Everything is coming up Christmas (and Chanukah)

We had a very, very busy weekend, but it was a really good weekend. Well worth it!

On Friday, Oliver and I went to a Chanukah party at Evie’s school. The party afterwards was fun, but for me the best part was going to temple. I had never been inside the temple (any Jewish temple), and I was very curious. It was so much fun! My favorite part of the day was seeing all the kids spinning like dreydles while singing the dreydle song. We definitely never had that much fun at church when we went for school!

At the party they got wooden dreydles and some chocolate gelt, so Evie and I played dreydle at home. It was a lot of fun, and simple enough that Evie could understand, even though she couldn’t spin the dreydle very well. Unfortunately, we eventually will run out of gelt, since she keeps eating it (we didn’t let her eat it all at once).

In an interesting dichotomy, Saturday morning we went to see Santa. Well actually, first off, Evie and I made oatmeal and danced our butts off to Christmas music. There are actually two radio stations in Chicago that play only Christmas music, so we had our choice. The funny thing about listening to Christmas music on the radio is that you’re constantly saying, “Didn’t they just play this song?” They all sort of run together after a while. But it certainly put us in the Christmas mood.

So anyway, they tried to have some sort of holiday celebration in the neighborhood with all day crafts, lights, etc. The only part we were interested in was seeing Santa, since we usually have to drive way out to the suburbs or something, fighting big crowds, crying kids, and barely escaping with our life. So we showed up to the restaurant listed, camera in hand.

Now, I’ve been to that restaurant before, and I wasn’t really sure where they were going to put Santa, or how it was going to work. It was as sort of claustrophobic and disorganized as I feared. Also, they tried to push their “Christmas brunch” on us, and when we said we were only there to see Santa, they charged us $5. Oh well. Between that and the parking, it was still well worth it to see Santa in the neighborhood with a very limited wait.

Evie was a little nervous about Santa. It took us two tries to get her up there. I had to agree to stand with her, but when she got up there she went on his lap without me. She was too shy to talk to him (and anyway, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted, which I take to mean that we are the best parents ever!). We assumed that Oliver would sob his eyes out, since he’s been going through a mommy-only (and-very-occasionally-daddy) phase lately. However, he just stared at Santa with huge round eyes the whole time, and never cried once. I think he was just like, “What is this crazy talking beard thing??”

Overall, everything went about as well as possible. As far as Santa goes, he was ho-ho-hoing like there was no tomorrow. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him jollier. By the end of the day, his throat must have been raw.

The ironic thing was, we ended up spending the rest of the day shopping in the suburbs anyway. I don’t know how the rest of the neighborhood festivities turned out. It was cold and snowy, and outdoor crafts seemed a little much. Maybe we’ll give it a try next year if they do it again.

Evie and I also found time to play in the snow for awhile, and we made a nice (read small) snowman in the front yard. Afterwards, Sara made us some hot cocoa (and Sara’s homemade hot cocoa is to die for!)

On Sunday we put up our Christmas tree. We have an artificial tree, so we left the bottom row of branches off, so Oliver can’t reach up and topple the whole thing. It actually looks pretty good without the bottom row (and more room for presents!). We also hung up the stockings and replaced Evie’s butterfly lights with Christmas lights. Evie was really excited about all of this, but eventually lost interest and I decorated the tree alone. She gets pretty excited about the Christmas tree though, and she’s upset that we don’t keep it lit 24/7.

Sunday night, Evie and I had a sleepover. After supper we both got ready for bed and then put our sleeping bags out in the family room. We watched a movie and, in a bizarre twist, Evie wanted to watch an Elmo potty video. So, not only was there not a plot per say, but she’s already seen it, and the whole thing is set up to convince you to use the potty, which she has been for a long, long time. She didn’t care though, she loved it. She said to me, “If there is a scary part, I can hide in my sleeping bag.” Not a lot of scary parts in Elmo potty videos!

Afterwards, when we turned out the lights and we were whispering and giggling, she said to me, “Daddy, you’re my best friend.”

Unfortunately, the night went downhill fast. Evie was really sick and she was having trouble breathing through her nose. She was waking up every 30 minutes or so. Finally, around 11:30 or so, she woke up with a really tight chest and a croupy cough.

I gave her some medicine and broke out the humidifier. We moved into her room so she could sleep in her bed, and the humidifier would be more effective. I slept on her floor for the rest of the night, and it seemed to go a little better after that. However, it was a disappointing end to our special night. It’s always hard to see your kids sick.

However, the sleepover was still the highlight of a very nice, very busy weekend. I didn’t even mention the part where Oliver managed to cut his finger on something and crawled around in the kitchen for like 20 minutes afterwards, spreading blood on about every surface he could manage, including his, my and Sara’s clothes! He didn’t seem to mind though.

So, except for that, it was about all you could ask from a December weekend!

Santa, year 3

We took Evie to see Santa last night at the zoo, and I have to say, everything went better than I could have expected.

