Monday, December 28, 2009

Mortimer Moves In

Christmas 2009

On tiptoe, peering through the sea of pews and rows of heads, she spotted us – her parents – and waved with her beautiful brown hand in a flurry of excitement. In fact, in the span of about 15 minutes she checked several times to see that we were still watching, each time casting small glittery reflections in the chapel as the sparkle of her holiday dress caught the light of the alter candles. This was our Devi during the children’s sermon, where all the little ones were called to the pulpit to receive a Christmas Eve message at the candlelight service. I have witnessed that waving cliche a number of times in my life, but had never allowed myself to think that one day a child might search the crowd for my proud face. Each time we experience one of these precious moments, it is a treasure. Amongst the giggles of those sitting near us, we witnessed this gentle and innocent reminder that we are a solidified family. A unit. We wonder, on that Christmas Eve, as we sat and prayed in the sanctuary, if our family might be blessed one more time in the coming year. This is our Christmas wish.

At the holiday party we hosted

Later in the service, after one small wiggly attitude adjustment in the foyer, Devi proudly held her own lit candle and belted out Away in a Manger and after extinguishing it's flame in a single breath, sang Joy to the World, both hymns that she has recently mastered. After a full day of anticipation, our traditional clam chowder dinner, gift exchange and church with Oma, Devi, twitching in exhaustion, gave up the day home bound and bundled in her car seat. In a deep sleep, with not so much as a sigh, we transitioned her from car to crib.

Santa's cookie tray

Discovering Mortimer

Awakening on Christmas morning, I could hear daddy and Devi having their good morning conversation. First out of her mouth was, “Where is mommy?” and second came, “Did Santa come and fill our stockings?” It was nice to know I still got top billing! As in previous years, she paused at the nativity to sing happy birthday to baby Jesus and then galloped out to the living room to witness a bit of Christmas morning magic. With a breathy Wwwoooowwwww!!!!! she found the empty plate where cookies for Santa once lay and her stocking overflowing with treasures. Sticking right out of the top was the little white mouse she had wished for. Devi quickly pulled him out, hugged him, kissed him on the nose and uttered, “Awwww, cute little guy!” Promptly pronouncing his name to be Mortimer, she wrapped him in Pokey, her security blanket, and for her, Christmas had come.

We both got slippers!

Our budding photographer telling us to say "cheese"!

Wallowing in our jammies until the very last second, we exchanged gifts, played games, cuddled, listened to music and ate a wonderful breakfast made complete by our neighbor Carol’s freshly baked coffee cake. She alone is personally responsible for adding a few pounds to each of our waistlines this year. Then after Devi’s nap we headed to Papa and Gail’s, their house full of extended family, for turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This is the first year, since my mom passed away December 8th, four years ago, that my dad felt comfortable putting up a Christmas tree in his home and it felt good to renew this old tradition. Most of the family is now grown, but with Devi, her cousin Jake AND Aunt Obie’s newly adopted kitten present, the excitement was kept at an ear splitting level all evening as they chased that poor animal from room to room.

Throughout the holidays, I am loving the selfLESSness and selfISHness of being three. Tenderly Devi watched others open gifts with as much excitement to know what was inside, as when she opened one tagged for herself; an innocence that I hope sticks with her as she ages. Discovering the wonderful feeling that comes with giving and receiving for the first time, I enjoyed watching as she eagerly blurted that she had made the recipient a bar of soap, before they could even make their way through the mound of tape enclosing the home made gift she had wrapped herself. Her genuine thank yous and you're welcomes came without prodding, making Pat and I feel like some of our parenting has rubbed off. It was a wonderful four days of celebration, preparing us to say our final good byes to this year and welcome the next 365 days of parenting adventure.

Devi's first time making Christmas
cookies with Oma.

This year's Christmas funnies.

1. Mommy, if we get up and Santa has not come, do we have to go back to bed?

2. For Halloween next year, I can go as baby Jesus and you can go as Mary. Daddy can be Joseph.

3. For Halloween next year, you can be Eve, Daddy can be Adam and I can be the apple because I don't like the snake.

4. Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to be a dentist. (After watching Rudolph about 100 times)

5. I'm Hermie, daddy, you are Klondike Cornelius and mommy is the bomb-able snowman.

6. Her favorite game is to have us sing the wrong words to songs and try to trick her. IE: Harvey the green nosed lemur, had a very sticky tongue. She corrects the words and then says, "Mommy, you are silly".

7. Mommy are you a ma'am? Daddy are you a surw? Mommy are you a gurw? Daddy are you a boy?

8. If I had a nickel for every time she asks, "Why was there no rooms in the inn?"

9. She calls the grinch the grump

10. We still shout "Christmas Lights" whenever we see them and to her that still includes fast food signs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Candy Cane = Magic

After last years trip to sit on Santa’s lap, a near disaster, I had been carefully orchestrating this years attempt, in an effort to avoid any drama. Stopping to interview the photo takers over a week ago, I drilled them on Santa’s break time, length of lines in relation to time of day and got what a sleuther would call the “low down” on the situation. With my facts collected, we planned to go see Santa on Wednesday after work, before the dinner hour and before school lets out for the holidays, however Devi has had a cold and was all stuffed up with puffy eyes and red nose and we didn’t want anyone mistaking our beautiful angel for Rudolph :) We decided to see what Wednesday would bring.

Wednesday, after work, found me holding my slightly wilted sweet pea as she told me that she did not feel very well. I tested her by reminding her that we had planned to see Santa, but if she was not feeling well, we could go tomorrow. “Oh no, mommy. I’m feeling much better now”, was her reply which was the signal to pull the trigger on our plan.

