Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Happy Side of Christmas

I've had a very rough couple days. I spent most of this weekend on the verge of tears. Tomorrow doesn't look brighter. It's hard to not let your happiness fall under the control of other people, especially the people you love. A romantic would say that that is the whole point of love. To tie yourself inexplicably to another. But a realist, one who has been married a few years, would disagree.

Yes, in marriage, you have to work and think as one. But even your life partner will disappoint from time to time. So how do you keep the source of your happiness independent from the person who is your present and your future?

I don't know the answer. As an extremely independent person, I find this to be one of the most challenging things about marriage. How to be in control of your own happiness while also being part of a two-person team.  Maybe it's impossible.

In my last post, I guess I painted a bleak picture of our Christmas. The truth is, a portion of it WAS bleak, but only in my heart (where I so desperately tried to focus on the actual meaning of Christmas- but I struggled, a lot). On the outside, for the kids, it was a magical success. And as a parent, sometimes that is all that matters. As the title of this post promised, here is the happy side of Christmas.

We celebrated Christmas Eve at my parents' home.

 At least my hair looks pretty good. 

I brought over the Christmas cookies Jacob and I made and we set the kids to town decorating them. Jacob was painstakingly meticulous about his cookies. When he dropped a brush and red specks got all over his green tree, he had a total meltdown and ran down the stairs in sobs. He didn't come back up until I promised repeatedly to frost over those darn rogue red specks.

The salvaged tree.

Ryan was a little less meticulous and basically just dumped sprinkles everywhere.

Here he is double-fisting his sprinkles. Notice that there is not a single cookie on his plate. But there are plenty of sprinkles!

"Mama, pretty!"

Then, before opening gifts, we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Jacob wanted to bake a cake. I was running low on time and money. So we just picked up half-price cupcakes at Safeway. Hopefully, Baby Jesus didn't mind.

This picture captures Jacob's personality perfectly. Wild, gregarious, fun, and very much not to be tamed.

Jacob received a ton of coloring and art supplies. He LOVES art and I love watching him work so hard to color pictures and draw his own. Jacob has already mastered the moody, artist personality. He knows that all good art requires inspiration and that sometimes inspiration requires libation. (I already KNOW I will receive hate mail or mean comments because some people have NO sense of humor. So please note: he did not actually drink any wine.)

I'm so proud of his Ninja Turtle. For those not versed in all things TMNT, this is Leonardo. He has a blue headband and two swords. 

Jacob has been asking for walkie-talkies for about 5 months. I totally forgot to put them on his wish-list. But family came through. He was absolutely THRILLED.

And Ryan very much enjoyed his new Elmo. Ryan was an excellent gift-opener this year. He was unsure at first but by the end of Christmas day, we was trying to open any present he could find. "Mommy, present!"

We got home at a pretty reasonable hour Christmas Eve (10pm). The kids fell asleep in the car and we whisked them right to bed. Then, the most amazing thing happened on Christmas Morning. My kids, who, no matter how late they go to bed will always rise no later than 7am, actually slept in until 7:30am! I know it's not a huge deal but for sleep-deprived parents who stayed up until 1am making sure Santa did his job just right, 30 minutes is GOLDEN.

Santa's footprint (we don't have a chimney- correction: we have a chimney, but no fireplace)

The tranquil scene, post Santa. 

Can you guess what Santa brought Ryan? I had so much fun wrapping that gift!

That's not even the most amazing part. When the kids woke up, I snuck out and put cartoons on. The kids happily watched cartoons until 9:30am. If you aren't amazed, then you simply do not understand:  the kids happily watched TV...on Christmas morning...for two hours...while standing two feet from the tree and all their Christmas presents!

I woke up at 9:30 am and finished the breakfast I had started the night before. We had quiche with cornbread crust, breakfast potatoes, and burnt bacon (my specialty). Ryan was ready for a nap at 10:00 am so we put him to bed and enjoyed our quiet breakfast. We didn't even get around to opening gifts until 11:30 am, when Ryan finally woke up. To me, that itself was a Christmas miracle. Growing up in my family, this would have been unheard of!

Jacob looks so grown-up here. It kills me.

His favorite gift: An Innotab 3 tablet. We really wanted to get him his own tablet with games for reading and math and this was by far the least expensive ($50) and had the best ratings. You can buy all kinds of games for them. Santa brought a Ninja Turtle Math game. I highly recommend this! The only down side is that it take four AA batteries but you may be able to buy an AC cord for them.

Jacob feels so grown up and special. He is learning how to use the calculator among other things. He carries it around everywhere he goes (even when he has used up his allotted play time for the day).

Ryan got some ball toys. I really skimped on Ryan this year. In fact, we only bought a handful of toys for each of the boys. Ryan only TWO (oops). But I'm glad we didn't buy more because our family totally spoiled them.

Jacob with his Legos and Ryan with his "hoop."

After opening presents at home, we went to my husband's parents home for an early dinner and even more gifts.

Ryan ate Ranch dressing for dinner. 

Jacob dressed up in his new threads...and a bow. Because...well, why not?

While the boys were spoiled with gifts this year, I kept half of them (already unwrapped) stashed under the tree. Over the past couple days, I've slowly been pulling them out one at a time. The boys had forgotten about most of them so it has been fun to see their faces light up when I pull them out. This has prevented Christmas let-down and has extended the fun as long as possible. Also, I have absolutely nowhere to put the new toys. My house is bursting at the seams with stuff (even after two Goodwill trips). Sometimes I wish my boys were twins. Because then I would only have to maintain one age-range of toys in the house. 

I hope everyone in Internet Land had a wonderful Christmas (and if you're Catholic, then Happy 5th day of Christmas! Still 7 more days to go!).


  1. Ah the aggravating Innotab that eats batteries daily! We had the same trouble last year when my daughter got the regular Innotab. In the last year, Innotab finally came out with a wall and car charger that are decent quality and actually work! It won't charge the batteries of course but it will keep you from spending all your investments on batteries!
    I first bought a generic brand...worst decision ever. They won't stay plugged into the innotab well enough, so the kids were always complaining when the system shut down after they wiggled a mere inch on the chair.
    I think I spent less than $17 on the 2 innotab chargers. Highly recommend!

  2. Nice wrap job on the basketball hoop!