Saturday, December 30, 2006

And so it begins . . .

Ella and Lily both got American Girl dolls for Christmas. Lily's is a real baby doll with lots of clothing in a trunk. Ella's is a bigger girl, and she looks a bit like Ella - dark brown eyes, brown hair. Lily likes her baby well enough, but Ella is in love with her doll.

Her name is Hermione (what else could it be?) and she goes everywhere with Ella - to playtime at Matilda's, to playtime at Lisa's. Ella also has to sleep with Hermione in bed with her. Every morning Ella changes Hermione's clothes and brushes her hair.

Ella's never really been into baby dolls, so I'm a bit surprised by her reaction to Hermione. My mom pointed out that maybe this doll is different because she's a girl, not a baby. I suppose that could be it.

I have to admit that I think the dolls are really cool. When I was little I played with my mom's Mindy doll, who had a trunk full of clothes. I'd change her clothes and pretend she was going to different events. I think I've been looking at the American Girl catalog just as much as Ella has been. And I get frustrated with Lily because she won't let me change her baby's clothes - what's the point of having a trunk full of clothes if the doll doesn't wear them?

I overheard Ella talking to Matilda about her doll's wardrobe - she was lamenting her doll's lack of a nightgown. Ella doesn't like that Hermione has to sleep in clothing every night. I started thinking that a nightgown wasn't an unreasonable request from Ella - besides she hadn't really asked me for it. So this morning I gave her the catalog and told her she could pick out one nightgown or set of pjs for her doll. She was just thrilled.

I see this as the start of a bad trend on my part. Because I think the dolls and outfits are cool, I could very easily fall into the habit of buying Ella clothes for her doll just because I can. I had said that she would only get clothes for birthdays and Christmases, but it seems unfair to make her wait that long for new clothes. I'll have to come up with a system to keep myself under control and to keep Ella from expecting new clothes for Hermione on a regular basis.

Maybe I should just buy my own doll . . .

Friday, December 29, 2006

Brotherly Love

It turns out I'm not the only person in the house who just loves, loves, loves babies. Ella and Lily engage in bouts of baby worship on a daily basis. Campbell will be sitting quietly in his seat and one or the other or both will just descend on him. They cover him in kisses and sing him songs and give him hugs and then zoom off, again, leaving him a little bewildered.

Ella is a little more restrained than Lily in her affections. Ella likes to sing Campbell songs and "speak" to him in baby language, which mostly involves saying "goo-goo, ga-ga" to him over and over again. She thinks she's communicating because Campbell usually laughs when Ella does it.

Lily is far more agressive. We say that Campbell is as big as he is so that he can survive her love. She likes to climb into his car seat with him, and she rocks him so hard in his bouncy seat that we're afraid she's going to catapult him across the room. We're constantly saying, "Lily, not so hard!" Fortunately, Campbell's a good sport about it.

I've discovered that Lily becomes much more attentive to Campbell when other people are paying attention to him. She'll start hugging and kissing him, and then the person will say, "Oh what a good big sister you are!" Lily just eats it up - she's got the system figured out. If she pays attention to Campbell, people pay attention to her.

That having been said, Lily does still love on Campbell when no one's watching. I'll come in the room and catch her talking or singing to him or reading him books even though no one is there to see her doing it.

Watching the girls with Campbell makes me feel like we're doing something right as parents. I know there will be sibling rivalry - heck, there already is - but at heart, they all love each other.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Now what?

Christmas is over, the presents have all been put away, the relatives have all gone home, and the girls still have two weeks left in Christmas break. Now what do we do?

My parents left this morning, and the girls and I looked at each other in puzzlement. It's the first morning in a week that we haven't had a planned activity or house guests here to keep us busy. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. I gave in and turned on some cartoons for a while to give myself a break from pestering. Then we ended up outside to play with friends for an hour, which was a life-saver.

