We are having a great start to our holiday season. It’s hard to complain about life when you get five days off around Thanksgiving! And, our five days off was packed. I won’t go into all the details, but here are some of the highlights
I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Christkindle Market twice in the last week or so. The first was at the start of the holiday when my co-workers and I left work a little early to get a kick-start on holiday celebrating. My one friend Margaret was even interviewed by ABC news! The second time was just this week when my Mom came into the Loop and she, my friend Ciara and I walked around and ate lunch and shopped. I love the Market and I hope to go again at least once before Christmas (probably more!)
I always feel blessed when I can get together with my mom, gram and daughter at the same time. I think it’s rare to have four generations, particularly four generations of women, together on a regular basis. I never take it for granted. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving we (and Aaron) all went out to dinner. We had a lot of fun and we took some cute pictures inside and outside of the restaurant.
Thanksgiving Day was blissfully laid back. Aaron and I both got to work out, we cooked, we loafed around and then around 3:30 we headed over to the Russell’s for dinner. We had a veritable feast of food, and Owen and Cora had a ton of fun together, often just off playing on their own. We tried to take a picture of all of us together, however Owen hates being in pictures so he was crying that he had to be in one. When we opted to take a photo of just the adults, Cora started crying that we were excluding her. So, we ended up with a photo of four smiling adults and two crying kids. C’est la vie. We got a relatively cute one of just our family too… Cora was still wiping away her tears though! If that’s the only drama we have on a holiday, I’ll take it! We had such a good time with them, we’re really blessed to have such good friends.
Museum of Science and Industry
The Friday after Thanksgiving we met up with my Mom and took Cora to the Museum of Science and Industry to see the Christmas Trees. They have dozens up, each with a theme from a specific country. Cora was mildly entertained by the trees, but really had the most fun when we left that area and started exploring other parts of the museum, especially this cool tornado exhibit they had up. She’s really into space these days, so we made her to make it over to the space center. She also liked the chicks and she liked looking at the dioramas in the circus section. I’m always intrigued to see what catches her attention… sometimes she just wants to press buttons regardless of what they do, but other times she is definitely in it to learn!
On Saturday I had a little girls’ day with some of my friends. It was only for a few hours, but it was a good getaway. It was actually hard to leave Cora because she was sick on Saturday – really down for the count – but I was happy to hear that she slept most of the time I was gone so I didn’t miss much. I think it’s important for me to show her that friendships are important, and that taking care of yourself is important, so I have decided to not feel guilty about these outings – guilt was something I felt very prominently when she was younger. Now, not so much. I think it helps that she understands me now and has a concept of time, so when I say, “I’ll be back in a few hours” it is not a big deal. Anyway, I went to my friend’s house and we did an Arbonne facial party and a clothes swap. I had a lot of fun. I did have some pangs of insecurity during the clothes swap – I have come so far on my weight loss journey – but I still have a long way to go. It bummed me out for a little bit that my clothes sizes are still bigger than I want them to be – but I got over it. No one else in my life cares about this but me, I need to remember that. I’m actually really happy with where I’m at. I need to remember that too.
My latest read was Dan Brown’s Inferno. His books are great reading for the train. The short chapters and quick plot twists make it easy to come and out of. I’ve found that I can’t read brainy or deep books on the train. I’m too tired after work; it just doesn’t happen. So, popcorn books work the best and at close to five hundred pages this one kept me interested for a few weeks. What I like about his books is that he weaves real places into his events, so if you’ve been there you can really picture what he’s talking about. The flip side is, if you haven’t been there, it lacks a little of the appeal and you end up googling the place so you can get a visual to go with what he’s describing. I also like it when stories weave well known yarns into plots in new ways. Dan Brown does that really well. What I didn’t like about the book was the over draught agenda of environmentalism that was at the core of his story. It was too preachy, too soapbox for what the book should have been – a great, beach book. That being said… I found myself thinking about the arguments he was making and if a book like his is the way to bring an environmental concern to the masses, then maybe it is okay. Still, I was surprised at how heavy handed it was – and I wonder how they will play that out in the (already planned) movie adaptation.
And now for everyone’s favorite part of the blog… Cora stories!!!
