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    Sharing Christmas ’round the world

    December 25th, 2010

    This year’s European snow blizzard left my mom stranded in Bulgaria. I’m happy that she gets to spend this holiday with her mom, but also a bit sad since we had planned for her to join us here. However, Skype was our friend today and brought both S’ and my (missing) family closer for even just a little while.

    Our day started surprisingly late. G didn’t wake up until 7:30am. Given that yesterday was a 6:00am wake-up call, I had expected today’s to be the same. I should be thankful, though, since next year, G will likely be knocking down our door at 5:00am to open gifts. Late last night, after my stomach bug had finally ran it’s course, I finished putting out the rest of G’s toys, specifically the big ones that I had not enough paper-wrapping skills in the world to manage. Until now, the rest of the gifts had been under our tree and G paid absolutely no attention to them. However, as he walked into the dining room this morning and saw his shopping cart and easel, his eyes lit up and immediately asked to “open it!” Then all was lost. Daddy was still brushing teeth upstairs. My mom was trying to get connected to Skype, and here I was with an impatient toddler trying to keep him away from new toys. It’s like keeping peasants from the invasion of the Bastille.

    G’s main role today was to hand out boxes. He did an excellent job. Until now, he’s had no interest in wrapped packages. I think as of today that will change.

    S2 on the other hand, spent the morning session of activities 1) eating; 2) pooping; 3) supervising the gift distribution. In that order.

    Mom and Grandma. 6,500 miles away, but still with us today.

    The tree: pre-gift opening devastation

    G and his Daddy

    “Where’s my loot?”

    Holding up gifts for Gamma to see

    Winner of the “Most annoying toy!” category this year. Also, winner of “Batteries will magically run out overnight” category toy too. I need to take video of this for you to understand why. Cute otherwise.

    G, showing off his new tool-set to Grammie.

    Christmas is hard work. S2 conked out for a heroic 4hr nap.

    A week ago, we took the boys on a walk around one of the streets in the neighborhood, known to decorate for the holidays. I hope we’ll get to do this every year. G is excited about the lights, so we thought it’d be fun. And it was. Every house on the street was decorated. Some far exceeding Christmas lights quotas. Apparently, decorating for the holidays is listed in the purchase docs if you buy a home here. Talk about pressure, huh?

    Look at this crazyness!

    Merry Christmas!

    Like father, like son

    December 29th, 2008

    When S was little he had a Raggedy Andy doll. His mom saved it and a couple of years ago she sent it to us.

    On Christmas morning, we had the awesome surprise of opening a box with a brand new Raggedy Andy for G. How cool is that? So here they are: daddy’s and G’s.

    Baby’s 1st Christmas

    December 26th, 2008

    Our first Christmas with G was just about perfect. I say just about because S has been sick over the last two days and is feeling stuffed up and miserable.

    G gave me the best present possible: an extra hour of sleep by having a nice and long morning nap, allowing me to do the same. This was followed by a generally fuss free attitude with several good naps sprinkled throughout the day. I’d like to think that this is a gift, anyway, and not G getting sick himself. I’d hate for this to become G’s first cold instead of G’s first Christmas.

    My dad and sister came out to spend the Christmas with us (my mom is in Bulgaria again helping care for my progressively deteriorating grandfather).

    S and I have spent almost every Christmas with his family since we started dating. I love their big family celebrations, the excitement on the kid’s faces… However, spending time with my family this year has been a big treat for me. We’ve hung out in our PJ’s, had some great dinners, good wine, good talks, and even a round of Tangrams last night after G went to bed.

    I didn’t make any of the traditional Bulgarian breads this year (being a new mommy doesn’t jive with baking for hours right now) BUT we did observe an old custom that I’d forgotten about: growing up, the morning of the holiday, kids go from relative to relative and pat them (lightly) on the back with a decorated wood called “survachka”. While doing so, they wish them well for the new year and a long life. The tradition is rooted in wishing a good harvest, a plentiful year and health to the family. The decorated wood is typically made out of a branch from a cornel tree, which is the last tree to loose it’s leaves and the first to bloom. It’s decorated with popcorn, dried fruits, and wool. While children pat their relatives and family friends, they recite a poem, which loosely translates to:

    “Let the year be blessed and joyous,
    with green grain on the fields,
    big grape on the vine,
    yellow cob on the corn,
    red apple in the orchard,
    full house of silk;
    be healthy and merry
    til next year and forever!”

    The best part (for the kid that is)? After this is done, your relative turns around and gives you cash.

    So my dad made G his first survachka. Our yard lacks cornel bush branches, so he made do with our growing vegetation. We’re also a little short on loose wool, but some sewing thread seemed to do just fine. It came out really nice!

    Then after we opened gifts, he received his first annual survakane by G.

    grab stickpat grandpawalk away with loot

    … and G, in turn received, his first, hard-earned $20. Not quite the Jolie-Pitt twin millions, but not too shabby for a morning’s work 🙂 Of course this is going straight into G’s college fund.

    G’s been enjoying several of his gifts all week long. His diapers have been keeping his little bum dry for a week now (and they rock by the way). He’s enjoying time in his new Pikkolo carrier, and is thrilled hanging out in his Jumparoo. Since his feet aren’t long enough to touch the floor, I put an empty cardboard box under him to give him that long needed “boost”. He is bouncing himself up and down now, which is awesome. He can’t quite reach the toys around it yet, but boy does he want to. I see this thing being my saving grace for a long time to come. Can you say un-interupted cooking/eating time (I hope)? I need to take a picture of this to show you guys.
    He also received several really fun developmental toys, ornaments for his tree, and some great clothes. We’re really appreciating how loving and generous our family and friends have been to us this year. Thank you all!

    Before I sign off,  I wanted to show you our Christmas tree.

    For several years now I’ve talked about adding photo ornaments from each year, growing our tree with memories of loved ones. Well, this year I finally started. Not sure how practical this idea is, but it did turn out nice!

    And of course here’s Neko reminding us that as our first child he is a gift too! (PS, he got a brand new catnip sock for Christmas: his favorite. It’s already being smacked around the house)

    Merry Christmas everyone!!!

    Happy Holidays!

    December 24th, 2008

    It’s G’s first Christmas tomorrow.

    May it be a good one for you too!

    We’re hunting Christmas trees!

    December 10th, 2008

    On Sunday, we went Christmas tree hunting with our friend M. Not “find-a-tree-in-a-lot” hunting… real “stalk it, cut it, bag it” tree hunting. It was a lot of fun and I really hope we can make this an annual tradition. Oh, and I got to cut it down.

    Live vicariously through pictures:
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