‘Tis the Season

Even though I did the entirety of my Christmas shopping for the kids via the Internet and accomplished it all in just one night, using only three websites and spending way less than what we had budgeted, the holidays are still such a busy time of year. More than not, though, the clan has been a lot more holly-jolly than bah-humbug.

The adventure begins @ Sugar Plum Farm.

As can be expected with the 3 Amigos, there was never a dull moment during our Thanksgiving in the mountains.

  • Daddy and I took Gabriel and Zeke on a hike up the back side of Uncle Clay and Aunt Naomi’s house. After much initial whining and plenty of dramatic falling, our outdoorsy boys eventually overcame and conquered the steep hill.
  • On the windy wagon ride up Sugar Plum Farm’s mountainside, Zeke decided that choosing and cutting a Christmas tree is way lame. There was more dramatic tumbling and lots of crying while Daddy, Houston, Gabe and I picked out “Freddy the Fir.” Thankfully, Zeke recovered once he had his blankie and warm food in his belly.
  • Houston used his first porta-potty while atop the chilly mountain at Sugar Plum. Since both Daddy and son were bundled in bulky winter gear, and only Houston would fit inside, Stephen had Houston stand on the seat for discharge, and then picked him up and shook him over the hole for the remainder of the task — actually an efficient and fairly clean means to an end.
  • Houston and Gabe insisted on taking off their gloves while toasting marshmallows around the Sugar Plum campfire, yet refused to warm up their hands near the flames. Why they seemingly want to run through our home campfires, but wanted to steer clear of this fire is beyond me.

Zeke & Daddy chill behind the Creek House.

After Thanksgiving, Daddy and I implemented the “no more floor blankies” rule with the twins. We had gotten tired of kids constantly tripping on slippery fleece; the blankies acting as dust, dirt and hair catchers; kids crying when they misplace their beloved blankies; battling keeping yucky floor blankies out of cribs; and trying to keep a stash of clean blankies around, which had become just an added burden to my never-endless laundry load.

If they ever need a fix, Gabe and Zeke are more than welcome to cuddle with their blankies in bed. The same rule holds true for Gabriel’s cherished pacifier: an empty baby bottle. But other than those moments of weakness, blankies and bottles are only allowed during nap time and while in bed at night. Thankfully, the transition has gone surprisingly well.

The twins are making great progress with Miss Pat.

  • A few weeks ago, Gabe strung together his first four-word sentence during speech therapy (“More bubbles, Miss Pat”), while Zeke is saying plenty of two-word combinations.
  • Gabe finally said “car,” instead of “brrrrrrrr,” yet he and Zeke still prefer “choo choo” over “train.” I suppose some words are just more interesting as sound effects.
  • Miss Pat is impressed with the twins saying “please” and “thank you” without being prodded to do so. Turns out my heathen boys possess manners after all, although they usually reserve such civilized behavior for everyone other than Mommy.
  • Miss Pat is also amazed at Gabriel and Zeke’s understanding of the alphabet. They probably know about half of their letters and the corresponding sounds, as well as a few numbers between 1 and 10.

Gabriel (left) & Zeke recuperate from their exhausting hike.

The dudes are currently in the throes of hardcore Christmas-show-mania. We own “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on DVD, and the boys are obsessed. You may find Houston reciting dialog to a show (while watching it or otherwise), or Gabe and Zeke gleefully exclaiming “Bumble!” or “Hermey!” It’s fun to watch them get so excited over these holiday classics, although Daddy and I have had to reduce their viewings to a much saner rate of consumption.

The first weekend of the month was Christmas kick-off around the home front. After Daddy took Houston to his first basketball game, we took the 3 Amigos downtown for the city Christmas Parade. It snowed the entire time we were there (accumulating about 1 1/2″ by that night), which made for an even more festive occasion.

Since we were at the end of the parade route and only stayed out in the elements till the kids’ shoes and gloves were drenched, the boys didn’t see many balloons, but they did witness lots of marching bands and a few cool floats. We then hit one of our fave Mexican joints to thaw out, warm up and chow down.

That night, we strung lights on Freddy the Fir with the boys’ “assistance.” Stephen and I opted to decorate the tree once they had gone to bed, saving a few fave ornaments (most Rudolph stuff) that each amigo got to hang himself the next day: recuperation day. After the boys donned Freddy with the remaining bling, we watched “Elf” and drank hot chocolate with marshmallows by the fire. The scene would’ve warmed Norman Rockwell’s heart!

“Let it snow!” say Gabe, Zeke & Houston (L to R) @ the downtown holiday parade.

Last weekend, the family headed out to Houston’s second basketball game. Besides sometimes brandishing his “light sabers” (read: extended index fingers) during the game, Houston has found his comfort zone. I don’t think he particularly loves the sport — he’s much more interested in baseball, football and karate — but Houston seems to like playing on a team, running around with other kids for an hour-plus, and pleasing cool Coach Forrest. Needless to say, Gabe and Zeke enjoyed the jaunt, and had a blast tossing around spare basketballs and causing trouble with the coach’s two sons.

We ended up taking Zeke to the pediatrician for a second time, since his cough had gotten pretty nasty while up at Granny’s over Thanksgiving. The doc sent us to a radiology place for an x-ray, and thankfully, everything came back negative. So, the doc suggested that Zeke take a very small dose of cough suppressant 1-2 times per day, and that seems to have (finally) done the trick.

Last but not least, tonight was an extraordinary time for this domestic goddess. Greg and Merdy’s church offered a four-hour-long “Parents’ Night Out” — free baby-sitting services so that mom and/or dad could get a few things accomplished without lugging around a bunch of hoodlums or just have some kid-free adult time. I did both: a little light shopping (and was the only person relaxed, happy and humming Christmas ditties in Wal-Mart) before Stephen and I dined out on delectable Indian cuisine. What a treat!

Houston, Gabriel & Zeke (L to R) sit proudly in front of the Dillingham tree for 2010, “Freddy the Fir.”

When picking up the kids, we somehow managed to lock the van doors while the car was running and all three boys were buckled up inside. Being the smarty britches that he is, Houston followed my direction, unbuckling himself and then unlocking the doors via driver-seat controls. Consequently, he got his 10th star on our new reward chart, earning back his DS privileges.

Click the top photo to check out all the Thanksgiving fun, the snowy street shot to view parade pics, and the above photo to check out December stuff. Also available are Play Land photos and four humorous pine cone turkey pics at the end of the November gallery.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Unka Jim. Thanks for the life lessons, the laughs, the love, the libation, and, of course, the buttons, buttons, buttons! We miss you. Rest in peace.

Also, rest in peace, Osiris. A mellow cat, who I adopted in 1992, and was lovingly raised by Gramsey and Papa from 1994 on. Have fun smelling the flowers in kitty heaven.