The kids are eagerly awaiting Santa, but have been happy to keep themselves occupied today with the LEGO Star Wars Advent calendar.
Jon and I did a little last-minute shopping (for weekend food/party supplies, mostly). I did a bit of final decorating today too, mainly putting out the manger scene, candles, and some flowers. I had Annabel arrange the creche, and Santa ended up joining the mix. Which is perfect, really.
Now for the traditional Christmas Eve homemade pizza, and the traditional Skyping of the relatives! Especially my mom, who's stuck at home tonight with a broken arm--if you have extra good wishes to send her way, please do. I wish we could zap ourselves to her house to provide comfort and joy.
Maybe Beaker can help:
Since zapping is not yet a valid form of travel, we have to wish everyone--from Florida to Washington--a virtual Merry Christmas from Michigan. Where there is no snow, for the first time that I can remember. And I am not complaining.
This morning I played this song for Annabel:
She loved it, of course. Who wouldn't? She also likes the 12 Days of Christmas. And Rudolph. And Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And Jingle Bells. (I believe you now get the drift.)
She's starting to worry that without snow, there won't be Christmas. It was the first thing she asked this morning when she woke up -- "did it snow outside?" I reassured her that Christmas and Santa come whether there's snow or not, but I'm not sure she believed me. And what the heck, Michigan? Why do we bother to live this far north when there's not going to be snow at Christmas?
We went to see Santa yesterday at the mall. Otto, of course, was pretty calm about it. He told Santa he wants LEGOs and more LEGOs for his gift. Bel talked to him too, nervous but excited, and she told him she wants a "dancing belly-button dolly." Santa's eyebrows quirked, but he agreed. I'm wondering where Santa finds something like that (if you have any hints for Santa, send them my way -- I'll forward them along).
When we walked away from Santa, Bel chattered happily to her daddy, "I talked to Santa! And he liked me! And he was nice!" Sweet girl - as if anyone wouldn't like her! We ran errands together Saturday and she made all sorts of random people smile.
The pics turned out pretty well (to be released on Christmas!). Annabel is happy that she's not crying, Otto is happy that he looks cool.
He's counting the days to winter break - has been for a couple of weeks now. First grade has not been easy, not at all. In fact we're working through having him evaluated right now to see if we can pinpoint what sort of trouble he's having. Academically (that means when tested) he's doing well, but as far as following directions, fitting into class, and getting his work done he's having issues. The specter of ADD has already raised its head, but we'll go through the diagnosis process with our pediatrician before jumping to any conclusions.
As part of the process, I went to a parent-teacher conference a month ago that included several specialists from around the school. The social worker. The reading specialist. His teacher. The principal was in and out. In total there were probably 6 other people at the table with me, all sharing their opinions about how he's learning (or not, as the case may be). As it was a brainstorming session, all sorts of ideas were tossed around, from epilepsy to being gifted. It was a little surreal to have these experts telling me there's something not-quite-right about my oldest's behavior, while at the same time encouraging me to remember that the high school has a partership with a local college that allows students to start their college career before leaving high school.
The most important thing here is that Otto thinks he needs help, too. He gets discouraged and worried sometimes. Freely admits when he's overreacted to something. Says he has trouble focusing. It doesn't help to tell him everything's OK when he knows it's not, so what I'm telling him is that we'll find ways to help him do better.
Lucky for him, he lives with two parents who love him to bits, has health insurance and a good pediatrician, a caring, committed school staff, and supportive family and friends. Whatever's going on, we'll figure it out and work on it.
In the meanwhile, there's SANTA! And cookies, and Christmas music, and too much eating out because we're busy running around. Life is good, and winter break starts after school lets out on Thursday. Hooray!
Yep, we finally have snow.
I say *finally* not because I was looking forward to it, but because we hung onto fall a little longer than we usually do up here. We didn't have to drive through a snowstorm over Thanksgiving weekend, and the little bit of snow we've gotten so far has been the pretty kind -- flocking trees and fields, but melting off the roads so it doesn't slow down our commutes.
As you can see, Bel was ready for it - boots and all. The doll she's holding wasn't wrapped in a blanket because (I think) he has footie jammies on. Her other dolls have to get wrapped now to leave the house, which usually entails a last-minute hunt for a suitable doll blanket. She has several, but they're never where she wants them when it's time to go.
She went to a senior center yesterday to sing with a group of her classmates. I asked how many people were there and she said "4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11". "So a lot, huh?" I asked, and she nodded. "We sing Christmas carols," she told me. She LOVES to sing, and seems to have had a good time.
Last night I got home late from work, so late that everyone else was in bed and asleep. Evidently I was missed, because this morning the kids and the cat all piled into bed with me to snuggle before we started getting ready for the day. Annabel kept asking for 5 more minutes and tried really hard to convince me it was still nighttime out and that we should stay in bed.
I would've if I could've.
But no! There were big things to do on my to-do list for work today. And Tuesday is Media Center day for Otto, when he exchanges last week's books for new ones. Bel is learning about the letter H this week, and we should go shopping tonight at the dollar store for a gift exchange gift for her class.
The tree is up, if not decorated yet, but we'll get to that. Stockings, cookies, presents -- all in progress. Despite not being done I feel kind of ahead of the game.
The only thing I'm not sure about is... Santa.
Bel is afraid of him this year.
Santa visited day care last week for the holiday party, and she transferred her grip on Jon's legs from one to the other as they walked past him, sidling around so her dad was between her and Santa at all times. Jon didn't have to slow down or stop, either, while she travelled around from right leg to left. No, she wanted to keep moving and get some more space between her and the guy in the red suit.
