Category Archives: holidays

santa deconstructed (just a little bit) + cute photo

We succumbed. We made our way to a mall (the less popular one in our city, on a weekday, as soon as it opened–because we don’t do malls and crowds and crazy), and our son paid a visit to old St. Nick. He first met Santa (as far as he remembers) at a local craft fair a couple of weeks ago. This Santa gave him a candy cane–his first ever–and he may have even given him a high five. These were two major points in his favor. The other factor is that Santa slightly resembles BG’s grandpa, whom he adores and idolizes.

I think there was a time that my wife was unsure about the whole Santa thing, whether we would tell our son about him, whether we would fill him in. I’m honestly glad she’s turned around. Our son is faced with so much reality, but it is so uncommon that we get to lose ourselves in mythology these days. With Santa, we get to indulge in a little myth, and that makes me feel connected to something really old. Humans have always had our gods and goddesses, our saints, our muses. This is part of the wonder of being human–entertaining that imagination, believing in something greater–or at least more interesting–than our everyday lives. Choosing to explore Santa in this way makes this a little more meaningful to me.

But to BG, he’s a cool guy who gives out candy, and as far as he knows, nobody else on earth does that (his moms sure as hell don’t, much to BG’s chagrin), so Santa is pretty fabulous to him. That, however, is all the meaning he has ascribed to him, and isn’t that the joy of being a child?

The wonder I find in this is that BG is not a fan of strangers or even people he doesn’t see often. He’s a bit shy and slow to warm up to people. So when we saw this Santa in the mall, and he walked right up to the guy, it was pretty surprising. At first he wasn’t interested in his lap, but he did sit down next to him. A few moments later, he was fine with sitting on his lap to pose for a few photos. A proper California Santa, this Santa called him “dude” and even said, “Right on!” a few times. Then Santa gave him a candy cane lollipop, and BG was thrilled (although ready to move on once the transaction had taken place). My mom was with us and bought photos. She’s a sucker, but I suppose this year we probably would have done it ourselves because we’ve become suckers too. I’ve become smitten with tradition. Oh, who am I kidding. I’ve always loved ritual and tradition. I get weepy at parades. Seriously.

There’s something very special about seeing a child recognize an icon like this. Santa is an archetype, one that my son already recognizes, even without media exposure.  I find a good deal of joy in watching him fall for this guy. I know people worry about the letdown of learning that Santa is a myth, but if a child is raised with a healthy understanding of mythology, with an understanding of the imaginary, I’m not sure there’s any need for concern. I adored Santa as a child, but as I realized he was not real, I perpetuated the myth–for my parents, for my younger siblings–and it was still special to me. This chance to start all over again with Santa, well, that’s pretty wonderful too.

So here he is: my boy who hasn’t slept in a month or so, and Santa Claus himself:

 

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Filed under Boy Genius, holidays

here kitty kitty (and welcome NaBloPoMo!)

I nearly missed the first day of NaBloPoMo, and that is something I cannot do. I have particiapted every year I have had my blog, and I’m not about to break with tradition. Perhaps having two months of daily blogging so close to one another will lead to better habits. Perhaps I’m dreaming.

But enough with that. There’s a whole month to talk about that. Today is the day after Halloween, and this was the first year BG really got to participate (last year he was sick, the year before he was teeny tiny), so it was a big deal. He loved it all. The pumpkin patches, the pumpkins, the decorations on the houses and the stores, the costumes. I have long adored Halloween, so this has delighted me to no end.

Our boy wanted to be a kitty cat for Halloween. This was born from a book he has–a Karen Katz book in which a baby, dressed like a black cat, is looking for her “Special Pumpkin.” BG read this book every day for the last month, recited pages from it daily, and whenever we asked him about wearing a costume for Halloween, he stated quite firmly, “Dress up like kitty cat.”

The problem was that it isn’t easy to find kitty cat costume elements that aren’t covered in pink and bows and other decidedly feminite features. While I don’t have issues with these accessories, they aren’t necessary. When a child wants to be a cat, the child isn’t looking for lace and bows, right? While I’m a crafty person, I just didn’t have it in me to make a costume–or even ears–I was determined to find something. I went to one of those Halloween stores only to learn that boys are supposed to be characters from cartoons, and they must carry weapons–or they have to be dinosaurs. The girls get the “cute” animals.

