The Christmas Edition

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

As promised (and only a few days late) here are pictures from our Holiday. By some miracle, Santa brought Gregory presents instead of coal, and Rebecca gave out her own gifts for the first time ever, thanks to her school's PTA gift fair. Boy does that girl have an eye for a bargain! Without further ado, here's a pictorial account of the big night/morning.

Rebecca hangs her stocking.

The kids leave a snack for Santa. Rebecca insists we need to leave something red for Rudolph, and after a minute of frantic brainstorming/pulling apart the fridge we find some red grapes which she deems acceptable red nosed reindeer fodder.

As a special treat, I let Gregory sleep in Rebecca's bed. I issue stern warnings that Santa only stops at houses where the children are asleep, and Gregory has a moment of panic, "You mean I had to be good ALL year???".

Morning comes all too quickly, and lo and behold, Santa was here. Let the opening begin!

Rebecca told an elaborate story about buying a guitar for Dad, but she surprises everyone when it turns out to be a Patriots Flag.

My Dad's special gift to me, my sister, and my brother, we each get a pair of Marion Bronze bookends made by his Grandparents.

Gregory's favorite gift is "my Bumblebee (transformer - the only thing he asked for during the past 3 months), my motorcycle (bicycle), Wolverine, and my truck". Rebecca says her favorite gift "has to be my coyote". Her Auntie Jiffy gave her this because the kid loves coyotes. Rebecca added the tutu, and wants me to sew a matching cape.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. Next stop, 2010!

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Christmas Bling

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! Hope everyone had a great day. We had lots of fun here at Casa Corbin opening presents, eating, and celebrating. I'll post pictures tomorrow but I wanted to share this video. We went for a ride last night to check out Christmas lights last night and thought this house was quite spectacular.

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Cookies and Carols

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lots of Christmas fun going on at Chez Corbin this weekend. Today we made my grandparent's Christmas press cookies. I posted the recipe here. The kids helped with all the steps, especially the decorating part.

After cookies, I cleaned up and the kiddies practiced a 'show'. Is anyone else's kids obsessed with forcing their parents to watch these endless 'shows' (kids, I loved every minute)? Here's a taste:

And since I know you want it, here's more:
Er, they probably shouldn't quit their day jobs.

My talented little muffins are all tucked away in bed now and a big snow storm is on its way. Here's a parting photo of what you get when you combine 1/2 a dozen cookies, no nap, and a 3 year old:

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How To Get On The Nice List

Thursday, December 17, 2009

At 6, Rebecca looks a lot like me. As a baby, she looked more like her Dad. She certainly didn't look anything like my baby pictures. Suddenly, around 2.5 years, she morphed into a little mini-me. Now, wherever we go, people comment on how much we look alike. Saturday was no exception. The 2 of us went to get our hair cut. She had me go first and then climbed into the chair and instructed the hairdresser to cut her hair 'like Mummy'. There had already been talk about our resemblance, and as the snipping began, it turned to how her hair is similar to mine - thin, slightly wavy, etc. After a minute of that, Rebecca piped in with "I'm so happy I'm a little mini of my Mummy". It melted my heart (and lifted her up a notch on Santa's nice list).

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Memories Of Our First Christmas, And Our First Major Incompatibility

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gregory searches for the perfect tree.

Saturday morning we packed ourselves into the van in search of our Christmas tree. This yearly ritual always brings back memories of our first cohabiting Christmas, when we blended together 2 different lifetimes of Christmas memories, and discovered our first real incompatibility.

Go back to the late 1990's. Back before we had kids, when we were living in a dumpy 500 square foot apartment. Imagine owning no lights, no ornaments, and no decorations. Picking the tree was the easy part. The real challenge came when we talked about what we would buy to decorate it. Greg had grown up with white lights and color coordinated, uniform glass ornaments. All blue and silver, or all red. Whatever. All round. All the same size. To Greg, this is what a Christmas tree was supposed to look like. Orderly. Sophisticated. To me, it was what they put up in a department store. Impersonal. Muted. Boring.

