Archive for December, 2008

New boots

December 20, 2008

We had a snow storm today, as did much of the northern US. So Charlie had to wear his winter boots for the first time this season.

Man, we had an ordeal getting those things on his feet. He was opposed, to say the least.

We used distraction to get him buckled in. Then we didn’t give in when he wanted to take them off. Next, Jesse touted the glories of stomping in boots, marching in boots, and kicking snow in boots.

By the time we got to the subway, Charlie was thinking hard about his new boots. How they just might be kinda cool and how he might want to show them off.

When we walked into his classroom, he showed them to all of his teachers and most of his friends.

Then when I picked him up this evening, he showed me how much he loved his new boots by jumping in every slush puddle, snow bank and frosty corner he saw.


Here we come!

December 20, 2008

Charlie has been talking about going to Nanny and Pawpaw’s house for weeks now. He has a plan for taking Kathryn and Ethan everywhere with him, including to the Christmas merry-go-round (it has horses!), the swimming pool, and the mouse movie. Also, he wants to show Kathryn and Ethan Santa Claus, his new boots, and the Elmo game he got from a friend at daycare.

He’s been ready to share Christmas since Thanksgiving, so Nanny, Pawpaw, Kathryn, Ethan and the whole gang…ready or not, we’ll be there soon.


December 20, 2008

On Tuesday, Charlie and I made Christmas cookies. Since I figured Charlie would mostly like the cutting and decorating, I thought I would be a little less time intensive this year and make Rice Krispy treat “dough.”

It was delicious, but not really less fuss than regular cookie dough. Rice Krispy treats stick to everything! And before I could get treats out of the pot and into the pan, Charlie had eaten more than his share. With the rate he was consuming–“Mama, eat it? Eat it? Eat this one?”–I was worried there would be nothing left for cookies!

Luckily, we finished cutting and decorating and had some to share at his daycare holiday party on Thursday. Unluckily, I don’t have a picture of our cute “gingerbread” men, trees and stars. I was too busy trying to keep Charlie from eating all the cereal, marshmallows, warm treats and decorating frosting.

Holiday Fun

December 12, 2008

I am a sucker for holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Those three holidays make the dreadfully dark days and nights of early winter bearable. And in spite of the high stress levels that have come with economic meltdown, this season has been exactly what I always wished for when I imagined my own grown-up Christmases.

First, for Thanksgiving, Charlie and I watched the Macy’s parade on TV. He loved it. I loved it. We called everyone in my family, and they loved it. (Except Nanny and Pawpaw, who I think loved not having to watch it.) Then we headed to New Jersey with our wonderful friends Mike and Ruth. The Orlowicz clan took us in, treated us well, served us tons of good food (and the best pumpkin pie ever), and let Charlie play with all of their instruments, from a piano to a guitar to the bongo drums. We tossed leaves in the backyard and played tag. We drank warm tea and sang all the songs Charlie requested on the back sun porch. We missed our folks in GA, but we felt truly grateful to have such caring, generous friends in our lives.

Next, New York at Christmas! It is lit up and filled with romance and wonder. I can’t get enough. Charlie can’t get enough. Jesse…he says he’s had plenty and doesn’t need more, but we don’t believe him.

Last weekend, we all went into the city together to see Macy’s windows, visit the small book fair (where I got the coolest book about Christmas; I will soon be able to make my own snowshoes), and see “the big Christmas tree” at Rockefeller Center. We saw a few Santas without permits being arrested, and we saw four gigantic Elmos. Also, displays of lights all along 5th and 6th Avenues. Magic.

Today, Charlie and I had even more holiday fun. We met Jesse for lunch up at 53rd and Lex for the Holiday Station train exhibit. They had coal trains, circus trains, passenger trains—and the villages were so adorable. One had a working drive-in theater; another had kids swinging in the yard. Charlie would’ve stayed all day, I think. After lunch and his nap (during which I shopped for a frock for my office party tomorrow), we made our way to Santaland on Macy’s 8th floor.

I have always wanted to see Santaland, having heard so much about it. We took the express elevator and landed in a realm of trains, toys, and elves. There were dancing bears, candy canes taller than me, rocking horses, and Christmas trees. After you wait in line (rainy Thursday afternoons seem to be less crowded) the elves usher you into a room with Santa. (Don’t tell Charlie, but I think there are several of these rooms and several Santas.) Everyone is very jolly and good-natured as they try to get the kid’s picture. I, of course, bought the picture for way too much money. Then Charlie and I spent a half hour playing with giant giraffes, Santas-in-the-box, big rocking horses you could actually ride on, and hula hoops. We would have seen the puppet show, but I ran out of cash.

