun.

The girls started off the Christmas season by each eating an untoasted marshmallow from the S’mores station… absolute sacrilege.

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It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

While developing a routine for yourself and your children is absolutely critical to being a successful single parent, anything that falls outside of that routine needs to be made into an event, to be lifted up as a spectacle.  Whether it is going to Grandma’s house, the zoo, or the children’s museum, every event needs to be celebrated and made into something uniquely memorable.  Christmas itself is enough to celebrate, but it is important to make all the little things that are a part of Christmas an event themselves.  Here’s to the 3rd Annual Calkins Family Christmas Tree Decoration Event!

I hope the girls know that this is the “before” picture…

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Trunk or Treating

It is time for the annual Trunk or Treat at Fort Huachuca.  Given how much candy they got last year from the event, you just knew the girls would want to participate.  Time to suit up in your costume of choice, grab your candy bag, and get ready to wait in line for an hour in almost freezing temperatures!

And crime fighting, of course.  There is always the possibility of that.

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Halloween Cookie Decorating Party

It is really funny how fast things can get out of hand.  When the girls came home from Texas on Sunday, I had Halloween sugar cookies waiting for them.  This led Elaina to ask if we could bake and decorate cookies next weekend.  Sounded like a plan, one that would be fun and fairly easy.  While we were eating on the patio on Monday, my neighbor let me know that this was going to be their last weekend in Arizona before the Army shipped his family to Italy for three years, so it seemed right to invite them over for some cookies (and because their household goods are already packed up, their house is pretty much empty).  As we were leaving for school, the girls spotted our other neighbor (whose son is in Elaina’s kindergarten class) and begged that they could come too.  It still seemed to be manageable, so I did and they accepted.  Elaina then told her best friend at school that she was having a cookie party, after which her friend begged to be invited.  After I told Elaina that we could do that the Saturday after, her friend wrote a handwritten card to Elaina asking to please come to her cookie party.  Like I was going to say no after that.  So, I started planning for a Halloween cookie decorating party… for 17 (Note: One of the families cancelled the day before, so while it did not change the spread, the event itself was a lot more manageable).

“We lost a lot of good sprinkles today…”

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(Early) Easter with the Girls

So with less than a month’s notice, the Army tagged me to attend a joint military exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.  Since this was our last duty station, it would be nice to visit some of the restaurants, coffee shops, and game stores that I used to frequent.  The bad news is that not only was I going to miss my girls for three weeks (our parenting plan states that they will go to their mother’s location if I have to go on a temporary duty assignment longer than two weeks), but I was not going to be able to spend Easter with them.  Since adjusting to change is no longer a serious problem for us, we simply moved our Easter celebration up a week.

“Please do not look at me like that.  This is going to be fun, I assure you.”

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Getting Through the Holidays

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  While the turkey and pumpkin pie are always amazing, it is family and cooking together that makes the holiday truly special for me.  Christmas has always been a distant second, but I have a newfound appreciation for it now that I have children.  It is so nice to see them get involved with the Elf on the Shelf, writing letters to Santa, and the smile on their faces Christmas morning is simply priceless.  Until last year, I had been lucky enough to have spent every single Thanksgiving and Christmas day with my family, which can be pretty hard for someone in the military.  Unfortunately, to reach a compromise that would give me primary custodianship of my girls, I agreed that their mother could have them for Thanksgiving every year, which was really tough to give up, and Christmas every other year.  This is the first year that we are executing our Parenting Plan with their mother getting visitation rights during Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same year, which makes for a really lonely holiday season for this single Dad.  So with my girls enjoying Christmas with their mother, her family, and her new fiancé (yes, already), the holiday season is forcing me to cope with this as best as I can and to try to figure out where to go from here.

Our Happy Family

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Halloween with Grandma and Papa

My Mother and Stepfather (Grandma and Papa) briefly watched the girls while I was away at a conference and we figured it was best for them to stay all the way through Halloween.  I mean, what 5- or 3-year old is going to turn down an extra week being spoiled by Grandma?  Not these two.  Although I did my best to persuade them otherwise, both of my girls were determined to go as princesses this year, with Elaina going as Elena of Avalor and Gabriella going as Rapunzel.  I normally would not have minded except that they just wore the same dresses a month ago to Disney on Ice, they wear them to school and around the house all the time, and they did not give me enough warning to get a Flynn Rider costume (we went as the Rockford Peaches last year, with them wearing the ballplayer outfits and myself as the manager).  We did try to add to their normal dress-up routine though, with Elaina getting some stickers for her face and Gabby getting a nice new pair of Rapunzel gloves, because of course they already had their tiaras.


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