Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Olive you

What's the one Must Have item for your Christmas stocking?

For my husband, it's baseball cards. His, Santa Claus...always put a pack or two of baseball cards in the toe of his stocking when he was a child. When we got married, the task transferred over to me.

For William, it looks like it's going to be a small Lego set of some sort. I think this is the third year in a row he's gotten something Lego in his stocking, and I guess that makes it a tradition, right?

For me, it's olives. Yeah, you didn't see that one coming, did you? Not unless you are my friend Giles from church, who is the only other person on the planet who absolutely must receive olives in his Christmas stocking. Frankly, I'm amazed that that it's not just me.

And I actually don't know how it started for me. I just know that from the time I was very small, Santa's little red-haired elf (that would be my mom) always put a can of black olives in my Christmas stocking. Back then, I derived great pleasure from shoving my fingers into the little hollow olives so it would look like I had big swollen black fingernails. So appetizing, no? Since I got my own can of olives, no one could tell me to cut it out either. They were all for me, for me! for me! so I could do whatever I wanted with them. Ah, the good old days.

When I got married, the chore of buying olives and making sure they found their way into my stocking fell to my husband. That got tricky when we were flying back and forth between California and Tennessee at Christmas. Since we weren't allowed to even carry water bottles onto the plane in the post-9/11 era, there wasn't much chance that David could get away with sneaking a heavy glass jar of olives in his carry-on bag. So my mother-in-law or my brother-in-law had to step in and make a last-minute run to Kroger to scoop up a jar. I love that they all did this, even though I know they must have thought it was utterly absurd.

And yes, it was a jar by then. My taste got fancier as I got older, and a plain old can of generic black olives was no longer quite as desirable. Santa and his elves took to buying jars of Kalamata olives. Last year, I even got TWO jars. That was all good. One jar even featured olives that were stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes. I'm feeling a little dreamy, just remembering. But still, every year, there was always, always, always a container of olives. Of some sort. There had to be. And there was.

This year, my poor husband got a indescribable (trust me on this) case of stomach flu on December 22. He even stayed home from work on Dec. 23, which should tell you something because it practically requires an Act of Congress to convince him to call in sick. But he managed to somehow get to the store and buy a jar of olives (green this year, interestingly) and put them in my stocking on Christmas Eve. Along with an iTunes card, it was all I got, but it was what mattered. Don't get me wrong, I love the olives themselves, but what I love most is that someone loves me enough to humor me every year and indulge me in my quirky little affinity. David also puts ice cubes in my orange juice, even though he also thinks that's weird. That's love, kids.

What about you? Does Santa always bring you lip balm or a grapefruit or slippers or what?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'll give a full recap later, but I just wanted to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas from me and my boys.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Hope it was quieter at your house than it was at ours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kids say the darndest things

A few random out-of-the-mouths-of babes from my house today...yes, just today.

*William: "The PBS Kids shows are supposed to be educational. [Pause.] I'm not sure what 'The Cat in the Hat' is teaching."

*Andrew, upon listening to the page with "Goodnight mush" in his much beloved copy of "Goodnight Moon:" "Bye, oatmeal!"

*William asked if there was an opposite of "dehydrate." I explained that, yes, "hydrate" is the opposite. And then I tried to get all scholarly and explained the Greek root of the word "hydrate" means "water." Except that I said "hydra" instead of "hydro" or "hydros." And William immediately corrected me. "Mo-om," he said. "A hydra is a mythical creature that when you cut off its head, three more grow back in its place." Yeah, wow. Did you know that when you were five years old? (Except don't be too impressed: he apparently learned this from an episode of "The Super Hero Squad.")

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa's ersatz little helper

So help me figure this one out, kids.

When I was at Target today, I realized that I really needed to pick up a couple of extra things for Andrew's stocking. We have tons of stuff stashed away for William's, but only a few for his baby brother. I figured that I could sneak a couple of things into the shopping cart without William noticing.

Except that I couldn't. Somehow, perhaps with his x-ray vision, William spotted the little package of Sesame Street figurines beneath the pile of other junk on the conveyor belt at the cash register.

"Hey, you're getting the Cookie Monster and Telly set," he said, happily. (Andrew adores Cookie Monster nearly as much as he loves Elmo, and he doesn't have a Telly yet. By the way, did I mention that Andrew can now say "Elmo"? He used to say "Elba" but just this week made the leap to the real name. It's terribly adorable.)

Thinking fast, I said, "Um, yeah, Santa asked me to grab a couple of extra things for Andrew in case he needs anything for his stocking. What do you think?"

William thought about that and shook his head. "No, I think you should just give them to him, and let Santa do the stockings himself."


So now what?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Say cheese. Please?

Every year about this time, I begin the process of trying to get a good photograph to use for a Christmas card picture.

And I am here to tell you: it is SO unreasonably difficult to get a good photo of both boys.

I mean, I've done some hard things in my life...I've given birth, I've written and defended a master's thesis, I've driven all the way across the United States with my mom...but getting a good picture of both my kids? Just about impossible.

If Andrew's smiling, then William's looking away from the camera. If William's smiling, Andrew's moving and blurring the shot. If they're both actually looking at the camera at the same time, then Andrew is likely to have his hand in his mouth. Or William has his patented Fake Smile on his face.

Last year, I got lucky. Andrew was crawling last year, but he wasn't walking. It was much easier to plunk him down somewhere and then cajole William into the picture next to him. Yes, there was a little drama, but it wasn't insurmountable. I managed to get a few good pictures of the two of them together in their matching Christmas outfits and cobble together a decent card.

This year, not so much.

I mean, when this is the best I can do...

it leaves you hoping for something better. Well, it leaves me hoping for something better, anyway.

Same for this:

You'd think from this photo that Andrew never smiles, and he's almost always smiling.


Well, what can I do? I guess I'll keep working on it. Insert comment about the Holy Grail here.