Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas season memories

My memories of the Christmas season this year are for the most part, very joyous.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This first picture is not really related to the Christmas season.  It was a picture that I had to take after Gwen had found my bright red lipstick and tried it on without any help of a mirror or myself.  Reminded me of when Trevor got into my finger nail polish and put it on himself and all over my bathroom.  Thankfully, Gwen didn't get it anywhere except her lips and face.  And of course she was so proud.

Anyway, this Christmas season was eventful, and our annual festivities of Christmas haven't even started.  We got the largest tree we ever have...11 ft.  It was fun to decorate and admire until the base cracked and leaked water everywhere.  Then it tipped over.  Since then, it hasn't been able to be straight upright.  So next year or before next year we need a bigger tree stand.  

I wrote in this year's Christmas letter that I knew by next year at this time, Trevor would probably be able to beat both Russ and I at chess.  Well, I didn't even last a week beyond the letter.  Granted, I don't know much else other than how each of the pieces move, but Trevor already has such patience and foresight to know how to strategize a winning game. 

Music has probably been the biggest change to my family Christmas season memory.  As long as there is a song playing on our all-Christmas music station, she likes it.  Her new favorite is Rockin' around the Christmas tree.  I had a Kidz Bop CD in the pile of Christmas music that has a version of that song on it, which has been played plenty.  Along with the Muppets Christmas and a few other songs that I haven't heard on the radio.  What I will remember most about this year was that if Gwen heard a song on the radio, even just once or twice, it would often get stuck in her head and randomly she would belt it out.  My favorite is when she out of the blue started singing the song that we heard from Wham!...I think the title is "Last Christmas".  It really got me because she only had part of the chorus, and I tried to help her out, but I got stuck, and she filled it right in:  "Last Christmas...I gave you my heart..but the very next day, you gave it away.  This year, I'll save you from....."  Quickly, Gwen said "tears mom."  and she finished the lyrics.

So now we get into the creative side of the kids.  As I said before, Gwen really has been into building things, and while I have never seen that side of Trevor, he is creative in his own way.  He prefers to be creative with board games as in this instance.  I think he is finally realize that Gwen can be a playmate, especially with board games.  This game, doesn't really have a name, other than Trevor calling it a combination of all the games they use:  "Monopoly, Life, Jenga".  They use the car and houses or hotels from Monopoly, build garages and houses with Jenga pieces, then play out their lives with cards (career cards), money, and spinning the wheel from the game of Life.  I almost didn't want to make them move, but it was a school day.  I hope there are many of these days in the week off of school.  I like that I don't always have to be breaking up fights.

And these last two pictures, are for Gwen.  She asked me one day this week to build things with the Legos in the basement.  I'm not sure why they were out in the first place, but these are Trevor's legos.  He had gotten an airport to build a large airplane, star wars ships and figures, as well as other activities I'm sure that I don't even remember.  They eventually ended up in a box or two in the basement.  So anyway, they were out and Gwen wanted to play with them, so I put her where she wouldn't get into anything and let her go at it.  It took her at least an hour or so to come up with this boat.  The bottom part is part of an airplane but everything else she added.  I thought she did a great job.  It didn't seem like she was very interested in really playing with it once it was built, but I am just amazed that she saw all the pieces and picked them out in order to come up with what she did.  

So while there wasn't enough snow this season for it to be a white Christmas, I think that there will be ways for the kids to entertain themselves if they don't have a chance to be outside.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

'Tis the busy season

Everyone always seems extra busy during this time of year.  It really makes me dread the next month that is coming because I know it will slow WAY down.  Perhaps to the point of wanting to shut my door and not leave the house.  But I digress....right now it is busy.  Last week was very busy for us.  Russ was traveling for the week, which in some ways made it less hectic knowing that I just had to know where the kids needed to go, rather than the whole family.  I also warned Trevor because I know he appreciates the little down time he does have with the ever increasing demands of homework, piano practice and the want to play video games.  That for sure has taken a back seat to everything else going on.  He maybe gets to play once or twice a week. 

So on to this week.  Monday was crazy with Chess, dinner, dance class and then directly to hockey pictures.  No time for anything that day.  Tuesday, I was off for a holiday PTA event but thankfully the kids didn't have to be brought anywhere to do anything.  Wednesday, the kids had their last swimming lesson of the session, but my better judgement said to abandon the swimming lesson to make sure we made the preschool Christmas program on time.  It was a very cute show as always, and the bells performance was wonderful. 

I decided that because we didn't have anything going on Thursday, we would run on over to the mall for our annual Santa pictures.  It was a perfect setting.  Just in case, I brought a book for Trevor to read, but in the end it wasn't needed.  We walked right up to Santa and no one else came to the line for at least 10 minutes.  That meant 10 minutes of in depth discussion with Santa.  It also meant that when the three pictures they tried to take of the kids didn't turn out, they were gracious enough to take 4 more before I found one I really liked.  Or at least where they both looked ok. 

The kids told Santa what they wanted...Gwen wanted a big Cinderella doll...although funny thing, she told her mom the day before she wanted a big Sleeping Beauty doll and I don't think Santa is going to bring her two...I guess we'll see.  Trevor was not very specific.  He preferred to talk about all the things he has done and ask a lot of questions about how old he was, and if our Frankincense (Elf on a Shelf) could stick around for the rest of the year because he was pretty much a member of our family.  It wasn't fair that he had to be away the rest of the year and miss his birthday and such.  And Santa thought that it wasn't a big deal if the Elf stuck around.  Ummm....maybe our Elf will write a departing note or something. 

