Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And a (Fashionably Late) Merry Christmas to You!

There is something about Christmas time.  A time when even the hearts of the Grinch-iest of Grinches  can grow three sizes in one day.  A time when we find ourselves singing “pa rum pum pum pum” even if it’s the 28th time we’ve heard Little Drummer Boy blasting throughout the mall…we get it dude – you don’t have a gift for Baby Jesus, but you’ve got a drum to play while He sleeps – I bet Mary and Joseph sure appreciate that one!   And while we celebrate with friends at parties and make special efforts to carve out time with our families, we’re experienced enough to know that all this merriment and excitement is because it’s Christmas time, even if the true meaning of Christmas slips into the back of our minds at times .  
But this year was different.  This year Eddie and I caught a firsthand glimpse of how even those too young to understand what the hustle and bustle was all about could project the spirit of Christmas better than the Head Elf himself.  And though he wasn’t sure what all the parades were for or why there was a big tree in every house he visited, he did know Something was up…and boy was he excited!
I, on the other hand, treated the Christmas season as more of a business project – checking off to-do lists, scheduling the what, when and where’s, just going through the motions, focusing on how much I could fit into the season so that I could show James what Christmas time was instead of what Christmas time was actually meant to be.  With every passing day I became more and more exhausted and stressed while James became more and more amazed and enthusiastic.  I took the approach to stop and take it all in when it was all said and done, working tirelessly to get there while James soaked up all the Christmas magic he could in the moment.   

 Just a few days before Christmas, I saw James spellbound by a toy carousel at my grandparents house that played Christmas carols.  He was fascinated by the reflective stickers and swayed back and forth to the music then clapped and cheered when each song finished.  Now if you recall his experience with Old Saint Nick from the previous post, you’re probably aware that the carousel was a much bigger hit than sitting on a stranger’s lap.  I didn’t have to carry him all the way to the “North Pole” or “Gingerbread Mountain” in order for him to see what Christmas was all about, the kid had found the spirit of Christmas all on his own.  Taking a moment watch James I started to realized that I could cross things off my to-do list that I really didn’t have “to do”, put the camera down a little more every now and then – to stop and be in awe along with James, letting him figure out what Christmas actually is by taking it all in rather than running myself ragged trying to fit it all in.  

 Here's how we celebrated this year!

We picked out the perfect tree...
G-Daddy (my Dad) sold Christmas trees this year.  Every day after picking James up from daycare we would go for visit.
We decorated (and re-decorated) Christmas trees...
G-daddy and CiCi used colored lights
James loved the bell ornament...I mean REALLY loved the bell ornament.

Granna's (my mom) Christmas Tree was beautiful enough to entertain James for hours!
We made Gingerbread Houses...
Constructing a Gingerbread house BEFORE I realized my sister was taking a picture...
Constructing gingerbread houses AFTER I realized my sister was taking a picture.

At least I made sure his sleeves were rolled up!

James was more interested in "landscaping" the gingerbread house than decorating it.
Yes...I know  the mess could have been much worse.

Add caption

The finished product!

We decorated wagons...
We watched parades...
Smithfield Christmas parade.
Santa at the Raleigh Christmas Parade.
James was more interested in the truck pulling Santa's sleigh.
...And dancing to the Christmas music the bands played.

James was slightly confused by the enormous pink monster being pulled by 50 grown men.

We had classroom parties...
We made cookies...
 We clapped & made an attempt at singing Christmas Carols...

 We hung out as a family...

We played with the trucks Santa brought...

We ate waffles for breakfast in the den...
 We hung stockings...
 We ran around the house in monster feet...
 And rode "tractors"...
I understand this is not a "tractor" but it has 4 wheels and in James' book qualifies as a tractor.

We ate...

 And ate...

 And ate...
Thanks for the animal cookies Gramdmama and Papa...James has developed quite an addiction.

Next year we’ll be able to further explain to James that Christmas is kind of like a big birthday party for Baby Jesus – and we sing carols at the top of our lungs and decorate our houses with a billion lights and make cookies for Santa and travel out to a farm to watch the Christmas Nativity all to celebrate Him.  And while he may not quite grasp the miracle of the whole thing, I’m confident his Christmas spirit will radiate out of him enough to remind everyone around him to stop and take in the wonder of it all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SANTA -- I KNOW HIM!! (and I don't like 'em)



And now I'm quite traumatized by the guy!

About two weeks before Christmas Eddie and I took James to see Santa at Swank Photography (http://www.swankphotostudio.com/life.php).  Stacy has been around to capture pictures of our family since James was about 6 months old and does a great job getting James to smile while keeping Eddie focused on the task at hand and finding ways to power through my Type-A tendencies making me at least "appear" to be relaxed.  But, the afternoon of "Santa Stranger Danger", I learned that no matter how awesome your photographer is, if you put your kid and his favorite toy in a strangers lap and walk away, all the Christmas Cheer in the world wouldn't bring even the slightest smile to your kid's face.  Even though James may have developed Santa-phobia that afternoon, we still got a great picture that captured the moment perfectly! 

"Mom?!?  Why is he holding Mickey by the neck?!?!  Save me...Save Mickey!"

More Christmas pictures to come!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yeah -- No!

Lately, James has been talking up a storm.  "Mamá", "Da – deee", "Kittykitty", "Dauggggy" (doggy), "moooo" (cow), "trctor" (tractor),  "O Tak" (Go Wolfpack), and my personal favorite "do-wah-do-lu-lu", which is his response when asked what a chicken says (we’ll eventually teach him how to differentiate a chicken and rooster but for now I’ll take it).  And while there are a more words that I can’t confirm the meaning of, or aren’t as commonly spoken as those above, I can assure you that the kid knows the word “NO”. 

