Tag Archives: Elf on a shelf

The Elf is Back!


The elf is back!

Buster, our resident “Elf on a Shelf” has returned for another year of jolly fun and mischief…

Buster has been a beloved member of our family every December for the last eight years. He moved into our home in December 2008 when my Mom gave Gracie, Molly and Rusty their Christmas elf. At the time we were the only family we knew with a magical elf. Now you find elves and mischief ideas all over Pinterest. Buster no longer has to work so hard to be creative with all sorts of fun ideas only a click away. (Do they have wifi at the North Pole?)


For years my older three would eagerly jump from bed every morning in December, determined to be the first to spot Buster who would move into a new location every morning after returning from Santa every night to report on the behaviors of the kids that previous day.

Over the years he has become more creative in his holiday antics. My older kids have always found Buster fun and entertaining.

My younger boys, well, they have a more complicated relationship with Buster.

Both love the idea of Buster and fully embrace the magic associated with him. They love his antics (during daylight hours) but when the sun goes down and it is time for bed they find the thought of him coming alive, wandering the house, or flying home to the North Pole to report their behavior to Santa creepy and disturbing.

Every year we inevitably have some sort of therapy causing incident that makes us question whether we should invite Buster back.

Remember this blog from last December:

“One night Buster had some fun with googly eyes and in the process scarred Tyler forever.

Any fear he had overcome was back 100 fold. He woke in the night and walked into a dark kitchen to get a glass of water. When he flicked the light on he saw this:


And he began to scream.

The family woke to his screams of terror.

This year, as we counted down the days to December, Tyler faced the return of Buster with mixed emotions. He was SO excited but also SO nervous. I suggested that perhaps we could tell Buster to stay in the North Pole this year but Tyler wouldn’t go for that. He said he was fine but I suspected that wasn’t really the case by the struggles we were having at bedtime each night.

And then the REAL TRUTH came out at therapy this past week. Both my boys attend therapy sessions each week to help them address the abuse and trauma of their past. Never in a million years did I think our therapy session would be spent addressing current trauma brought on by Buster. (And the momma who brings him to life each night)

Yes, in therapy, we spent 45 minutes discussing Buster, our magical elf.

You know, as parents we often wonder whether our parenting choices or mistakes will result in expensive therapy for our child down the road, but it is not too often you get to actually sit in on the therapy sessions you caused.

It’s humbling😉

At therapy Tyler shared with Tina his history with Buster. He explained what he liked about Buster and what made him nervous. Like myself, she suggested that maybe Buster should spend this December in the North Pole, an idea which Tyler quickly shot down.

She then asked him what he thought they should do. Tyler suggested they make a list of rules for Buster. Tina thought that was a wonderful idea so there in therapy Tyler dictated a list of rules for Buster that I wrote down.

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Tina then sent us home with the assignment of reading the rules to Buster when we got home and posting them where he could see them and remember them.

Ok, I’ll admit I felt a bit silly standing in front of a toy elf, reading a list of rules written to myself, but I did it…

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and it made Tyler feel better.

He seems much more at peace with Buster now that Buster scrawled a note at the bottom of Tyler’s list of rules apologizing and promising to follow the rules Tyler set forth.

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Note to self…

In the future avoid googly eyes,

always avoid the googly eyes!”

Once again this year we  suggested perhaps we should take a break from Buster and send him home to Santa,  after seeing their anxiety increase with the Elf’s arrival, but the boys protested.

“But we love Buster!” they insisted.

So he continues to visit,

and he continues to delight…and frighten… my boys.

Gotta love the “Magic” of the holidays!

Here’s a look at what Buster’s been up to:


Buster hiding in the fridge. I won’t lie, this one made Tyler jump and yell out in fear. Another rule added to the list: No hiding in the fridge.



Tyler was delighted to see Buster’s mad basketball skills.


Tucked in for a night of “sweet dreams.”


Hop aboard for a ride on the “Shoe Shoe Train!”


The minion bananas were another of the boys’ favorite tricks of Buster’s.


The hands down, all time favorite antic for my little boys. “Let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold it back anymore!” You can’t beat bathroom humor!


Buster on Strike!


Buster has been visiting our family annually since 2008 when my parents gifted him to my children.

Buster is an elf…

An elf on a shelf.

For 6 years he has arrived on December 1st and disappeared on December 24th. During the day he watches and takes note of the good and bad and every night flies back to the North Pole to report to the man in charge. When he returns back in the wee hours of the morning he usually gets into some sort of mischief. From the time Rusty was 7, my kids have eagerly popped out of bed… first thing… to run and find Buster.

This year I have my own helpers that have been working with Buster.


How grateful I am for their eagerness and creativity!


Here is a little glimpse into Buster’s antics this year…

He got ahold of the camera...

He got ahold of the camera…




Now in all our years with Buster we have seen him write on mirrors, dye the milk in the fridge, and hang from the rafters…

but never have we seen him…


 Go on strike!


Buster is not happy. He left a note telling us so. His note to the kids pointed out some behaviors that need to change before he will come back and play again.

After 6 years he has decided to revolt and I suspect it may have something to do with this little

(or not so little)

temper tantrum:

PS- For those who are concerned: that is not 4 pints of lost blood, but rather, 1 gallon of V8 spicy hot. Oh, what a tantrum it was :)

PS- For those who are concerned: that is not 4 pints of lost blood, but rather, 1 gallon of V8 spicy hot. Oh, what a tantrum it was  🙂

I will let you know when his demands are met and negotiations are resolved. Until then…

Elf on Strike 🙂

Room at the inn


The question was a simple one…

“Do you have room?”

“Can you make room?”

A simple question asked by a humble man.

A man whose wife was heavy with child.

We don’t know how many doors were knocked on…how many turned them away before they found a place to rest.

