Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Fun For The Whole Family!

We had a lot of great pre-Christmas activities this month.
Kids Cooking Class Gingerbread cookies - cancelled due to me being lazy lack of attendance and Z having a cold.
Various winter/Christmas crafts, and cookie/gingerbread house decorating playdates (hosted by others) - I bailed at last minute or they were full up before I could RSVP.

12/4/10 - Popsicle Stick Frame ornament craft and impromptu party at Grammelena's house.

12/5/10 - Put up (fake) tree.

We keep all the ornaments we no longer care about, and the ones not easily broken, on the lower half of the tree. Last year I kept a box under the tree to toss ornaments into as we found them, but she's better at losing them playing with them this year. Her favorites are the Peek-A-Poohs I had bought in sets on eBay years ago. [Yes, before I had kids. So sue me!] I also had a bunch of Hallmark ornaments I'd buy on clearance after Christmas for super cheap (75% off or better) that I was willing to part with but that don't sell for anything worth my time on eBay, so I let her hang them. If they break, meh. If they don't, I can always donate them another year!
My special fairy ornaments are on the top third of the tree, and I'd let her hold (ie: play) with one if she sat on the potty, which was a huge incentive for her. Plus it prevented her from trying to climb up and get them when I wasn't looking. She knew she could just ask. And it has the added bonus of teaching her to treat delicate stuff with respect, and lets her know that I trust her and have faith in her ability to treat something well. Ultimately she is more important to me than an unbroken ornament, and accidents happen. So if I had some priceless heirloom, I'd just keep it packed away until she was old enough. But I don't.

12/11/10 - Holiday party at a friend's house.

12/14/10 - Light Garden. Totally worth going. We went on a free admission night. A local botanical garden did the whole place up with gorgeous light sculptures and displays. It was just amazing.

12/16/10 - Santa pictures. By myself. Without backup.
It was a tough call. Little Z is very... sensitive around adults, especially strangers. If an adult touches her, she often flips out, even if it's a fairly familiar family member. Even Unka Seesee, who she sees every day, gets her squirming and crying for mommy if he picks her up or tries to interact with her if she didn't initiate the contact.
So my plan for Santa was similar to last year. Go during the day on a weekday, so they wouldn't be busy. Take our sweet time. hanging around the Santa area, waving hello, eating our lunch, etc. Choose a toy from the store (so it wouldn't be Santa bribing her. I do not need to teach her that Mommy thinks it's okay to sit in some dude's lap, even if it makes you uncomfortable, as long as he gives you a toy or candy!) Change her into her fancy duds at the last minute, in case the dress or tights bother her in any way. (They did. But she trusted me when I told her we'd change out as soon as I got my picture.)
And I was sure to let her know that I knew she didn't want to sit by Santa (I'm never going to push for her to sit on his lap!) but that *I* wanted a picture of her with him, just like last year (which I showed her) and that I wanted her to do this for me. (Again, not making it about Santa, or about having to do uncomfortable things for people other than me!)
The down side, of course, was that I was doing it all by myself. She would have been even more uncomfortable had we gone with someone else, and Daddy had to work.
This was better than either of the ones with her on his bench.
No tears this year, which is always my goal, as I see no need to reinforce her feelings
of Santa being traumatizing and scary by making her cry.
Please note the little toy I bribed her with clutched in her paws.

12/17/10 - AM - MOMS Club cookie and picture frame decorating playdate - we arrived waaaaay late, but managed to bang out some cookies and a frame for Nana.

The hostess had the smashingly good idea of cutting disposable cups shorter so each kid could have their own blob of frosting, so there was no cross-contamination from the kids who licked their knives (what kind of thoughtless parents let their kids lick frosting knives at a cookie decorating party? I mean, reallyMy kid would never do such a thing!) 
She also had little Dixie cups for the sprinkles and toppings, so you didn't have just a few kids hogging all the sprinkle jars while the others had to wait.

12/17/10 - afternoon - Gingerbread house decorating with Tually and Pilu at Grammelena's (while Auntie Kayneen cleaned up in preparation for the Christmas morning festivities.)
Pilu actually put a few candies on the house.
The rest went into her gob.
(That's Grammelena sitting waaay in the back)
Other than the occasional help squeezing
(and adding more frosting to reinforce,) she did it all herself!
Tually did most of her house solo too!
The finished product! Just kidding. This one was mine!
Z's house.
12/19/10 - Breakfast (she calls it "Brunch," but if I'm expected to be there by 9am, it's breakfast in my book!) with Gramma Barp and hubby's family (Great Gramma Donna, GGpa Vern, Grandpa Bruce; Auntie Keesee and Kelly with Tody, Ninnie and Taytay; Unka Chris, Auntie Kinzie, Santa Al and family friend Suzanne.)

12/19/10 - Evening - Up all night making Olive Penguins for MOMS Holiday Party.