When I voiced these complaints, an acquaintance suggested I dress him up like a lion because lion costumes were readily available at a nearby store. I certainly considered this, but BG wanted to be a kitty cat, not a lion. He knows very well they aren’t the same thing. And why should he have to be a lion?

One of the last places I looked was our local market. They had black cat ears and tails (which were all I really wanted), but the ears and tails each had pink bows on them. They had tiger ears and tails, and when I held the two up, my son wanted the cat ears. I found a set of donkey ears and tails, and for a moment, he reconsidered (he has met donkeys, loves donkeys), but he thought better of it. In his mind, one dresses like a kitty cat for Halloween, and so we went with the set with pink bows (which I would later remove).

When we took these to the register, the man working there asked if the ears and tail were for our son. I told him they were, but quickly threw in that we were removing the bows. “He doesn’t care at this age, so long as he gets to be a kitty!” was his reply. He told us about his son loving pink when he was a young child. He encouraged us to enjoy this time when colors are colors and costumes are costumes, and I wanted to hug him. We had asked our son over and over if he really wanted to be a kitty, and he was certain, but we kept hedging thinking maybe he was going to look too feminine. Of course, beneath this is that unspoken concern that because we’re two women raising a son, people will perceive that we’re feminizing him.

But all of that is bullshit.

We have a male cat and a female cat. Cats are not all female. And even if they were, even if my kid wanted to be a freakin’ princess, I shouldn’t care. It’s Halloween, and he’s his own person, and I’m so proud of him.

And for the record, my boy made a damn cute kitty cat:

As for Halloween, it was a hit all around. The grandparents visited Saturday, and we took BG to a celebration at one of the city parks where the kids got to ride the train and trick or treat from stations around the park. It was here that BG had his first mini candy bar (a Twix, if you must know).

He enjoyed every last bite of his “treat” (which is what he seems to call candy) and begged for more. My mom had brought other “treats” in her purse, including a small juice box and some raisins, so she encouraged him to trick or treat from her bag from time to time. It was such a good idea, and he loved the special prizes.

When we all came home yesterday, we got BG into his costume again, and J and I grabbed some hats, painted on some whiskers, and we went out into our neighborhood as a family of cats.

We hit up four houses or so–primarily neighbors who wanted to see BG dressed up. BG had mastered “Trick or Treat!” at the park, so he was a pro once he got to the neighbors. He was appropriately cute and meowed when asked. I think the highlight for him was ringing doorbells. The boy loves a doorbell. One neighbor had a full gift for him–a bag full of goodies including a coloring book, crayons, and more. And she insisted on photographing us. Here we are in all our goofy feline glory:

I have been unexpectedly emotional around all of this. I feel so very fortunate that I get to see the world through this boy’s eyes, that my wife and I get to introduce him to the fun that is living. What a joyful job we have as parents. Moments like these make this all the more poignant.

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Filed under Boy Genius, holidays, Uncategorized

and now that i’ve gotten that out

Holiday Highlights:

  • Solstice morning as BG insisted on returning gifts to their proper receptacles.
  • Feeding BG his first Christmas cookie (he even helped us decorate) and his insistence on calling all things sweet and delicious “Mmmmmmm!” (which really means “muffin” to him).
  • Watching BG suddenly understand how unwrapping gifts works.
  • Enjoying the surprise on his face when he saw a gift he loved.
  • Holding my four-month-old nephew and soaking in his squishy baby-ness, even though I had to hide from the super-jealous BG to do so.
  • Snuggling with my two-year-old niece as she wound down for the evening on Christmas.
  • Watching BG and his cousin hugging over and over again.
  • Two days later, seeing the three cousins with their adorable seven-month-old twin second cousins. It was babies galore that evening!
  • Seeing our boy marvel at the cuteness of babies.
  • Watching my son saddle up on his new rocking moose that Santa brought him and insisting that the stuffed moose Grandma gave him sit on his lap for the ride.
  • Spying BG shredding wrapping paper with his Mama to put into a wooden bowl when he got overstimulated. Good coping skills, my son!
  • Learning that my step-dad was indeed the person who taught BG to stick out his tongue to catch raindrops.
  • Watching my son walk all by himself (unbeknownst to him) pushing his new airplane push toy.
  • Seeing my kid surrounded in a pile of new books, flipping through each one of them.
  • Taking a drive with my mom, J, and BG to admire Christmas lights.
  • Meeting my wife after her last day of grading conferences at our town square for impromptu shopping, lunch, and toddler swinging.
  • Watching kids dance in the golden leaves that were falling like snow that day on the town square.
  • Taking BG to meet Santa at a town center, only to find they had moved him to a small corner of a nearby Bas.kin Ro.bbins and then seeing BG’s dubious look when the strange man in the red suit offered to hold him. Yeah right, Dude. Hands off, his face read.
  • Having time–real time–with my wife and son on a daily basis. There is nothing in the world so precious as this, no gift greater. 