She and I dashed home, brushed hair, changed clothes and grabbed a snack to eat along the way. Meanwhile daddy drove from work to Santa’s to hold us a spot in line. In route, Devi and I belted out Christmas carols to ensure that she stayed awake because driving in the dark is like a drug to her and with daylight savings time comes winter darkness at about 3pm here. Along the way the excitement grew and with it came a litany of questions for Santa now that Dev is old enough to comprehend this whole Santa business.

1. Where is Misses Claus?

2. Will Rudolph be guiding the sleigh this year?

3. Is our house the first stop?

4. What are the elves doing?

5. Is our chimney big enough for him?

She was determined to ask them all.

Joining daddy second in line, we were all set with cookies for Santa in hand. It appeared that the stage fright she suffered from last year had completely matured into steadfast confidence and determination. With no more than 5 minutes of waiting time, the red velvet rope was drawn back to clear our path to Santa. It was her turn!

Devi, with a spring of excitement in her step, marched right up, her arm extended revealing the cookies. She promptly and politely handed them to Santa, pivoted in her shiny black patent leathers and with all four of her extremities put a death grip around Pat’s knees. Oh boy! Here we go. Pat and I went into pleading parenting mode trying our darnedest to get her to acknowledge the big jolly guy who was extremely patient and kind. Devi was not budging...UNTIL Santa reached into his wonderfully magic bag and offered a tiny candy cane.

Now I don’t know what special ingredients might be used in making candy canes at the North pole, but they must possess some Christmas magic because our daughter transformed in an instant simply by being offered one. Releasing her tourniquet grip at Pat’s knees, she stood, smoothed her dress and carefully walked up to Santa and asked to sit on his lap! Once taking possession of the sweet treat, our boisterous daughter back into the chatterbox we know and love. The two of them ended up having a very nice re pore as she very clearly explained that her behavior has been excellent and that she was hoping for a white mouse on Christmas morning. I think Santa has it covered as he gave me one of his all knowing winks and a smile. I was relieved when he brilliantly ended the detailed questioning before she could specify whether she was referring to a LIVE mouse!

She managed to ask about Misses Claus to which Santa told her that she is the head honcho at the castle when he is away on business. She makes sure the elves make toys, because they would really like to just eat candy canes too. Devi gave Santa two giant hugs, shook his white gloved hand, said Merry Christmas and told him to “fly safe”!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

There is nothing like the sound of little bare feet slapping the moist sand of a tropical beach as they charge the surf. Throwing her arms in the air, she chants the words Puerto Vallarta numerous times; the announcement that we have once again arrived!

Another Thanksgiving spent in the warmth of the Mexican sun was so therapeutic. A nice break from the prelude of the holidays and a time to reflect on our many blessings, one of which was the opportunity to spend this week of R&R with Pat's brother's family and his mom. Devi was ecstatic to have two of her young cousins to play with for a whole week along with her Oma, aunt and uncle, whom she named the Big Silly on this trip.

She chased this poor bird up and down the beach.

Chopsticks in the dark!

Beyond daily fresh guacamole, and chilled champagne, better than Verde sauce on scrambled eggs in the morning and desserts every night; even surpassing the unbelievable massage and gorgeous nightly sunsets, was the snorkeling experience I had with my three year old. Her first time!

Tearful over the realization that fins and mouthpieces were not available in her size, we managed to get her goggles on and tackle the internal struggle she was trying so desperately to overcome; whether to stay in the boat or brave the open ocean. In the end, her adventurous spirit came shining through and into the water we went to join our boat full of bobbing counterparts. I convinced her to put her face into the water long enough to see a glimpse of the colorful tropical fish that were lively and abundant. That was all it took. She was hooked and loving this adventure.

With no body fat to speak of, she quickly began to shiver, but our outing yielded several "whoo-hoo, fish!" shouts from her before we turned and swam back to the boat. All the adrenalin and energy burned blooping exhausted my little monkey and with life jacket still in place and her towel wrapped burrito style around her little body, she quickly fell asleep. In fact, she never stirred once from my arms to the captains to make the transfer from catamaran to dingy, then back to me for the short ride to shore and then from my arms to the captain's again as he waded her from thigh deep water to shore and into the comfort of a lounging chair. I wish I possessed the ability to nap like that!

The glorious sun was very generous, but we did encounter one nasty day of rain. Not a mist or refreshing shower - we experienced a true downpour in every sense of the word. In a place not used to this sort of deluge, the gutterless grounds were quickly overcome with water and swamped. We happened to be eating at a Japanese restaurant at the time; the only one on the premises that is not open air. About half way through the meal, Dev announced she had to use the rest room. I took her. While assisting in the stall, the restaurant lost power leaving us in complete blackness in the ladies room. We were both very quiet for a few seconds and then out of the darkness, the tiniest of voices said, "Mommy, why did you turn out the lights ?" When I said we lost power, something she has never experienced before, she very calmly said, "Oh" as if she understood the idea of electricity. That is my roll with the punches kid. We managed to feel our way out of the rest room where emergency generators had kicked in to help light our way past the dripping light fixtures to our table. All three little girls managed with chop sticks pretty well as we finished our meal in candle light which was really quite nice.

Over way to fast, the trip was a huge success. The children were good buddies the whole time becoming water logged with raisined skin to last a lifetime by weeks end. Olivia, the oldest asked if we could live there all the time! I guess that says it all. We all got along so well and enjoyed our time in the sun, only to return to temperatures in the teens at home. That has been an huge adjustment. Our skin, bronzed by the sun's rays, is covered in layers for warmth, with just a tiny bit of it's intensity lingering deep in our soul's. We are all hoping to hold onto it through the winter, until our next trip to paradise!

Once again we say farewell..sniff