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Posts Tagged ‘I am Four!’

Overheard as Keaton was giving Ezra the once over:

“The baby has a tongue, too?! …Woah.”

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I had a great post outlined about the reasons this election is so important to me. Why it’s important for the civil rights of a great many Minnesotans and how passionately I feel about not limiting the freedom to marry. How utterly ridiculous that this nation can’t seem to get that we were founded on the idea of separation of church and state. How life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be FOR ALL, not just those attracted to the opposite sex. Then I woke up this morning shaking violently from head to toe and after a hot shower didn’t warm me up Bill ordered me back to bed where he shoved a thermometer in my mouth… 102.8! Off to the doctor to get treated for mastitis, which is just about as fun as it sounds.

Even still, after my appointment I dragged myself to our polling place because, you guys? It really is THAT important. Unfortunately the early stats show that Vote Yes {that marriage only should exist only between a man and woman} is probably going to win, but no matter how shitty I physically feel right now {stupid boobs}, I can feel good about my vote. I know it’s naive to think it will make a difference but there it is…

One of my proudest moments of being a mom happened right before I took this picture last August. I really wanted to share the story with you, Internet, but between the fever and the sleeping baby in my arms, it will have to wait for another day.

Needless to say, this child’s heart never ceases to amaze me.

Bill and I will randomly talk politics within earshot of the kids but we don’t preach or polarize things in front of them and rarely use names. Since the baby has come we haven’t discussed anything much more profound than Subway vs. Jimmy John’s, prefolds vs. one size diapers or Dexter vs. Homeland. Last week Keaton got to ‘vote’ for president at preschool {they also got to vote for what to eat at snack time and when to go outside to play} and he came home with his ballot.

If you’ve known me for more than five minutes it will come as no surprise that I gave him a high 5 after he showed me this.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go feed my shark baby with my broken knockers. It’s a good thing he’s so cute…

And smart to boot.

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Knowing that this fall and a new sibling would bring many changes, I really wanted to make an effort to make this summer about hanging out with Rowan and Keaton and enjoying the relative get up and go freedom that comes with a 4.5 and 6.5 year old- something that we’ll be missing for the next couple of years as we start this whole parenting adventure over with our new little guy. Pregnancy in general, plus the anemia and fatigue I get along with it, sometimes made things tough but we accomplished a lot of what I wanted to do {water park!, beach! bike rides!} did more of some things than I thought possible {so. much. dance.} and had to skip a couple of bigger ideas {lake superior getaway} due to lack of time/funds. Overall? I think we did a pretty good job of soaking summer up…

Went for a firefly walk, Rowan even made friends with one.

Talked to a real pirate.

Made a pirate flag. That rainbow is really gonna strike fear into the hearts of other pirates, huh?

Made a butterfly ring.

Played on the sandbar on White Bear Lake that Mama grew up playing on.

Weaved on a loom.

Went to science camp.

Watched a ridiculous amount of swimming events during the Olympics. Here is Keaton “on the block”.

Splashed mighty splashes in puddles.

Not wanting to be left in his sister’s dust, learned to ride a two-wheel bike at 4.

Ate ridiculously bright-colored ice cream. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the brighter the hue the more natural and healthy it is…

Bounced!

Pretended to be cuddle fish at the beach.

Pretended to be lifeguards at the beach.

Took swimming lessons in a pool where we held our breath under water for many seconds and even really swam all on our own.

Refused to put our faces in the “yucky brown lake water” and also refused to swim without a life jacket at the lake which was the whole point of those lessons in the first place.

Hugged curious George at the Children’s Museum.

Planted peas and beans.

Went to Cascade Bay where we chilled on the lazy river and went down the big tube water slide.

Swam with flippers for the first time.

Rode bikes to the park.

Went swinging!

Went to a T-ball clinic with dad.

Went to a watercolor and acrylic class.

Picked carrots, peas and raspberries from our friends’ garden.

