Santa Solved

Nearly four days later, and Flora has not asked to return to see Santa. I’ve been agonizing over what to do when she does. My MIL has offered to watch Kate while I take Flora back to the mall some evening this week. But I cannot see that being a successful, stress-free solution (especially for my MIL).

Surveys at Twitter and Plurk revealed the existence of this.

The girls will be watching their message from Santa later this week. Genius.


Also? I am not the only one with Santa issues. Good to know!

Santa, Baby?

Last night, we went to the mall to see Santa.

We did not see Santa.

Rather, we saw Santa, but we did not actually wait to talk to him. After about 40 minutes in line, we bailed. Kate looked at Flora, who was paging through the latest toy catalog she had picked up, then looked up at me and said, “I want to go to the playground.” I was like, “I’m with you.”

To persuade Flora, I told her we would come back with Bella, or that we would leave Kate behind with Bella. The issue, you see, was Kate. Kate did not want to stand still; she didn’t want to be in line; she didn’t particularly have any burning desire to see Santa, of whom she has a nebulous concept at best.

Flora, on the other hand, would have stood in that line for five hours.

The waiting part would have been just fine with me too, except for Kate. And she wasn’t being bad, but she wasn’t being patient, either. She’s almost-3. There is no patience in almost-3.

And I’m okay with that.

This is the first year that I have even attempted to take the girls to see Santa. I have never taken my children to sit on Santa’s lap. Not once, not even seriously considered it. So that probably factored into the “let’s bail” vibe coming from my younger daughter.

If the line were moving at a decent clip (are there time limits on the whole Santa thing? Or as long as you pony up for a photo package, do you have carte blanche no matter how many other young, impatient children and/or fussy babies are in line? Can anyone clarify that for me?) we would have stuck it out. Really. But after 40 minutes we weren’t that much closer to the big guy’s lap, and whatever interest Kate and I had once displayed was seriously on the wane.

You know what, though? Flora wasn’t all that fazed either. She was like, “Okay, I want to come back with just you, Mommy, let’s go play.”

Also? People are serious about those portraits with Santa. Children of every age were dressed to the nines. Infant boys with clip-on ties and infant girls with red velvet bows taped to their fuzzy heads; toddlers and older children in dress clothes. Flora had on a red skirt, so she kind of looked the part, but Kate was wearing jeans and a pink, long-sleeved tee that was probably a tad too small for her.

I’ve talked here before about my Santa ambivalence (and in this post, too). I hope my continued cluelessness about this whole ritual isn’t too detrimental to my kids. This is the first year that Flora has expressed genuine interest in Santa as an active entity of Christmas, and I have answered all her questions (to date; I’m sure there are more) in the spirit of the season.

Why is Santa magic?
Because he has a lot to do in only one night.

Can he fly by himself?
No, he needs his reindeer and sleigh.

Is Mrs. Claus magic? Is there a Mrs. Claus?
Yes, there is a Mrs. Claus, and yes, she’s magic too.

What does naughty mean?
It means being bad or being mean on purpose. (Flora is very concerned with the difference between “on purpose” and “by accident”.)

Am I naughty?
No, most of the time, you are nice.

Flora is a true believer in Santa. She has no skepticism or doubt. She doesn’t even worry about the fact that we do not have a chimney on our house — Santa’s magic! And she got to be a true believer in Santa with zero help from me. I don’t think I’m going to do anything differently than I have in years past.

Puppy Lust I

My sister, known here as SoulSista, has a 12-year-old Boston terrier named Buddy. He’s in pretty good health for an old man of a dog, but SoulSista knows that he’s not going to live too much longer.

On the Friday after Christmas she called me at work.

“Do you remember the conversation you had with Cousin K about picking out a puppy?” she asked.

“I don’t remember any such conversation, SS.”

“He was talking about squeezing their paws, and other tests like that?”

“Uh, no. Are you sure it was me?”

“Pretty sure.”

“Did I have kids at the time?” Because I have had entire conversations while monitoring my children — or while being pregnant — that I would be hard pressed to recall.

“I don’t know. Well, do you have Cousin K’s phone number?”

“We might have it at the house, but I’m at work. Wait a minute, why are you asking about picking out a puppy?”

“I think Dad and I are going to go pick out a puppy.”

“For whom?”

“For me.”

“Why are you picking out a puppy?” I practically yelled.

“Buddy’s fine.”

Well, maybe we just should have started there, SS. “Okay,” I said.

“Do you think I would sound this calm if something happened to Buddy?” she asked.

Hey, I don’t know. Drinking and/or medication can flatten affect. “I guess not.”

