You made a great effort at living every day of Advent in 2011. I really commend you. You worked hard at really focusing on faith, family and charity every single day. But the only way to improve upon your performance is with a little constructive criticism. So here it is.
1. Don't buy Advent calendars.
First of all, they aren't *Advent* calendars, they are count down calendars. They only count from December 1st to December 24th. It is really confusing to the kids when you say "Let's celebrate Advent" and there aren't enough numbered doors.
Second, its too much stuff! You spent a lot of time moving, sorting, checking and keeping track of FIVE count down calendars - yes, five, you insisted that Eleanor have one as well and she only ate about 1/3 of the candy. You ate the other 2/3 and it wasn't even very good.
Third, you don't like the kids to have candy! HELLO! Have you not met yourself?! I don't know why you thought this was a good idea. So every day you tried to figure out the best time to feed 5 children candy. Meal time was the easiest time to remember, but then your choices were; right before school, right before naps or right before bed. So what really ended up happening is you would put the kids off for days (and they are such good kids, they hardly ever got upset at all) and then they would get to eat 3 or 4 pieces all at once.
2. Be Flexible
You spent a lot of time in the middle of November searching for great ideas of things to do during Advent. But then something would come up; like a wind storm and no electricity, and the plan would have to change. Its okay. I know you don't like to just fly by the seat of your pants, but sometimes its necessary.
3. Be Creative
You planned TOO MUCH. Once December 1st rolled around your empty calendar filled up fast. It is okay to 'double count' activities. For instance, when the whole family when to Girl Scout Craft Night and shared a meal and painted ornaments, that counts as an Advent activity. You are still celebrating with your family. When the cub scouts Scouted for Food, that counts as charity. When the church made stockings and then delivered them to the convalescent home, that also counts as charity. Even though it wasn't on the list you are still living the Advent Season.
4. Bible Stories
Although you focused on faith and discussing Jesus's birth, the wise men, the Advent wreath, St. Nicholas Day, etc, you did not do any Bible readings. Its important for children to read the stories directly from the Bible and know where they came from, especially for the older children.
All in all it was a successful Advent season. You and the children celebrated St. Nicholas Day and surprised your closest friends and family with treats and the children chose gifts for toys for tots. Santa visited and delivered letters for the children along with his magical non-melting snow. We baked, made fudge, decorated, made ornaments, sang carols, surprised friends with gifts, watched Christmas movies together, and read books. We really did a great job of focusing on family. It has been a memorable Advent season.