He'll deliver a present for her anyway, I'm sure. Not certain exactly what it is he'll bring just yet, but I'm sure he'll find... something.
I recently started using a new-to-me app to listen to podcasts on my phone -- Google Listen -- and I love being able to make my own "news" mix with Marketplace, Science Friday, Writer's Almanac, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and other podcasts. It's genius, and I'm never stuck listening to the 50th repeat of "Moves Like Jagger" on pop radio. Although I did kind of like the interview with Adam Levine about the song on NPR's Music Interviews.
I also liked these articles this week - culled from favorite blogs, friends' Facebook postings, and my Twitter feed. Happy almost-Friday!
~ Mitten envy? Wisconsin promotion draws ire in Michigan. This made me laugh, especially the following line from the Wisconsin tourism person:
"The mitten was used as a single creative element, you guys still own the mitten," she said. "We'd much rather our travelers consider us the 'fun' state."
~ I made Jon read C Jane's post about how she had her 3rd baby at home with her husband acting as midwife. As he read it his eyebrows inched north, but he just said "huh" when he was finished. It's not something we'd do voluntarily, that's for sure - but an interesting read. Also, I dug my elbow into his ribs and said "see!!! I'm not the only woman to delusionally demand an epidural past the point of no return!"
~ Julie, who writes one of my most favoritest blogs ever at A Little Pregnant, posted this link in her Facebook feed this week - a vintage LEGO ad with a little girl holding her LEGO creation. The little girl is not wearing pink. None of the LEGOs in her creation are pink. And there are no princesses. And it almost makes me cry, because we have been looking and looking for superhero stuff to buy Bel for Christmas and there are pretty much no girl characters. We have princess stuff too, and it's not like we deny her pink -- but why is that all there is?
~ Patagonia’s Founder on Why There’s “No Such Thing as Sustainability” was a good interview this week at Fast Company. I like reading about people like Mr. Chouinard who are passionate and focused and who lead their lives in a way that really illustrates their beliefs. His latest push is for people to look for used Patagonia products before buying new, to keep the "reuse" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle" going. So Patagonia teamed up with eBay to create a special site called the Common Threads Initiative. I've been haunting eBay the past month for outerwear for the kids anyway, and one of the pieces I just won is a fleece Patagonia vest for Otto.
~ Last but not least, the Computer History Museum launched an awesome exhibit about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs this week. Steve Jobs: From Garage to World's Most Valuable Company is a good read.
And, in the spirit of Patagonia, it looks like I'll be shipping my 7-yr-old, 4th generation iPod to Rapid Repair to see if they can resuscitate it yet again. It slipped out of my hands last night and hit the kitchen floor, knocking something askew in the interior by the way it sounds when it tries to boot up. I suppose I could ask Santa for a new one, but I like my old one. Sadly, I only brought it into the house to load Christmas music onto it. Guess I have to burn a CD if we're going to listen to a Christmas song in the car on the way to school tomorrow.
I'll be a cookie-making fool this weekend. We get to go to a friend's annual cookie swap on Saturday night, and I have to get hoppin' if I'm going to get 8 dozen cookies done in time!
Well, hello there stranger! Fancy running into you here!
Thanksgiving? It was great. Good drive, great-behaving kids. Fun relatives, fun times.
Bel discovered pie. I think she would've eaten 3 slices of pumpkin, had I let her.
Otto discovered turkey. He also spent the day gently bossing around his younger cousin Leo (who thankfully didn't seem to mind). I think they had a good time, especially since there was some mandatory LEGO Batman playtime on the PS3 in his schedule.
The Sturm siblings all got to hang out together, which I don't think has happened for awhile. Jon and Jamie even celebrated a milestone birthday together. Jon has some cute snapshots on his phone -- I'll get after him tomorrow to send them to Flickr. My favorite moment was when they blew out the candles on their birthday cake together. They looked at each other and counted "one, two" then blew them out on three. A little twin-synchronicity there.
Oh - and I got to make a really, really bad twin joke along the lines of "do you think that guy thought he was seeing double?" I waited a loooong time to make that joke. Twenty years! It was kind of satisfying, I must admit.
Otto was evidently impressed by his uncles' dedication to running. They're both runners and I think talked shop a little on Thanksgiving. Otto climbed into bed to snuggle the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving and said, "OK, here's what I'm going to do today. One, I'm going to eat breakfast. Two, I'm going to go run. Three, I'm going to eat lunch. Four, I'm going to play PS3. Five, I'm going to to run again."
I said, "I hate to mess up your plans, but we thought we might go to a bookstore this morning and see The Muppets this afternoon. Would that be OK?"
"Yeah!" he said, then thought for a moment. "But I won't have time to run. I'll only have time to play PS3."
Jon's birthday was Wednesday, and the kids were really happy to get to have some cake and ice cream. And sing to him. And pick out funny birthday cards.
I decided to take them both with me to the Hallmark store to do the gift/card shopping. So we toodled over to the strip mall, parked, walked across the parking lot, and when I paused to open the store's door, Otto turned to me and asked "Mom, did you remember to lock the car?"
Gah! He is SO like his dad. Jon is a car-door-locking perfectionist. I am... not. I'm as likely to leave the doors unlocked as lock them, so not only was his question justified, but... I HAD NOT, in fact, locked the doors.
Caught red-handed, that's me.
Maybe that's why Bel told me I was on the Naughty List tonight.
Boy, they keep me on the straight and narrow, don't they?