Saturday, January 3, 2015

Holiday Break

It's been a great Christmas and the whole holiday has been wonderful!

First - I ordered Hubby's Christmas cards early.

Then I was on top of his chocolate - what he sends out to clients.  Yay!  I feel like that got me started out right and I didn't spend the rest of the holiday trying to catch up.  Instead of laboriously writing our regular Christmas card, which combines a short humorous paragraph about each of us with a photo and a drawing done by one of the girls, all carefully squished into the required space and painstakingly printed by me, I slapped a couple photos into a Costco template, wrote a little sentence blurb about each of us, entered my credit card number and sat back to wait for someone else to do the work. It wasn't nearly as charming and personal as our usual card, but it was SO MUCH LESS WORK!

We got a live tree this year for the first time in about ten years.  I decided with the high ceiling of our house our fake tree (which is about 7 feet tall and I really like okay under other circumstances) just looks squatty and inadequate, so while Hubby was in Australia I took Blondie tree shopping and we picked out a lovely 11 footer in Salt Lake.  The trees in the Park City lots were approximately three times as expensive.  Getting it home up the canyon was an adventure, but Blondie and I prevailed and we got it up that night.  It took three trips to Home Depot to get lights, with the brand new strings burning out, and me changing my mind about the size of bulbs we should have, but eventually we got it all up and it was just what I wanted and it is the prettiest tree we've ever had.

Our Christmas was the usual exercise in excess.  The girls have moved from toys to … I still haven't totally figured that out yet.  Blondie is easier because she likes clothes, but needs a ton of horse stuff.  So it's not hard to get stuff for her.  Red is harder. She doesn't really like clothes, though she's getting more flexible about what she'll wear.   I don't hardly remember what she ended up with, she was happy, it was roughly the same amount and exactly the same number as Blondie's (I work pretty hard at that) and her favorite gift was the XBox from Santa anyway.

About that… Hubby told me I need to have The Santa Discussion with the girls.  My family have always been Believers.  Long before we came into the picture my mother made it eminently clear to my father that Santa would fill her stocking every year or else!   So I am in the Believer Camp… But it was getting to be problematic that the girls would be shopping with me and I needed to pick something up, and I needed to not have to be so absolutely careful about what ended up in their stockings.  Also Red is 13 and she is very earnest and I don't want her to be mocked by her friends.  So when I was tucking Red into bed I started up the conversation and asked her what she says when her friends talk about Santa.  She told me they don't.  I told her a good thing to say if it comes up is that in our house Santa comes if you believe, and she's not an idiot.  Just like that, I made her practice.  She seemed to remain pretty earnest. So I took it a step further and I told her a round about way that Santa has helpers.  Moms and Dads fill in because, you know, that's a lot of houses.  She nodded and accepted this readily.  But I kept getting the impression that she wasn't buying it, or rather she's not letting go.  She's farther into the believer camp than I sort of intended to leave her.  I avoided coming right out and getting up in her face with the harsh reality, and she avoided letting go of the magic.  So I let it stay there.

Then just before Christmas I was shopping with Blondie and we walked by a table that had candy at a very low price… and I was thinking, Dang, now I have to come back to this store when she's not with me and get some of that candy.  We went deeper in the store and I saw something else I wanted to put in Hubby's stocking and I picked it up and I was looking at it, and I was looking at her… and I said "Honey, so Santa has helpers..."  And she said "Mom, I know you help out Santa.  You've told me that like eight times."  So I said "Go get that big bag of M&Ms off the table by the door.  And a hand full of those candy bars."  She doesn't seem nearly as entrenched as Red.

Hubby did some of the basic stocking shopping this year, which explains the appearance of of the Cheese Elf.  The Cheese Elf, who left everyone a wheel of Laughing Cow or some other dairy like non-refridgerated cheese spread product, seemed to confuse the girls.   They handed over their cheese wheels with looks of "I don't know what this is doing in my stocking," and "I think this was given to me by mistake."  He traveled with is friend, the Sausage Elf, who left some jerky and a vinegary little sausage in our stockings.  The girls were not impressed but never questioned the source of these bizarre new stocking items.  They just passed them into the family pile.

