We brought our three dogs with us (foster dog Colette stayed behind), not knowing that there was actually a dog park at the old stone school house. They had a blast galloping off-leash and romping in the snow. I didn't notice it at the time, but little Trevi was by me every step of the way on our sled rides down the small hill. Only in reviewing the photos once we were home did I see that she ran beside me and never let herself get more than a few feet away from me. She is such a good friend, or co-dependent, depending on how you look at it.
A is continuing gymnastics and loving it. She is cautious and risk-adverse (which we are thankful for) but does a great job with every challenge her teacher gives her. She is also loving school, though we are already working through some mean-girl scenarios. I knew this would come eventually, but never expected that it would be an issue even before kindergarten. To complicate matters, some of the girls are periodically nice to her, and this confuses her and has prevented her from cutting them off completely. She has such a kind, sweet heart, and it's tough when I learn that others are hurting her with their words or actions. Rather than asking her to tell the teacher, we're trying to give her skills on how to respond, and help her make good choices with who she chooses to be friends with. I also try to help her understand that anyone who hurts her is hurting in some way, otherwise they wouldn't lash out.
The second weekend in December found us still trying to decorate our tree, keep up with clean laundry and continue wrapping presents. But we don't let any of that get in the way of fun outings! On Sunday, the kids and I left at 7:30am to have a Santa Brunch at the American Girl store in LA. It was actually really nice that it was so early, because there was zero traffic and a whole lot of parking. The event took place before the store opened for the day, which I liked. Santa was there as we entered and she had her photo with him. Both of her dolls were seated at our table and given plates, cups and a place-mat to keep. They served us warm cinnamon rolls before our entrees. I brought C and I'm pretty sure he ate about half my omelet! A had mini pancakes. The portions were great, and our meals even came with dessert. After that, it was time for some shopping...even though Christmas is around the corner. She picked out a Bitty Baby with accessories that she named Eyelash.
Later that same day, my husband and I attended Handel's messiah performed by the Pacific Symphony. While it was nice to slow down and listen to beautiful music without multi-tasking, after about an hour I started wishing that we were at a hockey game instead. Then, there would be more action and at least some fighting. Right then and there I decided that would be his Christmas gift. During intermission, we purchased some skittles that we were not allowed to eat inside. Apparently, the giant box is mean to be consumed in the lobby at lightning speed. But didn't stop my husband; there's a reason that they call him Nate Danger. During the performance, he started eating them, which caused me to start giggling. And nothing is as funny as when you are trying to be quiet. We left after two hours, beat the line of cars out of the parking structure and went to dinner at TGI Fridays where we were able to have a conversation without being interrupted by our kids. Of course, the conversation was mostly about our kids.
Not wanting the month to be too busy, we opted to skip both kids' Christmas performances, which helped. "Can we do this?" I asked my husband, when I was first considering not going. Of course we can! For A's class song, I left it up to her. At first she said she did want to go, but when I explained that we would not be home until it was dark and almost time for bed, she (thankfully) declined. Because her class was in the beginning, parents are held hostage for well over an hour while all others perform before collecting them from the classroom and then fighting traffic to leave the parking lot. We also chose to no have her do after-school dance so that she can be picked up each day at 2:30 or 3 at the latest. Time with her is invaluable, and the last thing I want is to have less of it.
I worked at my photography business every weekend in December. I had Christmas portraits as well as a first birthday and a 50th birthday party to attend. I actually enjoy it! When I used to waitress eons ago, I couldn't really enjoy the day if I had to go in to work that evening. I would be happily going about my day and then remember that I had to work later and it would steal my joy. I'm very much an introvert, and being behind the lens suits me. I get to be an observer, and enjoy taking in the atmosphere without really having to interact with anyone. I also enjoy editing the photos, although I still have a lot to learn. I love that I can do this part from home, and take little breaks to play Barbie Dreamhouse, let C bounce up and down on me or give tickle-attacks.
