Thursday, December 21, 2006

As succinct as the Gettysburg Address

Do you have any idea where the hell time goes? Criminy. I blink an eye and a week has passed. It’s insanity. And all this beta blogger nonsense and the change in Picasa picture posting has me irritated. I’m too old to adjust, dammit. Why do they keep messin’ with my programs? (Said while waving my cane at the screen.)

Think I can manage a quick review of the last week? Sure. But I can’t promise it will be all that interesting. Last Saturday we had a family-visitin’ day. First to Mom’s place to bake Christmas cookies. Her boyfriend has a family tradition of making Christmas cookies with his Grandkids and asked us to join them. It was lovely. Especially when Noah spent almost an hour chasing the 5, 6 and 7 year old girls around and Mark and I didn’t even have to keep tabs on him. Then we headed to my Dad’s where we ordered Chinese takeout and everyone watched me decorate the tree. Noah spent a good deal of time chasing Oma around the house and that seemed to be exactly what she needed to put a smile on her face. Sunday we went to Drexel’s Christmas party. It’s for the entire staff of the University and since about 1500 people attend it’s not entirely lavish, and there is no open bar. But the cranberry punch is delish and they have magicians and story time for the kids. The big draws this year were a performance by the Rockettes and you could get your family photo taken and superimposed on a bunch of silly backgrounds. We stuck with a snowy forest landscape. I know – we’re boring. The party was held in the Great Court, which is (as you can see from the link) stunning, and also the building in which Mark works. However as striking as it is, it doesn’t lend itself well to the sheer size of the party. It’s not only a bit too crowded and hard to navigate, it’s also very sparse on seating which is difficult when you have a toddler. But seatless though we were, we still had a nice time.

On Monday we decided to spend a few hours of the 60 degree day (is this REALLY December?) at Morris Arboretum with Wendy and Victor. On Tuesday we went to Toddler storytime in the morning and then Janette and Jules came by in the evening. Yesterday I had an unpleasant bathroom emergency at BJs, and though I go there for the sole purpose of buying that child giant vats of apple juice and Cheezits, he decided not to be kind and discrete and instead repeatedly and loudly asked me if I was pooping. Ahem. Somehow I survived that. In the evening Mark watched Noah so I could go by some stocking stuffers. I realized just recently that since I told him that Santa will fill our stockings, that I better indeed put something into those belonging to Mark and myself.

Today we met my former co-worker and friend Jeff downtown for lunch. Again with the Chinese food. I’ve got some weird obsession about it lately. The dumplings in particular. After he treated (Bless your heart Jeff! Even after just closing on a new condo!) he sadly had to return to the office and thus did not get to join us when we headed to Macy’s to (YUP) once AGAIN go see the Dickens Village “puppets” and the light show. A grandmother sitting next to me with a cranky two year old little girl asked “What did you do to get such a beautiful and well behaved child?” To which I replied “Got lucky. Got very, very lucky.”

So what do the holidays have in store for us this crazy week? Tomorrow night we pop in to my friend Patty’s Christmas party – long enough to taunt the drunken singletons with the cuteness of our offspring, but not so long that they see what it’s like when said offspring becomes overtired and slightly less manageable. On Saturday we head to Jersey to have lunch with a friend of Mark’s from high school. He and his wife are in staying with his parents over the holidays, that is if they caught their flight out of Colorado despite the massive blizzard. And afterwards we’ll stop by Mark’s Dad's place to “see the tree” because no yuletide season is complete without tree seeing. Hopefully their tree is less crooked and haggard looking than ours after it’s been pawed at by a two year old on a daily basis. On Sunday I have a frenzy of cleaning and cooking while awaiting my Mom, her boyfriend, Mark’s Dad, his wife and Mark’s 94 year old Grandmother for dinner. And if we all survive that, with no food poisoning or whatnot, we’ll head to my Dad’s the next day for an early dinner with my Oma, my brother and his kids, and then to my Mom’s in the evening to see more relatives. Good grief. I’m beat just typing that. I’m hoping to also get my sister Jess to come and spend a few days with us that week, but that hasn’t yet been set in stone.