Shot a bow and arrow.

Ate Popsicles.

Had breakfast outside.

Told stories by candlelight during the power outage at Mallinger’s.

Went out for pizza with our cousins.

Slipped and slide-ed.

Visited Jorie’s work.

Went to Mama’s doctor appointment where we got to use a doplar on mom’s tummy and listen to our brother’s heartbeat.

Turned into Spiderman.

Turned into a butterfly.

Turned into a giant douchecanoe.

Hung out at the fire station.

Went to the N. St. Paul car show to see the cool cars and get ice cream.

Got into a water fight.

Watched the fireworks with our cousins. (Not Keaton, who went to grammy’s to watch Frosty the Snowman instead.)

Made marshmallow pops.

Turned 4 and a half!

Turned 7.

Got pet betta fish! Named them Harry Potter, Olympic Swimmer and Shimmer Dufenshmirtz Jr.

FINALLY gave up pull-ups at night so mom gets to enjoy approximately 3 whole months diaper free.

Went to the county fair and pet a fluffy bunny and went on rides.

Were ceremoniously introduced to daddy’s boyhood passion, TMNT.

Did not disappoint dad.

Had 3 friends over for a pajama-movie-night birthday party.

Went down the log chute and rode the big swings with daddy at Nickelodeon universe.

Had a fancy lunch at the American Girl Bistro.

Got Rebecca and Kanani’s hair done at the salon.

Had another birthday luau with Ellie!

Went to a summer ballet clinic.

Worked really hard at stretching and can almost do the splits.

Took first comp dance class.

Made the next line up in competition dance!

Got to be a flower girl.

Got to be a ring bearer.

Danced the night away at Auntie Susie’s wedding.

Finally decided it was safe to swim with heads underwater at the beach. Had a blast swimming around like fish, looking for shells and practicing underwater hand stands.

Finished my pre-k workbook and started working in my kindergarten workbook!

Passed the first two levels of Super Mario Bros for Wii.

Did the monkey bars all by ourselves.

Helped the neighbor girl with a lemonade stand to raise money for Tanzania.

Completed 20 hours of summer reading for the library’s Bookawocky program by devouring Cam Jansen, Disney Fairies and Rebecca and Kanani books.

Was brave enough to finally try the big scary silver slide.

Went for a sunset climb.

And? On Tuesday it will be on to new things…first grade, pre-k, new dance classes, new piano teacher and a very full schedule. After being so sick and apart from the kids all late winter and spring, I hope that what we did this summer made up for the time they spent watching me crawl from my crypt of a bedroom to the bathroom, only to miserably crawl right back in again. I know they won’t retain it all but hopefully the memories they do keep tucked away in the folds of their little brains will tide them over until their next adventure of becoming a big big sister and a big brother begins in October.

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Remember how I wrote about things getting measurably better in my last post? Within 12 hours of hitting publish I came down with one of the worst sinus infections that I’ve ever had in my entire life and spent the next two weeks in some state of misery or another. After a whopping week and a half of feeling like a human again I was plunged right back into throwing up {this time all the mucus from the infection, because OF COURSE you wanted to know that} and the headaches brought on by the incredible sinus pressure just would not let up. All of this occurred during the epic week of dance rehearsals/recitals and school programs and preschool picnics so that was EXTRA fun. At least all the decongestants and anti-inflammatory meds helped a ton OH WAIT NEVERMIND I can’t take any of that shit while pregnant. So I wallowed for a week, taking only measured doses of tylenol, which by the third day had stopped bringing any relief. I tried to be a good little hippie, trying home remedies of hot packs and steam but they produced exactly zero results. Finally over a week in Bill called the nurse line to ask if I could at least try some musinex to get rid of some of the pressure but no, instead they made me come in and I was given antibiotics for the infection and vicodin for the pain. I am feeling…better…again…for now. Unfortunately the nausea is still sticking around so getting anything done has been hard but with the end of preschool, dance season and another karate belt graduation down, it’s definitely time to do an end of the year wrap-up of Mr. Sir.

