Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas

Zzzzzzz.....that's what I need most right now, SLEEP!
I was up late many nights before Christmas, putting finishing touches on presents, still building the model train scenery and packing what I could. With my SUV fully loaded with a suitcase, presents, art supplies, two cats and one child, I headed out for the holiday. I was so happy that Christian slept in every morning during vacation until 7:30 for me!  This was perfect because my eyes were recouperating from irritation due to a nicked contact in one eye and "mild abrasion" in the other eye. My eyes had been bothering me for several days, I kept rinsing them and tried another pair of contacts, but the irritation continued. The green floral foam block, that I was carving to make train scenery mountains, gave off dust like residue.  Hence the culprit for the eye irritation but luckily wasn't anything too serious. The train scenery mountains completion has been delayed......

Christmas Eve was wonderful because my nephew Adam and his wife Heather were able to come home from California. They were in and out in two days, and of course we wanted them to stay longer, but it was so great to see them at all.  The went to Christmas Eve mass with the family, we all sat together....well at least two rows together, and enjoyed hearing my sister, niece, nephew and Mom sing in the choir.  Curtis sang "O Holy Night", which made me cry, like it always does, he was blessed with a vocal gift.

Dad and I had worked in his workshop on Friday night after Christian went to sleep. All day Saturday was spent baking, with Christian helping me press the cookie cutters into the sugar cookie dough, and asking every two minutes, when he could eat one.  Saturday afternoon nap time, Dad and I did the final push to get done what we could on the train scenery and then called a recess.  After Christmas Eve mass, I snuck out to the workshop to pack up the train scenery, stashed it in my sister's SUV, for them to drive it to her house.  Christian and I spent the Eve at her house, because my other sister from Florida and her family were staying with them and Christian could wake up with the kids and enjoy the Christmas energy with a group.

Getting Christian to go to sleep on Christmas Eve was not difficult at all.  Mass started at 7:30 p.m. with carols, then mass starting at 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Christian was half asleep during mass as it was, so he fell right to sleep when I put him down, after we put out Santa's cookies and milk, and tossed reindeer food (oats and glitter) into the yard.  Then the parents rushed around hauling out the hidden gifts, wrapping, assembling, stuffing, etc.  We did pretty good I thought, finished up at midnight and personally I fell into bed.

The rule in my sister's house is, whoever is up first, wakes everyone else up and you HAVE to get up.  Christmas morning came at 7:30, which was good. I was worried my six year old nephew would be awake at 5:00 a.m. or something crazy like that!  Christian seemed a little confused at times, not sure what to do next, but he followed his cousin's lead.  He kept saying he was a good boy and that's why he got what he asked Santa for; drum/drum sticks, train and fire truck.  He got other gifts too, but those are his favorite, along with a Tonka helicopter that I bought him.

We packed everything up and off to Grandma and Grandpa's we went, were we usually stay when we visit. Everyone showed up to unwrap a few more gifts then chowed down. Of course I inhaled about three dozen cookies, I swear, along with a huge amount of buffalo chicken dip. Now I have to detox :)
We made it back home late this afternoon and as I sit here on the sofa looking at all Christian's presents scattered around my little living room, I'm trying to figure out where the heck I'm going to put all this stuff.  I don't even know where I'm going to put the train tracks/scenery either!  Looks like it's time to do the toy shift; toys he doesn't play with much go into a bin to the basement.  When he's bored with the current ones, the basement toys come back out and seem like new again. At least that's the concept other parent's have told me works, so let's hope it does with him!

On a sad note, Baby Elmo was lost in the Christmas traveling :(  Christian doesn't know it yet and of course it's his favorite stuffed toy.  We looked everywhere at Grandma and Grandpa's when I realized he was missing but to no avail. Then I searched my house high and low and he's simply gone.  The only thing I can think of is he fell out of the bag when I was loading/unloading.  Christian goes back to school tomorrow while I will be running to Walmart hoping to find a Baby Elmo!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pre-Christmas Activities

We have been very busy getting ready for Christmas!  Christian is really into it and is so excited.  He gives a shout out everytime he sees Christmas lights and tries to count how many Santa's he sees on our drives. He gives a louder yell when the "jumbo Santas" are spotted, you know those insanely large blow up Santas, that are 16 ft tall.  We did the south city "Candycane Lane" drive through. It's a two block long street, where almost every house is fully decorated with lights and lights also strung across the street. It is so magical and Christian just looked with wide eyes and that smile of awe on his face.  I almost hit a parked car from looking at the lights and quickly back to catch his reactions....oops :)

We drove downtown St. Louis to walk among the lights and displays in City Garden.  Then we headed over to Macy's to see the window displays, only to find out they only did one corner window Christmas display.  Very disappointing.  But the one display they did do was a four tiered mountain side with electric trains going across bridges, through tunnels and by detailed buildings.  It was wonderful, we looked at every angle for a long time and Christian didn't want to leave. He's really getting into trains lately.

