Saturday, November 13, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like

When I'm not at work or busy searching eBay for used bulk lego blocks by the pound (I know, used toys, they could be tubercular, but I got a whole shitload of used Duplo bricks off eBay a few years and it was the best thirty-something bucks plus shipping I ever spent), sometimes I like to interact with my kids. Here are a few pictures from this weekend, in which everyone has recovered from their various maladies and Mack proves that his eyebrows do occasionally point in a direction other than down:

Anyway, not to belabor the point (Kids. Cute. Done.) but I do love that last one wherein Mack is busting a tiny little move. (He's Stirring the Pot of Love, of course.) Also, yes, it has warmed up here since last weekend.

* * *

I am basically trying to forget that Thanksgiving is coming up, because I am on call for Thanksgiving weekend (all four days--but just the day parts of the days, someone else is covering the nights) and if I can forget that it's a holiday instead of a regular call weekend it'll be far less depressing. Now that we don't live near family Thanksgiving has been generally depressing for the last two years anyway--our first year in Atlanta we tried to fend for ourselves (the less said about the cooking of our Thanksgiving dinner, the better) and last year we very kindly got invited to one of my co-worker's homes for Thanksgiving lunch, which was very nice not to mention very tasty--but just served to remind us that we were these sort of pathetically unmoored figures that require taking in, like The Old Lady At Church Whose Husband Is Dead, or That Guy Who Hangs Out In The Periodicals Section Of The Library But Is Basically Harmless. This year, I figure I'll just skip over the Thanksgiving part of things altogether (except for the giving thanks part--very thankful for many things, of course) and go straight to the Christmas preparation, which, to be perfectly honest, is something that I've been desperately waiting for since before last year's Christmas tree came down.

I like Christmas is all.

I'm trying to emphasize to Cal, as I do every year, that the importance of the holiday (at least in the secular way that we celebrate the Christmas) is family and togetherness and blah blah blah Gift of the Magi, but he's reached the age now where the mere smell of pine is enough to trigger a Pavlovian response of OMG SANTA CANDY CANES PRESENTS!!! Still, I don't want to be a total killjoy about the thing and it's not like he's overly materialistic or anything so what the hell, just let him enjoy the freaking presents.

Mack didn't have a very good Christmas last year--he had a cold going into it and got his flu shot two days before Christmas Eve, and while I don't blame the flu shot for his illness, the combination of these two events (something something cytokines?) made him a febrile, snotty, miserable mess who alternately sobbed and slept through the entire holiday. I am determined to make it up to him this year (not like it was my fault or anything, but he was still very little and I felt bad) but the problem with Mack is that all he generally requires to be happy is a fistful of pretzels and a stool to climb up on in order to reach the knife block, and these are difficult to incorporate into our holiday celebration.

Actually, the real problem is that he's the second child, the second boy child, and anything we could possibly think of to get him (trains, little cars, grating Wiggles DVDs) we already accrued for Cal the first time around. So we're kind of at a loss when it comes to what to get him. Again, not that the holidays are about PRESENTS and GETTING STUFF and the most pleasant part of my Christmas is sitting around in my pajamas watching my kids not kill each other--but I do want to be able to get him something special aside from, of course, my undying love, especially since meanwhile Cal is going to be building some kind of Lego Universe with the spoils of his holiday gift bounty.

Anyone else have second child syndrome when it comes to gift giving? I know that gifts aren't important and that kids don't really know the difference and this is all very First World Problems, but...I just like to watch their faces when they open the presents, you know? That's my Christmas present. And I'm not particular, I'll wrap anything to put under the tree. One year I wrapped a pack of Raisinettes.


  1. Oh my goodness, I have never seen that link to "How to Dance Properly" before. HILARIOUS! I think creatively dealing with holidays is the norm for all healthcare professionals. My sister (married to a nurse) tells me that her husband's family (full of healthcare providers) hasn't celebrated Christmas on the correct day since...ever. One or more of them usually have to work, so they end up celebrating Christmas either before or after the 25th, to ensure they're all off. ::sigh:: Why am I becoming a doctor again? (Kidding.)

    Anyway, happy holidays! And sorry, I realize I didn't answer your question about gifts for Mack. I have no suggestions, besides the pretzels.

  2. Anonymous6:17 PM

    I say get him a bag of pretzels, most definitely. And, get him a cool looking car or train because I'm sure he would want what his big brother had first. :)

  3. My boys are a little younger than yours, and yes, we have the same problem. Except that the younger is playing with a bunch of toys that didn't work out for his brother (he seems to like balls more than cars, and doesn't immediately assault the dog, given a push-around cart).

    I think we will be getting them enough wooden train track to split the set into two comfortably, this year.

    Perhaps some of the fun disposable toys would suit Mack? Play-doh, some scavenged cardboard boxes, and a mylar helium balloon?

  4. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Mac looks EXACTLY like Cal in that third pic! It's eerie and adorable!!