*Preschool ended last week. Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten sick I would have switched Keaton to a different class at his school. He went through a year of preschool before this so he already understood the aspects of the routine and structure of a school day and also the social aspects of being with other kids like sharing and sitting quietly for group times. This group he was in just so happened to be on the young side, with many of the kids not even being three at the start of the year which is not something I was expecting since it’s not how it was structured when Rowan went there.

Though Keaton always got great reports, the class as a whole struggled throughout the fall and academically {yes, I know it’s preschool, but still, it’s not daycare, you expect a certain degree of learning to take place} Keaton was ready for way more focus which he didn’t receive until much later in the year than we anticipated. We talked about switching him to the afternoon class after Christmas, which definitely would have provided that, but knowing how sick I get during pregnancy we didn’t want to uproot him from something familiar during an already tumultuous time. I’m looking forward to next fall which will hopefully give Keaton a little more of a challenge and have a smoother start all around.

Mad chicken scratch, uh, I mean, handwriting skillz.

 

AAAAAIIIIIIIIIYYYYYYAAAAA

*Karate continues on as a fun outlet for physical activity. When I was sick I missed Keaton’s belt ceremony from purple to blue so last Friday when he went from blue to red, we were all very excited to attend. There are only two more belts to be had in the preschool program so by the beginning of 2013 we will probably have to start making some decisions about which activity Keaton wants to pursue as karate is expensive once you’re in the regular belt program and so is…

* Dance. Oh, dance, the bane of my existence {and checking account}. So, Keaton’s year at dance went really well. While he likes karate, he like likes dance. I know he’s four and this is bound to change but right now it’s his favorite thing to do. We took him to one of Rowan’s competitions and the boy was hilarious in between dances, putting on his own dance show for us to the dulcet sounds of “Every day I’m shuffling” and “I put my hands up in the air sometimes” {yes, I know those aren’t the actual titles but those are the parts that stick in my head and won’t fortheloveofchristalmighty come out for days and days on end sweet jesus please someone save me from this fresh hell.}

The "WERK IT" gene is strong with this one.

So anyway he had his first recital two weeks ago and it was equal parts adorable and hilarious. He’s never been up on the stage before so Bill and I were a little nervous how he’d react but he did great at the dress rehearsal {video below} and even better at the recital. He lost his way to his colored “X” on his way out for his jazz dance at the recital so there were a few tense moments where I thought he’d spend the entire dance wandering the stage but once he found it the audience cheered for him and he jumped right into the moves with a big smile. I got to pick him up right before intermission and I ran into Rowan’s teacher, who runs the competition lines and she gave Keaton a high-5 and told him he did great and that she’d be seeing him at summer dance. “Oh, SHOOT, he can’t do it in June, he’s got science camp.” I said, thankful for the legitimate excuse. “You can come in and tape and we’ll see you in August,” she said. “We’ll see!” I replied, the realization of two competition dance tuitions sinking into my brain. “Yep,” she smiled, walking away, “see you in August, Buddy!”

There are no words.

Honestly I don’t think he {or I} will be ready for competition by this fall {or ever, possibly} and he has a year of wiggle room since the youngest comp line is pre-k and kindergarten so I have a feeling we’ll be putting him back in the same class he was in this year but we’ll see, I might let him try the August workshop and see how it goes because I am a GIANT SUCKER for twee little boys shaking their booties on the dance floor.

Here is his rehearsal video, as we’re not allowed to tape the recital shows. It is very crappy quality and I’m sure is only truly enjoyed by those of us who share Keaton’s DNA, but still, for posterity’s sake I’m including it. {You can’t make out faces but Keaton is the fourth from the left once they find their places… just look for his hair, which I’m pretty sure you can see from outer space.}

*Keaton still loves sword play and baseball and riding his bike. We got him his own razor scooter a couple of weeks ago which has brought him much joy along with many scrapes on his knees.