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the best of plans

Almost every year, we travel to my mom’s house this time of year, and I end up cooking the majority of the Thanksgiving dinner, absorbing my mother’s stress, and finding myself utterly exhausted by my constant attempts at trying to make the holiday a little more relaxing. This year, we are blissfully off the hook. My parents are on a cruise celebrating their anniversary, and my siblings and I are scattered to the wind. Actually, we’re hunkered down during this cold, cold spell enjoying some sorely-needed at-home time together.

Tomorrow, we’ll not be preparing a huge feast, although there will be the aforementioned stuffed pumpkin, which we’re very excited to try, and there will also be a delicious pumpkin cheesecake. Any excuse to enjoy pumpkin in our household is a good one.

Overall, we expect a stress-free day with no work (very unusual around here) and just good family time. There will be a walk at our favorite county park. There will be wine. There will be laughter and hugs and kisses and good family time. And this year, as much as I love my parents and siblings, I am so thankful that I get this day with my precious little family.

Sometimes having no plans is the best plan of all.

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happy mother’s day!

To every mother out there, whether your child(ren) is in your arms, your belly, or your heart, I celebrate you. I hope you all find some joy today.

-T

xoxo

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happy easter/ostara/spring/first-sunday-in-april

Today was not a holiday for us. I celebrated Easter as a child growing up. While my mom was married to her second husband, we went to a Baptist church–we were born-again Christians, or rather I was as born-again as one can be at the age of eight. Every Easter until I was twelve, I donned my new Easter dress, and we had egg hunts and baskets full of goodies. There was inevitably some big family dinner. It was a minor holiday to me, but it wasn’t altogether unpleasant (although I was never crazy about the church services around Easter).

When my mom remarried–this time a Buddhist–we stopped going to church, did away with the Easter finery, and instead celebrated with our immediate family. We still dyed eggs and hunted for them, and we still had our Easter baskets full of goodies. My mom loved the tradition of it, so even as a teenager, I went along with it. But then I went away to college, and decided I was pagan, and from there, I wasn’t interested in Easter anymore. I remember my mom asking if I celebrated Easter anymore, and I felt so grown-up and independent to be able to tell her I didn’t.

And since then, this day has gone by without much of any recognition. I have long liked the idea of Ostara, but then I tend to like the holidays closer in their more pagan forms. Celebrating the coming of spring, of new life, of flowers and new green and sun and fertility, makes sense to me. Still, we don’t really do anything this time of year.

Enter Baby Genius. Having a child changes how one looks at everything, and especially holidays. We have to decide at some point whether or not there is an Easter bunny or a Santa Claus, whether we celebrate Easter or Ostara or anything at all. I was faced head-on with this a week or two ago when I was out with the baby and the Easter bunny was making an appearance where we were. At our favorite consignment shop, I was asked if BG was getting his photo taken with the Easter bunny, and I was just sort of surprised. I didn’t know what to say. Should he be having his photo taken? Was I a bad parent if my son didn’t have a first photo wth the Easter bunny? Were we missing out on something? After seeing the bunny, I decided that all we’d be missing out on was a free photo of a spooky bunny and a terrified Baby Genius–in other words, not much at all.

But we’re still trying to figure out what and how we’ll celebrate this time of year once our son is more aware of it all. J and I have agreed that we both love the idea of dying eggs and hunting for them. We like the idea of celebrating spring. We’re unsure, though, about baskets full of goodies–chocolate bunnies and such. It’s a funny thing to consider because until recently this is not a time of year I have considered at all. Most years, the day has come and gone like any other Sunday, without so much as a chocolate egg, but this year, we noticed, and next year we will too, so it’s time we come up with some sort of spring tradition.

