Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Making & Baking: Family Edition

I thought I would subtitle this post because my post for today on An Apple for Mom was titled Christmas Making & Baking, too.

Xander is into making his stuffed animals "look cute"

the mini ornaments from Great-Grandma's advent calendar on the mini tree she sent us

raw material for a couple of Christmas gifts Xander made

one of his sword and shield drawings

opening an early Christmas present from Great-Grandma

something I made for my cousin's twins - the red and white one reminds me of candy canes :)

see how Nick is reading Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery ;)

another of Xander's toy configurations

making a big train track with Dad

Notice that little potty chair in the background? Nick has started refusing diapers and asking for the potty. No results yet. I finally told him, in the midst of my organizing, knitting, cleaning, and thinking about Christmas, that he had to wear a diaper. Hopefully that will work in our favor after Christmas is over. If his stubbornness kicked in so that he insisted on the potty instead of diapers, our work would be done for us. :)

Xander and I made the Santa's Castle from Betty Crocker's Christmas

I think he's closing his eyes on purpose

even when I asked him to keep his eyes open, they closed at the wrong instant

if you make this, I recommend having marshmallow creme on hand for quick "glue" fix-ups

this photo series is out of order, but I wanted to show you how Nick started to understand the goodness of presents

yep, now he wants to unwrap this one

made three of these today, too, for Christmas morning or whenever we need them

going backward in time again because I love this picture - not the most handsome of Nick but definitely cute (he blew through that learning activity - time to step it up a notch)

beautiful advent calendar made by their Great-Grandma

he is truly happy to be opening the advent ornament, but the presence of a camera somehow brings out goofy smiles

hanging the advent ornament

I think that's all our holiday photos for now. There will be many more after tomorrow...which is when Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Leslie, Bailey, and Foster arrive!! The next day we will see Grandpa Larry, Grandma Alla, Grandma Bonnie, and Aunt Pat.
I didn't have my camera or phone with me at the playground this morning or I could have gotten a cute one. We met four other families at the playground with Christmasy treats that everyone brought. Two moms also brought holiday-themed crafts for the kids to do which turned out really neat. Toward the end, one mom tried to get all the kids together for one photo, which was ambitious. The babies didn't get in the photo after all...there were a lot of kids there with us. :) But after a lot of cajoling and even some frustrated words, most of the children hung out in the same general area and it really was adorable. We had them say, "Cheese!" and the mom with the camera got some great pictures that included both of our boys. I'm not sure how I got Nick to stick around while the photos were taken, but I'm happy it happened. A few minutes after all of that was finished, I noticed one of the little girls was still hanging off the back drop saying, "Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!" It was cute.

Oh! Let me take a picture of the photo of Xander with Santa and Mrs. Claus at his school and include that. Never mind. It didn't work out very well this time around, so I will try again when it's not dinner time.

Even though we don't have pictures of it, I can't forget to mention our trip to the Lyndon Johnson State Park for their tree lighting ceremony. There were lots of speeches, which totally lost Nick, but there were also lots of deer to see and space to roam. Xander told us about the deer. He is really good at spotting wildlife from far away. Finally, the tree was lit. (There was a good German-heritage-dressed band and singers from a community church and Luci Baines Johnson, President and Lady Bird Johnson's daughter, all of which I would have appreciated if I weren't walking around with Nick. :) I did read the letters to President Johnson which they had posted on the wall of the visitor center, and they were hilarious. (Although they were not meant to be by the writers of the letters.)

Xander sat on Santa's lap again after the ceremony. He mentioned, while we were in line, how this was a different Santa. I said, "Oh, really?" to brush it off, because I didn't want to get into any kind of a "different Santas" conversation around other little kids. :) I don't think he meant that he had any suspicions, but I haven't followed up on that comment.

Then we saw a live Nativity scene which was really neat. I felt bad for the angel, who was the only person who had to stand stock still in an uncomfortable-looking position. Xander didn't even remember anything from the Nativity scene except for the baby goats. They stole the show for him.

