Friday, January 1, 2010

The days before Christmas

This holiday season all our plans went, well, awry.

It all sResized_HPIM3931tarted with Griffin’s high fever the day before the beginning of vacation and ended with everyone having the flu (except bored to death Zander).  Further consequences included the Resized_HPIM3936cancelling of our 2 planned holiday parties and the consumption of tacos on Christmas night.

But, that being said, of course we still managed to have fun times.

Several years ago, my sister Tina graciously hosted Callie, Zander and I in Disneyworld for a long weekend.   We had a fabulous and magical time and Callie got her very own Sleeping Beauty ensemble.  At the time, I was outraged at the price (about $70) but it was the only thing she wanted, and Grammie and Grandpa had given us souvenir money.  I caved, but I did buy it in size for ages 6 to 8.  As you can see, she has finally grown into it!


We had a fabulous snow storm starting on the 18th.  In fact, the snow was Resized_HPIM3938deeper than I think it was the entire winter last year.  Zander spent hours and hours out in it, and, one time, despite our illnesses, we all went out to sled.  André, Griffin, Callie and I all only made it down the hill a few times and, as you can see, André ended up napping in the snow!  I’m still glad we went since it soon warmed up and then rained leaving no trace of the snow.  Here are some photos.


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I have beeResized_HPIM3953n using this break as an opportunity to try to help Zander (as well as the others) a bit more with his reading skills.   We have been doing about 2 hours a day. He is doing stuff in workbooks, practicing fluency and sculpting letters and numbers.  He just can’t seem to get 5 and 6 right. We have drawn them, sculpted them, sang them, stomped them in snow, written them in sand, laid them out in beads – you name it!  He just has some sort of block I can’t get past – so frustrating for us both.  Sometimes he works hard, but usually he fights me, which drives me crazy (I’m sure that’s why he does it).   When he does try and use some of the new skills and strategies – I can see them working.  I point it out – we rejoice together.  But then, the very next day, he refuses to repeat or build on the strategies, he purposely does them wrong etc…..  He continues to want to do things that haven’t worked for him for the past 3 years – and continues to do them wrong. I am telling stories, using tricks – doing everything but standing on my head – but he is a tough nut to crack – and I lose my patience at times.

By Wednesday, 4 of us were sufficiently non-contagious to head to the local community center for a great free play and visit from Santa.   At this time, André was sleeping (again).  Poor guy – this flu hit him harder than any illness he’s had in our entire 15 years together!  Afterwards, I headed to the bakery.  While there, Griffin told them we were all sick and we were regaled with a tale Resized_HPIM3956of a grandmother’s recipe to cure the flu.  Annie (our baker) drew us a picture of the vegetable and sugar we would need.  Desperate (and curious) we walked over to the grocery store. I got the navettes but had a harder time with the ‘candy’ sugar.  We asked around, even old people, and no one had heard of this cure.  I picked the most likely candidate and headed back to the bakery to make sure it was the right one. Of course, I had got it wrong and the wonderful Annie left the shop to walk us over.  She harangued the staff for a refund and walked us over to the sugar section.  It turns out they didn’t carry it, but, the next morning when we went to pick up our gluten free bouche (this is a traditional French Christmas cake – awesome) we found that she had brought her own to give to us.   So, along with our Christmas Eve dinner, we had hollowed out veggies, left with Candi sugar to melt in them for 4-6 hours.  We don’t think it worked – but it was a great experience.

And now, I just have to quickly mention one other cultural oddity I discovered this holiday season.  It is not French, in fact I learned about it through Facebook (thanks Jill) - but it has got to be the weirdest thing ever so, it makes the blog.  It is called a “caga tio” or “pooping log”.  It turns out that in Catalonia  people set up a little hollow log in their living room starting December 8th. They feed him leftovers everyday until finally…

“On Christmas day or, depending on the particular household, on Christmas Eve, one puts the tió partly into the fireplace and orders it to "poop" (the fire part of this tradition is no longer as widespread as it once was, since many modern homes do not have a fireplace). To make him "poop", one beats him with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal…. When nothing is left to "poop", it drops a salt herring, a head of garlic, an onion or "urinates". What comes out of the tió is a communal rather than individual gift, shared by everyone present.”

Wow – I really must experience this tradition live sometime.  I mean, you beat the thing with sticks to make it poop and then all share the trash – finishing with a head of garlic or salt herring?  Yum, yum…!?!

Even though we didn’t have a pooping log, we still managed (with naps in between) to accomplish our usual Christmas Eve traditions.  Make cookies (gluten free and regular), decorate the tree, play the Nutcracker.  We also put out the presents we got mailed in packages.  Every year we do some homemade ornaments, but this year, our tree was so small the ornaments wouldn’t have really fit – so we hung them on the wall (you can see them over Zander’s shoulder) One other tradition we have is to make the star for our tree together – this year the kids pinned sequins on a Styrofoam number I picked up – it took them hours to painstakingly select the right shapes and agree on a pattern – and that’s why I love crafts.

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We read “Twas the Night before Christmas” and headed to bed!

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