Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Comes to Town

This Christmas was such a wonderful, crazy mix of emotions and festivities. Most of the time I just wished that I was snowed in somewhere so I would have an excuse not to go out and face the crowds again in the shopping centers. BC, I would start shopping the week after Halloween and finish shopping the week after Halloween. The rest of time could be dedicated to crafts and cards and consuming obscene amounts of sugar. Last year was the first year that Phil did 98% of the shopping as I couldn't bring myself to leave Lily's side to go fight crowds and shop. As it turns out, I'm not a big fan of shopping, or crowds. I think there actually may be a phobia in there brewing.  We usually do a date night to get the kids squared away and with true Christmas Spirit this year- a friend's daughter donated her babysitting time to us. It was fabulous and meant so much to us. This was just one of a series of events that caused me to ponder the true meaning of Christmas and how to convey to my children that true gifts come from the heart.

One of our big events was an enexpected invitation to a special breakfast with Santa given by Neiman Marcus.  So I felt a little vindicated for spending that extra time finding the perfect outfits..we had another occasion for which they were needed! The breakfast was amazing. Although if it had been planned by a mom, pictures with Santa would occur BEFORE the smorgasbord of yummy treats. The night before was Phil's Squadron's Party, and we had to sneak out early since we knew we had to be downtown by 8 the next morning. It's funny how understanding people are when you tell them you have to be to town by 8am with 4 kids. Of course maybe that was because said 4 kids were exhibiting their lively natures at the time. Upon our arrival in "town",we were shown to a formally set table, with extravagantly decorated cupcakes and pastries. The meal was amazing and followed by the Shining Stars, a great song/dance troupe of kids. The floor shook as they danced causing both Bella and Lily to cling to us like spider monkeys. They were amazing. Of course their final song was a lively rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".  Lily's eyes grew wide and I saw her poke Phil's shoulder. "Daddy! Is THIS "town"? "  He immediately started chuckling as he told her yes.  She was positively giddy "Santa Claus is coming HERE!" And sure enough as the words left her lips, Santa bounded through the door, pack in hand.  It was magical. Of course in a few years, when one of her  friends has to explain that Neiman Marcus is not in fact considered town, it might not seem so magical to her.

Then I started shopping. This is when I started questioning the true meaning of Christmas. I don't like to shop when it is necessary much less than when it is crowded. That is why I am a pack rat- I stuff away things so that some day I can spend a whole bunch of time searching for that one thing I squirreled away to save myself a trip to the store. I used to love wrapping presents- now I hurriedly fold the paper together and figure I can blame the wrap job on the children. But mostly I don't have the time to spare to be the perfectionist I want to be. That bothers me, but then I try to remember big picture. Big picture is that the best part of Christmas was walking around looking at Christmas lights. It began to sprinkle and the kids pretended it was snowing. It was still 76 degrees out. The best part of Christmas is that gift that touches you. They each got to open 1 gift Christmas Eve night and since I hadn't wrapped any yet- they got to pick 1 sent from Grandma who had the foresight to send Snow. I am convinced it is the stuff they stuff on the insides of diapers- you mix water in it and it swells and then you put it in the freezer and it gets cold. Bella took a taste...that stuff probably causes cancer, great. Phil tracks Santa's Flight with Norad and then we assemble the cookies and carrots and egg nog on a special plate with Mickey on it that my Grandma and Aunt sent and we tuck the sugarplums in. The whole while, magic is in their eyes. Lily is putting the pieces together. So santa lands on the roof? Yep. And he comes and leaves presents tonight ?Yep. Maybe he can get Phillip's helicopter down while he's on the roof. Brilliant. (Phillip flew a toy helicopter up there on his birthday...we have been waiting for it to blow down...and waiting...and waiting.)

