Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas 2015

Mal usually comes up to our room to wake me up every morning (though I hear him coming long before he gets there). Christmas morning he woke me up, saying, "There's presents!" In past years the kids haven't been allowed into the living room before we're all ready to go out, but in our new house they can see the tree from their open bedroom door, and their primary path to our room is through the living room. It seemed a bit futile to even attempt to keep them out of the living room until we were all ready. However, once Mal had brought me down and shown me the presents, I had him and Gareth get dressed and then they had to wait in our room until Ryan and I were ready before getting into anything. They had fun playing on the bed while they waited.

When we got back downstairs they quickly got into their candy. We tried to tell Mal that candy doesn't equal breakfast, but he didn't seem to believe us. At least he scarfed down his almonds and cashews as well.


Gareth got lots of gifts that have been on his wish list for a while and some Dr. Who items, so it was a pretty exciting Christmas for him. Gifts like this perplexus. It happened to be the first gift he opened and we had to drag him away from it to get anything else open. We've all been enjoying it. It's frustrating, but the kind of thing you keep coming back to anyway.

Mal was able to open most of his presents independently this year. He got lots of duplos.

Gareth was excited to get some winter gloves. Not only will they work great in the off-chance we ever get snow, but they'll keep his hands warm on cold, rainy days when riding his bike.

Ryan passed out the presents this year to ensure gifts were handed out equitably.

Mal also got a gear toy, which he seems to enjoy. Though, as usual, his biggest interest is in Gareth's toys.

Gareth also got monopoly, so we spent a few hours playing a game. Initially he was killing Ryan and myself because he got all the railroads. But in the end Ryan landed on Park Place and Boardwalk, took a huge risk mortgaging properties and spending most of his money to buy them, and once he recovered from that and put houses on them the tables turned and Ryan ended up winning.

It's been a nice, relaxing break. We've cleaned up the house a bit and eliminated some toys the kids had outgrown to make room for new toys. We've had opportunities to get together with friends and have had lots of just hanging around the house playing with new toys, reading, watching movies, and spending time together. I wouldn't mind another week of break, but it won't be horrible to get back to our regular routine this coming Monday either.

Monday, December 21, 2015


It seems every year we have one or two traditions that we just can't pull off. Last year we skipped going out to breakfast because the thought of taking Mal to a restaurant was terrifying. I think we'll do that one this year, but between school and various parties we got halfway through December without getting a tree. Which isn't unusual, because we often purposely wait until the second weekend in the month. But I had a final on a Monday morning (that various events had left me unable to study for until the day before) and waiting until the next weekend would leave us with a tree for less than a week before Christmas (and also seriously limit our selection of trees). So in order to actually get a tree we opted to forego cutting down our own tree and just go to a lot to get one. In the end we went to a local nursery, paid a rather exorbitant price, but got a perfectly nice tree and were able to get the whole thing done in an hour. As you can see, we still have a pumpkin hanging around from Halloween. It's not the only Halloween item out still. 

Mal was very upset at the nursery when we walked back to our car so we could drive it around to where they'd load the tree on it. Because we didn't have the tree with us he thought we were leaving without a tree and was ready to hyperventilate because he was so distraught. We managed to calm him enough to explain to him that we were getting a tree. Then when we got home we had to break the news to him that we wouldn't be putting the lights on right away, and he was upset again. He managed to survive until Monday afternoon when he begged me repeatedly to put the lights on, so since I was then done for the quarter I acquiesced. He's insisted the lights be on from the moment he wakes until he sleeps ever since.

We made some gingerbread cookies this past weekend and I was surprised at how interested Malcolm stayed in it. Both boys came along when I was just starting to roll out the dough and helped cut out the cookies. When Gareth was three he'd usually help with a few cookies and then get bored and run off. Mal stuck with it through all the dough and wanted to help cut them out and transfer them to the cookie sheet. While it was occasionally frustrating to have so many helpers, I'm glad they enjoyed it this year.

I attempted substituting dark chocolate for the milk chocolate in my fudge recipe this year and it did not turn out well at all. I'm not sure why - some kind of content difference between the milk and the dark chocolate or a humidity thing? No idea, but it was frustrating to have wasted so many materials. So this year will be all cookies because I'm annoyed enough to not want to try again. Normally I'm more stubborn about trying things again, but I'm tired this year. Maybe because I've caught yet another cold from Mal (thank you petri dish of preschool!). I'll look up some new recipes during the year and see if I can find a promising dark chocolate one to try next year. Our recipe we've always used with the milk chocolate is just way too sweet anymore.

The crumbly, separating mess :(

Ryan and the boys watched Elf the other day. I guess Mal was tired because he fell fast asleep while watching:

Growing up my grandma gave us these cubes that could be put together to say "Merry Christmas", "Season's Greetings", or "Happy New Year". They spent most of their time saying anything but those three things. My mom knows how much we enjoy getting to play with the block letters, and when we only had Christmas (with Thankful on the back), we found we could make a lot of curse words, but were severely limited in what else they could say. So as part of our countdown my mom has sent some more letters to add to the mix. Some are clearly for other holidays, but we can combine what we've opened so far with what we already had to make statements such as "fart shame" or "my cats shimmer" or "'Murica":

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rattlesnake Museum and Coming Home

Several weeks before our trip I showed Gareth options for things we could go check out while in Albuquerque. He got very excited about the Rattlesnake Museum, so I made sure we went and saw that. Sunday afternoon we headed over to Old Town to do that. Thankfully the tickets weren't particularly expensive, because it was rather disappointing. While they certainly had rattlesnakes, they also had the space cluttered with every item that had ever been branded with a snake or was loosely connected to snakes in any way. And rather than have one single gift shop space they had cheap trinket items scattered throughout the museum.

Anyway, here's a snake.

Mal really, really liked the tortoises and kept insisting that we go back to them.

At least he spent some time checking out the snakes and other animals there. Gareth only had eyes for random things spread through the museum.

So, all in all, not really worth it. Snakes are rather boring as most of them hide in corners or sleep anyway. But since it was a request that Gareth made, I'm glad we did it just to fulfill that request. After we finished in the museum I made us take a short walk to the Old Town square because I'd caught a glimpse of the sad, er, I mean grand, Christmas Tree there. 

Old Town itself looked like it was shops full of tourist trinkets. So I think I'm okay with not exploring it further on future visits.

Monday we got all our stuff packed up and then spent the afternoon with Ryan's dad at a park across the street from the first house they owned in Albuquerque. I'd never seen that house before, so that was interesting. And we all had a good time throwing frisbees around and playing on the playground. Gareth was very sad that evening as he said goodnight to everyone. Mal was more oblivious. Everything went smoothly with the flight home, aside from Mal and Gareth continuously pestering one another whenever we were sitting in the airport.

When we arrived in Seattle I had a clarinet choir friend pick me and our luggage up so we could go to dress rehearsal while Ryan took the boys and headed home on the light rail and bus. When they walked in the door Mal said, "No! I don't want this one!". Guess it took him until walking in the door to realize he wasn't going back to Grandma and Grandpa's house. And then he went to the fridge, opened it, and proceeded to ask for and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple slices with peanut butter - two things I'd offered him many times in Albuquerque and which he'd consistently voiced staunch opposition to throughout the trip.