Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow Day!

The night before last night it snowed, leaving us with a fresh white morning of snow when we woke up yesterday.  It was probably only two inches, but in the South, two inches is a lot.  School was canceled...

...and after a lot of looking out the window...

We saw our neighbors outside with a sled tramping around the yard, and so we bundled up the kids and went out to join them.  Gigi's buddy Michael and James his dad made Olaf the snowman, and the kids made snow angels in our driveway.

Orion wandered through the white winterland amazed by everything and not at all bothered by the cold, and the kids sledded down the hill across the street.  

Orion also went down the hill, with Papai and then alone.  This time he was still sitting upright when he reached the bottom.

But our favorite part of snow day was having the neighbors over afterwards for hot cocoa and cookies!  Having that long slow morning stretch out, and time for Marcos to be with us and our neighbor friends instead of at UNC all day was such a treat!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Weeks before Christmas

And here we are again, back to talking about December!  We traveled for Christmas, so we tried to do a few local fun activities before we left for Utah.

We made it to the Emerson Waldorf School holiday fair, one of the places we like best around these parts.  Poppy lemons, the carriage ride, happy Orion and Gigi's gnome hat.

On a cold Saturday morning our friends Zoe and Cary invited us over for a pancake breakfast and the Hillsborough Christmas parade.  They just happen to live on the parade route, and wasn't that handy to just step out into the front yard to watch the small-town procession march by!  There were a lot of local businesses, churches, school marching bands and a lot of girls dancing and waving batons and pom poms.  Not one dancing-girl group passed without Gigi improvising to their music on the sidelines with her buddies Silas, Asha and Liam.

And then there was the spirit of Chanukah.  When we were in New York City at Thanksgivvukah there were crowds of young men in kippas spilling out of trucks and handing out menorahs ("Anybody over here Jewish?").  So we brought one home and sang the Chanukah song every night that we remembered to light the candles.  Kitchens are very homey places when they are lit only by the lights on the Christmas tree and the thin candles of the menorah.  

And then there was our favorite small town Christmas party at Fitch Lumber store.  Isn't he the jolliest Santa around?  Orion thought so too.

And what is the Christmas season without our Treats for the Carrboro Firefighters afternoon at my sister friend Becca's house?  Seth and Emerson at the top, Gigi with her buddy Olivia, and little Achilles all helped out.  "One candy for the firefighters, one in my mouth, one for the firefighters, one in my mouth..."

And the delivery is the best part.  We had the nicest firefighter give the kids a tour of the engines and fire station.  Sometimes I wish the kids had a longer attention span, because I always have so many questions that don't get answered.  Here's Gigi in the boots and protective gear that sit at the door of every engine, ready to jump into at the ring of the alarm.  And our little group checks out the extra oxygen tanks the firefighters carry into burning buildings when they know there are others trapped inside who might need fresh air.  Always a winner afternoon.

And lastly, our early Christmas celebration with Tutu.  Since we were traveling for Christmas and didn't want to haul presents, we did our gifts celebration early at home.

Gigi and Marcos scope out the loot under the tree, Gigi tries on her new clip-on earrings, and Tutu opens her can opener.

Papai received nail clippers from Orion (with the note "stop using mine!" on the wrapping), and Orion got a new dinner plate.  (I know we're such interesting gift givers, stop gushing!)

Unknowingly, Marcos got me a 90-minute massage and I got him an appointment for acupuncture, so that was kind of funny.  He also surprised me with gadgets for my camera, which have already come in handy.  And Gigi now has her first baby doll, from Santa.  Her name is Lydia and she smells like vanilla, which I like.

Whew!  That was our run up to Christmas!  I think I've brought us up to the trip to Utah!  Get ready for some snowy photos, folks!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Haircut

In late December, shortly after we returned from our Christmas trip to Utah, a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew that it was time to cut Gigi's hair.  I had resisted for a long time because I loved her hair, but the fight we were waging every morning to get a brush through it was getting old, and I felt like if we donated her hair then someone else would enjoy it and we would not have to throw it out.  I think that deep down, I was also attached to the one inch of curl at the very bottom of her hair - the one inch of beautiful curliness that she was born with, my firstborn child.

We took her to a salon for kids where her hair was measured, braided and then sliced clean off.  And when I say "sliced clean" I mean hacked off, since getting scissors through her huge ponytail of thick hair was no small feat.

And then we sent it to an organization called Children with Hair Loss.  Gigi explains that "the children take very strong medicine, and then their hair falls out".  I hope a child gets to enjoy her hair in a hairpiece someday, and I hope that they don't have to deal with the tangles.

So, this is Gigi now with her bob cut, although she is usually sans wings.  I need to straighten up that hack job of her bangs, but in general it's my favorite haircut and I'm glad she finally has it.  It's a playful look that suits her perfectly!

Now, that wasn't too hard, was it?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Outdoor Potluck in December

The deep, philosophical question of this blogpost is: can you call an event a "tradition" if it is dependent on freakishly hot December weather?

I only ask because I really want this to happen again.  In December we had some days of freakishly hot weather here in North Carolina, and my friend Ana opened up her homestead for an afternoon of gingerbread houses and an evening potluck under the stars.  The event came about because Becca wanted our small band of friends to get together for a potluck before Christmas, and we realized very sadly that with all of our children and the ensuing craziness, the size of our group had outgrown any of our small homes.  It is a good problem to be poor in house size but rich in friends.

But then things turned in our favor, and Ana saw that the coming days were going to be in the 70s.  We planned the party for Ana's yard space, and she invited everyone she knew.  I call Ana's yard space the homestead, because they have chickens, a tire swing and trampoline, at one point there were goats (before they became too naughty), and it is a veritable sprawling happy space for kids of all ages.  

In the afternoon Ana set up tables, and I helped to corral the kiddos for candy crafting.  Some families brought their own prefab gingerbread house kits, and some of us made Christmas trees with ice cream cones, frosting and lots of candies.

Ooops!  It tipped!  How did that happen...?

When the sky turned dark we wiped the frosting off of tables and set them for dinner.  Ana's girls had found greenery and pinecones in the yard, and with my Mary Poppins bag of table decor, we had a nice setting in no time.  The kids ate and ran off to play, and the adults stretched out to enjoy the soups and breads, and delicious pastas and fruit.   

Thanks Ana and Colin for a really lovely evening under the stars and twinkle lights!  Here's hoping that next year we can do it again.