Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holidays Are Really Becoming Enjoyable

Before I start my blathering about Thanksgiving, I want to send out a congratulations to Jac. on her new baby girl! Welcome to the world, little one!

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As I said previously, Thanksgiving was lovely. Truly, it was.

The Pumpkin was fully recovered from her surgery, and spent her Wednesday off from school at my mom’s “helping” her cook and decorate. When I called my mom in the afternoon and asked if the Pumpkin was truly helping or hindering, she laughed and said, “Both!” I know how that goes, and in fact I got to experience it once again on Thanksgiving when we baked together.

Because of my love of and skill for baking, I bring a pie for family holidays. Londo makes the best mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes I’ve ever had (except possibly tied with his mom’s mashed potatoes), so I insist encourage him to make that for our holidays. I let Londo have the kitchen first, and it worked out that the Pookie needed an early nap so I was able to bake with the Pumpkin while he napped and Londo was done hogging using the kitchen.

The Pumpkin is getting better and better about waiting to “help” until I’ve got things set up and waiting for my instructions before touching things. Generally. What we got into an “argument” about was that she kept trying to eat the pie dough before I had rolled it. I told her she could have some of what was left after I rolled the crusts so we would be sure to have enough for the pie, but she kept sneaking pieces. Not so sneakily. I got frustrated enough that I got her down from the chair she was standing on and told her she couldn’t help anymore. After that, she listened. Mostly.

I tried a new recipe for the pie filling, which is very similar to the way I usually make my apple pies. It was delicious! And overall, it was enjoyable to bake with my little girl. It was really nice to be able to announce to the extended family that the Pumpkin and I made the pie together!

We went to my parents’ house for the family gathering and dinner. I am so fortunate that my sister and brother and their families live right around us, as do members of my extended family. Holidays and gatherings at my parents’ house is full of family, friends, great food, good conversations and lots of love and laughter.

For the last few years, though, there has been an added element to our holidays. Make that elementS plural. The Young Kids. First my sister’s daughter, who turns 5 (FIVE!) in February, then my brother’s twins who turn 5 (FIVE!) in May, then my daughter (four in March), my son (18 months in December) and my sister’s son (1 last September). Plus my brother’s oldest, who will be SIXTEEN in December!!!

The Young Kids bring with them chaos, more laughter, yelling, crying, more love, clinginess, playfulness, toys, cuteness, and did I mention the chaos?

But this year… this year… the chaos wasn’t as chaotic? The yelling wasn’t as loud? My daughter is capable of playing on her own more, and my baby toddler is not as clingy to me. The cousins and my daughter are fine going off to play or hanging out in the family room with toys or sitting around the appetizers on counter stools. My sister’s son actually took a nap during the commotion in the kids room upstairs. And my son? He spent the whole time happily toddling around, mostly pushing cars in the doll stroller, going around and around the circuit of my parent’s main floor. Only twice did I “lose” him, and only once was he into something he shouldn’t have been.

When Londo realized I was looking for him (for a second time), he joined in the search and found him coming up the stairs from the basement. Um, whoops. We didn’t know he could go DOWN stairs! We still think he shouldn’t be doing that alone. And from now on I’ll watch him more carefully when he’s near the stairs at my parent’s house. Probably. (Londo, if you are reading this, I totally will! I only put probably for comedic effect!) (If you aren’t Londo, than I really did mean probably. But don’t tell him that. Heh.)

There was some yelling and I did have to search out my nieces at one point and herd them back into the kitchen/family room area. And there certainly was commotion. But it was the wonderful kind of commotion that you (or at least I) expect and even want from a family gathering.

For the actual dinner, we set up the pre-schoolers at the kitchen table, calling it The Kids’ Table, while we adults went into the dinning room for dinner (with my toddler with us in a high chair—my sister’s boy was still napping). I have such fond memories of the kids’ table at the family gatherings at my grandmother’s house, that I was excited for my kids to start that tradition. My sister, BIL, brother and SIL were an easy sell. Although it didn’t last too long, it was a great first attempt at having a separate kids’ table. I can’t wait until we can set the toddlers up at the kids table with the pre-schoolers. I think they will have so much fun.

It’s just amazing to watch my kids and my siblings’ kids grow up and become more and more capable and more interesting. From my daughter running into the family room when we first arrived yelling “Hello, everybody!” to my nieces playing on their own to my son and sister’s son following after their older boy cousin to the kids eating at The Kids’ Table.

It was a lovely Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Question of the Week - First Movies

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. We certainly did. We (okay, I) also packed it full of Things To Do, which included a number of firsts for the kids. The Pumpkin's first? Seeing a movie in a theater!

Londo and I agreed that the Pumpkin was now old enough to probably sit through a movie in the theater and handle the experience. So the Pumpkin and I joined my sister and brother and their 4 year olds (and my brother's teen!) in seeing the movie Tangled!

The Pumpkin is in this phase where all sorts of things "scare" her, even things that aren't really scary. Knowing the Disney formula, I warned her on the way to the theater that there would be scary parts, but it would also be funny and adventurous. I reminded her about how a part that seemed scary in the Tinkerbell movie we watched recently wasn't really scary (spoiler alert: the cat just wanted to play, not to hurt the fairies). We talked about that a little, and I also told her that if she wanted to leave the theater because it was scary or any other reason, we could do that. At any time, we could take a break from the movie or just go home, if she wanted.

The minute we sat down and the previews and commercials (URG!) started, she was enthralled! The screen was so big, the sound was surrounding, the popcorn was delicious! She got right into the theater experience.

The movie itself was really good. Kids and adults laughed so much, and we all really enjoyed the adventure. There were certainly a few scary parts, and when a few scary things happened in a row, the Pumpkin told me that she wanted to take a break from the movie. She had already moved to my lap during an earlier scary part, and I had offered her a break just a minute before she said that she needed one.

No problem. I carried her just outside the theater and held her and talked about what was scary, why it was scary, what was really happening that we couldn't see yet, and what was going to happen. I even asked if she wanted to hear how it ended, and told her when she said yes. I explained that we had to get through the scary parts to see the happy ending (it's a Disney movie, so that's not a spoiler).

Once she'd calmed down (and I heard the movie settling down to a calmer part), she was ready to go back in. She finished the movie and really seemed to enjoy it. I know I did.

To be honest, this was actually our best case scenario. I'm very proud of my girl for sitting through the whole movie, remembering the movie theater etiquette, taking a break when she needed it, going back in after she calmed down, and enjoying the movie as a whole. I was ready for all sorts of other outcomes, and I'm really thrilled that we only left the theater once, and then went back in!

This week's question of the week is:

What movie was your kid's first in the theater? Or what was your first?

I'm not sure if it was my first movie in a theater, but the first one I remember going to see was Mary Poppins. My mom and aunt took me, my sister, my brother and my two cousins to see it. I loved it so much, my mom asked me at the end if I wanted to see it again. I totally did! My mom stayed with me through the next showing--this was back when they would let you just stay through it again if you asked nicely. It's still one of my favorite movies, and I just watched the first 30 minutes with my daughter at home this past weekend.

What about you and your kids? Have they seen a movie in the theater yet? Which movie? How did it go? Do you remember your first movie theater experience? Are you planning on seeing any soon?