Christian's school had a field trip this past Friday morning and I chaperoned, and am so glad I did!  There's a retired man that has collected trains since he was 10 yrs old and puts up an exhibit in his basement.  He lets people come look at it, which is so generous.  His setup takes up two full walls of the basement, each about 18 ft long and extends out into the room about 8 ft.  BIG!  He has around 30 trains of various sizes and styles, numerous buildings, people, animals, accessories, etc.  It takes him 4 1/2 months to set it up, he tears it down every year and lays it out differently each time. We were there for about an hour and I know I didn't see everything because it had so much detail. The kids were enthralled as well as the adults because the adults realize how much time and money went into the setup.  It motivated me to make a small scenery setup for the small train set "Santa" is bringing Christian for Christmas.

So now I have six days until Christmas and a train set scenery to build.  Why do I get these creative bursts at the last minute:)  I am having fun working on it and just have to keep him out of the basement and then figure out how to pack it in the car to drive to my family without him seeing it. I've commissioned Grandpa to build the tunnel while I try to figure out how to make lightweight mountains that are portable.  Uummmm......

Christian keeps telling me "I'm a good boy."  I keep telling him that he has to be a good boy for Santa to bring him toys and the Snickerdoodle (the Elf) is also watching to report to Santa.  I'm getting such a kick out of this whole thing!  Whenver he's not behaving, I just have to point to Snickerdoodle, raise my eyebrow and he immediately says, "I'm sorry Mommy," then looks at the elf and says the same thing.  Whenver he helps me and I tell him thank you for the help, he runs over to Snickerdoodle and tells him, "I'm helped Mommy, I'm a good boy."  It is so precious to see the excitement on his face, the innocence of believing and dreaming. Even typing this, I see his face and feel his excitement and it draws a smile to my face.  I am truly reliving parts of my childhood through him and learning to slow down and cherish the simple things again.
Now off to experiment with fake mountains.....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Gotcha Day"

One year ago today, I sat in the American Embassy in Moscow with about 12-15 other families, our "Gotcha Day"!  We were sworn in, had our interview and handed the FINAL offical paperwork and your PASSPORT. You were finally all mine, the miracle I'd been waiting for, for so many years! This past year has been filled with so many "firsts", experiences, exposure to many different things/places, lots of parks, walks and laughter. You feel like you've been in our family all your life. I love you Christian will all my heart :*


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

I wish I had thought of this wonderfully imaginative concept! Have you heard of this? Have one?  You need to get it!

The Elf on the Shelf is a book, along with an elf doll, that comes as a set. The basic concept of the story is, "how does Santa know if you've been naughty of nice?"  Well he sends an elf to watch over you, keep track of the naughty and nice things you do or say and then reports back to Santa every night.  He flies to the North Pole at night and returns in the morning, only to sit in a different place to watch you.  And if you touch him, his magic goes away, he disappears and then can't tell Santa the nice things you've done, so you might not get your presents. Of course the book has more details and situations that explain the elf is everywhere watching you, but you get the general idea.

You are supposed to name your elf, so we named ours 'Snickerdoodle' after the cookie.  This cookie is one our family has made for generations at Christmas time, so I thought that it was a good name.  I read the story to Christian and we put the elf on a side table in the living room.  When Christian went to bed, I moved the elf to another location.  In the morning I excitedly told Christian, "Let's go see if Snickerdoodle came back from the North Pole!".  He ran into the living room, directly to the spot where he was sitting the night before, only to turn to me with huge eyes and a worried look and said, "oh, he didn't come back."  I reminded him the story said the elf would be sitting in a different place and that we had to look for him.  So the search began and a few minutes later Christian spied him, saying excitedly, "There he is! Snickerdoodle, you came back!"  I told him good morning and Christian did too and off we went to eat breakfast.