Ah, the holidays! I love ’em. I love the music, the lights, the parties, the happy faces, the smell of pine and pie, the bright red bows and thinking about everyone on my Christmas list. As my folks will tell you, I’m not really into expensive gifts or lots of gifts or even store-bought gifts. I could totally do Christmas without them, giving and receiving delicious food or hand-made crafts, and still have a massively good time. So, I was particularly pleased at what Charlie told Santa….

When Charlie, Jesse, and I talk about Christmas-time, and what we’re going to do to celebrate that week of Winter Solstice, we talk about our road trip down to Georgia, the Christmas merry-go-round in Valley, going to the swimming pool at the rec center, seeing the “mouse movie” (Tale of Despereaux) and doing all of these things with Kathryn and Ethan.

When Santa asked Charlie what he wanted for Christmas, Charlie said, “Kathryn.”

All he wants is to play with his cousins for Christmas.

Now that’s my kind of celebration.

O, Christmas Tree

December 4, 2008

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we went to the South Street Seaport for their tree lighting. It’s a big tree, with a chorus and Santa, but lacks all the crowds of Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center. Charlie was super-excited (and so was I). We counted down and stayed for all of the music, even “New York, New York.”

It was lovely and magical and what you imagine when you imagine the beauty of this crazy city.

Then, later in the weekend, we set up our own dumpling of a Christmas tree. We strung up lights and trimming and Charlie played with everything that came out of the Christmas bin. (Sound familiar, Kylie?)

We had our own mini-countdown before turning on the lights and singing “O, Christmas Tree.”

Of course, every evening, when we go to bed, we have to turn off the lights. You know, to prevent fire. So every morning since we put up the tree, Charlie wakes up, points at the branches and says, “Mama, Christmas tree. 1…2…3…4…”

So we do another countdown, and sing another round of “O, Christmas Tree.”

Finally, someone in my household loves Christmas as much as I do.

[Cue evil elf laughter.]

Exciting and scary

December 2, 2008

I recently read that, for toddlers, what causes great excitement can also cause fear. This fits Charlie perfectly.

He loves animals—reading about them, talking about them, singing about them—but if he gets too close to one that is moving on its own, unexpectedly, he shies away.

He is fascinated by large puppet creatures, like big mascots you see at parades. When we went to the chocolate show in early November, one of my favorite traditions, he saw a man in a monkey costume (who was advertising peanut butter chocolate) and couldn’t talk about anything else.

Monkey, monkey, monkey. It’s over there, he’d say. But the minute he got within five feet of the guy, Charlie was terrified. He didn’t want to get too close, but he also couldn’t stay away.

Pretend play

December 2, 2008

It’s exciting to see how he’s coming into the age of imagination. In the last month, he’s liked to:

**cook oatmeal out of water and make me taste it

**stir my gold-colored metal belt, loudly, in a stainless steel bowl; he calls this noodles

**build large block towers that are alternately castles or chicken houses

**gallop on his pony through the kitchen (that is, straddle the broom and ride it from room to room)

**smear his real oatmeal on his real milk cup with his real breakfast spoon and say, “Mama, look, I’m painting.”

The Maryn Game

December 2, 2008

One day, I walked into Charlie’s classroom and he was sitting at the table with his friend Maryn. She looked up at me with a sly grin and said, “I eat play dough.”

“Eww!” I replied with a laugh. “Don’t eat play dough!”

That night on the train, while Charlie and I talked about what he’d done that day in class, we got around to talking about Maryn eating play dough.

I said, “Eww. That’s gross. What else does Maryn eat?”

And Charlie said, “Alligators.”

“Eww!” I said. “No, Maryn, don’t eat alligators!”

He thought this was hilarious. So he added on: tigers, rocks, his teachers. Finally, as we neared our stop, Maryn ate bananas. I pretended to be extremely relieved.

Of course, “What does Maryn eat?” became his new favorite game.

Until I pretended his feet looked delicious and then tickled them with raspberry kisses.

Very quickly, he learned to pass the buck—“Maybe Daddy’s feet look delicious,” he said.

Gaming is all about strategy.

Just writing about the good parts

December 2, 2008

I’m halfway to figuring out the camera for this new computer, and this has inspired me to write a bit today.

I have kept notes about little things Charlie has done, ways that he’s grown. All of it is cute, and sweet, and stuff I want to remember when he’s taller than I am.

But I can’t help noticing that it’s usually only the good stuff that makes it to the computer screen. Not the moments of panic, or aggravation, or sheer rage. This stuff happens, but I guess I am still too Gen X to share it all with the world. At least not until I can process it for myself.

I have to remember: Terrible thoughts do not mean terrible actions. (Charlie and I both have been learning self-control.)

What is it they say? Look to what someone does, not what they say? I can take comfort in that.

But my terrible thoughts do mean that this parenting gig is not all smiles, hugs, and gushy kisses—even if those happen to be the parts I like to remember.

Sometimes family can make you see the worst in yourself, even if you don’t want to look.