Now comes the tricky part - just what do we do for the next two weeks so that we don't go insane. Having a baby to tote along makes things harder. Loading three kids into the car can sometimes send me into a panicked frenzy, as my parents witnessed yesterday. I'd get two kids ready and the third would refuse to cooperate. I guess we'll invite lots of friends over to visit. It's easier sometimes to bring the fun here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Unwrapped

It's been a good Christmas, so far. No one's ended up sick or in the hospital - yet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have repeats of past years. Also, this was the first time in two years that we haven't travelled. I don't think Ella remembers having Christmas morning at our own house. It was nice to be home on Christmas morning. I don't think we'll go anywhere for Christmas again for a long time. My parents and sister were able to come here, which made it even better to be home.

We started the festivities at Brandon's grandmother's house with that side of the family. I didn't realize gift giving would be happening, so I didn't bring any of their gifts. Oops. The girls had a great time handing out and opening presents. They did it so quickly that I lost track of who gave them what. The big hit, as far as Lily is concerned, are her fancy slippers. They have little heels and feathers - just the thing a three-year-old would love.

Christmas morning started with the girls hitting our bedroom door with a thud. They burst in shouting, "Santa came! Santa came." The proof? He ate the cookies and drank the milk that they left out for him. Just seeing the gifts wasn't enough - once they saw the empty plate they were convinced. Once the present opening started, Ella was ruthlessly efficient. Lily, however, kept getting distracted. She'd be halfway opening one present when Ella would hand her another. She'd drop the original present, still wrapped, and start on the next one. It was pretty funny. We kept having to turn her around and get her to focus on one gift at a time.

Ella had asked Santa for an Easy Bake Oven, and she got one. This has extended her belief in Santa for another year. She's already make one cake. And she tells everyone she talks to about it.

My parents gave the girls each an American Girl Doll ( Ella was so thrilled with hers that she was speechless. She held it with this look of absolute joy on her face. My mom was worried that she didn't like it because Ella didn't say anything. I had to reassure mom that that's how Ella acts when she REALLY likes something.

The highlight of Christmas for me was watching my dad open my gift to him. He loves the Town Lake running trail and has asked that his ashes be scattered there when he dies. So I got him a brick that will be installed in one area of the trail. It will have his name on it. He teared up when he read the gift notice. It made me feel really good that I got him something that meant so much to him.

I had asked Brandon for a necklace that had a silver pea pod with three pearls in it - one pearl for each child. I showed him the necklace in the catalog and explained it to him. I even left the catalog on his desk. He got me the necklace, but somehow he missed the whole point of the pearls - mine has four pearls. I've been saying ever since that it's proof that we're going to have a fourth child. He says he's returning it as soon as possible.

So now we've cleaned up all the presents and found new homes in the closets for all the toys, and the excitement is winding down. I'm ending the season profoundly grateful for what I have - an amazing husband; three happy, healthy kids; good friends; and wonderful family. It's a pretty good life.

Happy New Year to all.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blue-eyed baby boy

I was having a big pity party for myself this morning. I found out yesterday that a friend who had a baby, by c-section, four weeks AFTER I did, ran 10 miles yesterday. I'm still struggling with three miles. What am I doing wrong? I know I have three kids, and she only has one, but still. I ought to be farther along than this. I had planned to run with a friend this morning and push myself a bit, but I had to cancel because I have done something to my neck. Right now it hurts to walk, so there's no way I could go for a run. I pondered doing a slow jog through the 'hood, but after being up for a while this morning, I gave up on that idea.

So now it's been a week since I've run, and I'm more than a little frustrated. And hearing about Moya's campus run didn't help things.

But after spending an hour playing with Campbell this morning, I snapped out of my self-pitying mood. He's just the happiest, smiliest baby right now. He sat in my lap and talked and laughed and kicked for an hour. And that hour made not being able to run seem like a really small price to pay. If I had gone running I would have missed that bit of time with him.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Herding Cats

I volunteered to help chaperone Ella's class field trip today. The teacher's plan was to go caroling in the neighborhood, which didn't go quite the way she expected. But more on that in a minute.