When we got to Erie, SS presented Roxy, a 9-week-old brindle (I think that’s the correct term) Boston terrier.

And now I (and Monkey) want one too. The day we were leaving Erie, Monkey sat on my lap, and Roxy was laying in Monkey’s lap, sleeping (and snoring — much more adorable in a Boston terrier pup than in, say, an almost-40-year-old husband).

Monkey whispered, “I want to take Buddy’s sister home.”

Not this year, Monkey. But soon — sooner for me than for you, because three years sounds like an eternity to you. But someday I am going to turn around, and you are going to be 7 years old. And I will buy you (and your sister) a puppy. Promise.

This is Roxy. And SoulSista.

Monkey took this one with her new digital camera. Yes, HER camera. More later.

This one, too. Roxy and Buddy.

‘Twas the Day After Christmas

… And all through the house were contented children. Or so I imagine. I went to work.

I didn’t get within 10 feet of a computer yesterday, so I didn’t even get a chance to say “Merry Christmas”! I hope everyone had a nice holiday and/or day off. Our Christmas Eve and Christmas were wonderful.

The pictures suck, though. I think I know why someone gave us this camera!


Christmas Eve was for decorating the tree. DearDR did all the lights before we went to my in-laws for Christmas Eve dinner and the first gift exchange.

We did the rest after the kids were in bed.

DearDR had some last minute adjustments. We used probably two-thirds of the ornaments we had. It was a skinny tree!

But very pretty.

Santa came later that night.

Monkey couldn’t wait to get into the gifts — it was definitely the first year that she had to be distracted from presents until Bun and Daddy were awake.

She made out pretty well.

Those are Bun’s gifts, still all wrapped up after Monkey was done with hers. I was surprised at how little interest Bun had in opening them. She just wanted to play with her baby doll, which Bella had bought her.

DearDR is not so good at taking pictures. I have no idea what the focus of this picture is supposed to be. But the kids were probably moving around a lot, too. Moving right along…

…I managed to get a picture of Monkey in her Christmas dress. I never got Bun though. When she got up from her nap, I was already next door with Monkey. DearDR thought she was in pajamas, and changed her… into some clothes that Monkey had been wearing earlier in the day. Aside from the fact that they were kind of lounge-around-the-house clothes (i.e. not holiday party clothes), the scary thing was that the clothes fit pretty well. How is my not-even-2-year-old fitting into 3- or 4T clothes??

Anyway, it was a merry time for everyone involved. Hope yours was just as good. Tomorrow we travel to Erie to see my family and for gift exchange number three.

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas…

…And all through the house roamed sick toddlers and a stressed out husband.

I came to work.

To clarify my last post: I was very, very ill on Sunday, not just sick about not having a Christmas tree. I spent most of the day on the couch, even napping during the first half of the Steelers’ game. (Should’ve napped through the rest of it.) Sore throat, very achy. DearDR spent most of the day with Monkey next door; Bun and I muddled through at home.

I managed to cook a very yummy lentil stew for dinner. I also put together gifts for my daughter’s kindergarten teachers (only two, thank goodness). I was going to bake cookies on Sunday, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen before… oh, the new year, probably. Too bad, because I have tons of flour, sugar, and butter at home now! (DearDR, bless him, did the grocery shopping.)

Also, bless DearDR for buying a Christmas tree. He brought home a pretty little Fraser fir last night. Now we just gotta throw some decorations on it.

Here is why DearDR is stressed out: My in-laws decided to take their car (the Cadillac) to the shop today. They want to use the station wagon. The children have to go to the doctor (Bun’s Rx does not seem to be helping her; Monkey is complaining about a sore throat — hey, wouldn’t it be hysterical if she had mono?? hahahaha! No). They are currently scheduled for back-to-back appointments at 10:15 (the doctor’s office is only open a half day today).

And DearDR has not bought one Christmas gift. For anyone. Well, no, that’s not true — he bought iTunes gift cards at the grocery store for his teenage cousin.

Do you know how many people DearDR has to buy for?

One. Me.

If he wants, he can also purchase gifts for his parents and his grandmother. But the past few years, we have primarily only purchased gifts for the kids in the family. It is too expensive to do otherwise. This year especially.

Sooooo, I am facing the reality that I may not get any gifts from my husband this year. I am having a difficult time with it. [See update below.]

I don’t want to be angry, but I am angry. After all, I’m the one over here trying to get my children to appreciate that Christmas is not about presents and Santa, but about Jesus’ birth.

(Had to review this last night with Monkey:
“What is Christmas about, Monkey?”
“No, it’s Jesus’ birthday.”
“Oh, I thought it was about presents.”
“Well, Jesus was the best present of all.”
I could see in her little head she was thinking, “I am still getting presents, right?”)