*Rowan’s preferred method of showing displeasure or negative reactions was pure, unadulterated anger. Tantrumy anger, quiet, plotting anger, seething anger, both rational and irrational. She got mad but she was not ever a pouter. Keaton? Is a pouter. It drives me BANANAS. And not a little pout, but full on arms wrapped around his chest until his hands are practically touching in the back, head thrown to one side at a slightly upward angle, stuck out lip that sometimes utters a whining “It’s Not Fair”, if the situation demands it, along with a “Humph!” Keaton’s been pretty dead on about hitting developmental sticky patches close to the half-year marks, so we’ve seen a very unwelcome upswing in this behavior as of late and while not-pregnant-christy tried to be patient and help him work through his hurt feelings, pregnant-christy tells him to “get over it” as I eat my pickle from the couch.

*His imagination is really blooming; the intricate storylines he and his sister come up with during quiet play time are truly impressive. He used to just follow Rowan’s lead during these elaborate scripted games but now he’s adding his own flair which sometimes goes over well with Queen Bossy Pants, and sometimes not. I love it when they feed each other lines, going back and forth with “Now you say this…” “And then you say THIS!” Sure these two can be giant assholes to each other but so much of the time they are so amazingly close, sharing mischievous smiles over jokes we grown-ups aren’t privy to, creating their own “secret dance move hand shake” which isn’t much of a secret since they do it right in front of me but is adorable none-the-less.

It makes me sort of sad for Sammy Davis Junior Junior. Although I know his/her siblings will love him/her, this baby won’t have a sibling close in age to share the years where magic is not only completely possible in their eyes but entirely, emphatically REAL. By the time this baby reaches three, Keaton will be nearly 8 and Rowan will be 10 and the age of logic will have firmly set in… so a true partner in play/crime just won’t be a reality for this kid. I know there will be other positive aspects about having older siblings that will most likely more than make up for it but when I hear the giggling and love between Rowan and Keaton I just feel so lucky, so happy that they so completely have each other.

Buddies 4 Evah. Or at least until someone steals someone else's toy.

*Keaton is standing on the precipice of four and a half and while he continues to grow and learn he still looks way too small to me to be staring down five years old. A few days ago he asked to put some temporary tattoos on. I helped him with the first two and then got up to grab something and when I had come back he had cut out the desired tattoo, removed the plastic, placed it where he wanted it, held the washcloth in place and was quietly counting to thirty. “Whoa, good job, pal!” I said when I saw his handiwork. “Now I want this one!” he said and when I went to peel back the clear covering he said, “No, Mom! I can  do it!” As he hastily grabbed the tattoo from my hands I realized that yes, he was perfectly capable of doing it on his own.

“I guess you’re right. Jeesh. What do you even need a mom for anymore, budders?

“Nothing.” He replied promptly, without looking up and without emotion.

I tried to explain what “rhetorical” meant to him after that but he was too busy being all grown up to listen.

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As in, fifty months of Keaton Sir. {Well, almost, but since I know I’ll be too lazy to post on a Saturday you’re getting the early edition.}

Keaton has been trying on his Fourness as of late and while he is still the comic relief that is so very much needed in my life right now, he is also 64.7% more pouty, whiny and snotty than one {namely *I*} would hope for. This behavior peaked at the end of December, early January and thankfully seems to be waning a bit.

In the poor boy’s defense he went through a major development leap and it manifested not only in his behavior but in his eating, sleeping and bathroom habits as well. He quit eating regularly and all of a sudden got very picky about food in general. He went through a two week period where he could not get himself to sleep for hours after lights out and then woke up from bad dreams about “monsters stealing my toys”. And the hardest one of all, after two plus months of being completely night trained, he started soaking his bed every night, multiple times. After attempting sticker charts, incentives and the like again, we saw that he just somehow lost his ability to control his bladder at night {something that he seemingly had mastered so I just don’t get it} so we gave up and succumbed to the Evil Pull-up as I packed away all the cloth diapers into the far reaching corners of the Closet of Death and Doom. This last week we’ve attempted underwear at night thrice, with mixed results, so we’ll see.