Two classes went caroling - about 40 kids. Ella's class had half a dozen parents show up to help. The other class had none. The teachers lined all the kids up and had them hold on to a length of rope in an attempt to keep everyone together. Turned out to be a pretty bad idea. The boys delighted in playing tug-of-war with each other and wrapping the rope around their friends. Other kids thought it was fun to sit on the rope as the other kids were walking along. Then there were the times when the kids on the front end of the rope were walking, but the ones on the back end weren't, bringing the ones in front to a screeching halt. Finally the teachers gave up and had the kids walk with partners.

Campbell and I brought up the end of the line, keeping the stragglers with the group. Two little boys kept fighting over who got to be the absolute last person in line. I had to break up a wrestling match more than once. Other kids would fall behind because they spotted something they wanted to investigate. It's amazing what can distract kids - a leaf, a mud puddle, a fence, a parked car. You name it, we stopped to look at it. Another boy fell behind the group because he was busy walking backwards so that he could warn me not to step on things.

The caroling wasn't very successful because no one was home. We caught two elderly women at the first house we went to and sang to them. But then we walked and walked, looking for someone else to sing to. One man told the mom who knocked on the door that he was too tired to listen to singing. Another woman just said no thanks and slammed the door - talk about Christmas cheer. Finally, we found two people who came out and walked across the street to where the kids were waiting. They were very appreciative of the kids and clapped for them.

We gave up at this point and turned the kids loose on the playground for a while. I wasted time trying to referee the melee on the slide before throwing my hands up in defeat and walking away; the boys WANTED to sit on each other while going down the slide.

I was worn out by the time we herded the kids back to the classroom, as were the teachers. But I got to go home - they still had hours left before they could escape. Those teachers earn every penny of their salary and deserve so much more.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

She can read!

Ella has been on the verge of reading for months. She'd read parts of pages then get frustrated and stop when she ran into too many words that she didn't know. I understood what she was doing; I do the same thing. It's why I quit playing tennis. I'd get so angry that I couldn't hit perfect forehands each and every time, so angry that I wouldn't want to play any more.

She also memorized large passages of her favorite books - Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish, Go Dog Go - and would recite them without looking at the page. She'd "read" those books to Lily at bedtime, and Lily would be so thrilled that her sister was reading to her.

But now, it's all finally clicked. I realized it the other day when she was resting in our bed because she was home from school sick. She had a book in there with her, and I asked if she was reading or looking at pictures. She rolled her eyes and said in her best teenage voice, "I'm reading, of course." Later, I asked what story she had read and she told me all about it. It was clear that Ella really had read and comprehended the story.

She has also started reading signs and postings, which catches me off guard. Yesterday in the car she started reading the names of stores and asking what they sold. And when I went to read her some instructions posted on the wall, she stopped me and said she could read them herself.

I'm beyond thrilled that Ella is reading and that so far she likes doing it. Reading is my favorite thing to do. I can't go to sleep at night without spending some time reading in bed. I always have a stack of books next to the bed and one or two hidden in the covers. I changed Ella's sheets the other day and found a stash of her books tucked away in her bed and was so proud - like mother, like daughter.

For Christmas I got her a subscription to Spider magazine. It's a kids' publication with short stories and poems. Brandon refers to it as the New Yorker for the kindergarten set. I hope she likes having her own magazine arrive each month.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Change of Plans

I had my whole morning planned today, and nothing went according to my plan.

I've given up on running at the crack of dawn for the time being. Campbell's sleep schedule just doesn't fit with my getting up early. He wakes up to eat between 4:00 and 4:30. I don't want to go running that early, and I don't want to go back to sleep only to wake up at 5:30 to run. I have to get Ella up at 6:40, so I can't go at 6:00ish. I've been able to run at 9:15, after I drop Lily off at preschool. Campbell usually falls asleep in the car on the way home, so I park him with Brandon and head out the door. That was my plan for the morning.

But when I walked in, Brandon was on his way out to a meeting. Sigh. So I figured I'd take a nap while Campbell slept. He's been waking up a lot at night, and I could use an hour or two of shut-eye. Instead, Campbell woke up and wanted to play.