My ideal Christmas tree was a little different. We always had the multi-colored lights, with a hodgepodge of ornaments collected over 2 generations of Christmases. Old scratched silver and gold bells, sewn cloth ornaments, the gingerbread house my sister made out of a milk carton and some felt when she was in the brownies (still my favorite ornament to this day!). I loved the character of each different ornament and the fun, colored lights. I couldn't imagine opening gifts under a dull, colorless tree. We had found our first real incompatibility.

Here's what we did. Greg's birthday is early December. It's always a challenge to have to come up with 2 gifts in December and back then we were on a really tight budget. I wanted to find something meaningful, that we could afford. I thought and thought - about what he likes, what makes him happy. This made me think of all the joy and love he brought me. I wanted to spend all my Christmases with this man, no matter what color lights we used. Soon I knew what I had to do. I marched down to CVS, bought a few strands of white lights, and wrapped them in some birthday paper.

His birthday fell on a Friday night, and we celebrated by going to pick our tree. Then I gave him his present. Surprised but happy, he strung up the white lights. The next day we hit Walmart (yes, back then we did shop at Walmart). We bought a box of plain red, silver and gold glass balls. They were uniform. They were cheap. But they were special because they were the first ornaments we ever owned.

He had his boring white, red, gold and silver tree. About a week later, CVS was giving out free ornaments. A little ceramic bear in a Santa hat. I took one home and hung it on the back side of the tree. My little token to my childhood Christmas tree. When Greg got home from work, he noticed it immediately (how he found it so quickly, hidden in the back is beyond me). But he decided he could live with it and the CVS bear stayed on the tree.

I thought that would be the end, and decided I could live with endless Christmases of boring, uniform trees, so imagine my surprise Christmas morning when I found 3 strands of colored lights wrapped under our tree. 'For next year' Greg told me. And then we had our solution. One year we put up white lights, the next year colored. It has become our family tradition. Every year we've added a few unique ornaments to our uniform glass balls, and Greg has learned to love like them. This year is a white year, but I've come to love the white lights almost as much as I love the colored ones. They are brighter. The ornaments are easier to see, and sparkle more brightly in the bright white light. Most important, they remind me of that first Christmas.

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Rebecca's Door

Thursday, December 10, 2009

There's nothing like being shown up by your 6 year old. This morning I was enjoying a little early morning blogging (I know, I have a problem), when my little Becky-Boo padded in to say good morning. I showed her yesterday's post, and she was particularly fascinated by my lame attempt to draw Gregory's nightmare door. After studying the photo, she asked, "Mommy, can I draw on the door?". I checked the clock, quickly showed her how to pick colors and use the paint brush in Gimp, loaded the door picture, and then exited to the kitchen to pack her lunch for school. Ten minutes later, I called her in to eat her bagel. She never appeared, so I went into the bedroom and found her still in her pajamas, still sitting at my laptop, engrossed in her drawing. I caught a glimpse of the screen and felt amazement. Here is a side by side comparison of our work:

My scary door faceRebecca's door

Granted, I didn't try very hard on mine, but she is only 6, and this was the first time she ever used graphics software. Dude, she totally showed me up! Her's has teeth. And nostrils. She must get her artistic ability from her Dad. On a related note, she almost missed the bus. On another related note, I'm expecting to be woken up at 3:00 AM by Rebecca having a nightmare about her door.

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Winter Wonderland Wakeup

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Showcasing my astounding
graphic design abilities!