J and I have fairly eclectic spiritual views now. We have attended UU off and on for a number of years, and once BG is older, we’ll go more regularly. My guess is that once we do, all of the celebrating around this time of year is going to fall into place a little more organically, even comfortably. It’s fun, though, figuring out what our traditions are going to be. It’s a bit like we’ve got a clean slate, and we get to make it all up as we go along, pulling from any religion or myth or fairy tale we like–and that feels really right to me.

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post-holiday catch-up

Not blogging certainly does make coming back to it more daunting. I have so much that I could write about, and yet I I almost feel like I have nothing post-worthy. The only way to get over that, I suppose, is to post, post, post.

We had a lovely holiday here at home. It was our first as a family–the first even J and I have spent without the extended family. It was so relaxing, so free of pressure. We did have one visitor. My dad decided to pop in Christmas morning for a couple of hours to see Baby Genius. He came with gifts and got to hang out with BG for a good long time, have breakfast with us, etc. His wife died five or six years ago, and since then, he’s been a bit aimless. I’ve also discussed here that he and I spent a few years not speaking, but we reconnected just this past year, and this effort he has been making to come see us is nice. I don’t count on it, but it’s good to have him around again.

Baby Genius seemed to enjoy his first Christmas as much as any three and a half month old can. He learned to tear tissue paper, so he was able to open some gifts we gave him (books), and he thoroughly enjoyed the music and the fake yule log on the television. Despite our desires to keep him from watching TV, we couldn’t keep the boy’s eyes off of that fake burning log.

I continue to be dairy and soy free, but it seems to be making little difference for BG. When we took the trip to my parents’ house a couple of weeks ago, the diaper situation did improve some, and I thought that because I hadn’t had soy there, that it was soy that was doing it. This week, I also realized that I didn’t have the prenatals with me that I  usually take. These prenatals have a few different herbs in them, and I thought perhaps they were the culprit, so I stopped taking them a few days ago. Sure enough, we did see a big change. In fact, we have even had a few normal-ish diapers. On Christmas day, I did consume a little dairy, and I think that has set us back again. I really feel like I’m flying blind with this, but we may be getting somewhere. We’ll see how he’s doing in a few days’ time.

Our son has also decided that he no longer cares to sleep for longer than an hour or two at a time at night. I don’t think he likes his co-sleeper; unfortunately, that’s where he has to stay for now. We bought some flannel to make some bigger swaddle blankets for him in order to do some heavy-duty swaddling, but this doesn’t seem to be the issue. No, instead, the issue is that our baby boy likes to kick, and in the night, whether he has no coverage at all or he is in the firmest of swaddles, he will lift up his legs, kick them together straight up into the air, and then throw them back down onto the bed. He does this until he wakes himself up. Short of duct-taping him to his mattress, we’re not sure how to fix this one. By 5am, I usually just bring him into bed with us, and I snuggle with him so that he will sleep, but it would be nice to get some rest in the middle of the night too. I miss my baby who would wake just once in the night!

Daytime with Baby Genius has been getting more and more fun though. He loves to sit, so he insists that when we hold him, he gets to sit up. How does he insist? He lifts his head up and grabs onto things to try to pull himself up. The boy isn’t rolling over yet, but he’s determined to sit up on his own by his four-month birthday. Everything in due time, son. He also is at this point where he is grabbing everything, and everything must go into his mouth. If it will not go into his mouth, he gets incredibly frustrated. This happens often in his bouncy seat where various toys dangle. For the last few weeks, there has been a dangling turtle that he can easily reach, but it was coming within just an inch of so of his mouth, so he would yell at it repeatedly. This week, he has found a way to reach the turtle, which has brought increased satisfaction. The latest thing he’s trying to conquer is getting his toes into his mouth, which has resulted in a good deal of hilarity.

We’re so happy to have our little boy. Life isn’t always easy here at the house of Reproducing Genius, but we have a lot of joy; we simply couldn’t be happier to have our son here. Now if only the rest of life would fall into place for us. Sigh.

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