Then there in the humble surroundings of a dusty stable the King of Kings was born.

The question is still a simple one…

“Do you have room?”

Our homes might not be so filled that we would turn away the King of Kings…the Lord of Lords…

but what about our lives?

“Can you make room?” is the question we were asked this week by the social worker of the two children that we did respite care for a few weeks ago. The current foster family has put in their 30 day notice which leaves these two little ones being pulled from their home and being placed in a stranger’s home days before Christmas. They asked us if we would be able to take them every weekend this month as they scrambled to find a new home for them. The social worker paused and then timidly asked if we would consider taking them for Christmas.

“Do you have room?”

When we were asked to do respite care for a weekend we had no idea that it would turn into a commitment that would fill the month of December…that would fill the Christmas season. The fact that we are in the position to be asked is a testament to how far God has brought us and how He has transformed my heart over this past year. I am an inn keeper at heart. I struggle with opening my home and life and my heart to others. I have friends and family who have such open hearts and homes who willingly and eagerly take in anyone who comes to their doorstep (figuratively and literally.)  They earnestly reply, “The more the merrier!” I so admire people like that…would love to be more like that…but I find myself struggling to be like that. A few years ago the thought of having to open my Christmas season to strangers would have made me angry, resentful, and overwhelmed but God has been working on me. God has been showing me the blessing of “Yes.” I have watched miracles unfold over the last year because of the courage to say “yes.” I would love to tell you that when God calls I respond with a courageous and bold “YES!” but more often it is a timid and barely audible “yes.” I’m still a work in progress.

So when God said, “I have two lost souls in search of a bed to lay their heads upon in this most holy of seasons…Do you have room?”

I answered, “Yes.”

Our weekend wasn’t an easy one. We went into it tired with Friday being a full day before the weekend even began. Friday morning the boys were up early to get a little hunting in. This is Rusty’s first deer hunting season and was eager to go out with Dad and try to get some meat for the freezer. Although they didn’t get anything it was still a special rite of passage shared by Dad and son.


Later that day Toby and I headed off to the hospital. Toby had to have surgery on his foot and he was scheduled for 12:30. He has had a mass growing on the top of his foot that has been getting more and more painful over the last few months. As we went into a back room to get him prepped for the surgery we had the chance to talk to the surgeon. While discussing the expected recovery time Toby discovered that his original plan to go back to work on Monday wasn’t going to work out after the doctor explained that he would be on crutches and unable to put on a shoe for a couple of weeks. The surgery itself went really well and we found out that the mass that they thought was a tumor was actually a foreign body that was infected. Something had worked its way under the skin, got infected, and then a mass of tissue grew around it. We were blessed to find out that the damage they were afraid might occur as a result of the surgery was able to be avoided due to the shallowness of the mass. We made it out of the hospital around 5pm, drove Toby home, and put him to bed.

Toby waiting to go into surgery.

Toby waiting to go into surgery.

Saturday morning I left early to pick up our two visitors for the weekend. I wasn’t sure how the weekend would go as I flew solo without my wing-man. Although there were no major mishaps I definitely felt Toby’s absence as he was stuck on his back. Saturday afternoon I drove the girls over to the local high school where they were hired to do face painting for the community Christmas party. They had so much fun doing it in the fall that they eagerly said “yes” when asked to do it again. While there the kids took part in some of the fun activities they offered like crafts and meeting Santa.


The girls with the face painting sign they made to show what pictures they offer.

Craft time at the Christmas party.

Craft time at the Christmas party.

Gracie the Elf...compliments of the balloon man at the party.

Gracie the Elf…compliments of the balloon man at the party.

The remainder of the weekend was spent trying to keep the kids occupied in one part of the house while Toby recovered in another part. To help facilitate that I made sugar cookies for the kids to decorate.

Tyler's sugar laden creation!

Tyler’s sugar coated creation!

While the kids were visiting us they were introduced to the Elf on a Shelf tradition that we have been doing with our kids for the last 5 years and our personal elf friend, Buster. The kids were delighted by the stories Tyler told them of some of Buster’s past antics and couldn’t wait to go to bed to see what mischief Buster would get into during the night.



Buster didn’t disappoint…


Ozzie was especially taken with Buster and I found him whispering secrets many times over the weekend for Buster to take back to Santa. The weekend was a good one..a crazy, noisy, exhausting one… but a good one. There were no major catastrophes unless you count that awkward incident of Gracie finding Ozzie using her electric toothbrush because he wanted to see what it felt like. Gracie handled it very well. It was discreetly tossed and a new toothbrush took its place. 🙂

Now here I sit.

 The kids have gone home for the week. They will be back next weekend. The house is a disaster. All the  Christmas preparations I had planned for the weekend still sit undone on the side bench and I am worn out.

This weekend was in no way a reflection of what an ideal weekend in December should look like by my standards or the world’s. No lights were hung. No shopping was done. Not one drop of cocoa was sipped (at least not by me) although I wiped up plenty of spilled cocoa. I didn’t sit and gaze at the tree once this weekend. By the world’s measurement it was an utter failure of a Christmas season Saturday. Martha would have been horrified if she had seen the cookies the kids decorated. My home at this moment would be more likely to be featured on an episode of Hoarders than in any decorating magazine, but somehow in the midst of the mess and the noise I felt as though I had found something I had been missing. By saying “yes” to two small children I found something that I had lost. By making room in my schedule, in my home, and in my heart for two weary travelers I found Christmas. Not the sparkly, tinsel trimmed Christmas we are told we should strive for but a messy, dirty, hay strewn Christmas where two children, without a home to call their own, showed us the real meaning of Christmas love.

The question was a simple one…

“Do you have room?

and all I had to do was say, “Yes.”