Part of me feels really bad for DearDR. He loves Christmas shopping — he loves shopping for gifts in general, really — but he is stuck. He doesn’t plan well; he’s not very organized; he spends almost all of his time working. If he had thought ahead a little bit, he could have ordered gifts online, and he’d be done. And now, instead of going shopping, he’s got the kids all day; he has to take them to the doctor; he is stranded without a car until his parents get back from the garage. He doesn’t really know what to get me. We didn’t exchange lists this year, and he can’t spend that much money, anyway.

I am trying to let my sympathy and my Christian spirit carry me through or past my anger. I’m having uneven results. Besides, it’s not a foregone conclusion — after all, we get our prescriptions filled at Target, that mecca of shopping!

I just want to focus on making Christmas a fun day for my children. I want us to go to church as a family. I want them to enjoy the tree, and opening their presents. Maybe when Bun naps Christmas day, Monkey and I will try to bake a few cookies (note to self: must stop eating pistachios DearDR bought for recipe) before we go next door to my in-laws.

I need to find it in my heart to let DearDR off the hook. (This year, anyway!) And he has to do the same to himself. Yeah, it stinks. But DearDR is not a bad guy. He’s not a mean guy. He’s not out to hurt me.

He makes me laugh. He’s a good father. He makes awesome green beans. He works damn hard, too hard sometimes. He is good at doing things around the house — unstopping drains and fixing dryer vents and changing furnace filters.

This is the guy I married. And I love him.

Merry Christmas, DearDR. Take it easy on yourself, okay?

Edited to add: Monkey has an ear infection in her left ear. Bun has a sinus infection to go with her two ear infections.

At least he will be going to Target. I will be getting Christmas booty! And maybe some green beans later. Mmmm.

Merry Christmas Eve. Sigh.

Do They Know It’s Christmas Crazy?

Not around here they don’t.

If there are prizes, I will be competing in the “least prepared for Christmas” category.

Last year, we did not have a tree. Last year, I put my baubles in a bowl, and it made a very pretty centerpiece. I haven’t gone that far yet. I am still holding out hope for a real tree (he’s got one more day, people).

Well, I do have this tree.

My MIL in her youth took a ceramics class. She cast this tree, and the Santa and reindeer below. And, many, many more things, Christmas and otherwise. I was hoping that my Christmas Crazy would showcase all the things she did. But, well, you’ll see.

Bella was very talented at ceramics. It’s a shame she chose to give it up.

My dining room decorations.

This bare green field is where our Nativity goes. Bella cast our Nativity, too, and it is an especial point of pride for DearDR. It is truly gorgeous, each figure (and there are many) painstakingly handpainted. She even pasted small “jewels” on the robes and gifts of the Magi.

And DearDR does not want me to handle it. He doesn’t want me carrying the boxes upstairs, unpacking it, putting it out for display. I break things. It’s true, I do, as the lack of juice glasses from our wedding swag attests.

But come tomorrow night, if that Nativity isn’t out by his own hand, it will be out by mine. Fragile ceramics coming up from the basement notwithstanding.

You’ve been warned.

This is where our tree would go… Er, is going to go. Tonight.

Yeah, tonight.

This is my wreath. That is not my front door. As soon as I finish the list of all the stuff I have to do tonight, I’ll get right on that.

I decorate the bathroom! I even have pretty towels, although they are all currently in the washer.

Sadly, this is indicative of where most of my Christmas Crazy still is this year. In boxes, sitting forlornly in the basement.

I don’t even care that much for myself. But when I was growing up, part of the wonder, magic, and joy of the Season was how beautifully decorated my parents house was. And my parents did it together, with mom ironing bows for the tree and the garland she strung on the stair banisters, and my father putting up lights outside and putting up the tree. We all decorated it together, as a family.

And now, if you don’t mind, I will just go about my business. Because thinking about this more will only put me in a funk, and I don’t have time for that. Enjoy more Christmas Crazy (REAL Christmas Crazy) by checking out all the fun folks here.

It Was One Week Before Christmas, and All Through the House…

….there was much anticipation, although they were not sure for what.

I started moving things in my living room around last night so that when DearDR buys a tree (tomorrow or Saturday he says), we have someplace to put it. Monkey was all like, “What are you doing, Mommy? Why are you moving that? Why are you moving that??”

Monkey seems to know that it will be Jesus’ birthday, and that Santa is coming. Surprisingly, she doesn’t ask me EVERY DAY if it is Christmas yet. There is still time.