I was really frustrated for a few minutes. But I stopped myself. I need to remember to enjoy these quiet mornings with Campbell. He's our last baby, and I need to savor the little moments - like having him sit on my lap and talk to me. So instead of trying to get him to sleep, we chatted and played and laughed. After an hour or so, he conked out and I was able to nap.

It turned out to be a good morning, even though it didn't go according to my plans. It was another lesson that a change in plans can be a good thing.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Race Report

Three months to the day after Campbell was born, I ran my first post-baby race. I'd like to say I raced it, but I didn't. My goal was just to finish the 5K, which I did, just barely. It's the farthest I've run since the Daisy 5K on Mother's Day. I think I ran that race faster, despite being 5 months' pregnant. Right after that race I started having really bad ligament pain, so I switched to walking. Then a month after that, I went on partial bed rest and couldn't even walk. So I really went months and months without doing anything, let alone running. I guess I should be glad I was at least able to run today.

The best part of the day was running the kids' K with Ella. At the Mother's Day race, I ran with Lily while Ella ran by herself. This time Brandon ran with Lily so that I could run with Ella. We held hands for most of the race, and she finished with a huge grin on her face as we came through the cheering crowds. I finished with tears in my eyes - I was so proud of her and so happy to be out running with my girl. I've looked forward to doing that since she was born. Lily and Brandon finished a few minutes after us. Brandon said Lily loved every minute of the crowd cheering for her.

I hope to have many more great runs with them and Campbell.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Working Mother, Part II

I've accpeted the job. It turned out to not be as time-intensive or as lucrative as I thought it would be. But I negotiated an extra $1100 out of the editor, and the schedule will allow me to take on other projects if I feel like it. Also, they'll pay me in installments through the year, so I won't have to wait until next December, the final due date, to get my money.

While I'm a bit disappointed in the pay, I am viewing this as a good opportunity. With any luck it will lead to further projects with this editorial group, which would be a good thing. I like the lead editor in the group and wouldn't mind working with her more in the future.

It's also a bit of a relief to hear that the work won't consume as much of my time as I thought. I like having mornings where I don't have to rush back the house and go straight to the computer. There are days when I want to go have coffee with friends or run errands or get a pedicure without feeling guilty for not working. And then there are the times when I just want to sit on the sofa with Campbell asleep in my lap and enjoy watching my little boy.

Even though I won't be working as much or earning as much as I thought, I'm still keeping the cleaning lady! I just won't hire her to do the laundry.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Working mother

So, I think I've just accepted a job. I gave the editor a strong tentative yes. She's pulling together the financial aspects and writing contracts.

I'd be a freelance project manager on a huge multi-media grammar component that is being marketed to schools to help teachers teach grammar to students who are struggling with it. In many cases, these students are not native English speakers.

As project manager, I'd be assigning components to other freelancers, keeping track of all the pieces, reviewing work submitted, etc. I'd still be working from home, and it would still just be part-time.

I'm very flattered that they asked me. They have a whole stable of freelancers there, and it seems like I'm the first one they approached to take this on. I worked on one large component of the project, and when I submitted my final version I asked the project manager if there was any more work coming down the pike. Next thing I know, I get this offer. The editor who offered it told me that they wanted to catch me quickly, before I looked elsewhere for work.

I wouldn't start work until after the holidays, which is a good thing. And they're aware that there will be a period when I'm still feeling my way and figuring out what I'm doing. I'm glad they're not expecting me to jump in and have a handle on everything right away.

The only question I have is whether I'll be able to balance this part-time job along with my full-time job of husband, three kids, house and volunteer work. It could be tricky. One thing I'll do, though, is keep the cleaning lady. I was getting ready to cut her back to every other week. But if I accpet this, she's coming once a week for sure. Brandon said I could even hire her to do the laundry for me!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Grinch

I know that "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is required holiday viewing, but last night I remembered that I just don't like the movie version. I'm fine reading the story to the kids or hearing it read, but please don't make me watch it. Why? Max the dog. I always feel so sorry for him. He's such a happy little guy, ready to ride on the Grinch's sleigh. But instead, the Grinch is so horrible to him - making him wear the horn on his head, making him pull the huge, present-laden sleigh. I remember crying about poor Max when I was a kid.