Other than these little hiccups, things are going pretty rad for our Budders. His current best friend in this entire world is his sword. When he’s home he wields it against unseen warriors and monsters that take the form of the back of our couch, the wall or any number of sinister looking stuffed animals. He practices his footwork and flips {and here ‘flip’ is used very loosely because hurling oneself harry-nilly, willy-carrey though the air and into the ground with no regard for ones head parts just doesn’t sound as cool as “flips”}. In repose he shoves it into the side waistband of his pants where it stays until another battle is nigh. Also? We must call him Peter The Magnificent, as we’ve moved on from warping our children with LOtR to the works of C. S. Lewis.

Ignoring most of the major plot points, Keaton instead stands in wait for a sword battle so he can fight along with Peter.

He also has grown fond of the sword fighting in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, asking to be called Captain Jack Hook Sparrow while sporting his "Pirate Boots" courtesy of pink fluff, Justice and his sister.

He does do a pretty bad ass pirate face, if I do say myself.

When taking a break from the nobility of a sword fighting king or the scoundral-hood of a pirate, he chooses the only logical pastime I can think of…BOOTY SHAKIN’:

 

Preschool’s going okay, I think. Due to the district’s odd January schedule Keaton only had one day a week for the whole month which sort of sucked as far as getting the momentum built up to learn new skills. After Christmas Bill and I decided to really push letters and numbers with him as he still had trouble recognizing some of them. After a month of this he seems to have all the capital letters figured out and a majority of the lowercase. For whatever reason recognizing numbers was a little more tricky. The kid can count just fine and count one to one correspondence just fine, he just has trouble recognizing the letters on paper and for whatever reason still has a hard time telling apart numbers and letters in general- so if I ask if Q is a letter or a number, he quite possibly will be completely stumped. I have to be honest…I have no idea how to handle this as it was just not ever an issue with Rowan. I never even had to teach Rowan any of this at all, she just picked it up in the natural course of things and never looked back. So we’re just incorporating a lot of letters and numbers into our everyday routine and hoping he’ll figure this shit out by Kindergarten. He did chicken scratch out his name for the first time after Bill worked with him which was a huge step and he was so proud of himself.

On Tuesday Bill and I enjoyed a day out with our boy for a preschool field trip to the Children's Theater to see Harold and the Purple Crayon.

He had fun but I think his favorite part was the giant cookie we got him at my favorite bakery/cafe in St. Paul and really, can you blame him?

He is doing great in dance and seems to really like it. We were asked in to observe for the first time last week to see the first part of their dance and ohmysweetlord those little boys were so adorable. I seriously fear Death from Acute Cuteness at his recital in May. Karate is also going well, as evidenced by a certain young sir receiving another belt on the color spectrum of ass-kicking:

His green belt combination was pretty awesome.

And then he was officially bepurpled.

We were all pretty excited about it.

A couple of weeks ago we managed to get snow instead of rain which lasted a record week and a half before melting. We did manage to make the most of it while it was here though…

Looking professional at the top of our hill. Unfortunately the longest he's stayed upright on the thing is about 4.7 feet.

Other than that?

He seems to have just realized we've owned a dog his whole life and has spent weekend mornings playing tug of war and fetch with Luna and her bobo, much to Luna's delight.

Legos are moving from the bottom of the pile of toys to near the top, though I'm not encouraging this one because I'm still trying to recover from the last of the tiny motherfucking princess shoes and something tells me legos are going to be worse. We Gunters value sanity over fine motor skill development.

