Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lily's 6th Birthday

I am so thankful that Lily wanted a smaller birthday this year. Since her birthday is within a week of Christmas, it makes it easier on me when things are simple!

Since the summer she has wanted a decorating party. Easy enough! They decorated gingerbread families and cupcakes. It was incredibly messy and made me miss having a dog to clean up the floors.

Lily's cupcake:

They boys weren't as interested in the decorating as much as the girls were.

Lily's gingerbread family. After completing it she took a bite and realized how DISGUSTING all that frosting really is. They escaped their demise, unlike the undecorated gingerbread family that she did end up eating.

Jamison's gingerbread family. His look like victims of a shooting spree.

Monday, December 20, 2010

An American Girl Story

Admittedly, there are a lot of pictures on this post. Since this event was 13 months in the making I had to document it to the fullest.

Since November of last year Lily has been obsessed with the American Girl dolls. You might think I'm exaggerating but I can rattle off dozens of examples of her single minded obsession for these dolls. I could compare it to her former love, Disney Princesses, except that now she can read so add another level fascination.

For months prior to November of 2009 I had received American Girl doll catalogs in the mail. They promptly went into the recycle bin - there was no way I wanted Lily to even know these dolls existed. They are $100 a doll and their clothes cost the same as human clothes. Each of the historical dolls tells a story about a certain era in time - Felicity is 1774, Kirsten is 1854, Addy is 1864, Rebecca is 1914, Kit is 1934, Molly is 1944, and Julie is 1974 (side note - as I'm typing this I ask Lily - which of the dolls is 1974? Lily: Julie. She has long blonde hair with brown eyes. Her best friend is Ivy. Me: Thanks, if she ever goes missing at least they can depend on you for identification. Lily: Thanks.) So these dolls have a lot of educational value. We read "Meet Kirsten" and Lily learned all about being a Swedish immigrant coming to America and having a friend die of cholera. That was a lovely conversation with my five year old. I've totally avoided Addy because I have no desire to explain slavery to Lily.

The books and dolls are geared towards 8 year olds so I was going to wait until she was older to introduce the books to Lily. As you can tell from the story lines, they are meant for older girls and the dolls need to be taken care of properly. So, we told Lily she needed to wait until her 7th birthday.

And then it began. Her complete CONSUMPTION of anything American Girl. The website, the books, the catalog. Everything. At one point she brought the catalog to me and wanted me to see if underpants were included with all the accessories. I look at the catalog and tell her that underpants are not described so that doll may not come with underpants. Lily: are you sure? Why don't you read it out loud to me? So I read the description. Lily: you missed the last part. Me: No, that's just the item number, in case we were going to order it. Lily: Can you read it, just in case? Me: Really? Lily: Yes. Me: JYX1007. Does that help? Lily: No. Me: I know.

That is just an example of a conversation that would happen at least once a day. She had catalogs everywhere - her bedroom, the art table, in the car, and at my mother's house. They were worn, falling apart, and well loved. When a new one came in the mail it was declared THE BEST DAY EVER!!

So around June I lost all sense of sanity. A 32 year old woman should not have this much knowledge of American Girls unless I invented them or managed their store. I called my mother and I said that I could not wait until her seventh birthday. We had to get her an American Girl for her sixth birthday - there was no way I could do another 18 months of this.

Our New York City trip was planned for December 16. We would spend an hour at the store, eat in the cafe, and then head to the Rockettes before catching the train home. Jamison and Brian ended up coming as well so it was a small family event.

While we were at AG, Brian took Jamie to Toys R Us to pick out something with his savings account money.

Lily in front of Lanie, the girl of the year.

Mom and Lily examining all the past Girls of the Year.

And then came decision making time. We tried to get her to commit to a doll beforehand so we wouldn't have a potential breakdown on hour hands. Mom was definitely going to get her a doll and I told her I could buy her another one or I'd buy the accessories to the doll my mom bought.

Reading the description on the box carefully to make sure we know exactly what is being purchased. Lily had saved $8.00 of her money to buy glasses for the dolls. Since Brian and I have worn glasses since we were young, we have told Lily that she should prepare herself for glasses one day. She took it a step further and made sure her doll had glasses as well. I just liked the idea of her saving her money for something specific and waiting until the proper time to spend it.

Looking at the Kit display:
And the Rebecca display:

And this is when she whipped out her pen and paper to list what she wanted, with prices, and come up with a final decision. Another positive thing that AG has done is help with Lily's math skills. I have Lily add up all the prices of the items she wants so she can see how much things cost.

The faces of decision making:

And she finally decided on Kit and Rebecca.