Last night I watched the movie with the girls, and again, I got upset about Max. It ruins the whole movie for me. I know the story has a happy ending and Max gets a slice of roast beast, but it just doesn't matter.

It occured to me that I ready don't like any of the Christmas kid shows. We recorded Rudolph, Frosty and Frosty returns for the girls, and I let them watch the shows this weekend. Blech. Ella, like me as a child, was scared silly by the Abominable Snowman in Rudolph. She didn't care that in the end he just wanted a job. I don't care either. They shouldn't put such creatures in holiday movies for kids.

I think "It's a Wonderful Life" is awful, as is "Miracle on 34th Street." I don't care how cute Natalie Wood is in it.

So what holiday movies do I like? I can only think of a few. One is "Holiday Inn" with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. At least I think that's what it's called. The "Charlie Brown Christmas" is acceptable, as is "The Christmas Story." In fact, "The Christmas Story" is the only one of the holiday movies that I really enjoy watching. Poor Ralphie in his bunny suit.

I'm trying not to prejudice the kids with my feelings about the holiday shows, but it's hard. But did tell Ella I agreed with her that the Snowman was scary.

Bah humbug.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another supposedly fun thing

David Foster Wallace has a book of essays titled "Another Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." I love the title, even if I didn't much like the book. I've started dividing my life's experiences into categories like that. Sunday's events definitely qualified as something that was supposed to be fun but wasn't.

Liz and I made plans to take our girls to see the Nutcracker. The tickets were pretty expensive, so I explained to the girls that this was one of their Christmas presents. I ordered them new dresses from Hannah Andersson and bought them cute tights to match. I was really looking forward to a nice afternoon with just us girls - they desperately needed some time with me. Brandon was going to stay home with Campbell and put up more Christmas lights. Everything was all set.

Then Brandon found out he had to work on Sunday. The clients he had been shopping on Saturday couldn't make up their minds and wanted to see more houses. Such is the nature of his business, and ordinarily it wouldn't have been that big of a deal. But we were both disappointed and frustrated by it this time. I considered calling in a sitter or a grandmother for Campbell, but I had pitched a big fit the night before in front of Brandon's mother about how everyone needed to leave me alone about not being ready to leave Campbell with anyone other than Brandon just yet. I figured that after having a tantrum, I couldn't then call his mother.

So I dressed the girls in their new dresses and Campbell in his best outfit and hoped that all would go well. It mostly did, but only because Liz was there to help.

I was pretty frazzled by the time we even got to the concert hall. We were supposed to wait and meet Liz and Ava in the lobby, but I couldn't handle keeping track of both girls in the crush of people, and it seemed that everywhere we stood was in someone's way, so we found our seats and settled in. Of course, as soon as we sat down, Lily decided she was dying of thirst. So I took her out to the lobby, leaving Ella behind. Campbell had been asleep through all of this, hanging out in his bjorn, but as soon as the show started, he woke up. I nursed him, hoping that would keep him quiet, but it didn't. He started crying, so I left the girls with Liz and took him to the lobby. He fell asleep pretty quickly and I went back to my seat. He slept through the whole first act, but the stress of waiting for him to wake up and cry was wearing.

At intermission, Liz took the girls with her and Ava to get drinks and snacks and to use the bathroom. I wandered around with Campbell, who was awake again.

Just like with the first act, as soon as the music of the second act started, Campbell began crying. So I climbed over everyone in our row and took him out again. As soon as I sat back down with him, the girls started asking if it was time to leave yet. Lily was so tired that she was kneeling on the floor with her head on the seat of her chair and her lovie over her face. I kept telling them that we'd stay for one more song. Finally I gave in and gathered our stuff and tiptoed out with them - just as the show finished. By the time we reached the end of the row, the curtain came down. Sigh. I herded everyone into the lobby and put on coats and hats and headed for the door.