And while he has regularly turned down getting his nails re-painted over the last month, he did ask for ponytails a week ago, which made my tiny, cold heart smile.

So many things have changed over the course of his fifty months but Keaton remains one of the sweetest, funniest, happiest and HAMMIEST people on planet earth. We love you, big guy.

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We have been so busy celebrating this season that I’ve had approximately zero time to document the last two weeks. Rest assured it was full of bright colors, over-excited/over-sugared children and lots of time together as a family. We have a get together with my mom’s side of the family tonight which will end our Christmas celebrations just in time for the New Year’s Eve party tomorrow night. So the best way I can recap is to show you a butt-load of pictures and call it a day, okay? Okay.

Cookies!

At six and four we have two expert cookie decorators.

And expert cookie eaters.

We enjoyed the subtle lights on our house...

And the not so subtle lights of Santa waterskiing at the Lights in the Park display.

One of our favorite advent activities.

Followed closely by this one. Such an understated design, don't you think?

As macabre as it sounds, my favorite moment of the season was this beautiful, peaceful walk through my dad's cemetery. It's been a completely brown December, but we got this dusting on the 23rd. It lasted a whole 24 hours, but it was a pretty 24 hours.

Christmas Eve morning we headed over to Bill's parents' house for brunch and of course...

Presents! Around three we left for mass which was long and packed and hot and not the most fun I've ever had. The kids did well considering, but two hours is a long time for a four year old to suppress his four-year-old-liness.

That night Santa was a busy guy, assembling a huge arts and crafts kit for Rowan J...

and the world's loudest drum set for Keaton Sir. {We will not speak of my stupidity over this one for the time being, I'm sure this lovely instrument will be heavily featured as my worthy foe over the coming weeks before it has an untimely, unfortunate and violent meeting down both of our staircases.}

Christmas morning, enduring the torturous obligatory photo at the top of the stairs before seeing what Santa left.

We had a relaxing morning playing with Santa's spoils.

And decapitating Santa in his chocolate form.

Christmas Day was spent at my mom's with all these crazy kids, ranging from 21 months to 17 years.

A more accurate pictorial description.

After the intense process of present opening for 20 people we chatted and relaxed by the wood stove...

and watched the kids dance while my mom accompanied on the piano.

For all its busy-ness, we had a pretty awesome holiday. Bill was off all this week and we planned absolutely nothing so most of our time was spent in our jammies playing with the kids. This weekend is packed full of more holiday crap and then Tuesday we’re back to reality and a diet with 98% less chocolate Santas. Hope everyone’s holiday was wonderful and here’s looking to 2012…

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Okay, I’m so sorry to do this but I need to document all this Christmasy crap in one big she-bang of a post. I promise it’s not because I want to torture you, Internet, although my reasons are mostly selfish. With the economy the way it is, I need a little insurance for mine and Bill’s future so I need fully documented proof that I was a super awesome mom to my kids so when I’m making my case for the fancy nursing home in the Bahamas, they might overlook all the ways I warped them and focus on all the Christmas magic. Essentially, this post is my retirement plan. Who needs stocks and a fat 401k when you can just write a blog post? You don’t need to say it, I know I’m a super genius.

So we went ahead with the advent activity calendar and about halfway through it? I’M TIRED OF DOING ALL THE THINGS. Because we are doing things. All of them. But after the fact I’m always glad we did them so here’s the run down and many lazy Instagram pictures of how we’ve been spending the season…

This year I put each activity in a decorative hodge-podge of envelopes I found hanging around the house. I conveniently just tucked in the flap so I could cheat depending on how lazy/ambitious I am on any certain day.

Day One: Get Christmas tree and decorate house for the season.