It was a great night but we didn't get back until after 9pm and the kids have yet to catch up on their sleep. Well, I was expecting imperfection over the holidays. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011


This is proof that they sometimes like each other:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

For Comparison

For comparison, as I post Christmas-related photos, this is what they looked like last year:

I've got to find this dish again before Christmas Eve!
And this is them this year:

Christmas Lights Drive and Santa

We have done such fun Christmas things so far. My favorite was driving around to see the neighborhood Christmas lights, followed by hot cocoa at home, for three reasons:
  1. The whole family was there.
  2. The kids were entertained and delighted for practically free.
  3. Erik found us a cul-de-sac that had cooperated (for Brown Santa) to do a huge 'Twas the Night Before Christmas theme. Spectacular.
While Erik was out of town for work, I brought the kids to the Cookies and Cocoa With Santa night at Xander's school. I wouldn't have chosen to do that on my own, but Xander really, really wanted to. For the picture and talk with Santa, we stood in line for 50 minutes, past Nick's bedtime, while he was thirsty and tired and bored and I was holding him in high-heeled boots. It was like a super-charged gym workout. Of course, most of those things were my fault. And it was so worth it to me because it meant a lot to Xander.

Going out to see Christmas lights

He's excited to see the lights, too, plus he loves that extra spoon from his Wendy's treat

Yep, that's Christmas lights

Another treat before Cookies and Cocoa With Santa: Subway sandwiches and Cheetos

They are getting big...I tried to savor this moment, out to eat with small boys
There's the cocoa part at the school...Nick did fantastic with a normal-sized cocoa cup (it only looks ginormous here because of my camera angle)

Xander made friends with the other people at our table, as usual

 The Santa picture will come later, through the school. I gave Nick a few seconds to think about whether he wanted to jump in the photo, too, on Mrs. Claus's lap. As I suspected, his opinion was No Way!

Oh, another thing I wanted to remember about today. Xander stayed home from school today because he said he felt sick with a sore throat. Normally, I wouldn't have let him, but he agreed he would stay in bed looking at books and taking a nap rather than playing, so I thought he really might be sick. And at the moment he is sleeping.

What happened was he had to repeat himself several times (from across the room, with his requested children's music playing loudly) and got very mad at me because of it. He was getting a little hysterical, so I just responded briefly and asked him to go brush his teeth. He cried, said no point-blank (which he never does), and went to my room to talk to himself about how he wasn't going to apologize. When I came in there after a few minutes and gave him a hug, he repeated all of that. I told him okay, he didn't have to "be my friend today" but I was going to give him a consequence for saying no to me. I told him to go to his room. He said no again.

I thought. I thought about how he might be sick. I thought about picking him up and carrying him to his room. I thought about the Love and Logic tactic, which would be to say, "I am very disappointed you are not obeying me," and walk away.

I tried the last option. In about three minutes, he came out to me with a calm voice and said, "I am sorry I acted that way."

I said, "You're forgiven. Thank you," and gave him a hug.

He said, "I am going to be done with that behavior now. I'm sorry."

I repeated the above and said I was glad to hear that.

Woohoo! Mature, self-regulated behavior! That "done with that behavior now" line didn't come from me, I'm sorry to say. It probably came from his great teacher, Mrs. Griffin.

She has twenty years' experience teaching kindergarten, she loves worksheets, she is extremely organized, and she is pretty soft-spoken with the children, so if you lined up her class with the other kindergarten classes, it would probably not look the best-behaved.

But Xander has liked her every day from day one, has learned to write and color quite well (which he couldn't do very well before kindergarten), takes everything she says - academic or not - so seriously, and told me the other day that "Mrs. Griffin is a good teacher."

I bet she listens to him. That is really important to him. He misbehaved for one substitute teacher and really didn't like her and wanted to skip school the next day because she was going to be there (or maybe she put him "in trouble" for something Mrs. Griffin wouldn't have - that's what Xander said). He has liked his other teachers pretty well, but loves Mrs. Griffin and missed her over Thanksgiving holiday. He also really likes his Theater Arts teacher, apparently because she gave him a sticker and asked what his favorite food was and listened to his answer.