10 December 2008

Winter Wonderland Snippets

It has snowed almost every day for the past week. It snowed on The Wombat's birthday and the next day for his party. The snowy days have also brought wind, though, and we haven't gotten outside as much as the boys would like. Last year I took The Monkey to school via sled on most snowy days. It's not as hard core as it sounds - we only live a few blocks away from the school, but it will make a good story when The Monkey is older..."When I was a little boy, my Mama used to take me to school on a sled."

This year I would have about 60 pounds of boys to pull and with the bitingly cold wind we haven't done it yet. The difference between "cold but tolerable" and "freezing our noses off" has a lot to do with the wind.

Despite the snow, wind, and terrible roads, we ventured out on Monday night to pick out our tree. I can tell we need to get the boys outside more because both of them immediately started complaining about being cold and wanted to go inside the tree lot trailer. We have been buying our trees from the same place since we moved back here. The local university's Forestry Club sells reasonably priced trees and the profits go back to the club. Friendly forestry students staff the tree lot and they The Scientist's favorite Frasier Fir. He usually wants a much bigger tree than I do - I'm partial to the skinny Charlie Brown trees and he wants the biggest one that will fit in the living room. This year I gave up my tree control, took the boys inside (where they were delighted to receive candy canes from the friendly forestry student studying ecosystems - I saw her book), and The Scientist picked out the tree by himself.

The tree fits nicely in our living room, although it's big enough that we have to put it in the center of one wall, blocking the fireplace (I was hoping for a skinny tree to stuff off to the side by a window). It turns out that even though you can't see the tree from the street in front of our house, you can see it from the alley in back through our kitchen window. I changed some of our decorations around to make room for some new things I bought during the after-Christmas sales last year and added my favorite beaded garland and sparkly silver candles to the sideboard in the dining room instead of the mantel (mantle? Why does neither word look correct?) in the living room. I think it's the first time I have put any decorations in the dining room except on the table.

We didn't have a Christmas tree last year. We spent Christmas in TX and didn't want to leave a tree up with the cats alone for a week (alone minus the cat sitter each day, that is). Plus, preparing two very small boys for a trip, finishing up a huge project at work, and my family holiday obligations here pretty much did us in as far as pre-holiday energy went. This year's tree is the first one either boy has decorated.

The Monkey and The Wombat helped me decorate the tree last night while The Scientist was at band practice. The Scientist and The Monkey hung the lights after dinner before The Scientist left. The Wombat enjoyed hanging the less-breakable ornaments on the lower branches. I also lifted each of them up to put some glass balls on higher branches. The Monkey appropriated one ornament he was supposed to put on the tree and put it on the doorknob of a cabinet in his bedroom instead. I told him he could hang the ornament "wherever he wanted" and he took me at my word. Even though I meant to hang it wherever he wanted on the tree, I checked my initial impulse to tell him no and to bring the ornament back. Was it breakable? No. Did I really care if it was in his room? No. So I got to be the "Yes Mama" for a night (well, for a few minutes at least) and tell him that it was OK if he kept the ornament in his room.

We never got around to turning on the Christmas carols last night. I asked The Scientist to do it before he left, but he forgot amidst putting away boxes of unused lights and getting out the door. Instead, The Monkey sang the holiday songs he's been learning in school - mostly old standbys like Jingle Bells, but they are brand new to him. The Wombat chimed in on a few words here and there (he can't quite keep up with the entire song, but usually gets the end of the phrases..."way," and "sleigh"). The Monkey loves to sing. He's not always on key and sometimes the tune wanders around a bit, but he makes up for it in enthusiasm. He is not at all self-conscious about singing by himself in public (despite refusing to participate in last year's school program) and when I take him to the grocery store he usually sings most of the time, alternating between You Are My Sunshine and Jingle Bells.

I try to remind myself to stop and take a minute to appreciate these moments. The Monkey already talks about when he will be a big kid, when he will be a teenager, when he can drive a car, when he will be a "big man" and a daddy. The weeks rush by, especially this time of year, and although I look forward to the boys growing up to become men, I know it will all go by faster than I want it to.

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