SO Christmas came to town. I have Bella, naked skating( think bambi with kneepads) in the back, Lily on her scooter that has a special scooter for Barbie that attaches to it- Kiera left as soon as humanly possible to compare gifts with her friends and Phil, Phillip and Stewart tend to the technological things that need tending on Christmas morning. It was a really good Christmas just because it was.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

This is my favorite part of the holidays, the together times. 
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Christmas Traditions
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Every year we make a Gingerbread house(or train, or mini house- depending on rations and time..)
decorate cookies and take a trip to the mall to visit Santa and ride the train. This year we get to have breakfast with Santa, so the girls and I went to the mall so they could ride the train.  We have found the decorating is faster and a lot more fun if friends are invited. Aspen helped us with the Gingerbread house and Madelyn, Sophia and Olivia helped with the cookies. 

We always write letters to Santa and this year I was thrilled to participate in Macy's Believe Campaign. For every letter in their store mailboxes, a dollar is donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.  Lily and Bella both wrote their own, but I wrote a couple too for them in case Santa is too strapped for time to translate toddler scribbles.  Last time I was in the store- I picked up some for Phillip and Kiera who both wrote nice letters asking how Santa was and hoped that he was keeping warm in the North Pole. I was all tickled that they didn't go on and on about what they wanted and hoped the spirit of the season was present. I asked them if they wanted to add anything about what gifts they wanted and Kiera said- Oh I'll tell him that IN Person.  Apparently she doubts the middle-mail person. If you have time- stop by Macy's and drop a letter in the box to help more wishes come true!

A few days ago I was touched when Phillip came home from school and asked about getting one of "those ornaments on trees".  Here they are called Lokahi Trees, the trees in the malls with wish lists from children in need. Tomorrow we venture back to the mall to do some angel shopping- there were still A LOT of angels on the angel trees and it broke my heart to see so many kids asking for basic necessities for Christmas.  This time of year I am grateful for these silly furlough fridays that give me that extra bit of time to spend doing the things that matter with my kids that we usually have to cram in.  Tomorrow's lesson will be on the spirit of giving. No matter what you have, there is always someone with more or someone with much, much less. I am always amazed that those who have the least to give- whether it be time or material- are always the first to give.  I hate to say it- but I can only name a couple of gifts that I got for Christmas as a child ,but I clearly remember how magic Christmas felt. I remember the smell of cookies baking- my stomach hurting from eating too much frosting while decorating. I remember the jingle bells ringing outside stores. I can't think of a time when we weren't handed a dollar or change to slip into the red buckets. I remember worrying that the ornament shaped by my tiny hands wasn't good enough and the elation when my mom gushed over how wonderful it was.  I remember the spirit of Christmas. Now I only hope to do it justice when I pass it on to my children.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just smile...

It just doesn't slow down, does it? The days are blending to weeks. The tree lighting was yet another exercise in my central nervous system tolerance.  Last week, we procured dresses that were to everyone's satisfaction. By everyone, I mean everyone lacking a y chromosome in our family. I grabbed the first red aloha shirt in Phillip's size, threw it at him- to which he responded- cool, Thanks. Now mind you -I had been on 3 separate dress hunting trips with the eldest of the princesses. She liked the dresses we picked out for the little princesses, but of course it did not come in her size. She held up a different red dress and said- hey mom, how about this one? Of course that one was also not in her size.  Fast forward a week - I find aforementioned red dress in store, procure with sweater and present to princess. Princess erupts in tears and shouts- I was just showing you that one- I didn't want it. I won't wear it. I want the blue one. After shouting profanities in my own head, I calmly and rationally tell her they are wearing red, blue is not an option. Princess storms to room. I return dress to store. Return home to father and princess solving dilemma by finding a red dress hidden in the abyss that are the princess' quarters. 