So apart from that discussion, it was a very good trip to see Santa.  I hear that there are some families that ask their teenagers to at least stand behind or next to Santa for those same pictures.  I would even promise to keep all those pictures away from the public eye until they had kids of their own....I love to watch the kids grow up with the same Santa every year.  That is one tradition I am happy to continue.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Remembering years past with the kids, I always thought I would enjoy, as they would, the same Christmas traditions.  Most of the time, in fact, I insist on them.  This year, I have tried to allow for some changes, while keeping most things the same.  And then I see how some of the traditions have lost their interest.  I don't know if it is their age, or if it is truly not as interesting, or if I'm more of a scrooge than usual.

Here are some changes to year's past:  We got our Christmas Tree early, although not significantly, and it is at least 3 ft taller than usual.  We have always had it in the room with a vaulted ceiling, but this year we truly took advantage of it.  As a result, we had to buy more lights and garland...and maybe an ornament or two :-)

I have had to change out Gwen's Christmas Stocking at her request to a light blue Cinderella stocking.  The rest of ours are Winnie the Pooh red ones.  She had Elmo last year, but has never really gotten into him, so it really didn't make sense to keep her to that one. 

Although the traditions are still there, the feelings have changed:  Frankincense was scary at first to both Trevor and Gwen, is not as interesting, unless they use it as a weapon against the other sibling when they are doing something bad....for example Trevor says to Gwen, "Oh...Frankincense did you see that?  Gwen wasn't being a good listener.  Make sure you report that back to Santa."  I've been trying to balance it all out when I catch the kids behaving too, but it for sure isn't as magical as he once was.  The chocolate advent calendars are being used, but often forgotten in the morning.  I remember last year and the other years, 5 minutes would not go by when the kids were awake and they both had their chocolate in hand for the day.  Christmas movies:  Gwen has the choice to watch them twice a week or so while Trevor is at school and she would rather not.  Trevor, if given the choice currently wants to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid which he got for his birthday.  It is a very good adaptation from the book, but over a Christmas movie?  I'm a little bummed.  The books are way too young for Trevor now.  He has to read 20+ minutes a day and thankfully he has a whole new selection with the series of Magic Tree House and the last three books of Diary of a Wimpy kid.  Gwen's only interest in the books are of course the one Princess Christmas book we have.  All the others could go out the door.  Again, I'm a little bummed. 

We still have yet to visit Santa at the mall.  I think I'm going to bring the kids next week on Thursday.  I have to add to my collection!  On the topic of pictures, I took the annual pictures in front of the tree and they both did very well at that.  Those are ordered and will be here soon so they will be sent out shortly.  I had my annual cookie swap, and got a good deal of cookies that have almost all been eaten.  Those were yummy! 

Something that they are both excited about is that they are both going to carry in two parts of the Nativity scene at church on Christmas Eve.  Gwen will have Mary and Trevor will have Joseph.  I couldn't have gotten baby Jesus if I wanted to, but I knew that would not be a good idea.  Major fighting would ensue.  But that is another thing that has lost interest - our Fisher Price Nativity.  It was opened and set up but not played with except the occasional song every once in a while.  Oh well.  Kids grow up, I guess it cannot always be as exciting as the first year.  I'm guessing Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning will hold the same magic.  That I'll hold onto for as long as I can!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gwen the puzzler

Well, she made it through the big even that was Thanksgiving and Trevor's birthday without a big hitch.  She was a big helper the day of his birthday which I was very thankful for.  It appears as though she is slowly learning that everyone's birthday is special to them for that one day and she cannot do anything about it, so she might as well enjoy it. 

We had her preschool conference last Thursday and it went very well.  Right now she is not very interested in drawing or writing, and actually I'm sort of surprised.  When she is at home, if I ask her to create a card for someones birthday she loves to do it.  If we break out new pens, pencils, or markers she right away wants to use them.  But if she is at preschool it seems as though she does the minimum for what is asked and then runs to the next thing.  Perhaps preschool is too fun and if she can play first, she would love it.  She is also working on her friendships and working out conflicts without the help of the teacher.  I'm debating on picking up a few more days of child care here and there to see if that would be fun for her.  But overall it was a great conference!  She is one great kid!

Something that I've finally put together is that she is different from Trevor in the way that she plays.  I have always known that she likes her dolls where he liked his cars, and I simply figured that you play with cars different than you play with dolls.  But she also likes Legos.  She wanted to play with Trevor's lego people which I just thought was an extension of dolls.  She also wanted to put the legos together to make houses or vehicles for the Lego people.  And then there has always been her love of puzzles.  She can put together the 50 states in under 2 minutes if she feels up to it.  I love that if we are ever talking about different states, like yesterday morning I was explaining my love of Hawaii again and Trevor started asking about Texas and Gwen ran to get out the states puzzle so she could put it together and Trevor could show her which state we were talking about. 

It seems to me that it she really enjoys putting things together....I wonder if this will translate to a career for her in some way.  Maybe a fashion designer...that is something I would see as fitting her interests....  Have I explained how she cannot get enough of my jewelry?  She loves the necklaces and one class ring that I have in my jewelry box.  When she asked to wear one, I explained when she was wearing a pretty dress I would let her borrow them.  Now, whenever she is wearing her two playdresses, she runs upstairs and grabs one of the necklaces and class ring and wears them throughout the day.  Putting together the perfect outfit is a must for this girl.  And what gets me is that she has a whole box filled with her own jewelry and she will play with it, but she knows it isn't good enough to actually wear out in public.  *sigh*  Maybe if I hit up Claires she will be satisfied....