The girls enjoyed themselves, and Campbell really was very good, all things considered, but it was very stressful for me. I couldn't really enjoy the show at all. But the thing is, I don't think I would have been less stressed if I had left the baby with a sitter. I would have spent the whole show worrying that he was at home crying or that he wouldn't take a bottle. I know Brandon can handle stuff like that, but I don't know about our sitter.

By the time we got home, I was wiped out. Fortunately, Brandon was there, so I handed over the girls and collapsed on the bed with Campbell. I told the girls we'd go again next year, but I promised that we'd leave Campbell at home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Still a little kid

Sometimes it's easy for me to forget that Ella is still a little kid. These days she seems more like a short teenager - all legs and attitude. She's already mastered the eye roll, long sigh and drawn out "mo-om."

Yesterday I got a good reminder that she really is just six. We went to a birthday party for one of our little friends, and "Cinderella" was there. She was a good Cinderella; she had the fancy dress, glass slippers, elbow gloves, etc. Ella was absolutely entranced by her. When Cinderella was telling the kids stories, Ella was on her knees right in front of her, eyes wide open. Ella has never liked getting her face painted, but when Cinderella offered to do it, Ella was there in line with the other kids. And the highlight of the morning for her was when Cinderella gave Ella a bead necklace. After Cinderella had rolled off in her Honda (the coach must have been in the shop), Ella asked if we could invite Cinderella to her next birthday party.

That's when it really hit me - Ella didn't get at all that Cinderella was an actress our friends had hired to work at the birthday party. She thought Cinderella was REAL and that she was there like any of the other birthday guests. I am so glad that Ella bought in to the magic and pretend of the party. Kids seem to grow up quickly and so it was reassuring to see that she still believes in princesses and fairy tales - even if I don't like the messages that most of the fairy tales carry.

I told her that we might invite Cinderella for her next birthday. She usually runs through at least a dozen birthday ideas each year, so I know she won't stick with this one for long. But seeing the delight in her face yesterday makes me want to consider it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"You don't like me, do you?"

My older daughter is becoming even more of a drama queen than she has been. We've been having some behavioral issues lately, and she's decided that she needs to let me know how she feels, in writing.

Before she could write, she'd scoot notes out into the hall when she was in time out. The note would be a picture of me with a circle around it and a line through it. Then when she learned how to spell "Mama" she'd send out a note with a line through the word.

Now the notes are far more entertaining. A few weeks ago, I packed her off to time out for being rude. She sent a paper airplane out into the hall. The note on it said, "Dear Mama, I dot like you. Love Ella." My comment was that at least she still loved me. Last week she sent out a note that had a picture of me with fangs and the caption "Big Mama, Bad Mama." I have it saved so that I can pull it out and embarass her later.

This morning, after I told her she had to go to her room as soon as she got home from school for being rude, she wrote me a note that said, "You don't like me do you?" I told her that I loved her too much to allow her to behave so badly. She didn't like that answer at all.

I was relieved to find out that it's not just her. One of her best friends, who is the sweetest, most polite little girl I've ever met, has been giving her parents similar problems. Ella has been talking back to us, stomping her feet when she's mad, slamming doors, and sticking out her tongue without opening her mouth (I have a hard time not laughing when she does it). I'm amazed that she does all these things. I would have never dreamed of mouthing off or sticking out my tongue at my mother when I was Ella's age. I would have sooner played in traffic - the risk of death would have been less.

So now I'm stumped - how do I get her to snap out of this phase and how do I react to all the little notes she leaves us. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh the Thumbsucker's Thumb

I've always wanted a red-haired baby and a thumb-sucking baby. My mom, her sister, and her brother all have red or redish hair. And my great-grandfather on my dad's side had a red moustache, so red hair does run in the family. Unfortunately, none of the kids or grandkids have ended up with red hair.