The extra money helped us not get quite so far in debt with all of the Christmas presents as we would otherwise. I was able to treat my girl to (almost) anything she wanted at the American Girl store without feeling guilty, buy them some extra presents, and save toward their birthday parties next year, which of course I'm already planning. While I can definitely be a procrastinator in some areas of my life (any doctoral paper) there is nothing I enjoy more than planning their parties. It is my happy place. If I'm stressed out, overwhelmed or missing Mom, I start visualizing her next party, browsing pinterest boards or email some vendors and it quickly dissipates.
It was my first time hosting the 9th annual girls' Christmas party. We've been getting together since before I was married and Delia and I are now the only two who have been to every one (we missed you, Kim!). I cooked a prime rib and the girls brought the sides. Delia and her daughter drove over 2 hours to be at the party even thought she had a 6am flight to Park City the following morning.
We all have different mile markers along the road of life to denote when we have finally "arrived." For some, it may be the ability to vacation. For others, it could be a hefty savings account or stock portfolio. For me, it is having more than one Christmas tree, apparently. About 15 years ago, I worked at the museum at Cal State while I was completing my undergrad and graduate degrees. I worked with a woman whom we will call Sharidy (well, because that's her name) who talked quite a bit about her Mom's 5 trees. I remember thinking they must live in a mansion to have room for that many trees, and being slightly disappointed when I visited and realized that 3 of them were table-top sized. Still, multiple trees were nearly inconceivable to me, living in my 250 square foot studio apartment where putting in a full-sized tree would have blocked my entrance to either the super-small galley kitchen, or the bathroom.
Last year was our first Christmas in our new home and we purchased one, large fresh tree for the formal living room. I had filed away this multiple tree aspiration of mine, and although we did get a small tree for A's room, that was it. But the former owner left a 7 foot pre-lit tree in the attic, and I had my husband get it down this year. I put it in the entry way near the stair-case and placed all of my Mom's ornaments on it: strands of pearls, pink bows, angels and topped with a pink Santa. It felt good to have them out of the box and on display. My hubby found another pre-lit tree on black Friday sale and then I happened upon an estate sale while out for a morning run with the kids and scoped up another for only $5. We left the new one in the box but put the others up, as well as a small, fresh one in A's room again, for a total of 4. Thinking of how proud Mom would be and how much she loved Christmas, I decided we will always have multiple trees. I thought back on how blessed we are to have the room, and thought back to my days working at the museum and paying $395 per month for rent in my small, studio apartment in Redlands.
We celebrated Christmas with my Dad and brother a little early, because we were going up to Oregon to stay with my in-laws beyond the New Year. Mom and Dad always went above and beyond to make all of my Christmases magical and he continues to do so. This year was my hubby's turn to receive the "wow!" gift, which will be passed on to Charles.
|Auntie Andrea and I have been best friends since 6th grade.|
Christmas in Oregon was great for A because she was able to spend time with her cousins, grandparents, Uncle Ben and her pony. It's a vast, magical place, compared to the postage stamps that we live on here in Southern California. Our favorite thing to do there is let pony roam free. We walked 3 miles most days (kids in stroller) and I also ran 3 miles almost every day. while we were there, we celebrated Uncle Ben's birthday, as well as JP's.
Baby C walked almost the entire loop around the lake which is about .7 miles. We only picked him up on the rocky, gravel road because wanting to pick up and throw every rock he saw slowed our pace. He protested, because he wanted to walk more. As we were rounding the back part, I imagined him walking this same path once we're gone and tears instantly welled up in my eyes. Yet the thought is comforting at the same time: to have a place that we leave to them where they have built so many memories. That I'm not the end of a chain, but rather a link.
This month, C started hugging us randomly and just hasn't stopped. It's so cute to see him walk over to sister, lean in and wrap his arms around her. Or grandpa, Grandma, Trevi or a singing Santa Claus stuffed toy. Then, he's off playing. He can navigate stairs (both up and down), loves to throw balls and now nods his head yes. When I ask him where something is and he doesn't know, he puts his hands out, palms up. Its about the cutest thing ever.
Things I don't want to forget about this month:
- Tree lighting at SJB when Charles started running in the direction of the bigger kids.
- Words: uh-oh, woah, dada
- Shaking head yes while on a hike out behind our house
- When I opened his car door he said "Hiiiiiii clear as day and waved with a huge smile."
- "Mommy, can this be my song?"
- Conversations about Heaven with A.