  5. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Can you re-cycle some of Cal's old toys (re-wrap them and give them to Mack)?

  6. I have that problem.. and my second is a girl. Frankly she prefers cars and trains to dolls, and is already into 'proper' lego at just-3. I despise getting her gender-biased pink toys just for the hell of it. she loves those preschool 'workbooks' but hey, have some FUN already, girl! Plenty of time for carefully labelled colouring books when you're in Med School ;)
    Santa is really struggling this year!!

  7. Anonymous9:28 PM

    My first boy is all about trains and trains with a side of trains. The second is all about balls and trucks, so we have been able to expand with some of the nicer caterpillar/john deere toys, t-ball, basketball hoop the second time around. Our newest find is the local hobby shop which has stuff we just never considered the first time around and is fun for everyone: stomp rockets and their variants have been a huge hit as well as random semi-educational things like a set of weather gauges.

  8. I LOVE WOW toys and Playmobile 123. Also, Lakeshore has some great building options for toddlers, and I always think a new puzzle or two is fun.

  9. Ugh, I feel your pain. I have 2 boys 3 years apart and to add more problems, my 2nd son's birthday is 12-27 so he didn't even have a proper birthday party until he was 6. So every year we get caught up with Christmas then panic to scrounge up more gifts for his birthday. Double whammy.
    Lots of trains, Hot Wheels and Legos seem to work though.

  10. Thanks for the stool and the knife block comment - it made giggle with a mouthful of coffee!!

    As far as Thanksgiving, you can buy the turkey and all the fixins and just warm n serve. In Florida we had Bonos and they would make a tasty smoked turkey that was loved by all and I believe Publix will also hook you up with a suitable holiday meal.

    My friend has three boys and a few years ago she gave all of us who asked a copy of his christmas wish list. It included red presents, apples, hot chocolate, marshmellow and grasshoppers. He was four!

  11. Anonymous11:44 AM

    I love the ideas of:

    xmas wish list

    personalized music - is he too young for a "mix" tape that will feel special and all his own?


    some gadget to go along with a toy Cal already has -- ie. a "make it new' kind of thing

    I can't wait to have our second. I cannot wait!!

    (our first is pretty cool too. :)

    God bless


  12. I have no solution, only commiseration. Not only do I have two girls two years apart, but their birthdays are both the week after Christmas. I have stood in the middle of Toys R Us and thought, "Okay, what don't we have yet?"

    The next year I got them tickets to see Elmo Live for their birthday gift, all wrapped up in a box to still have the "opening a present" fun. I was informed that "tickets are NOT presents." They still enjoyed the show.

  13. Anonymous1:58 PM

    not sure of the storage space issue but we got my second (also a boy, 22mo apart) these cardboard blocks. Big hit for all.....

  14. Anonymous2:43 PM

    ooo. Thanks for the tip about the duplo sets on ebay, I'll have to try and see if I can get a haul.

    This is round two for me. I have four kids; 18, 14, 2 (nearly 3) and six months. The 18 year old was a boy, so I didn't have the second-child syndrome as much as I do with the youngest pair. But we devised a system: the kids got a few presents that were theirs (stuffed animals, books, clothes, what have you), and we would get DVDs, games, and other age-group appropriete toys that were the Family Presents that are to be shared. This way it was known from the get-go that this not a particular child's, but everyone got to play with them.

    And I feel you about the medical schedule fun for the holidays. My dad was the head of an x-ray department for a medical clinic, and he usually was on call for Christmas (so the other techs could enjoy their holidays) and we usually celebrated on Christmas Eve, with a nice dinner on the day. For what it's worth, if you guys are set on a Holiday Dinner, try one of the supermarket spreads. Most are heat and serve and are pretty high quality.

  15. I had the exact same problem with my younger son until I realized that I could make him do the "heavy lifting". As the holidays approached, during one of our regular visits to local bookstores I would ask them if there was anything in particular they would like Santa to bring. Then we would go to our favorite toy store and repeat the same procedure there. To my happy surprise, even a 3-year-old can pick out what he wants (the trick, of course, is making him understand that he can't have it right now because Santa* will be bringing it). It has worked ever since, and this year (I suspect the last year when anyone in our family still fully believes in Santa) son #2 has picked his present without stepping foot into any store (yes, 7-year-olds can have amazing googling skills) and will be emailing his request to Santa.

    *My boys love tracking Santa, which has made the "Santa will bring it" bit a lot more convincing.

  16. Hey, Family Presents. I like that. We always struggle with OWNERSHIP of toys.
    For the second (or younger) child, it is tough. Do you have a giant Tonka dump truck? Because that seemed to be the secret to happiness for our smallest.
    He also really likes this play table
    Basically, he hauls his hand-me-down toys around in his truck, then plays with his hand-me-down cars on the play table. (Bonus: the play table is big enough that all kids can play together, and baby still feels like he's the boss.) Happy holidays! Corinne

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