December 2007


Joelle has a school friend named Max (whom Joelle has told us she will marry one day, not sure if we had mentioned that before). Max’s dad called us today at 12:30 telling us that they had an extra pair of Playhouse Disney Live tickets for the 3:30 show (Max’s brother is sick). So, Joelle and I happily accepted their offer and went with them to the show.

Joelle and Max are on the older edge of the target demographic for the show which featured Mickey Mouse, Pooh/Tigger, Little Einsteins and Handy Manny so I had a different perspective than when we took Joelle to the Wiggles when she was 2. At the Wiggles concert we figured she would be amazed that THE WIGGLES were there and SINGING THAT SONG kind of thing. As it turns out she couldn’t really tell what was going on and was more engaged by the toys and people around her. This time we had a completely different outlook – I didn’t expect her to be engrossed and I wasn’t concerned about how the experience would be. It was the first time I had taken her somewhere like this where there wasn’t pressure to make it AN EXPERIENCE for her. I just hoped she would have fun.

While the kids focused on the stage I was able to focus on some of the odd events surrounding us. Some notes from the experience from my point of view:

1. I remember getting excited for Joelle at DisneyWorld when we would see a character we knew. I’m sure I’m just as guilty as any parent in saying something like “OOH, ARIEL” or something like that. But it was pretty funny to hear thousands of adults go “OOOOH!!!” every time a character came out. If you don’t consider why they are doing it, it just seems that all these adults are just amazed that Mickey came out from backstage during the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” segment.

2. Of all the applause and “shock” (see #1) for each of the characters, Minnie got the greatest reaction. I think it’s because only Mickey came out in Part 1 and they didn’t expect “Mickey’s Friends” to be there in Part 2. Minnie came out after Mickey in Part 2 (followed by Donald and Goofy). I’d guess that if Donald came out second in that part he might have gotten the biggest reaction. I’d like to experiment with that.

3. The show had a 15 minute intermission after a 30 minute first act. The intermission was followed by a 30 minute second act. Just like TV! (with a longer intermission to let people purchase merchandise). Note it took about 40 minutes to get from our house to our seat and another 60 minutes to get from our seat back to our house.

4. When Tigger came out in the first act there was a kid about four rows back who would yell TIGGER! TIGGER! every 45 seconds or so. I’m not sure if he was a heckler-in-training or if he really thought TIGGER might give him a wave even though he was about 50 yards away behind hundreds of other screaming, clapping, crying, laughing, dancing kids.

5. The “uh oh” kid. At one point Mickey admits he forgot to find a song for them to sing since he was so busy planning the party. The second he is chastised by Minnie this kid starts loudly saying “uh oh! uh oh!” and looks to his parents for reassurance. They don’t seem concerned which seems to make him feel like he is the only one in the audience who appreciates the gravity of the situation. “UH OH! UH OH!” Even as Mickey suddenly remembers a song and the crew starts dancing, the kid is still worried.

I don’t notice the kid again until the lights go out on the party and Mickey chuckles “uh oh!” in his “aw shucks” voice. My eyes dart to the kid to see if he has a breakdown. Forgetting the song was one thing but NO LIGHTS? The world might as well be over. He starts an escalating series of “uh oh”s but I again lose track of him as out of the corner of my eye…

6. I see a girl fall down a flight of five or six aluminum steps (like risers at a small football or baseball field) and no one except for the parent or a couple of security guards seem to notice. She’s OK, but at a show with loud music, flashing lights and tons of kids who are already crying anyway just about everyone missed that.

7. Finally, we’ve mentioned the “hot dog song” before. Well it was there again, with a huge hot dog on the big video backdrop that made me hungry…until it split up into about 20 hot dogs and started undulating along to the beat with rotating mustard and ketchup. Then, not so much.

There’s probably more things that I forgot, but for 60 minutes and off the top of my head that’s pretty “busy”. For her part, Joelle said the “Little Einsteins” were her favorite part but the Leo and Quincy characters didn’t look exactly like they do on TV (agreed).