I already told you that this day didn’t go exactly as planned. Since we were stuck at home, and all the decorations were tucked conveniently in the back corner, Bill and I spent the morning digging through and organizing the Closet of Death, which was…not fun. What was fun was being able to donate bag after bag of old kids’ clothes and so many old coats and toys and afterward we had our bright, shiny closet back {which lasted all of one week before it was so stuffed with Christmas presents that it looked like a war-zone again}. Rowan was sick so Bill and Keaton went to get the tree, only the tree farm guy forgot to give it a fresh cut. Realizing his mistake he looked up our address {which they have because we are a part of their CSA} and he popped over to give it a cut. Only Bill and Keaton had stopped somewhere else and weren’t back yet and I had been busy with the closet and taking care of a very sick Rowan and it’s entirely possible that I answered the door to this poor guy with a white shirt and no bra on {trust me, this was a lot less hot than it sounds since I hadn’t showered in, well, awhile.} Anyway, it was very sweet of him to come but I think I scared him out of making house calls for a while. After a very long day the tree finally made it up. Here are our favorite ornaments…

This is my favorite, hanging on every Christmas tree for all my 31 years. It's the only one I won't let the kids touch as it is precious and liable to break due to its extreme old age.

I'll give you one guess as to whose favorite this is. And if you get it wrong you're kicked off this website. Forever.

*Sigh.* Keaton has displayed his undying love for this ornament by playing the "Who rang that bell?" sequence 4,896 times. Last year he broke off and lost Dorothy and this year the Scarecrow has been re-glued twice, as evidenced by the pool of glue at his feet. Tinman, Lion and Doorman? Your days are most likely numbered.

Bet you don't have a Grandma Walnut Butt Face on your tree. But if you did it would be your husband's favorite.

Our December 2nd Activity: Make Hand/foot print Rudolph.

It was mostly fun to see the differences in my kids' shoe size, most notably how flippin' wide Keaton's feet are compared to his sister's. I had to paint in an area of hers so Rudolph didn't look anorexic, which would be a great topic for a Lifetime Christmas movie but not so much for my wall.

December 3rd: Write letter to Santa. I transcribed Keaton's for him and Rowan got as far as making fancy, twirling lettering for her opening and then gave up saying "Santa's smart, he'll figure it out." I told her Santa is going to bring her Bare Essentials moisturizer and a nice bottle of Malbec if she doesn't finish that letter soon.

December 4th: Celebrate a special Christmas-time birthday.

Done and Done…the afterparty…

December 5th: Write a Christmas Story together. This being one of those numbers where everybody adds a line. Here’s ours…

One day in Christmastown Rudolph was sad. He was sad because one of the other reindeer wasn’t sharing his jingle bells. He asked the reindeer to share but he didn’t. Then he just ran home and went up to his bedroom and got a book out and read it and then he went to bed. The next morning he woke up to the beautiful elf chorus singing his favorite song. The song was about sharing and the Christmas spirit and it reminded him to spread good cheer. And then he looked and saw a letter and he opened it up and it was from the other reindeer. And then Rudolph went to the fair and bought a shiny new red nose. When he got back to Christmastown he ran into Santa. Just then the Bumble came out, snatched up Santa and Rudolph and then the Bumble took them back to his cave and started a fire. But they had a key and they unlocked the door and they runnnnnned back to Christmastown. Whew, that was close. When they had returned they found out the reindeer who wouldn’t share got eatened by the Bumble! They were so sad that he got eated that they wanted to make another reindeer but they couldn’t! They made a robot reindeer instead. His name was Snarfles. THE END.

December 6th: Go to a special Christmas concert. Rowan’s teacher asked her to do a reading when the previous kid they asked got stage fright. I was so nervous for her since she spent the majority of the previous week whispering because she’d lost her voice, and then once we got there and saw there was EASILY 1,ooo to 1,500 people packed in the gym I was just short of panicking but she did awesome. A mom of one of her classmates shot this great video of her doing her reading which I’m so thankful for since ours was shot with an iPhone from 7.32 miles away.

December 7th: Read Christmas books by the fire. This is my favorite. Fun, easy and comes with a decorative cat.