Cupping her hands in photos
You may have noticed that in a lot of photos these days, Cora is cupping her hands on her face. She loves doing this because she says “it is my cutest look.” I don’t know where she got that idea in her head, but she is insistent upon it and if you ask her not to do it, she gets really offended. She thinks it makes her look adorable – which I have to admit it kind of does. Still, if you were wondering – that’s why. I wonder where she gets these ideas from!
Why do you have a TV?
One day Cora decided she was going to be upset about everything. We were all in the master bedroom and Cora starts looking around the room and screams, “Why do you have a TV in your room when I don’t have a TV in my room?” It was totally out of the blue and very random. So we said that sometimes adults have different things than kids, and that the older you get, the more stuff you tend to have. We talked to her about how lucky she is to have the things that she does have and that her room is great the way it is. Then she said “I don’t want you to keep your stuff in my room anymore!” and we had to think about that for a minute and we realized she was talking about the board games we have that we keep on the top shelf of her closet. Granted, she’s right, it’s her space and we’re taking up some of it, but honestly there’s nowhere else for those games to go. So I said, “well, if you want us to move those games, you have to show me there’s a better place to put them” to which she responded, “put them on the floor of your room, I don’t care!”
So yes, that was interesting and has fed into a couple more conversations as of late on being thankful. One day she was saying that she likes Christmas because she gets stuff and granted, that’s how all kids feel, but I talked to her about how nice it is to give stuff and we talked about that for a long time. I also started talking to her about how some kids have nothing at all, not even a home, and that idea really struck her.
I think we’re going to have to start doing some volunteer work soon. I want to expose her to more so that she remains grounded. I keep saying “get this girl to a soup kitchen!” She’s pretty grounded as it is, but I do feel like I can instill even more in her. It’s funny, I know some people look at us with our public sector jobs and small apartment and think that we are lacking BUT I think we are rolling over in abundance. We have so much, and don’t need much else. We are SO lucky and I want Cora to feel that in her bones.
Long story short, she will not be getting a TV in her room (which is really ironic since that was one of the biggest arguments I had with my mom growing up because I really wanted a TV in my room; what goes around comes around!) and we will keep working with her so that she knows just how fortunate she is.
Wants to help with Christmas wrapping
Cora has been very anxious to help me with Christmas wrapping, which I think will get started this weekend. I have to be strategic about it though so no one sees gifts they aren’t supposed to (and so that Cora doesn’t catch on that there are lots of packages for her before Santa arrives – although I did tell her that sometimes Santa sends stuff to our house early so that he can make sure it arrives on time – which she did not argue with the premise of – except to ask why Santa knew what to deliver before she had really asked Santa for things. I said Santa just knows sometimes). I think she’ll be a great help with the wrapping – even if it’s just wrapping up random items and giving them to us (she loves doing that) while I’m doing the real wrapping. I can’t wait for us to get our tree on Saturday so we can start putting presents under it!
“waste of paper” on my cards
To keep myself organized this year I have everyone I need to buy for on a series of index cards. It’s helping me keep track of when and what, etc. Cora noticed that I wasn’t writing on the back of the cards and she asked me why. I informed her that I didn’t want to have to flip the cards over to read the other side and she looked at me, cocked her head, stuck out her hip and with all the attitude a 3 year old can muster said “That’s a real waste of paper mom.” I nearly died trying not to laugh. So, I suggested that after I am done with the cards maybe she can draw on the back of them. With the same amount of attitude she responded “maybe.” I’m in trouble when she’s a teenager, let me tell you!
Finding the Elf
But, at the same time that she seems like three going on sixteen, she also seems very little sometimes. Like, when she wakes up in the morning and looks for her Elf. Now, I’m not a big fan of the Elf on the Shelf book… I actually think it’s pretty manipulative and a little bit evil… but there are some nuggets there that are fun… like the idea that Santa has a friend in our house, or that Cora can ask the Elf for what she wants for Christmas. I also think it’s cool to see her come up with theories about how the Elf got from room to room each night (he flies a lot) and the pure look of joy on her face when she finds him. She was playing with some candles I have the other day (obviously not lit, she was using them like blocks) and kept telling the Elf “Don’t get me candles, I’m playing with candles now, but I don’t want candles for Christmas” and I reassured her that the Elf knew that she was just playing with the candles and didn’t actually want them for herself. I love the way her brain works!