The big question of course, was what she would do when it came time to see Santa. She had been excited in theory, but when we got to the line, she seemed a little quiet. I was worried that would translate into not wanting to talk to Santa, but I was way off on that one. She had no issues whatsoever, and after I told her to speak up so Santa could hear her, she shouted the rest of her answers to him. In fact, if anything, Santa was more afraid of her than she was of him. She expected to climb right up on his lap, but he was talking to her a little bit first, probably feeling her out to see if she was going to cry or something, and she was a little miffed that she didn’t get to sit right away.

She seemed a little dazed by the whole experience, but happy to chomp away at the green candy cane Santa gave her. All and all it was a pretty pleasant experience, with a really small line and no professional photographers. We much prefer to to take our own pictures, and sometimes they don’t let you do that if they want you to pay for a picture (see last year).

After that we wandered around the zoo for awhile to look at the Christmas lights. They have a couple of displays set to music, and Evie really dug that. Especially since she got to hear her two favorites, Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We’ve been listening to the Christmas radio station in the car, but they never, ever play Jingle Bells. So Evie usually spends the whole time demanding I play Jingle Bells on the radio. Therefore, I was extremely relieved to hear it (4 times) at the zoo. We also got to see a few animals (really just a jaguar and some monkies) and drank some hot cider in the member’s lounge, because that’s how we roll (zoo membership paying off!)

As a side note, remember how you used to see groups of smokers huddled around an ashtray in the cold? Texters are the new smokers. I don’t know what kind of herd instinct makes them huddle together to text (maybe for warmth?) but at every exhibit there were a little group of people off to the side silently texting. It was really kind of creepy.

This morning when Evie woke up she was in a super mood, jumping up and down and making up Christmas songs in her crib. I felt really bad when she revealed this was because she thought that Santa had brought her presents last night. I could see how that would be a little confusing, so I felt really bad for her. She took it in stride though, and didn’t get too upset when we told her she had a few more days to wait.

One last story. We were looking at the monkeys and some random lady started talking to Evie, but in a really condescending way, as if Evie were like 6 months old. “Do you see the monKEY? The baby monKEY? Oh, she’s just loving this!” Evie responded with something like, “Actually my dear woman, I daresay you are mistaken! Note the concentric rings of color on its tail, which denote that this is in fact an adolescent of the species, not a baby at all. Not to mention that this is not technically a monkey as denoted by the genus…” Well, I don’t remember the quote exactly, but something to that effect. Somehow the lady fixated on one word, ignoring all the rest and started gushing, “Baby! Yes! It’s a BABY monkey!” At this point Evie pretty much just ignored her. I was pretty annoyed, but then I heard the lady turn to her maybe 10 year old and say, “The monkey is drinking his wa-wa!” and I realized that talking down to kids just must be her thing. Lady, if your kid doesn’t say “water” instead of “wa-wa” by the time he’s 10, god help him.

Santa’s Slay

The movie was so great, I had to post again!

How can you not love Santa jamming a sharpened candy cane through a guy’s eye?

I think it was a nice touch that Santa can only defeated by a magical curling match. Thank God I watch all that curling during the Winter Olympics!

Quote of the movie:
(Not to ruin it or anything) When Santa is explaining about how they were mistaken about how timezones worked at the North Pole
Emilie de Ravin: “He’s scary…yet educational.”

At the end of the movie they had little “where are they now” bios and they mention that Emilie de Ravin’s character was “taking a flight and got Lost.” I guess she had the part by the time this movie was made! She must be really young on Lost because she looked like 16 in this!

Ahhh, no Sara!

Since Sara is gone to New Orleans all week, I am free to watch all the fantastic movies I want! To kick it off, I am begining with Santa’s Slay. Allow the TiVo to summarize: “After a millennimum of spreading Christmas cheer, Santa Claus reverts to his demonic self and gives the gift of fear.”

Now that’s what I call a movie!

So far it has lived up to my expectations. In the first 5 minutes, Santa punted a yippy dog into a ceiling fan, kicked Chris Kattan through a wall, set Fran Drescher’s hair on fire and then drowned her in egg nog, beat Rebecca Gayheart (Dead like Me, Earth 2) to death with a table leg, and finally stabbed both of James Caan’s hands into the table and then jabbed a turkey leg down his throat. This movie also stars such luminaries as Dave Thomas (Strange Brew) and a very young Emilie de Ravin (Claire from Lost).

Assuming I have time to watch all of these (I don’t), I also have Ghost Ship, Silent Hill, the Hills Have Eyes, Mr. Hell, Underworld Evolution, The Feeding, and Demon Hunter. I should also be getting Tenacious D, the Complete Masterworks from Netflix, so I can add that to Nacho Libre and have quite the Tenacious D day.

So anyway, I should be set until Friday, when I leave to join her in New Orleans!

I don’t know why this is funny…

There’s just something funny about kids who are terrified of santa.