You see, it started so innocently – pretty darn cute if you ask me.  Eddie or I would say “No,no…James, please don’t ________” (Insert a combination of the words climb, eat, toilet, trashcan, scream, dog and/or cat food, computer,  touch,  mama’s pocket book or daddy’s phone into the blank and you get a pretty good picture of the Foy Family Weekends.)  When James realized what he was doing was ‘wrong’ he’d furrow his eyebrows then gladly join in, saying, “No Noooo!”  If the ‘No-No’ spirit really moved him, James would even sing us a song:  “Noooo No Nooooo No No NO NO NOOO!!”  Either way James would stop what he was doing then run on to the next task with little no-no’s echoing behind him.  Who knew disciplining could be so adorable?
(Side Note: If sound effects were used while telling this story this is the point where I’d insert the record scratch.)
So, every morning one of us is responsible for getting James dressed and every morning James is responsible for running around the house or crawling under tables in order to prolong the Buddha-Belly Show.  On one particular morning last week, Eddie left for work early leaving me with the seemingly simple task of putting our son’s head, arms and legs through a few holes.  Oh, I chased that boy for what seemed like days.  Slowly but surely – one extremity at a time, I dressed James.  But it wasn’t over.  His feet were still bare (a well-known faux pas throughout the  Foy household since the day he was sent home from daycare with a note at the bottom of his daily memo that explained how James had to sit in the wagon and watch while all his friends crawled around on the playground because he didn’t have any shoes.  But that’s a whole other story.)  I grabbed his socks and shoes sat down in his room and, with a somewhat impatient tone, asked him to come sit down so that I could put his shoes on.
 He stopped playing with his train just long enough to look me straight in the eye and say “No NO NNNNNO.”  I didn’t have time for the No No game my to-do list was a mile long and we were already running late.  “James…come on.  Let’s get your shoes on so we can leave.”  I went over to put him in my lap so that I could put his shoes on. 
“NO NO NO NO!” my cute little Nay-sayer reiterated while pushing away from my lap.  – Oh NO HE DIDN’T !! – Flashbacks of my childhood attempts to challenge my parents authority whipped through my mind followed by flash forwards of what my own child would be like during those terrible twos and even his teenage years…what would say when our family wound up on The Dr. Phil Show?  
Dangit!  My kid just defied me three freaking days before Christmas and now, instead of taking care of my to-do list, I’m going to have to spend the rest of the day flipping through back issues of Parenting Magazine and Babble in order to compile some award-winning parenting speech for the purpose of conveying such a message to my dear son that he may forever more associate challenging his Mama with a lifetime of orange jumpsuits and prison meatloaf.   But first, I had to get myself out of this pickle proving that I wasn’t as weak as he thought.
I took the train he had been so enthusiastically playing with and threw it in the toy bucket.  Cries erupted.   “PLEASE, PUT YOUR SHOES ON!”  I yelled.  I sat the shoes down in front of him and attempted to explain to my 16 month old child why it was important to wear shoes…he didn’t get it.  But, at some point during my lecture, James walked over to a basket full of socks and shoes, pulled out two brown shoes (they didn’t match) and attempted to put them on his feet. 
I looked at the pair I had pulled out for him to wear…they were navy.  Did James simply decide he wanted to wear brown shoes to daycare that day?  I leaned over to help him put on the first shoe then pulled out the matching shoe and put it on.  He was good.  We packed up, buckled up and we both went on about our day putting the Shoe Showdown behind us…well, kinda. 
Periodically throughout the day I would reevaluate the situation.  Is my kid going to be the on the naughty list every year?  The hitter, the biter, the kid that all the teachers warn each other about?  Should I have reacted differently or had a psychologist- approved script prepared to rattle off without even blinking?  What if I had access to an I-Phone – Could Siri have walked me through stand-off?  Clearly, my type-A personality encouraged me to over analyze the situation entirely, but when it comes to shaping James’ character, I’ll go over every little parenting detail with a fine-tooth comb.  To me, it’s important that James grows up to be thoughtful and considerate of others, attempting to improve the world around him no matter how big or small his world may be.  I’m not saying that I want him to be all kumbya every minute of every day, but I don’t want to be the parent of the next Michael Vick either…maybe somewhere in the middle, like a Drew Brees or a Tom Hanks.  The thing is, to a large extent, his character building hinges on the examples and lessons Eddie and I are able to teach him – but no pressure, right?
The shoe showdown was definitely a swing and a miss for me.  James was simply trying to wield some independence – he just wanted to wear brown shoes for God’s sake!  It wasn’t like he went out and got a tattoo/piercing, skipped fourth period or stole a car.  I overreacted.  I yelled when I should have hugged and became impatient when I should have tried to understand. 
Oftentimes, we parents will mess up.  We’ll react too harshly or we’ll become too tired to react harshly enough.  There are times I’ll lose my cool on the cereal aisle after James has grabbed, pulled or knocked over every cereal box on the bottom two rows, days when I should have sighed and smiled instead of scolded, and nights when I hide behind the bathroom door sinking deeper into a bubble bath and glass of wine hoping James doesn’t notice I’m missing because I can’t muster the courage to face a cranky toddler whose nap should have lasted an hour or so longer than it did.

And to me, that’s okay.  I believe parenting is one big reel of bloopers – off the cuff responses and impromptu reactions.  Like when your parents told you not to swallow watermelon seeds and rationalized their statement with, “because a watermelon might grow in your belly.”  I consider my parents great role models, setting good examples for my sister and me – the way they handled the raw deals life throws them every once in a while has taught more than any good talking to every would.  Even though they also have had their share of bloopers I’m pretty sure we turned out just fine.  So even though we might not always say or do the right thing, I know that we’re doing the best we can.  And, most days, I’m reassured that we’re doing pretty darn good.