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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Train Table


Jack's big present this year - figuratively and literally - is a train table. It's basically like a coffee table with a recessed top where you add train tracks on top. It's just Jack's height so he can walk around it and push the trains along.

Of course, everything comes unassembled. And weighs like 80 lbs.

Last weekend, I sat down and assembled the table itself, then the train station, bridge, tunnel, crane, carwash, etc. I loaded up all the batteries. Laid down the tracks. And viola! All together there are over a hundred pieces to play with including people, cars, taxi, trucks, streetlights, street signs, and more.

It takes up a bit of real estate in the living room, but Jack has played with it nonstop so he's really enjoying it.

3 hours and 1 Motrin later

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Tea

I think Holiday Tea is so festive. I have an annual Tea with my friend, Nancy, and even had a second tea this year with a couple of friends from work. You'd think that I'd be all Tea'd out by now, but this holiday season wouldn't be complete without a second annual Tea with Jack.

I left work at lunch today, picked up Jack from preschool, and we headed to the Top of the Mark hotel for their Holiday Tea. As you can guess, the Top of the Mark is on the top floor (of the Mark Hopkins hotel) so there are spectacular 360 degree views of San Francisco. Today was a beautiful day and the city sparkled under the sunshine with clear views of iconic SF landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the "pyramid" building (the Transamerica building), the Bay, and all the hills in between.

Jack and I toasted each other with my water glass and his sippy cup, ordered some Earl Grey, and headed
Beautiful city views
to the food selection. The Kids' Holiday Tea is more of a lunch with a big dessert table. There's the traditional finger sandwiches and scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, but there's also kid favorites like Mac & Cheese. The finger sandwiches also get a kid twist like PB&J or Nutella with a jelly bean on top that's anchored down with piped cream cheese.

Of course, lunch mostly consisted of samplings from the dessert table which had every conceivable cookie, candy, and pastry you can imagine. Jack's desires are still simple and he had more than his share of little foil wrapped chocolate balls.

In between helpings, Jack had his face painted, a magician came around to each table, and we looked out of every window.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of our Holiday Tea time together.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Christmas Cookies

My friend Linda came over for dinner last night. We had some wine, Jack had some juice, and we all made Christmas cookies together in the glow of the Christmas tree.

I'd previously bought a cute Superman apron for Jack and it came in pretty helpful as he helped to flour every surface and we rolled out some sugar cookie dough.

We cut out candy canes, snowmen, gingerbread men, stars, and Christmas stockings. Afterwards, we frosted them with peppermint buttercream icing and decorated with crushed candycanes, shimmering sugar sprinkles, and mini-chocolate chips.

CLICK HERE for more pictures.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tis the Season

For remembrances.
LEFT: Jack, Nov 2009, 9 months - MIDDLE: Dad & Jack, Nov 2010, 1 year 9 months - RIGHT: Jack, Nov 2010
Jack's 2011 photo ornament should arrive this week!
A a small grouping of the many Uncle Connie's wooden ornaments that adorn our tree each year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Tree, deux

I love Target. They will be opening a "City Target" downtown in 2012 and I can't wait. In the meantime, I hit the store that is over 10 miles from home. But I digress.

The last time we went to Target I picked up a little foam tree that came with foam ornament stickers and thought it would be a fun thing for Jack and I to do together.

We had fun decorating the tree last night and placed it next to our Santa advent calendar.

CLICK HERE for more pictures

and see Jack in action below.

Kids Party at Williams-Sonoma

"I found snow!"
Pottery Barn Kids is part of the Williams-Sonoma suite of stores and they hold an annual Kid's Holiday party that is alot of fun.

The party is held in one of the offices and there's a different activity on each of the four floors. I took Jack again this year and we started on the top floor and worked our way down. Jack stood in awe next to another little boy named Jack as a magician turned foam balls into diamonds on the top floor. He got his face painted on the next floor down and played air hockey in the lounge area. We got a doggie balloon animal along with some snacks and juice. And finally, there was a visit with Santa who gave Jack a cool shark towel for bathtime.

CLICK HERE for a few pictures from our fun afternoon

and watch Jack playing air hockey, below.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Pictures With Mom

(Click on any picture to make it a bit bigger.)
By the tree tonight.

Jack jumped up and wanted a picture with his Bunny.

Good night! (Jack took this picture)

CLICK HERE for these pictures on Kodak Gallery.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

A Reflective Holiday Kickoff

Well, it's usually in the low 60's around Christmas-time in San Francisco. It was even 70 degrees last week. Jack and I have been reading about Santa, snowmen, and sledding in our short sleeve t-shirts. It doesn't feel like a traditional Christmas as I've known it growing up. Though, I still go with it and I try to explain to Jack what snow is, what it's like to make a snowman or to go sledding.

That's how I feel about Christmas this year. I feel like there's an ideal that's not being met and the whole season is a little off. The idea of family at the holidays is dismantled and we now need to cobble it together between several homes and new families. And though Jack may someday love having several Christmas's, I'm sad that he will be shuffled between homes, or leave one parent saddened because they cannot be with him, or leave extended family in an awkward situation of trying to keep the peace while still involving each of us in their celebration of the season.

Jack found a Christmas stocking
and decided to try it on
The former anticipation and happiness of the season seems deflated and emotionally draining now for me with all the inevitable sadness for some, complexities, scheduling, and shuffling that can be expected with each future holiday. But maybe it comes back to that's not how I grew up and I can't compare my reality to Jack's. Although it's not ever what I wanted for Jack or for our families, it is our reality now and I need to dig deep and find some joy in the present and be thankful and cherish the limited time that I do have with Jack instead of feeling punished over the time that I have been forced to relinquish. I've decided to start by kicking off the season with new traditions and upholding some old ones.

After the Thankgiving weekend I went down the block and lugged up a small tree for us. I strung the lights and bought a new star for the top; a symbol of our new beginnings together.

Jack and I trimmed the tree today. I decided to continue my tradition of buying one new ornament a year and let Jack choose it -- a shiny glass ornament shaped like a fire engine. As I do each year to whoever will listen, I told the story of each ornament as we hung it. My Uncle Connie's handmade wooden ornaments were the first to be placed in his honor (sadly, we lost him this year) and to have their story told.

After we trimmed the tree, we got ready for a new tradition -- an annual children's concert, Deck The Hall, at the San Francisco Symphony. The SF Symphony played a short interactive program of Christmas and Hannukah classics that was accompanied by a children's choir and dancing bears, trees, and Santa. For the finale, everyone sang Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Tis the Season. In the lobby there were refreshments, candy, arts and crafts, and family favorite characters for photo opps. Several trees adorned the hall, tree lights twinkled, and kids were everywhere in their holiday clothes. I found myself finding joy in this afternoon and only teared up once at the line "All I Want For Christmas Is You", when I gave Jack an extra long hug.

CLICK HERE for more pictures of Jack and me trimming the tree and at the Deck The Hall holiday concert.

Below is a video of Jack exploring a box of decorations: