Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Santa Photos Gone Wild

I'm sure the whole visiting Santa thing is very puzzling to children. I mean, the guy is supposed to be in the North Pole packing his sleigh full of dolls and nerf guns. Instead, he is hanging out in Fred Meyer, plopping crying children on his lap and laughing his jolly Santa laugh. Simultaneously, he also happens to be at the local mall. And the mall across town. And on the street corner downtown. Why, he even paid a special visit to Grandma's house. To add to the confusion, St. Nicholas stopped by our Church's Christmas festival. He looked more like a fancy priest than a Santa Clause and promptly disrobed in front of all the children when the last tot left his lap.

Luckily, Jacob doesn't think there is anything fishy about seeing Santa wearing a maroon suit and grey beard at Fred Meyer and then seeing him 30 minutes later in a bright red suit and white beard in front of Annie's Pretzels at the mall. Phew. I have one more year to come up with a plausible explanation for that one.

Even though my children have had their fair share of Santa this year, I really wanted to get photos taken at the mall so that I could order a photo ornament for the tree. I have one from last year and I think it might be fun to get a new one each year.

So after work today, I brought the kids home, shoved some snacks down their gullets, pulled out Ryan's nearly-too-small Santa outfit, and shucked them both into the car. By 6:15 we were off to the mall. Yeah, I know. What was I thinking heading to the mall on Christmas Eve eve. I knew there would be a line, but I guess I over-estimated my patience and how quickly the snaking line would move, and under-estimated how many children still needed to visit Santa.

It was insane.

The line nearly wrapped around the entire Santa-set-up and moved at a snail's pace. Ryan wanted to be held nearly the entire time so I spent a good amount of time juggling him and my heavy purse while trying to keep Jacob from causing too much trouble. Five minutes into our adventure, my hand holding Ryan's rump felt sopping wet. I set Ryan down and saw urine literally dripping from my hand. Five beads of urine fell from my hand to the floor. His diaper had gotten twisted and he soaked the entire front of his outfit. I set him down, right in the middle of the freaking line, and changed him on the mall floor. And washed my hand with a baby wipe approximately 5,000 times.

I continued to hold Ryan, clutching his pee-covered Santa body against my own. I prayed that his pee would dry before we reached Santa. Not only would the pee spot not be ideal for the photo, but I would feel kind of horrible setting a pee covered baby on his lap (but if the pee dried and Santa had no idea, then there would be less opportunity for him to judge me).

Catching snowflakes.

As I held a squirming Ryan, Jacob joined a group of three boys who were standing as close to the gate that surrounded Santa land as possible. They were catching fake, falling snowflakes in their hands and tugging at the fake snow that covered the ground. (They were also trying to shake the trumpet-playing reindeer who was standing guard nearby but I am trying to maintain an aura of plausible deniability about that, especially since a chunk of the reindeer's tail mysteriously went missing).

Creepy reindeer playing the piano.

I swear I looked down at my phone for one second (with one hand because the other had a death grip on heavy Ryan who was slowly slipping in the direction of the earth's core- friendly reminder to self: do more lifting at the gym).When I  looked back at Jacob he was holding an empty, smashed soda can and trying to catch falling snowflakes in it. Upon further questioning, I determined that he had found the discarded soda can near the garbage can and was trying to catch enough snow to make a snowball (duh, mom). The good mom that I am, never missing an opportunity to dash the hopeful dreams of a young boy, I jumped right in and totally ruined that fun.

As the clock ticked away and the line moved painfully slowly (literally, my arm was about to fall off), Jacob suddenly announced that he had to go pee. I thought about making him wait, until he grabbed at his crotch and started to do the OMG-dance. I know that dance well. I've utilized it many times. With my hands full of a 25 pound baby, a 25 pound baby's special blanket, and a large purse, I desperately pleaded with the people around me to hold my spot before I grabbed Jacob's hand and walked him quickly to the other end of the mall (where the restrooms were) and back.

After our 10 minute detour (and one purchase of a dozen chocolate chip cookies), we arrived safely back in our spots in line only to discover that some kid had unplugged the one cord that powered the entire Santa Land. Santa Land looked like downtown Bremerton, dark, lifeless, and possibly hiding a meth-head around the next corner. It only took 15 minutes for a vigilant mall cop to arrive and PLUG IN THE FREAKING CORD. Seriously? I could have done that. At least that extra 15 minutes gave my children extra time to eat four cookies each. Dinner, bam!

Washing down a cookie dinner

As we neared the finish line, Jacob kept wandering off to a nearby phone kiosk. I promptly told him not to touch ANYTHING. Apparently the air i the mall is very thick and it takes sound 30 seconds to travel 15 feet because he touched approximately ALL the phones before he shoved his hands in his pockets and stomped back to the line. That's when Jacob found another troupe of children to harass and instigated a cotton ball snowball fight. Ryan saw that they were having fun and, for the first time all night, wanted down to play. I was just about to tell Jacob to stop throwing fake, cottony snowballs at the other children when he pitched one right at a Christmas tree and knocked down an ornament.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the kids changed games. But quickly sucked in another tense lung-full of breath when I realized the new game was "let's-kick-each-other-in-the-shins-over-and-over-again." Ryan was the instigator this time. He would go up to Jacob, kick him in the shin and giggle. Jacob would laugh, then kick back. Then Ryan would kick the kid next to Jacob. The kid kicked Ryan back. They were giggling but I new that would be short-lived. I instructed Ryan to stop kicking and his response was to walk over to me and kick me right in the leg. This caused an uproar of laughter from the parents around me but did nothing to discourage Ryan from kicking.

The kicking did not stop. I approached the kids and was about to threaten some major time out when Ryan plowed into Jacob, knocking him and another kid onto Santa's red carpet.  Before I knew what was going on, the three of them were right in the middle of a wild game of pig pile. I stopped them, of course, but not before snapping some incriminating photos.

Right about here is when I wished I had a shirt that said "I'm just the babysitter."

I know it sounds like my boys were horrible, but seriously, they waited in that line for an entire hour, wearing uncomfortable Christmas swag, in the middle of a mall (so many things to touch and places to run), right at bedtime. So considering all that, they did pretty well.

And the pictures....

Well, aside from the creepy, laughing Santa, they turned out pretty good. Forgive the quality, they are pictures of pictures (my download code isn't working).

And from these pictures, you can't even tell that they were causing so much trouble.

Phew, another year in the bag!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Very Good Saturday

It doesn't always happen, but I managed to fill today with a little bit of everything. All week long I look forward to the weekend. And as long as the weekend is far away and exists only as a hypothetical, it is perfect. It's full of family, giggles, quality time, crossing chores off my list, and regrouping. But when it actually comes, the weekend is typically far from all of these things. It's usually busy and stressful, or lazy and unproductive. It often involves me choosing between a multitude of things that need my energy and time, including me. 

Working moms always talk about how the weekdays are a constant juggling act. But, sadly, the weekends don't offer much reprieve.

It's hard to be on all the time. It's hard to be organized and jet-fueled all week- packing lunches, dressing children, scooting them out the door, making them dinner, tucking them into bed. And It's hard to be doting, and patient, and present during the weekends- playing games, trips to the park, constantly giving my attention. When the weekends come, I want to check out for a couple hours and do absolutely nothing. But this usually means sacrificing quality time with the boys. This is why weekends are so hard for me. It's a constant battle between recharging my own batteries, giving the kids the attention I am unable to give during the weekdays, and tackling all the chores that have been sneaking onto my ever-growing list. No matter what I choose, there are consequences, even if those consequences are purely emotional or mental.

So basically, as much as I look forward to the weekend, it can be a big pain in the ass. When things compete for my time and energy, I hate to be the one responsible for setting priorities. But if I don't and just do whatever I feel like doing, I end up feeling guilty for wasting my weekend. And on the rare day when things just turn out well, without much effort, it's so rewarding. 

Off-topic: Santa visited my parents' house the other weekend. It was such a special treat to have a private visit by the jolly old man.

Ryan did not quite agree and is still very terrified of the guy.

But Jacob wasted no time collecting his present (he had to name five good things he had done first- it took a while).

Today was one of those days where everything just worked out. I got up and made the kids a nice breakfast. We played games and wrestled. They helped me do some laundry. Then we headed out the door to celebrate my niece's birthday with family.  After the party, we came home and I tucked my precious sleeping Ryan into his bed and snuggled with the big boys on the couch as we settled in to watch the movie Elf. When it was finally time for Jacob to go to bed, I sat on the couch and chilled out with only the glow of the Christmas tree to light the room. 

This beautiful tranquil scene is my favorite part of a long, busy day. There's something soothing and comforting in sharing a darkened room with a tree swathed in strings of yellow lights. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Light Parade '13

Last night was our little town's Christmas Light Parade.
 Adam (far left) is always the creative mind behind our work float.  He has amazing talent and works so hard up until the last second to make sure every single light is in place.
 This year he created a toy conveyor belt.  The lights were timed perfectly to give the illusion that the toys were moving into Santa's sack on the back of the John Deere Gator.
 Santa, of course, was in the back of the Gator.  I was suppose to be Mrs. Clause.  I took this roll because I figured Kallahan would insist on being on the float and this would be a safer place to hold him.  But at the last minute Tyler decided it would be better for them to just watch.  
He loved sitting with daddy and Granny watching the parade.
 Keeler was on the front of the float with the other singing/dancing elves making toys.
 We had the best elves!
 Lupe sang the entire parade procession to Polar Express' "Rockin' on Top of the World" 
 I LOVE the parade night.  It makes our small town feel so quaint.  All the stores down main are open, people are out serving hot chocolate and it just feels like you're living in a storybook.
I love going down the street on the float and watching all the little kids light up when they see our float.  It makes all those looooong hours staying late at work worth it.  My little guys have been great this week "helping." 
We ended up getting 2nd place for commercial floats.  
Below is the little bank float that took first.  
I can't believe it's already the last weekend before Christmas.  We plan on having our little family Christmas tonight and might go see the movie Frozen.  
Merry Friday everyone!   
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lights: House & Zoo

Our Christmas lights aren't the fanciest. But I sure do love pulling into the street in the evening and seeing the glow of our house.

This house is the source of a lot of emotions right now. Mostly bad. I'm trying so hard to love it. But this tiny little sardine can is draining my patience, my tolerance, and my bank account (our sewer drained backed up this weekend-yay for surprise and expensive home repair projects that are becoming way too frequent for this 103 year old house). This house is probably the biggest reason why I am not getting my third baby. It is also why I cannot begin the process of becoming a foster parent (which I feel so strongly called to do). And we're kind of stuck here for the foreseeable future.

Some days, I just want to walk away from it. I literally want to exit the front door and never come back. But I can't.

 So, I wrapped it up in Christmas lights instead.


This is our entryway/living room/dining room. The kitchen is behind the wall with the bookshelf. Two other rooms and the bathroom are crammed off to the right. That is my entire house. 

At least it's pretty - when it's not filthy and littered with toys that have no place to go.

Lucky for us, we spend a lot of time outside.

Last Friday evening, we packed up the kids and went on an impromptu trip to Zoo Lights. I was exhausted from working all week but we decided to suck it up. It's just not Christmas without Zoo Lights.

 We saw Mt. Rainier.
Not quite sure how the polar bears migrated to the Pacific Northwest. Maybe they rode on Santa's sleigh?

The kids were bundled up in their finest jackets and whatever other warm accessories we could find.

For some of the displays, I was a teeny bit more excited than the boys, as evidenced in this picture:

My husband pushed the stroller ahead of me and walked way too fast. But I still stopped for a minute or two here and there to play with the shutter speed on my camera, even at the risk of getting lost/separated.

The light technicians recreated the Tacoma-Narrows bridge.

And a creepy tiger.

Ryan looks so handsome in this picture. I love that guy.

And this guy is simply hilarious although not so easy to wrangle away from any item that might be used as a playground. I present, Jacob the hermit crab:

The next picture was taken especially for Ryan. Jacob has a small stuffed shark that is most beloved by both boys. In fact, they fight over it constantly. Most mornings I wake up to the sound of Ryan yelling, "Sharky! Sharky! My Sharky!" I can usually get a sense for how the day is going to do based upon Jacob's response. (If he shares, then we are usually in for a good day.) I

Ryan was very excited to see a real-life shark.

Jacob was just excited to be set loose at the zoo. He must be doing a happy dance here.

One final pose before everyone (including me) got crabby.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elfy's Dirty Cousin Pays A Visit

Not long after Elfy (Jacob's Elf on the Shelf) joined us, we received a surprise visit from Elfy's cousin, Wolfpack. You may have seen Wolfpack's half-brother in the infamous movie The Hangover.

Wolfpack is not quite the charmer that Elfy is. In fact, he's kind of dirty. He doesn't shave. He's always wearing his sunglasses indoors (rude). And he's always carrying around a bearded Lego baby in a front pack. Lego Baby is notorious for popping open a can of beer before noon.

Neither Wolfpack nor Lego Baby are good rolemodels for my children. But Elfy is too kind to send them packing. "It IS the holidays," he is always reminding me. Personally, I'm ready to drop kick them out the door. This is a touchy subject that we are still finessing.

Meet Wolfpack:

When I first met Wolfpack, he was taking a bath in my favorite soup bowl/cup. Much like my children, he pees in his bath water.

That night, he drank too many beers and passed out on the floor. 

But he still woke up bright and early to corrupt Jacob's toy dinosaurs with stories about doing blow off a transvestite hooker's stomach. 

We all breathed a sigh of relief when Wolfpack disappeared for a couple hours. Until we received a collect call from jail asking for $10,000 in bail money. Santa, the bill is in the mail for that one.

When Wolfpack returned to our home, he completely disregarded my lengthy lecture about Cleaning Up His Act. Instead, he decided to do some snow angels in his leftover cocaine. I'm not quite sure HOW an elf acquires an entire cup of cocaine but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to forfeit that bail money.

Cocaine and train crossings do not mix. Wolfpack learned this the hard way....OR quite possibly, I may have paid Thomas for a hit on the guy. Whatever. I plead the fifth. 

After the pedestrian versus train collision,  it appeared that Wolfpack had  taken on a profound new perspective on life. He suddenly found beauty everywhere in the world around him. Or, more likely, he had exchanged his cocaine habit for a weed habit and was as high as the waistband on my dad's favorite pair of sweatpants.

But it's ok. Wolfpack is much more tolerable when he is high. 

*Please note that to complete this post, I had to google "how to do blow" in order to confirm that you can in fact do blow off of a hooker's stomach. I did not find an answer. But I really hope no one needs to review my search history in the near future.