At the American Girl cafe for lunch. My mother unsuccessfully tried to alter Lily's doll choice. Rebecca was acceptable. Kit, on the other hand, not so much. See, Kit is set in 1934 - right in the middle of the depression. So her clothes express the depression era - they are not very colorful and are pretty drab. Her overcoat is actually her dads old coat that they re-lined for Kit (told you that I knew too much about these girls) and it looks like a mans coat. So mom was directing Lily towards dolls that had prettier clothing options. It didn't work and she ended up with Kit and Rebecca. This is a story that I will tell at my mothers funeral one day.

Blowing out her birthday candle.

And then we headed to Radio City Music Hall. This was the third or fourth time I've seen the show and Lily saw it when she was three. She appreciated it a lot more at six years old. It was very sweet to watch her fascination with the dancers.
And Jamison took a nap during the performance. Ever pay $85.00 for a nap? My mom did! Thanks for the tickets mom! It might be the most expensive nap ever, but it was worth it since he had been up since 6:00am.

What else did Jamison do during the trip? He plastered his face to the train window:

Because it is a beautiful train ride. It follows the Hudson River all the way down.

He hung out with his sister and was SO HAPPY for her. His pure sweetness is heart warming. (Ignore his bloodied lip. Seconds upon entering the church building on Wednesday night he fell flat on his face and split his lip.)

He played with Batman and Robin during lunch.

At Rockefeller Center.

And then there were no taxis so we had to (gasp) walk the 20 blocks to the train station. Luckily, the weather was nice and there wasn't wind to knock you over at each block crosswalk. Lily has never been one to express extreme happiness or sadness - she's always emotionally in the middle of the road. But she obviously enjoyed her day and had a good time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lily's Christmas Concert

Last night we attended the first of 18 more years of Christmas concerts. Lily's kindergarten class sang three songs during the Elementary concert. Since the class only has eleven students I was afraid we wouldn't be able to hear them at all. And then the teacher handed out the microphones. One thing Lily should never be given - a microphone. Granted, I would put her in the "shy" category (how is a child of mine shy?!) but once given a stage and a little bit of confidence she is usually ready to shine.

(I was in row four and my camera still has lighting problems. Also, the "Director" chair in the back was for a small play that the 1st-6th grades performed during the concert)

That being said, I should clarify that Lily has tons of passion when she performs. TONS. A HUGE ABUNDANCE. But as of now she has yet to find her talent for singing. Maybe it just hasn't been developed yet; or possibly she hasn't tapped into it. Either way, her passion far outweighs her talent for singing. But it is all about the heart, isn't it?

They performed Silent Night in sign language. So it really was silent. And then they sang/belted out the song without sign language. It was highly entertaining. And not silent.

There was also a small scuffle over the microphone that was being passed around the class. Thankfully, Lily stayed out of it, although I noticed that she was restraining herself. It's hard to see in this photo but she was starting to get annoyed at something.

And then I zoomed in. Hands on hips, eyes rolled. Everyone else appears satisfied but something has clearly not met her approval.

Luckily, she pulled it together for the final song of This Little Light of Mine.

One the way home, in between calming down over-tired children, Brian and I reflected on our school concerts. I (mostly) loved our chorus concerts around Christmas. We remembered Jingle Bell chapel at Harding where everyone jingled keys along with the song. I also remembered the very long band concerts that I had to sit through while my sister played the flute. Apparently my mother was thinking about that too while she cried through the 5th and 6th grade band last night. I texted to Kristen about moms emotional state and we agreed that mom was probably crying over all the lost money to finance Kristen's flute lessons and equipment. Way to go Kris!
In the end we decided that if elementary school Christmas concerts do not put you in the mood for Christmas, I don't know what will. If you don't have young kids, find an elementary school close to you and attend a concert. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas

I am a huge coupon shopper. Every Sunday I look forward to clipping coupons for deals. I also look at the coupon websites but unless I'm buying something with a brand name, they normally don't work for me. Why would I buy three boxes of cereal to save $1? They want my $12 immediately when I'd rather keep it in my checking account and gain interest (small as it may be). I only need one box anyway and if I buy the generic kind I save way more than $1.

And that's how I feel about brand name coupons.


In the coupon packets in the Sunday paper they also advertise some very unique items. And, in case you skimmed over them too fast, I thought I'd share my favorites. I think they would make lovely Christmas presents. (side note-if you own these items, I'm not making fun of you. I get made fun of for my Spice Girls mug all the time. Except that my dad stole it so now he gets the eyebrow raise when he goes into the break room for a refill.) I have even categorized the gifts for you. First, let's head to the Apparel Department.

Ahh, Bunny Wisdom. Since I have no technical capabilities whatsoever you can't really read what's on this beautiful shirt. If I was classy and knew how to use Photoshop this would probably work out a lot better. But I digress. Back to Bunny Wisdom - the shirt reads - Take Time To Relax, Enjoy the Simple Things, and Slow Down. That is the wisdom bunnies have. I always thought bunnies were very skitterish and fast so I'm not sure where these wise bunnies came from.