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Elise knows that we don’t tolerate leaves or acorns in her mouth.  When she isn’t tired, she usually complies.  I saw her start to put a leaf to her mouth while we were playing on the trampoline (Joelle and Daddy were at Playhouse Disney Live, he promises a post later,) realize what she was doing, stop, look at me and smile.  So, she does know that it’s a no, no.  If she’s tired and ready for a nap, it’s like she can’t control her impulses and she just starts eating up like there is no tomorrow.

While we were on the trampoline, I saw her pick up an acorn and look at me.  I now know it was a decoy, because as soon as I started my way over to get it from her, she dropped it and scooted over to the side where I had been holding down the net that needs repairing.  She likes to body slam into the netting.  I guess she likes the free fall feeling (great).  Anyway, she had wanted to investigate the netting that didn’t stick to the trampoline and she figured out how to get mommie out of the way.  I’m impressed.

Ok, I forgot a couple of funny things from Christmas.  Did I honestly think I could get it all in one post?  Joelle made a dala horse at school this year.  It’s red, wooden and really quite cute.  Joelle told us that Ms. DeeDee told them not to glob the paint and that she didn’t, Daniel did though.  (She informed us of this fact in her tsk, tsk voice).  The Dala horse should be red, you see.  She painted a tail, eyes and roses all over it.  She also made this rather insignificant candle out of a toilet paper roll and small paper bread plate.  The plate is bright green (base of candle) and the toilet paper roll is red (candle).  We were eating at the table where the Dala horse and candle both happened to be.  Often “junk” just idles in all areas of the kitchen and Joelle adores to play with anything while she’s eating.  Hence, the inspiration of “Down a… walking down a Mexican road.”  Joelle put the candle on top of the horse and started singing this song.  Chris and I both started laughing.  I offered to cut the candle down a bit to make it even more like a hat.  So, now the candle is officially a Mexian sombrero and those two pieces of “junk” are making it into my boxes of Christmas stuff to save. 

While I spent hours on Christmas day putting together Joelle’s castle, I had a little help.  Joelle says she helped.  Really, she couldn’t stand not playing with it, so she brought people over from her other Play mobil stuff and started playing in the castle.  It made it a little difficult, at times, to be building around her.  Chris helped one time when Joelle was away and moved a character to add a piece, I said, “Joelle had that there.”  I had been working around it – I recognize I could have moved it, too.  I think I just was reminded of my doll house that I played with that wasn’t complete.  I loved playing in that shell of a doll house.  Anyway, the castle was completed, but it’s nice to be reminded that little imaginations often don’t need elaborate toys to have fun.

How could I forget, again, to mention Nana’s plates.  On Christmas Eve,  we were all opening presents and Poppy said, “did Nana get her present?”  I said, “she’s opening it.”  Then, it become clear that he meant his present to her.  It took a little time for my rusty mind to realize that Poppy had indeed given me a present in July to give to her for Christmas.  Oops!  I promised to wrap it right when I got home and I even offered to bring it that night.  They both said Christmas would be fine.  So, I bust out the package (nicely wrapped) for Nana.  She opens it and loves it.  Really, really loves them.  (beautiful plates).  Hoping I earned some points back from Poppy, I hear him mention more plates.  I had forgotten one of the two boxes!  He may decide that my wrapping services aren’t worth the bother next year.    

I thought I should collect my thoughts about Christmas 2007 before they evaporate like the decorations around me. I have to start with Christmas morning because it was such an eventful beginning. Elise hasn’t been sleeping well and Christmas Eve was no exception. Elise kept waking up and Chris kept trying to feed her. It usually works for a few more winks of sleep. At 6:00, Chris recognized that Elise wasn’t going back to sleep. In an attempt to keep Joelle snoozing, Chris ran to fetch her. He returned to our room. As I was greeting the baby, she threw up. All over Chris, the bed and herself. I guess Chris gave her the bottle one too many times! Her tiny tummy couldn’t hold it any longer. A minute later, Joelle walks in, “hey guys.” This is sweet and memorable to me because as we were falling asleep the night before, Chris had said, “I think this is the first year Joelle will run to see what Santa brought instead of getting us first.” It may have been that she heard us, but I’m forever grateful that she came to see us first one more year.

