Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I'm sure you're all dying to know if my daughter got the whoopee cushion from Santa and the answer is YES. The best 88 cents I ever spent at Wal-Mart was the highlight of her day. She and her sister have figured out ways to slip it where we don't expect and erupt with laughter with every deflation.

So, for some reason, Mom in Progress and I ended up giving a pretty techno Christmas. In fact, it was a very remote control Christmas. When all was said and done, I took an inventory of the batteries we needed to buy before the big day and it went like this: 45 AAs, 24 AAAs, 10 9V, 4 Cs, 2 Ds. I know, it's scary.

What was even scarier was when we took the girls, the Thursday before Christmas, to see Santa. We had prepared the lists and had been over it a thousand times -- Skylar was going to ask for the two-wheeled Barbie scooter and Fiona was going to ask for the Shimmering Lights Ariel and Carriage. And what to our wondering ears did we hear but both of them ask for the dolls that go skating on the rink. Apparently, they had seen it on Nickelodeon the day before. News to Mom in Progress and me. Imagine the horror.

So, of course, if they ask Santa for something, it has to appear because he said he would bring it. So, as Mom in Progress got them settled into the booth at the Red Robin to order, I was outside frantically navigating the voice recording mayhem at the local Target to ask if they had the elusive and now mandatory skating doll thing. After much to do, I got through to toys and they had one left. "Hold it!" I said, and ran over after dinner and snagged it. A remote controlled Bratz skating rink complete with doll. And they love it.

What the girls love:

- Classic board games (the most used gifts so far!)
- Bratz (all of them)
- all of the RC cars
- the whoopee cushion
- Barbie Dream Townhouse
- Polly Pocket
- the almighty Mac Mini

Among the stuff Mom and Dad in Progress love:

- Classic board games (we've played as a family every night!)
- Lincoln Logs (quiet, creative play that tales me back to when I was a kid)
- Barbie dream townhouse (inspires good role play)
- the almighty Mac Mini

Among the stuff we could do without:

- Barbie dream townhouse (because it has a flushing toilet that gets flushed every time they walk by it)
- Tawny -- Barbie's walking, whinnying horse that has no volume control

We've all been taking a big fat break this week. Mom in Progress and I haven't even been checking in at work (don't tell anyone!) and we've had a blast playing games with the girls. P.S. I'm just as good at Perfection as I was years ago! ;-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Was Dad in Progress Naughty or Nice?

Ok, so I got a little lost in the pre-Christmas prep and haven't been online in a while -- my apologies. But I hope everyone had a happy holiday and spent good quality time with family and friends having fun and enjoying the time off.

I'd say I was fairly well behaved this year, as Santa and his elves were pretty good to me. Here's a recap of some of the highlights of a blogging dad's Christmas take:

- Keurig Deluxe One-Cup Coffee Brewer (because I'm addicted to caffeine)
- stainless professional cookware set (so I can be just like my faves on the Food Network)
- 30GB iPod (finally, handheld movies and TV shows!)
- new ski jacket (though it's been 50-60 in New England all winter, making me VERY grouchy)
- electronic hand-held Sudoku (hmm...)
- Rubik's Cube
- Presto spinning pizza maker (gadget or gimmick?)
- gift cards (iTunes, Borders)

But Christmas isn't really about receiving. We bought and donated several big bags of toys for less fortunate children. Mom in Progress and I went into our daughter's first grade class to help with their holiday party and had fun with the kids (by the way, 20 6 year-olds and a craft project involving Elmer's glue, followed by two different kinds of cupcakes and juice boxes is enough to make even the slihgtest of the obsessive compulsive want to run screaming!) We attended a great family mass at our church, led by the children, that featured violinists, cellists, pianists and bell players. We spent Christmas Eve and day with family and shared a great meal and several (!) great bottles of wine.

In my next post, I'll review the various memorable kid moments and sayings, as well as review whether Santa went high-tech or classic with his holiday gifting and what the aftermath has been. Hope your holiday was memorable!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Birthday Envy

If you have ever wondered what it's like to be 4 years old, have a domineering personality and watch your sister turn 6 and open presents on her special day, it looks something like this...

...My youngest was not a happy camper tonight.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Have You Ever Hosted 18 Children?

Tomorrow is my daughter's 6th birthday. We had 18 of her closest friends join her for a birthday bash at the gym over the weekend (where my wife and I happily let the three teachers take over and run the show!) And it occurred to me that this is an innocent, odd and yet fun age. Here's some of what I overheard at the party:

- "I want a pony for Christmas. Well, actually, not a pony, just the cash to buy one."
- "Music class is, well, it's just boring, 'cause we don't like, do much in there."
- "I want a Coke." (when he realized we were serving bottled water)
- "I like math and art!"
- "This is ridiculous."
- "I can jump higher than you. Oh yeah, well I can run faster than you."
- "Mr. Skylar's Dad, I have to go to the bathroom."
- "Knock, knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" followed by wild laughter.
- "May I please have two extra pieces of cake to take home to my two sisters?
- "Why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9," followed by wild laughter.

