Friday, December 31, 2010

Taking down Christmas

Much to Caroline's dismay, we took down the tree today. I enjoyed taking inventory of her decoration creations. Most notable: a plastic pear, a teacup from her set, a doily, bicycle tassel, a shoe, a coat hanger, a couple hair clips, many individual purple feathers plucked from her boa, and the winner: a half-eaten giant marshmallow.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All is calm

Since we're all snowed in today, plans to visit Chattanooga postponed, I thought I'd share some of the sweeter moments of our Christmas celebrations.

Sweet Nicholas, my nephew:

Angel wings:

Reindeer games:

Kyle showing Dawie how to check out the scores on tv:


When people ask Dawie his name, he now says Thomas:

Princess Caroline in her Fancy Nancy best -- and chocolate kiss evidence on her mouth.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The art of gift receiving

I did have a moment of pause before deciding to share this mortifying moment from our early family Christmas at my mom's. I'm certain it won't take you long to figure out what's going on here:

Need a hint? First, note the discarded box of clothes. Now check out the expression on Nana's face as she exchanges a glance with Josie, who appears to be sitting next to a box of princess-glitter dominoes.

As mama of the prostrate kid who is indeed not praying but throwing a fit because "clothes are not fun!" what should I have done? Honestly, I was so stunned that my first reaction was to, of course, grab the camera and document the moment for a future blog post. Check. My next impulse, which I only partially stifled, was to burst out laughing. Not because it was funny, but because in that moment every person in that room, all 12 or so, were mentally revoking my parental license. I mean, right? Was this not the quintessential parental failure? Yes, I know, she's 4, but didn't I teach her anything? I hate it when those teachable moments happen in front of the whole world, because you know all those people watching just want to see you jerk a knot in the kid's ungrateful tail. I was just relieved it happened at my mom's and not some extended family member's home. I would most certainly have died on the spot.

Still, for a few moments, everything hinged on how I would respond. So flying totally by the seat of my pants, here's what I did: I called her over and whispered in her ear -- with no anger and no sympathy, just matter of fact -- "Nana loves you and she gave you a present for Christmas. Let's take a look at it." She looked down and saw the cute glittery outline of a butterfly on the front of the pink shirt. I asked, "What do you think?" She said, "It's pretty. " I said, "I know; it looks just like something you like to wear. Now what do we do when someone gives us a nice present?" Then I turned her toward Nana and suggested she thank her for the pretty outfit. She did.

And that was the end of it.

Until we got in the car to go home. And we were without an audience. Then Caroline and I had a lengthy conversation about giving and receiving gifts and what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. And the art of being grateful and appreciative when every bone in your 4-year-old body wants to cry. She, in true Caroline fashion, tried to negotiate with me about how maybe when she got a little older, she wouldn't cry when someone gave her clothes as a gift. And I realized it'll probably take several conversations for the message to stick.

The conversation came up a couple days later when I pulled out the outfit to put away and she said, "Nana gave that to me." And I said, "Yes, I distinctly remember you opening this one." And she burst out laughing and said, "You said stinkly! Hahaha!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

His eyes

Dawit had an appointment with a pediatric ophthalmologist on Friday. His pediatrician referred him because he failed his routine eye exam at his 2-year visit. When I found out he needed to see a specialist, I was a little freaked out because they pretty much told us nothing about why he was being referred. Before our appointment, I tried to test his vision at home by pulling up all of his favorite trains on the Thomas the Train website. Like a champ, he named 5 or 6 of them with no problem. And Thomas and Gordon look seriously alike, so I was thrilled he could recognize their subtle differences in facial expression. I can't even tell them apart.