Our kids have embarked on a diabolical mission to deprive us parents of as much sleep as possible. Not a happy development - anyone who knows me knows I need me some sleep. It's mostly Gregory. He's developed an irrational fear of the doors in our house (he's not afraid of what he thinks might be on the other side of the door, but the actual rectangular piece of wood). All I can get out of him is that he thinks the 2 squares at the top of the door look like eyes. Go figure. Anyway, he's been waking up most nights between the hours of 1 and 5 AM. He pads down the stairs and climbs into our bed, following up with his patented 'I scared' with a request for 'something to drink', 'kid TV', or usually, both. Kids, here's a little secret. Your Mom and Dad will let you get away with just about anything, if it means they don't have to get up between the hours of 1 and 5 AM. If we can get him to go back to sleep, or even lay quietly, a lot of the time we just let him be and go back to sleep ourselves(bad us!).

Sunday morning was a prime example. He came downstairs sometime around 4:00 AM, asking for 'kid TV'. He tossed and turned for at least an hour, managing to bump into Greg or myself every time one of us started drifting back to sleep. Finally, under threat of being sent back to his bed, he quieted down and miraculously fell asleep. By 6 AM, Greg and I had rejoined the sweet world of Sunday morning sleep.

But fate was against us. Saturday night into early Sunday morning we had our first December snow fall here in Central Massachusetts. Only a couple of inches, but apparently that's enough to be wildly exciting in the pre-Christmas world of a 6 year old. At 7 AM, Rebecca burst into our room yelling 'Wake up! Waaake upppp! It's a Winter Wonderland outside. Wake Up! Waaake uppp!'

This didn't go over so well, except with Gregory who went from sleep to wide awake in 2 secondes flat. He jumped out of bed, and excitedly ran around the house with his big sister, looking out the windows. OK, that last part was kind of cute, even though I knew my Sunday morning slumber was over.

Here they are playing in the snow. Is anybody else's kids obsessed with pretending to be bears?

To make sure we don't let down our guard, Mother Nature hit us with another snowstorm today. School was canceled and Rebecca ventured out into the icy outdoors this morning for about an hour before declaring 'the storm is too much for me'.

She promptly changed back into her pj's, put on 'Spirit', and drank some hot cocoa from her very cool bunny mug (I know you guys are all jealous of the bunny mug!).
Nature has been on a making herself known around here lately. Last night on the way home from gymnastics a coyote ran in front of our van, only 50 feet away from our driveway. There was no traffic on the road, so I stopped and turned the car slightly until our headlights washed across him. He just stood there on the other side of a stone wall, staring at us for a minute, and turned away and trotted toward the far side of the field. Rebecca was got a good look at him and was very excited since coyotes are one of her favorite animals.

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An Afternoon of 'Culture' at the Nutcracker

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rebecca and Gregory at the Nutcracker

This afternoon, my Mom and I took the kids to The Nutcracker Ballet at the Hanover Theater in Worcester. I hadn't planned to bring Gregory, but I had an extra ticket (and no babysitter), so Mom and I bravely decided to give it a try. We figured we could always take turns out in the lobby with him if he got too unruly.

The most amazing thing was Gregory actually sat still through the entire first half, and most of the second half of the show. I was stunned at how well behaved and enraptured he was during the show. He was actually quieter than his big sister (there's something to be said for seeing it the 1st time - this was Rebecca's 4th year). Rebecca did OK, but all the excitement of Christmas, getting dressed up, snow on the ride to the theater, and an MnM cookie in the lobby was a little too much for her.

Grandma shows Gregory the
orchestra before the show

The dancer's were great - especially the sugar plum fairy and her consort. Our seats were in the 2nd row, which has both advantages and disadvantages:

  • Disadvantage: When you are further back, it looks more like the dancers are gliding on the stage - when you're really close, you can see how hard they are actually working.
  • Advantage: you can see really well - especially important when you are with really short people, such as the kids and my Mom (just kidding Mom!).
  • Disadvantage: you can see really well. Yes, this can also be a disadvantage. Sorry if this is too much info, but if we can put a man on the moon, don't we have the technology to create a pair of men's ballet tights that you can't see through? I had to resist the urge to put my hand in front of Rebecca's eyes.