And of course, we have our Advent calendars out. One is a Noah’s ark where you open a door for each day and an animal comes out (a bit of Bible story / testament mix up there, but for some reason it works) and the chocolate Advent calendar too. She opens the ark in the morning and gets to have the chocolate after she’s done a good job eating dinner. I used to love doing that as a kid too, so it’s fun to watch her think that the tiny piece of (kind of gross) chocolate she gets out of it is the best thing ever.
Getting stories straight – who is this again?
And, since there are so many stories about Christmas (and now, apparently, the story of Noah and the ark) she keeps asking a lot of clarifying questions to get the characters straight. For the life of her she can’t remember Noah’s name, let alone the name of Rudolph, but she’s getting the general mythology around Christmas and she knows that the most important part is baby Jesus. She’s really into nativity scenes (at the Museum of Science and Industry she even asked me to take a picture of one) and she likes to talk about how Jesus was born and how important that is to us. She’s picked up on a lot more than I thought she would have at this point considering she’s not in Sunday School yet – we must be doing a good job!
Use of the word “author”
She blows me away with all sorts of stuff she knows. She’s really into the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and she discovered she had another book called My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things (aka even mommies make mistakes) and she told me, unprompted, that they were by the same author. When did she learn the word author? I confirmed that, indeed, Judith Viorst did write both of those books and she said “I like that author.” Be still my beating heart!
But again, just when you think she’s mature beyond her years, she throws the world’s biggest temper tantrum. The other night she was crying for an hour straight because on the way home she was watching the iPad (we let her watch shows in the car) and she was so comfy that when Aaron parked she wasn’t ready to get out and wanted to stay in the car where she was and just keep watching. Aaron told her it was time to get out (he was getting pretty cold waiting for her) and took the iPad and she lost it. Then EVERYTHING was setting her off… and she was yelling orders… and we had to stay calm and present a unified front on what was and wasn’t okay to say. She had several time outs and several times she calmed herself down only to get set off by something else… and the whole thing was kind of surreal. But, Aaron and I were very calm the whole time – this is what three year olds do after all – and I felt really good about the way we handled it. I think we’re lucky that this is relatively rare; I know some parents deal with these on a daily basis.
It was interesting though because she kept asking to watch Huckle because she said it would calm her down, which I have no doubt is true, but she was asking in a “you turn on Huckle now because I said so” kind of way, so we didn’t. That sparked a later discussion between Aaron and me about watching TV in general and using TV to calm down. I told him that I watch TV every night, and a huge part of it is to deflate from the day, and so I can’t necessarily hold Cora to a different standard than I hold myself – and that I also think occasional TV is okay and not to be judged. He sort of agreed, but said he didn’t want her to become reliant upon TV to calm down because she might be in a situation where TV wasn’t an option and he wants to make sure that she has the tools she needs in life. I’m definitely in agreement with that too… so I think we came to the agreement that there are times and places for things. I’m glad he and I are always on the same page (or close to it) when it comes to Cora though. Makes life much easier.
No iPad Car Ride
My last story is one that I’m not sure I can do justice to. The day after the iPad temper tantrum incident, Cora didn’t get the iPad in the car. It was one of the consequences of her behavior. She had forgotten that so she was surprised when we were telling her she couldn’t have it, but she eventually understood. She was pouting though, so Aaron suggested “why don’t we sing songs instead?” and her reaction was priceless. She just looked at him and said “what?” but she said “what?” in a tone that said “that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, what planet are you on making that suggestion?” Usually I can keep a straight face, but with that “what?” I just lost it. I burst out laughing. Cora promptly said, “I’ll just look out the window” adding to the humor for me, completely shutting Aaron’s idea down. And she did, she looked out the window the whole time and was just fine.
So, there are our stories to kick off the holiday season. Up next… this weekend we have a kids’ birthday party and we are having some friends over to decorate our tree. Next week is crazy busy for me at work, so I just hope to make it through! Happy Holidays to you!