Okay. So that was far from quick. Sheesh. Sorry. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday (if you celebrate that sort of thing) – and that the chaos, the bills and the gifts are just a fleeting blip quickly wiped out by your enjoyment of time with your loved ones. As flawed and wacky as they (and we all) may be.

See you next week with photos of festive festivitiness!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Surely you have more places we could hang some more balls. I mean seriously. We need MORE! More balls.  Posted by Picasa

It's a dark and blurry. But no other picture (or words for that matter) could possibly express to you the joy Noah felt helping to decorate the Christmas tree. Mark snapped this as Noah said "I did it!" as he triumphantly hung a ball on the tree.  Posted by Picasa

Noah took a momentary break from eating sprinkles to pose. I couldn't get him to understand that he wasn't supposed to be eating every cookie he decorated. Maybe next year.  Posted by Picasa

It's holly and jolly.

As you know we are doing the whole Santa myth here, and doing it wholeheartedly. Noah is pointing out every Santa he sees, plastic ones on porches, blow-up ones in the grocery store, lit ones in neighborhood windows. And he gets so excited. It really warms my heart.

What I’m not doing is the Santa threat. I was actually quite taken aback a few weeks ago when the mother of one of Noah’s playmates started telling the kids that they better not be naughty or they won’t get gifts. OH NO. That is not in our Santa tale. And certainly not for two years old. I told Noah that Santa brings gifts for nice boys and girls and since he is such a nice little boy he will be getting presents. The funny thing is he thinks he already got his gift. After he sat with Santa at the Gallery he was given a toothbrush, so when you ask him what he wants from Santa for Christmas he says “a toothbrush.” It’s gotten quite a few chuckles, and even a “Ahh… how sad.”

After two weeks of battling my own cold, Noah caught it this weekend. I spent two nights sleeping upright with him on the couch so he could continue to breath. He didn’t get too ill, just really, really mucousy. But despite the snot we kept on keeping on for a busy pre-holiday weekend. We hit two Christmas parties on Saturday – a cookie making toddler one in the afternoon (where everyone was snotty) and then a adult soiree in the evening where we stopped in and ran out before the childless folk got restless. On Sunday we got our tree – and Noah adores it. He often wakes up in the morning and asks to go see it. And he wants to continue decorating. Despite his protests we had to put the ornaments away before he tipped the poor tree over under their weight. Now he’s permitted to just move them around – luckily we have all plastic balls. After decorating and naptime we went downtown for another gander at the light show and puppets before having dinner in Chinatown. Cause nothin’ says Christmas like dumplings and fried rice. Yum.

After the festive weekend Noah was a bit worse the wear cold-wise so we hibernated on Monday – he was in his pajamas all day. But he was back to his active chipper self on Tuesday when we met Janette at Ikea and let the kids run wild through the decorative living rooms. Love those Swedes. Yesterday we went to check out a different playgroup and found ourselves the only English speakers aside from the facilitator. They were really welcoming but since I couldn’t talk to any of the other mothers I don’t think I will be returning to that group.

Today the boy and I did some shopping and were both rewarded for our good behavior with a lavish lunch at Chikfila. I’m just about done my Christmas shopping and though it won’t go down in the record books as being the year I gave everyone exactly what their little hearts desired- they are getting something and that’s all I’m up for at the moment. If only the thoughts I have about perfect gifts instantly materialized without the prerequisite spending and shopping. But ya know what – Noah is going to be super psyched to get some craft supplies, Playmobil people, a tool set and a doctor’s kit – and that’s what matters most.