Anyway, I didn't find out til we met with the nurse Friday that he'd been referred because they suspected cataracts. I didn't know 2-year-olds got caratacts, but apparently they do. Thankfully, the nurse and the doctor both ruled it out. However, they did a dilated retinal exam and we learned that Dawit is farsighted in his right eye and nearsighted in the left eye and also has an astigmatism. The nearsightedness is more severe and normally would require glasses, but the astigmatism cancels it out, so the two problems currently have little or no effect on his vision. However, the doc said he will most definitely experience vision problems in the future -- maybe in the near future -- and will need glasses. For now we will continue to watch it by having a dilated exam every six months. As he grows and his vision develops, the problems will become more obvious and start affecting his vision, then he'll get glasses.
It's an interesting balance with kids his age. If we fail to treat it promptly, it could lead to a more serious problem called amblyopia (also called lazy eye). Kids' vision fully develops by age 9 and by that time the vision system cannot be changed. So early intervention is vital. But if we introduce glasses too early, before there's a significant difference between his normal vision and glasses-corrected vision, he will likely not respect or want to wear his glasses. So for now we wait.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Twisted traditions part 4

Caroline loves to paint. So I put her in charge of Christmas cards this year. I'm so proud of her ability to write her name and color outside the lines. In Pre-K!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Waiting for dinner

Girls' Day Out

When you live in the sticks, a trip to town is a big deal. For the second time this season, Caroline and I had a girls' day in town. We started with a trip to Kmart to "borrow" their decorations because C wanted to be like Dawie.

Then we met Mama Norma for lunch and to see The Nutcracker performed by the children's theater.

Caroline's friend Sarah was a little angel in the performance.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


These beautiful snowflake mittens were made by my friend Holly.

Aren't they the coziest thing you've ever seen? Just saying "snowflake mittens" makes me all warm and toasty. Within minutes of them arriving in the mail, I put them on and went for a hike. These are the first pair she made in bright red. I asked her to make mine in earth tones, so they are a blend of purple, blue and burgundy.

Check out Holly's other beautiful creations here. Her hats are just gorgeous. The cool thing about Holly is she's such a talented artist, whenever she wants to learn something new she just says, "I think I'll learn to make this, and voila, a week later she's done it. She does it with two precocious girls running around her house (I have two of those and it took me an hour just to write this post!), and all the proceeds from her art go toward their next adoption.

Thank you, Holly! I'm truly smitten.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Twisted traditions part 3

Last year, my mom and I started a new tradition. Soon after Thanksgiving, before the stores get mobbed with shoppers, we crash a big box retailer -- in this case, Kmart -- and stealthily stage some pictures among their Christmas decorations.

Doesn't D look dapper? The cool sweater is compliments of my bud Julia.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twisted traditions part 2

Yesterday, Caroline and I went to the movies to see Tangled. It was her first time. She was in awe of the cavernous theater, the effect of the 3-D glasses and the booming surround sound and let everyone around us know how cool she thought it all was. We clearly don't let her out much. Before that, we had hot chocolate at Poet's, and shopped for her a Christmas outfit and some gifts for her teachers.

We were so on a roll, I figured the perfect way to cap off a Hallmark weekend would be to bake homemade cut-out Christmas cookies together.

Cute, right? Here's kind of how it went: "Wait, don't press down the sifted flour; we want it fluffy! No, you can't lick your finger and stick it in the sugar. Go wash your hands, please. Hold on, don't lift the beater out of the bowl while it's running. No, you can't lick the beater yet. Watch your beads; they're dragging in the flour. No, you can't lick the beater yet. Wait, don't stick your finger in it; we don't touch the food while we're baking. No you can't lick the beater yet!! Ok, watch out his head is coming off. Your icing is dripping down the front of your dress. Really, half the bottle of sprinkles on one cookie? Look, we have all these cookies still to decorate. Forget it; I'll freeze the rest and we'll try this again another day. You wanna watch Barbie?"

It was beautiful.

A few minutes later she decided she'd get dressed and go outside to pet our new stray cat. It was 29 degrees. Have at it, kid.

And this is for Nana, who wanted to see Dawie's new haircut. He was none too happy about the bathtub intrusion and kept shouting, "No cheese! No cheese." Which basically meant, "I'm not smiling. I'm trying to poop."

Which is exactly what he did one minute after I snapped these pictures.