Bun… well, it’s hard to tell what exactly Bun knows, although she always surprises me. Snowmen seem to catch her interest quicker than images of Santa. It think she may lose her little mind when we get the tree up and decorated. It’ll be her first one.

I still have a lot to do. This final weekend before Christmas I’ll be wrapping everything, shopping, baking cookies, making gifts for teachers, going to a Cookie Buffet, and decorating a tree.

I am excited to have Christmas Day with my children. I am looking forward to going to Mass — I love Christmas Mass — and then seeing how excited they get when they see their presents and start opening them.

I know that Santa comes to see many of you during the night before Christmas, but for some reason, Santa doesn’t come to our house until we go to church. I guess we’re close to last on the list!

This is what happened when I was a kid. We three children went out to the car with our mother. She got us settled in, and started the car. Then we sat. Inevitably one of us piped up from the back seat, “Where’s Daddy?” To which my mother would inevitably reply, “He’s shaving.” Finally my father would come out of the house, and we would head off to Mass.

When we got back home, walla! Santa would have visited, and there were piles of shiny presents under the tree for us.

I was about 7 before I finally figured out that Daddy wasn’t shaving.

I hope that Monkey and Bun’s suspension of disbelief holds out that long!

Two Weeks before Christmas, and All Through the House…

…there were a few decorations scattered about.

I am not at Christmas Crazy levels, and I may not get there, but I’m all right with that.

I’ve been reading a lot online about how stressed out people are about Christmas, and how they don’t want to spend time with their families because it doesn’t go well, and even how much some people hate Christmas. HATE Christmas! And it’s been bringing me down.

But then, fortunately, I stumbled over to Her Bad Mother, and my faith (in the blogging community vis-a-vis this holiday) was restored. (My religious faith is pretty sound.) This is the post I would write if I were as articulate as HBM. I also like this post from Rocking Pony, mostly because I really admire her son’s imagination.

I have been facing my own little stressors about Christmas of course. My house has no lights on it; we don’t have a tree yet; I still have gift shopping to do and parties to attend and cookies to bake. My front door wreath is still sitting in my hallway, because I haven’t actually found a way to hang it on the door. (The hook we have there is too small. DearDR usually does this complicated thread pulley system, but there must be a better way.) We are having a cash-only Christmas this year, and we all know how I feel about my budget and money.

I didn’t want to repeat myself, so I went rummaging through my archives, such as they are. Remembering how Bun threw up all over the place around this time last year made me stifle my giggles — funny now, stressful then. Funny mostly because I can still picture the eruption, and my shocked thought: how can someone that little puke THAT MUCH?

Then there is the Santa post, and we’re still right about here. Am I being a Grinch? Is it unfair to not build up Santa? To quote: “Should I introduce the myth of Santa to [Monkey]? How? Should I use Santa as a motivator to be good, as so many people do this time of year? … I have my own mixed feelings about the whole Santa-myth and secular ‘holiday’ time as it is.” Your thoughts are welcome.

I’m not actually that worked up about the lights on the house thing. I decorate nicely inside, and we are getting a tree this year if I have to buy and decorate it by myself. I think outside lights are very pretty — as do my girls — but really, I can’t do it all, people.

My mantra this time of year is something to the effect of: It’s Jesus’ birthday. That is what I am celebrating Christmas day. And all the other trappings are just that: trappings. Donating to others is an integral part of our Christmas; this year, Monkey picked out the angel from our Angel Tree at church. We put coins in the big red kettles (it’s fun!). We leave canned goods in food drive pick-up spots. And we keep our own gift giving to a minimum (three gifts each among the four of us — Jesus got three gifts; thanks to M for that suggestion), and only for Niece and Nephews in the extended family. Well, and lots of homemade wine or lemoncello for the adults.

I have learned my own limits about this holiday, and I live pretty comfortably within them. Keeping the Christ child in the center of it all really helps me. I wish it were that easy for everyone.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, may you find some peace in it.

Oh, and, Gina: HAHAHAHAHA!

Nothing to See Here

I keep meaning to post photos of the Christmas festivities (such as they are), but DearDR disconnected the digital camera port, and I haven’t figured out which wire goes where yet.

I have been looking around the blog-o-sphere, and it looks as if everyone has had a good time. I have no complaints myself. It was too busy; it always is, especially now, married with kids. I said to DearDR, “One of these years, I would like us to just be in one place all day long on Christmas.” He replied, “That would be nice.” I added, “How about Italy?”

What? That’s one place.

Come back Friday. More to see; more to read. My house is a zoo, and Bun’s birthday is Sunday. Oy.

Oh, yeah, Happy New Year too….