Dilemma 2- footwear. I have approximately 85 shoes scattered outside my back door. That is approximately 10 pairs of shoes per child. How is it that none of said shoes fits any of said children? HOW? Lily says these ones are too little and these ones are too big and I want one that's just right. Bella's adopted an old pair of Lily's which are 2 sizes too big, Kiera's wearing a pair of green slippers of Phillips because of 85 shoes, not a single one belongs to her. Well, about 4 do, but all of their mates are mysteriously missing and although she can wear green slippers with everything- mismatched shoes are not allowed, and Phillip stole a pair of my slippers because none of his fit and he can't wear one of the 4 pairs of cleats out there to school because it is against the rules. So I embark to Payless with Lily who is a stickler for comfort- a paper cutout of Bella's foot and an idea of what sizes the kids wear.  I have also learned that the only child I can buy shoes for is Bella.  Lily tried on about 10 pairs. All were too big and she swore they were perfect. Of course I have been repeatedly chided for having her in shoes that are too big because they fly off her feet as she goes careening down the hall at the hospital. So I am hell bent on getting her a pair of shoes that fit. We find such shoe. But Bellas have to match and those don't come in Bella's size. We finally find matches. Now we have to get matching for Kiera- no such luck. I convince her it is acceptable for Kiera's shoes to be different since her dress is different.  Kiera's current slippers are a size 4. I get her a size 4. We get home and they are way too big. She shrugs and says she can grow into them, they have a strap. Of course I was armed for tantrum con5. whew.

Wardrobe malfunction-While we are at Payless, which is not so much less... Lily declares that she wants to wear a headband to light the tree. Ok. 3 stores later- I get her to settle for a crystally headband because I cannot find a red headband with a flower on it that she MUST have. They come in sets of 3- but in order to get 3 crystally ones, so all girls can have one- I have to get 3 sets, fine. We finally get home an hour before we have to leave.  The girls get washed up- which sucks because now I have 3 heads of hair to dry and fix. I go to unzip Bella's dress- the zipper is mangled. It's never been worn. I didn't notice before I cut the 12 associated tags off because I was  trying to avoid the scene of mere peasant tags touching any of the princess' skin. I shake the dress in front of Phil who with brute force unzips it.  He can tell by the evil glare that that was the wrong answer...he offers to go exchange it. Mind you we are now t-minus 30 until we have to be out the door. The event coordinator called me 3 times last week to confirm time, date and location- he was a little high strung- I was half expecting my phone to ring any minute with a very polite but urgent reminder. 

I try to tie up remaining loose ends. Phillip's dress pants don't fit. I'm pretty sure they fit a week ago when he decided to dress up as a spy and roll around in the grass. Crud. We settle for a  less tight version. Lily has been begging to put her pants on and I keep telling her she's not wearing pants and she keeps saying- yes I am! Finally she brings me her pair of tights and we wrangle her in them.  As we finish, Bella bounds through the door in her new dress, all smiles. It is all coming together.

We make it to the hospital and are immediately greeted by the event organizer who gives us the run down. We usher the kids to a quiet corner courtyard to grab a quick photo and let them get their wiggles out. I don't know why I keep trying this approach, there seems to be an unending supply of wiggles. The kids are acting goofy- Lily is refusing to wear the headband she had to have and keeps lifting her dress up over her head. I am on my 3rd round of my keep your hands at your sides and don't make funny faces lecture when a PR rep comes to interview us. Lily promptly pulls her dress up and makes a funny face. Phillip and Kiera have decided that there's no time like the present for a good game of freeze tag and Bella takes a tumble into the bushes. This is why I don't go out.  A few minutes before start time, we work our way to the seats. They are front row.  Less than ideal and front and center for public meltdowns. Too late to back down. We take our seats. It starts to mist. Phil runs to get the umbrella. It is now pouring. We all run under the awning at the entrance to the hospital. The good news is that we are no longer front and center- the bad news is that there is no view of the lights.

Lily is called up to the little candy cane switch on a platform. Remember- I tell her- hands at your sides and when you feel shy, look at me and smile.  She steps up, stops and turns, puts her hands at her sides and smiles. Thatta girl! She helps the General turn the lights on, turns puts her hands at her sides and smiles right at me.  The ceremony ends and I take her in front of the hospital to see....she looks at me  "I did that?"  I nod. "I did that!" She looked thoughtful for a second, then put her hands at her side, looked at me and smiled.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

O Christmas Tree!

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I will post details later...but here's the pics from Thanksgiving, Christmas Tree Decorating and The Tripler Tree Lighting!  A little shower forced the show under an awning, but Lily did great!