Our next item is Spirit of the Wilderness. I feel like this would be perfect for Sarah Palin but I have no reasons to back that up. It's just a gut feeling. This is a fleece jacket and features wolf art in various places on the jacket. There are even sculptural wolf zipper pulls on the front and the pockets - to "add to the unique styling". I feel so bad for the copy person who had to write up this advertisement. To make this fleece even more special, you are limited to only ONE per order. And that's a shame; because I was looking to outfit the whole family for our holiday picture.

Our last apparel items is for the ladies only. And this one, too, is only limited to one per order - that's how special these jackets are! This one is titled the "Magic of Christmas". Don't we all want a little Christmas Magic?! It states - "A cozy wardrobe essential embroidered with OVER 20 (their emphasis, not mine) of your favorite Disney characters!" It also features a sculptural metallic snowflake zipper charm. I think "sculptural metallic snowflake zipper charm" is code for "will fall off the first time you try to zip this up."

Our next department is Knick Knacks, or Tchotchkes, if you will, depending on where you are from.
When Jamison saw this little lady, he wanted to know why "that cat looks like that" and I had to explain, it's not a cat, it's this unusual dog called a Chihuahua, but deep down I believe they are part of the rodent family. He thought I made up the name and was laughing hysterically. The he ran around the house for 20 minutes saying chihuahua over and over. Not one of my best teachable moments with my son.

This dressed up gal is "never short on personality!" Which is high praise for a piece of ceramic. She also features sparkling faux gems (what?! I thought they were real! It would have been such a good gift idea if only the gems were real.) and a (as in one) real feather!

This delicate piece is a cat. But I didn't show Jamison because I would have no answer to his inevitable question as to why the cat had wings. "Hello Sunshine" features lifelike whiskers and glitter - which our cat has as well after walking across Lily's craft table. There are more faux gems on this cat - 10 of them, in fact. The advertisement also notes that the "glittery sun is suspended on a springy wire!" But the real question is why? Why is there a glittery sun on a springy wire? For the Cat Lady's 100 cats to continually paw at it so that it moves its glittery sun? This gift is definitely for the cat lover (and faux gem lover) that you have in your life.

Who does not like Gone With the Wind? This piece actually hurts me to look at because I like the movie so much. This is the Premier Issue of the Gone With the Wind Figurine Collection. That means there WILL be more of them. Someone produced this and said - this is great! Let's make more! It looks like the next one will be of her Curtain Dress, which they fancy up and call "The Green Velvet Dress." We all know what dress you are talking about and everyone calls it the Curtain Dress. Call it what it is.
There is only one item in our Jewelry Department. But really, after seeing it, one item is all you need. It's PANDA MANIA! There are no faux jewels here, ladies and gentlemen. There are real diamonds on this ring....tiny as they are since the piece is only $55 (plus shipping and handling, don't forget). As stated in the advertisement - "the panda strikes an endearing pose as he contentedly sits amid bamboo stalks lavishly plated with 24k gold, and nibbles on delicate diamond studded leaves". I've see bamboo. This ring does not look like bamboo. But I must give credit to where credit is due. The copywriter paints a picture with their description of the ring. I feel bad that they are stuck in this job; but in this economy - a job is a job.

And lastly, gifts for the kids.
"An Old Fashioned Disney Christmas" is a snow globe with lights, music, and continually swirling snow. It plays 8 (timeless) holiday classics. If this snow globe was in my house there are a variety of things that would happen to it:
1. Lily would confiscate it, declaring it to be the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. It will then go into her room where it will be lost among all the other "most beautiful things she has ever seen".
2. Jamison would casually walk by it and without evening meaning to (or noticing that he did it) would knock it down. Questionable snow globe liquid and faux snow would be splattered everywhere. Jamie would then step on the sharpest piece of glass and slice his foot open.
3. I would throw the thing outside because the kids wouldn't stop playing the "8 timeless holiday melodies".
This one may not exactly be for the kids but I know my kids would be captivated by it. Does Thomas Kincaid paint anymore? Or does he just keep endorsing useless items like this? There is a Santa and reindeer at the top that actually circle the Christmas tree when turned on. Four trains continually drive around the tree. The one thing that it doesn't offer is music. And thank goodness for that.

Lastly, this is an item that I saw in one of the gizillion magazines that arrive at our house daily. It is a Japanese Sand Garden for children age 3 and older. I thought - this is perfect for Jamison! I can easily see him lovingly tending his sand garden. With the little wee rocks and little wee rake, he would gently carve designs in the sand. And of course the sand would never leave the container! No, he would never dump the sand on the ground to create a beach for his McDonald's Megamind figure. No, those rakes would never be broken and turned into spikes to stab his hot dog. And there is no way on this green earth he would ever throw one of those rocks. Not Jamison.

I hope I've given you some ideas for this holiday season. Enjoy your shopping!