This scene repeated for two days and on the third day, Christian was testing his independence :)
Me: Christian, please put your toys away.
Him: No!
Me: Christian, I asked you to put your toys away.
Him: No!
Me: Now I am TELLING you to put them away right this minute.
Him: No! (and threw the toy across the room)
Me: Ohhhh, Snickerdoodle saw that and is going to tell Santa.
Him: (slight hesitation, with doubt in his eye, but quickly changed...)I'm sorry Mommy. Sorry Snickerdoodle, please don't tell Santa, I'll be a good boy.
OH YEAH!  I am using this elf thing as long as I can :)

The fourth night I forgot to move Snickerdoodle but Christian didn't catch on the next morning....whew!
I had to travel for work these past two days and my parents came to stay with Christian. When they walked into the door, Christian pointed to Snickerdoodle and in a rushed jumbled way, told them all about the elf (which required translation from me). The next morning, he ran around the house looking for the elf, spied him and ran to tell Grandma and Grandpa where he found Snickerdoodle. I called them that night to remind them to move the elf.  They told me that despite Christian not feeling well, he did look for the elf the next morning. It's such a fun game for me, Christian loves it and it gives me some "threatening power" to get his attention to behave.  I've also added to the ploy that Snickerdoodle will see if Christian goes poo poo on the potty, will tell Santa and then Santa will bring him an extra special Christmas present.  So far that's not working for me :(

If you have a little girl, they have a skirt you can buy to put on the elf too!  They've thought of everything!  It's a fun thing to start as a tradition.  Check out the Elf!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

TV Christmas Shows

"This will be a great night!  I loved Christmas TV shows as a kid, I just know Christian will love them too!"
This ran through my head Tuesday evening when I found out Rudolph was on TV. Now it's been years since I've watched the show and I was sure I remembered it....until you know who came onto the screen.  Yes I am talking about the Abominible Snowmonster. 

Christian was enjoying the show, would shout out, "Mommy! Santa Claus!" every time he came onto the screen and asked question after question about the elves, of which some answers I had to make up on the spot.  It was going great and he was even annoyed when the commercials interrupted his first glimpse of the magic of Christmas.

The second I heard the monster's growl, it hit me!  Oh crap, this isn't going to be good.  Then the hairy sharp toothed guy climbed over the pointy mountains and Christian, who was sitting on my lap, instantly slammed back against my chest and said in a shaky voice, "Whoa!"  Then came the nervous stuttering incoherent words as he anxiously struggled to ask me what the heck that thing was.  I quickly started chuckling, pointed at the TV and said, "Oh look at that funny monster, his hair is sticking out all over." Hey, it was the first thing that popped into my head to try to steer his thoughts into another direction.  He bought it, at least for awhile, and I felt him relax when they escaped by floating away on the ice berg.

Soon after this, Christian's attention shifted to my Christmas pillows on the sofa. He decided he had to put them on the floor, cover them up with a blanket and fall on them, over and over and over.  It's funny how the simplest things can entertain sometimes. He chattered away about all sorts of things up until bedtime.  After we said his prayers and I was smoothing his blankets over him, he told me in a very adult like tone that it was time for me to go to bed too. I told him I had to finish the laundry first and he responed, no kidding, in an admonishing tone, to go to bed so I wouldn't be grumpy tomorrow.  BAM!  I busted out laughing, partly because he's just too adorable and because he's right, when I don't get enough sleep, I'm grumpy!

Last night we played and read books, didn't really talk about Christmas at all.  Then around 2:20 a.m. I hear him let out a scream!  I run into his room to see him restlessly moving about and just when I went to lean down closer to see if his eyes were open, he flung out his arms with a "NO!" like he was pushing someone away.  He was completely asleep!  I talked quietly to him, trying to soothe, knowing that if someone is having a nightmare and is still asleep, you do not wake them up.  After about a minute or so, he calmed, stopped moving around and his little snoring started up again. I stood by his bed a while longer, making sure he was asleep and not dreaming again and sent a prayer to God to let Christian sleep without any more bad dreams.
I felt so bad for him and wondered what the dream was about, knowing he probably wasn't going to remember.  During breakfast this morning, after chattering about whatever random thought that pops into his busy mind, he gave me a serious look and said, "No monster in our house."  Ugh!  It was the snowmonster.
I told him monsters weren't real, none were in our house and if there were, I would chase them out.  He seemed to like this answer and then launched into all the ways I would catch the monster and exactly how I would get them out of the house.  His imagination is so entertaining, I just love it!

So I add another thing to my, "Dumb Things Mommy Did" list, showing a 3 yr old a TV show with a larger than life, sharp pointy toothed monster in it, just minutes before bedtime.  In my defense I thought I was in the clear because nothing happened that night, however he had a delayed nightmare, the following night.  So we'll see if he sleeps well tonight, please God :)