12/20/10 - MOMS Holiday Party (with Santa Al. Thanks! Love you!) and the never-ending candy cane.

12/23/10 - Craft kits and Dollar Store craft at McDonald's with a play area (hosted by me.) I got an assortment of 6 dozen Christmas/Winter themed craft kits from Oriental Trading Company in the hopes of being able to do them with my mom groups and get reimbursed a little for my costs. After 4 attempts with only 1 yes RSVP total between 2 other groups, I gave up on them and just did it for my MOMS for free.

12/23/10 - later that evening - Frantic last-minute wrapping of all presents. Little Z wrapped her frame for Nana almost all by herself. I folded the paper and tore off tape from the dispenser, but she applied every piece of tape by herself, 'wrote' on the tag(s) and stuck them on herself as well. (Apparently Nana's present needed 3 tags.)

12/24/10 - Christmas Eve at Great-Grandma Donna's (and GGpa Vern's) house.
The big hits of the evening were playing with her cousin Tay, the My Little Pony book and figures (well, really mostly the figures) from Gramma Barp, and the gi-huge-mongus set of Littlest Pet Shop from Auntie Keesee. *I* loved the Betty Crocker food writer set and fancy cake decorating book from Auntie Sha... I mean Uncle Gordy. :) [We do gift exchanges now, where each person gets gifts for one other person, so we don't all go broke buying stuff for every adult. We still get stuff for all the kids.]

12/25/10 - The Big Shebang.
After making my sister (Auntie Kayra) cry and feel guilty for planning on arriving late (noonish) and leaving early (2ish) days earlier when discussing our family Christmas plans, we went and slept in and arrived after noon, while Kayra and family had come earlier, and they were all done opening gifts! D'oh!
But it was almost worth it, since sleeping in made my squirtle extra adorable and gracious. "Oh, THANK you! It's just what I always wanted!" as she hugged her still-wrapped present to her chest.
When we got up, she ran out to the living room, hopped on the couch and looked out the window to look for Santa. Ran right past the dollhouse castle sitting there in front of the tree! She then ran around the castle to grab the wrapped presents under the tree. Nutjob.
At first her favorite was a Learn-to-Dress Emma doll I... I mean Santa had got for her ("It looks just like me!") but that was quickly abandoned at Gramma's house.

Biggest hit at the family get-together was the Unicorn Pillow Pet from Grammelena. The VTech camera from Auntie Kayra and family will be a long-term favorite, and the books, custom necklace and (home-made) Snuggle Sack from Auntie Kayneen and family are already being requested again and again, but that unicorn is dragged around everywhere!
I got my mini Wilton alphabet and number cutters, flowers and butterflies cutter set (which doesn't match the picture, by the way,) a leaf cutter set, and a fun recipe book for kids food from Auntie Kayra.

In the evening we went to Nana's where she got magnetic fruit cut into segments with numbers on them to help with fractions, counting, etc, and Fisher Price Loving Family Mommy/daughter, Daddy/daughter and baby sets for her new dollhouse.

12/26/10 - Finish opening presents. Melissa and Doug Cutting Food box, pretend Cupcake Decorator set, wooden puzzles, RC My Little Pony (which terrifies her and she refuses to play near it,) and her new Smart Trike with removable push-bar. Whew! Then a Boxing Day party with friends who have a little blondie right around Z's age.

12/27/10 - Troll Target for after-holiday clearance! Got a cupcake kit with 6 silicone tree-shaped liners and a brownie kit with 6 present-shaped liners for $5 each. Got a gingerbread cookie sandwich kit with a neat 2-sided tree cutter (cut out the trees on one side, then use the 'handle' to punch 'ornament' holes in the tree that will go on top of the frosting! Fun!) for $2.50. A bunch of fun snowman and gingerbread man paper liners and picks in regular and mini sizes for half off (made by Wilton for Target.) A metal snowman muffin tin (mini cake tin, they call it) for $5 (also by Wilton for Target.) A cookie press (I call them 'spritzers') for $5 (I've been wanting one, but could never justify getting it as I hate spritz cookies, and my mom always got so frustrated making them.) I'm going to try and use it for chilled frosting!

But the best part of the holiday season? An excuse to shop? Nope. (But close!) Oodles of presents? Nope. Seeing family? Nope. Joy in my child's eyes? Nope. It was watching two grown men have a cupcake decorating party while playing with Little Ponies and Pet Shops and 3"-tall dollies in the doll house with a girl one-third their size (closer to one-eighth if you go by weight!) bossing them around. "No. You hold her here. Like this. Now tell me how I feel. [She means for you to have the doll you're holding ask her doll how it feels.] No don't set her down. Hold her in your hand. Hello. Nice to meet you. I don't want to go to the doctor's office. But my mommy says I haff to. Would you like a cupcake? Here. Let me deck-a-rate it. Now comb her hair."

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