We had a very relaxed and magical Christmas.  It turned out mostly by accident that Hubby and I each had the same number of gifts as the girls.  We open in a regulated order one at a time, and usually the girls have more than the adults and we skip a few rounds at the end, but this year we all somehow had the same.

We have been relaxing and playing over the break.  Lots of just pajama days and playing on the XBox.  Hubby's been doing quite a bit of snowboarding, just going up for a couple of runs most days.

This year we decided to put both of the girls on skis.  Two years ago when Red broke her wrist snowboarding she decided to abandon snowboarding and went to skis last year.  Blondie stuck it out on the snowboard another year, some of it was solidarity to her father but in general she was afraid of it and she and I spent a lot of time last year on the bunny hill just going slow and getting her comfortable.  Which also worked with Red as she was basically teaching herself how to ski while I was busy helping Blondie.  I thought they both had improved a lot, especially under the circumstances of being taught by me, then Blondie broke her arm in March, right at the end of the season.  So this year we put them both on skis, and decided to put them in a lesson over the break.  So on New Year's day we all went skiing (Hubby snowboarded) and put the girls in full day lessons.

We got to the mountain about the time we should have, but I didn't realize I had to check them in at the ticket window.  I'd bought everything on line, I thought I could just march them up to the ski school.  Blondie was very nervous.  Very very nervous to the point of making herself sick.  Red seemed pretty calm, she had enjoyed skiing the year before and was mostly worried she'd be older than everyone else.  But once I got them signed in, most of the other classes had left.  We told the people there that despite Red having a year of skiing over Blondie, the two of them wanted to be placed in the same class.  We left, hoping the two of them would be attached to a smaller class of older kids and not a big class of kindergarteners.  As we were leaving we saw the two of them were just standing there alone, and then a woman came over and we watched for a little bit as she helped them struggle to put their skis on.  We figured there's nothing more we could do, so we went off to have as much fun as we could. 

Around lunchtime we got a text from Blondie that said; "Having a ton of fun!  can't wait to tell u all about it :) "  Whew!!!  It was much easier to enjoy ourselves after that.  We had three hours left to ski before we picked them up at 3:00.  Hubby and I like similar runs, though he likes powder and I don't, so we do pretty well together.  We had quite a bit of fun, though I wiped out bad once and I think cracked my left thumb.  It will now match my right thumb, which I broke a chip off of skiing in high school and it doesn't bend all the way anymore.
When we went to pick the girls up, it turned out they had had a private lesson, just the two of them with the teacher.  The teacher immediately started telling us how precious and what treasures the girls are.  She told us what a joy they are to teach,  how they listen, and respond, and are way ahead of a lot of kids that just start.  It made me wonder what sort of little hellions she usually has to put up with.  She said a lot of new students have a hard time grasping the fact that the skis slide on the snow.  We suggested that their history of snowboarding might have helped with that, she added that they also have great balance and body sense which might be attributed to the horse back riding.  I didn't feel it necessary to interrupt her gushing about how marvelous our kids are to point out only one has spent much time doing that. She said because it was just the two of them and because the girls listen and respond so well, they were able to advance through two full lessons, and the girls are now level three skiers.  They are working on "linking turns" and can go on gentle green runs.

Blondie said skiing is sooo much better than snowboarding.  She had more fun before lunch, afterward they started going faster and she got scared and started falling down more.  But all in all had a really fun day.  Red was very positive about it but doesn't bubble the way Blondie does.  She had fun, and was all smiles, and that's about all I got out of her.

I have been taking Christmas down for the past couple of days, today we took the tree out to the front yard to await its ride to the drop off point, and moved all the furniture back into place.  Only one more day of Christmas break, and the girls are just sick that school will start again.  Hubby leaves tomorrow for … somewhere.  He was going to take January off but has just been so busy, he'll only end up with about a week off.  The book is selling great, at one point this week it was in the top 6000 Amazon selling lists.  Which is marvelous.

Monday is back to normal, the next real break is the winter break in February.  It's hard to see the holidays end, but it helps that we had such a lovely holiday to look back on.

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