December 8th: Give toys to Toys for Tots. I slowly want to integrate more charitable activities into our advent routine, but want to make them meaningful. At this age it’s really hard to explain that some kids don’t have homes or enough to eat, let alone a pile of toys on Christmas morning. What do you say to a six-year-old who says, “But mom, Santa will bring them food and toys!”? I tried to explain that sometimes we have to be each others’ Santa but at this point my kids so thoroughly believe in the magic of it all, it’s hard for them to understand. So we’re starting small and I had them each pick out a Toy and place it in the Toys for Tots bin.

December 9th: Christmas tree sleepover! This one went a lot smoother than last year, as there was 8 times more sleeping and 78% less zombies. This night was actually our only unscheduled weekend night of the season and so far it has been the best. We all snuggled in with jammas and popcorn and had a Christmas Carol marathon, which included the Mickey Mouse, Mr. Magoo, and Muppets versions. This is one of my favorite Christmas stories- I’ve been reading the regular old Dickens’ version to Rowan. I sort of thought she’d get bored with it right away but she asks for it and is taking in the story through all that 19th century prose, which is really cool. So after the movies we snuggled the kids in for the night in their sleeping bags.

Best night-light ever.

December 10th: Go ice-skating. JUST KIDDING, THERE IS BARELY ANY SNOW AND NO SKATE WORTHY ICE. Instead I cheated and changed the card to “Spend time with cousins and family”. This year instead of a sibling Christmas drawing for gifts we decided to do a night of Christmas cheer. My brother hosted and we spent the evening letting the kids run around together while we enjoyed good beer, wine and each others’ company.

These two trouble makers decided that instead of spreading Christmas cheer they were going to spread dry kitty food. All over the basement. They were hereby confined to this chair where they watched Cars 2 as punishment. We maybe need to work on our disciplinary tactics.

December 11: Visit Santa Claus! Sunday morning the kids had their Sunday school Christmas program, which is a small affair of a few carols sung after mass. Afterward we headed to see Mall Santa, which was a little nerve-wracking since Keaton had a rough time sleeping the night before. We were able to coax him through the 40 minute wait and thankfully he did great once he was with the Big Guy {Rowan’s always been a pro at schmoozing Santa}.

We’ve had the same Santa for the last three to four years; he’s very quiet and peaceful, with a real beard and well, I’m sort of sure he actually IS Santa. He probably just likes to fuck with parents but after he finished up with the kids they were picking out suckers and he made eye contact with me and said with a twinkle “They sure have grown a lot this year.” I don’t know what it was- the tone of his voice, the look in his eye, but he seriously seemed like he KNEW my kids, or at the very least remembered them from previous years which would be very near impossible, considering the amount of kids that display must attract each season. Anyway, it was a good trick because he left me questioning if I actually am the one who purchases and lays out all that crap on Christmas Eve.

And {finally!} today, December 12th: Give food to the food shelf. This will be done tonight during Bill’s trip to the grocery store, where you can fill bags and leave them right there for the local food shelf, which will hopefully do some good this holiday season.

Overall this season has seemed more stressful than in the past {although I’m sure I say this every year}. With the amount of stuff the kids are in, plus special events for ballet, school, Bill’s work and church, it makes it hard to carve out time for special family activities. Every weekend has been completely booked and the time crunch to figure out shopping and such has been daunting. Plus with temperatures in the 40s all the snow is melting so it barely feels like Christmas in Minnesota. But. I’m ultimately glad we’re following through with our calender. Taking time out each day to do things together or think of others is something we should be more aware of at all times of the year, but especially at the time when that sort of thing tends to get lost in the tinsel and gingerbread. Now I’m off to see if there’s a way I can inject dayquil directly into my temples as the kids passed their lovely sickness to me and I’d really prefer to be hopped up on cold medicine when I attack the giant pile of laundry that’s currently requesting my presence.

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