But I think I finally have my thumbsucker. I should preface this by saying that I sucked my thumb until I was eight, when my father made me wear a sock on my hand to break the habit. Little did he know that I just sucked my thumb in bed at night when he couldn't see me. My mom, to give me a retort for those who teased me, taped a copy of Shel Silverstein's poem about thumbsucking on the inside of my lunchbox. It was the first poem I ever knew by heart:

Oh the thumbsucker's thumb may be wrinkled and wet
and withered as white as the snow
but the taste of the thumb
is the sweetest taste yet
as only we thumbsuckers know.

Ella used a pacifier until she was three, when the "pacifairy" came and took all of her pacifiers to give them to new babies and left a big, blue bicycle in their place. I tried to get Lily to use a pacifier, but she was never interested. She's always had her lovies - cloth diapers with bright fabrics sewn on. The nice thing with her is that in a pinch, a dishtowel or washcloth will work as well as a lovie.

When Campbell was about two weeks old, I gave him a pacifier, and he took to it right away. Brandon protested strongly. He didn't want to go down the same path we had with Ella. But then one night, when he was in charge of the baby, he gave in and popped one in Campbell's mouth. Now, Campbell's interest in them is sporadic. Sometimes he'll use one, but most of the time he won't.

Instead, he's spent much of the past two weeks trying to get a thumb in his mouth, and I've been encouraging his efforts. He started out by holding both hands straight out in front of his face and concentrating on them. Suddenly one would move, and he'd pop himself in the forehead. He'd do this over, and over, and over again. Slowly, his aim is getting better, and he can get his hand to his mouth. I'll hear him in his crib, slurping on his fist. Now, though, he's getting better at getting his thumb in his mouth and keeping it there.

One friend said I shouldn't let him suck his thumb, but I consider it the ideal soother for babies - it's always attached, we can't lose it, and he can put it in his mouth by himself. Plus, I finally have my thumbsucker!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Strange Santa Stuff

One of the neat things about growing up and getting out in the world is that you get to find out just how strange your family is. You realize that things you thought were perfectly normal aren't. For example, I get the oddest looks from people when I tell them about our Christmas traditions.

Throughout my childhood, it was our tradition to hang our Santa letters outside on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. We'd hang them from a light fixture outside with a piece of bread. Mom and Dad told us that Santa's elves fly around in his magic sleigh on that night collecting all the letters for Santa. The bread is for their snack. The next morning, we'd get up and discover that the letters were gone and that someone had taken a big bite out of the bread. I did this every year, even after I knew the "truth" about Santa; I remember hanging out my list as a high school student. I remember very clearly the first time I told someone about this and got the "you did what?" look from them - it was in college. My roommate then asked why we didn't just go to the mall and tell Santa what we wanted like every other kid in this country. I don't think mom and dad EVER took us to the mall to see Santa.

It wasn't until I spent my first Christmas with Brandon's family that I realized that in most houses, Santa doesn't leave wrapped presents. I walked in to his parents' living room and saw a pile of unwrapped loot for me and thought, "Hey, who opened my stuff?" When I said something to Brandon, he informed me that Santa doesn't have time to wrap everyone's presents. I've asked a lot of people about this, and it turns out that most of them got unwrapped presents. Who knew.

So now Brandon and I are started our own traditions for the kids. I had them write their letters and hang them outside with bread, but we told them that the elves fly around every Sunday night between Thanksiving and Christmas (mostly because I forgot to have them write letters on Thanksgiving weekend), and Santa leaves presents that are wrapped.

I am wishing, however, that I had remembered to do lists last weekend. This past week Ella said she wanted to ask Santa for a Hermione Barbie doll. So I searched high and low for one online and finally had to bid for one on eBay. I won the bid, and the doll should be here soon. But when we were working on lists last night, Ella said she wanted a Hermione Time Turned necklace instead. Grrr. She also said she wanted an Easy Bake oven. So even though I swore up and down that I was finished shopping for the girls, I'm going to get her an Easy Bake oven. She had to get at least one thing that's on her list.