I also witnessed: boys who were burping at girls, a boy who ate two pieces of cake, asked for a third and when we denied him numero 3, he opened his goody bag and ate every piece of candy, someone picking their nose, boys who were in the foam block pit jumping and wailing on one another WWF style, and my four year-old bossing her sister's friends around and telling jokes.

Yet among all the chaos, I also noticed a lot of polite gestures, pleases and thank yous and genuine friendship and cameraderie. It's clear they're all still trying to figure out how to be little people in public, but they definitely care about one another and have fun together. But Mominprogress and I still feel sorry for poor Miss Dorsey, who wrangles 20 of them all day long.

We get a little crazy having the birthday so close to Christmas, but Mominprogress and I were quite pleased with most of the gifts my girl received -- nothing too gratuitous and lots of creativity starters: make your own flip-flops and nightlight, crunch art kit, sticker maker, scrapbooking kit and Crayola Model Magic (which is terrific stuff, by the way!). And four girls gave her Webkinz -- which are apparently the Beanie Babies of the 21st Century complete with Web codes to keep the animal alive online by playing games and winning points. Which will be a great way to put the Mac Mini to work after Santa sets it up. And a Border's gift card, which is so great for two reasons: it's practical, yet extravagant to a 6 year-old, AND she is so proud to have her very own "credit card."

And at the end of the day, we still wonder how she's turning 6 already.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not My Daughter!

My daughter's first grade teacher has a card system for keeping the kids on their best behavior. If you're good, your card stays green. If you are spoken to, it changes to orange, and if you still aren't being good, you turn to red. At the end of the week, if you have been good, you get two treats from the treasure box. If you're card was flipped, you get nothing.

So we always hear the reports of who got their card flipped. And she always tells us as if it's the worst thing in the world. So imagine our surprise when we found out our daughter had her card flipped.

Now you have to know my girl. She's the law abiding one of the two. Would never step out of line, especially in school. But we just had that "Not my daughter!" reaction to the card being flipped.

She said "Mom, you're not going to like this...I got my card flipped."

We asked why. She said she was side talking with a boy. We aksed her what she was side talking about, and she said she didn't want to tell us, but she also had a devillish little grin on her face.

"The whoopie cushion," she said.

Our daughter was side talking about a whopie cushion. We were heartbroken, but hysterical on the inside too.

Apparently a boy had brought a whoopie cushion and showed everyone in the coat room until the teacher broke it up and sent them back to their seats. And she was so enchanted by the whoopie cushion that she had to side talk about it during lessons.

So the other day, my clever little girl asked me, as I was reading the paper, "Dad, how do you spell cushion?"

"C-U-S-H-I-O-N," I said.

I didn't bother to really think about why she was asking me.

"Um Dad? How do you spell whoopie?"

I looked up, noticed she had gotten her Christmas list off the counter, and was trying to swindle me into how to spell whoopie cushion so she could add it to her requests from Mr. S. Claus.

"I'm not going to tell you how to spell whoopie," I said, fighting back the laughter.

"Fine, I'll just ask him for it when we go to see him."

I can't wait to get to the mall.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mud Flaps

Every year we cut down a Christmas tree. And every year we end up with a story.

Once, Aimee was 8.5 months pregnant with Skylar trekking up the hill and stepping over stumps. Another time we trudged through a near foot of snow. Another we dealt with a constipated miserable child who was cold. Last year we got all the way to the top of the hill and both children announced they had to go to the bathroom, so Aimee had to go back to the van, drive to the port-o-potty, then drive back and walk back up the mountain. And almost every time we wait until 4 o'clock to get there, and end up in the dark with no lights trying to tie it on top.

This year, the story gets even better.

We tried a new farm and drove up the long driveway. We were following another car. We got to a small hut that was selling pre-cuts, so we kept driving, behind the other car, but there were no signs to keep going for cut-your-owns. The car in front of us turned around in a small driveway of sorts. I passed that car and decided to do a wide swing to the right and around to reverse direction. But as soon as we got just off the driveway, I knew we were doomed.

Mud. From the flood rains we had two days prior. The mud ate my entire front right wheel. We had sunk up to the bumper and were going nowhere forward or back. Mud was flying. And we just kept sinking. Skylar was hysterical, worried that we would be stuck there forever, it was scary, that they would have to lift up our van and this and that and she was just beside herself. And Fiona was very calm, trying to explain to her sister there was nothing to worry about.

Luckily, Aimee hiked it back to the farmhouse and a great young guy brought his truck and a chain and pulled us out. He said it was a popular spot for getting stuck, that both sides of the driveway are wetlands and it happens all the time.

And the lesson we learned from that guy: rather than get annoyed and view it as a hassle (which both of us would tend to immediately do), he suggested we laugh about it, view it as an adventure, since we now have a great family memory and a good story to tell about the time we got stuck in the mud. Lessons #2, 3 and 4: the 3-point turn is our friend, only cowboys do the wide loop and sometimes grassy areas are simply sinkholes in disguise.

We didn't end up getting our tree there, since the cut-your-owns were all 12 feet tall and they said just cut the top off the one you like. But we went to our usual farm, in the middle of the day, and found our tannenabum in record time. No bathroom breaks. No constipation. No hassles.