On the way home, we went around the van and everyone talked about their favorite parts. Grandma and I loved the final dance of the sugar plum fairy and her consort (they were both really wonderful dancers!). Gregory's (surprise, surprise) was when the Nutcracker killed the mouse king. He briefly declared he was going to grow up to be the Nutcracker so he could kill the mouse king, but has already returned to his previous ambition of becoming the abominable snowman (see Wednesday's post). Rebecca's favorite part was when "the toy soldier shot the mouse in the butt". Nothing like a little culture for the kids (this was also Grandma's second favorite part!).

In other news, our misfit toys are back downstairs in their box, dreaming of next Christmas. This development was the result of a misfit toy throwing episode the kids had with our TV yesterday. Also, today is Greg's 38th birthday. Happy Birthday honey! How does it feel to be in your late 30's? Sorry - I have to milk it for the next 20 days - XOXOXOX!

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We're All Misfits

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rebecca with her favorite
Rudolph character

Last night was the annual showing of the beloved Rankin and Bass produced "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" on NBC. This is a big event in our house. Rebecca remembered it from last year, although she did make a running jump onto the couch to hide behind me when the abominable snowman first showed up. Gregory fell asleep mid Christmas special last year, so this was his first real experience with the celebration in claynation. He was very taken with the monster (you could almost say obsessed) and throughout any scene that didn't roar, he was pondering the whereabouts of the furry beast. He did have trouble distinguishing between Yukon and Santa Claus. Even though I explained several times that Yukon has the red beard, and Santa has the white beard, he was still commenting this morning that "Santa pulled out Bumblebee's teeth and pushed him over".

I'm a little embarrassed to say this is one of my favorite Christmas specials (probably something to do with the fact that it is only shown once a year, and I refuse to buy a copy for the house - it would definitely lose something if the kids watched it over and over). I enjoyed catching some of the puns from an era when the adult jokes in kid's movies were more subtle. Here's a few I liked:

  • Hey, what do you say we both be independent together, huh? - Hermey

  • How do you like that? Even among misfits you're a misfit. - Yukon

  • Well for the first year the Donner's did a pretty good job of hiding Rudolphs - non conformity. - Burl Ives Snowman

If that's not enough red nosed goodness for you, here's some trivia I found after extensive Internet research (I went to IMDB->Rudolph->trivia):

  • Why is Dolly for Sue, who is apparently a perfectly ordinary doll, living on the Island of Misfit Toys? Greg and I have actually discussed this on numerous occasions! This gripping debate raged on for decades, until official word from Rankin-Bass recently decided the issue: Dolly for Sue is a "misfit" because she has psychological problems - she feels unloved.

  • But Who's Counting Dept.: When Santa's sleigh finally takes off into the storm near the end of the film, it's being pulled by SIX reindeer instead of eight, with Rudolph leading the way.

  • Yukon Cornelius' stalwart sled dogs include a Cocker Spaniel, a Poodle, a Saint Bernard, a Collie, and a Dachshund.

  • At the conclusion of "Holly Jolly Christmas", Hermie the elf can be seen dancing (and flirting) with an equally attentive girl elf, suggesting a budding romance.

The fruits of our labor - impromptu cave
and a boat load of Rudolph characters
Can you guess which one was Gregory's favorite?

After last night, I figured today would be the perfect day to pull out our misfit toy collection. Back in 1998, way before our push to live more sustainably, CVS sold stuffed versions of all the Rudolph characters. Greg and I bought every single one, and hung them around our old apartment for a few years. Then the toys spent a few years in storage, until Rebecca was about 4. We've pulled them out on a limited basis, but this year I decided to go all out. Rebecca and I wanted to surprise Gregory, so before he got home from daycare today we cleaned off the kid's coloring table and made an impromptu mountain ice cave out of some pillows, a box, and a sheet. We set out every single stuffed Rudolph character and waited. When he finally got home, he was beside himself. Guess which character he went for first? The two kids spent the last hour before bed playing Rudolph. Now I just have to figure out how to make Santa's castle ...

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