What else goes on with Master Noah? He has gained the uncanny ability to pick out recognizable carols on even the quietest store speaker system. “It’s Rum-pum-pum song Mama!” And nothing could be cooler than “Fra-tee the Toe-man.” He’s also still loving the Nutcracker – he’s jumping, leaping and spinning around as well as playing with the wooden ones I got to decorate the house. (Sidenote: I returned the Nutcracker video to the library yesterday IN our late VCR. Mark broke the VCR apart to get the tape out but once he did we realized that the tape was running through the entire mechanism and there was no way for us to get it out without cutting it. Oops.) And though not holiday related I have to mention that Noah has become such a big helper. He wants to help do everything. He just wells up with pride and says repeatedly “I’m helping you Mama.” He’s also definitely entering his “kids say the darndest things” stage. As I we were exiting the house yesterday he said “Mama, you have a penis?”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Setting out on the El for our holiday adventure this morning.  Posted by Picasa

Hanging out with the crowd, hungry for holiday light show magic.  Posted by Picasa

Nothing wrong with checking out the shoe selection while waiting for the light show.  Posted by Picasa

They make quite a pair.  Posted by Picasa

Let's have some fun now, before I melt away.

This year I’m truly enjoying the holiday spirit thanks to Master Noah. He’s so excited – and not because he’s getting gifts – but because of the magic of Christmas, the traditions, the music, the lights, the stories. We’ve been reading tons of Christmas books, listening to carols, watching the Nutcracker ballet and opening an advent calendar door each day. On Sunday night the three of us went to City Hall and Rittenhouse Square to see the trees and lights – and Noah was really excited, though he was a bit disappointed because he thought Santa would be at the tree. (Though honestly – limiting a two year old to one piece of chocolate a day is not easy. We have at least one meltdown a day because he wants to open another “Santa door.”) (Oh and said Nutcracker tape from the library is now stuck in our VCR, and yet not playable. On the plus side I was able to DVR the ballet on PBS last night so now Noah can watch it again, on the negative side I might be returning my VCR to the library.)

This morning I mentioned the idea of going downtown to see Santa. Noah, still in his pahjamas, said “I go upstairs to get my shoes. Be right back.” Needless to say we hustled out of the house. I was a bit apprehensive about how Noah would handle sitting on Santa’s lap, but as always he shocked me. It also helped that, surprisingly, The Gallery Santa rocks. Not only does he have the real deal hair, but since there was no line he told me “Let him approach slowly and talk a little bit so he gets comfortable.” It worked like a charm. When Santa finally asked if he wanted to sit on his lap and tell him his Christmas wish Noah said yes. Of course he blurted out “Trolley-Choo choo-bus” before he was even on his knee. Noah was feeling a bit too cautious to give an outright smile, but we did get a bit of a grin, and afterwards he kept talking about how nice Santa was. It was sweet.

Next we headed to see the train display at Reading Terminal (small and LAME) and then to Macys. After checking out the cool window displays, we went to see the weird ancient animatronic Dickens Christmas Village. I told Noah they were puppets so he thought they were pretty cool. At the end they take you in to see “Father Christmas” who was literally like a twenty something kid with lots of fake white hair, a feigned English accent and lots of rouge. AWFUL. We just went right through. Then we found a spot on the floor of the shoe department to wait for the light show to begin. When it was over Noah wanted to see it again – and didn’t take kindly to me saying they weren’t going to repeat it. So when he asked to see the puppets again – off we went for the second go around. And then we walked to the Bourse where we sat at a cafe table and shared a salad before getting back on the El.

The whole time we were out I was struck by two things. First, WOW he’s being so good. He really is such a sweet and special little man. I am truly blessed to have such an obedient and thoughtful child. I am constantly flabbergasted by it. And second, THIS is what Christmas is about. It’s not about what is under the tree. It’s about the wonder, the magic, the mystery. It’s about doing special things with your loved ones. About making memories and keeping traditions. God, I’m really loving this Christmas already.

Now if only someone else would do my damn shopping.