Christmas Eve was memorable for the wonderful service and packed church. I’m always struck by how I feel like an outsider at my own church for Christmas Eve services because it’s just so crowded. We always seem to be in the back row, but for regular Sunday services you can sit right up at the front. Elise was a doll, after I busted out the puffs. Chris said, “That was a stroke of genius.” We had a wonderful dinner with Nana and Poppy afterwards. Although that seems innocent, it was significant to me because it’s the first Christmas in three that Poppy hasn’t been ill. It was nice to see him for Christmas again… and you can’t beat Nana’s macaroni.

After spending 3 hours putting together Joelle’s new Playmobil castle on Christmas day, we loaded up the car for Honey and Grandpa’s. There, we enjoyed spending the day with the family. Both girls had fun, but Joelle loved showing off her house to Nana the most.

Random other memorable moments: * Joelle calling the chocolate reindeer, “a chocolate goat.” Then, switching to “chocolate bunny.” and noticing that Elise’s had a bow and hers did not. * Joelle being more excited about Elise’s tooth brush and tooth paste (that she picked out) then almost any of her own gifties. She was so excited for Elise to start brushing her teeth. Predictably, Elise just wanted to chew on the brush. * Elise fanning the area for falling tags, bows and wrapping paper. She always had an assortment of tags and paper clutched in her hands. I wonder how much she consumed? * Elise’s fear of the ball toy that Nana gave her. She still hustles over to my lap when it comes on and nuzzles in. I secretly love it. * Joelle dusting her face with glamour girls powder from Noonie and Uncle Danny. It was gray and it looked liked she had dunked her head in ash. * Chris and I working his new puzzle. Who knew we’d have so much fun.

Elise wasn’t happy when Daddy didn’t come home last Friday night.  Elise really wasn’t happy when mommie didn’t come home after 1-2 hours on Saturday.  Elise was esctatic to see us when we came home on Sunday, but she realized that she had to ensure the depature didn’t occur again.  We went to Chris’s company party in Dallas, and I think she is close to succeeding in keeping me home next year.  She’s been cranky, she’s been up at night, and generally acting like she’s at least 3 months younger then she is.  In summary, not my sweet baby.  I know, I know.  I left her, I deserve it. 

In the midst of all this, she has started to walk.  It started as 1-2 tiny baby steps and an immediate drop down to the floor on her bum.  A couple of nights ago, she walked 5 whole steps and beamed at Chris and I.  She’s so adorable.  She’s so proud.  I walk in to get her from the crib in the morning and she’s practicing.  I can already see her dedicated personality.  She’s so methodical.  It’s as if she sets these goals for herself.  “Ok, today 1 more step and 10 more intervals.” 

I said this to Joelle all the time and it didn’t work, but I’ll try it again, “Elise, just stay little.”  I’ll put up with the crankiness when I go away because I know how much you love me.  I’d love for you to stay little so that you keep that adoration of me and I can cuddle with you swallowed up in my lap.  Joelle still tries (and you both try when one or the other is already there), but she’s got these long thin legs that hang over.

Joelle’s class performed their Christmas play today.  It was really incredible that a cast of 4 and 5 year olds could pull off such a good performance.  Joelle teased us last night because we were given her part to practice and she kept saying it wrong.  Well, I should say, she kept saying it differently.  Instead of “fear not, I bring you good news,”  she would say, “fear not, I have good news.”  I didn’t know she was teasing us at the time, but today, when she said it loudly, clearly and correctly, I knew.  Joelle was angel #1 (there were 5 angels…. they had to get creative with a class of 14), but she knew all 5 of the parts.  After saying her line correctly, the next angel came in and started playing with her costume.  Joelle spoke her lines for her and continued to prompt every actor when they didn’t speak their lines.  After the play, Ms. Martha said that Joelle was prompting everyone almost as well as Ms. DeeDee and that we must read to her every night because she knows all the words they are teaching them in class. 

So, the kids also sang to us before the play.  I actually didn’t know this was going to happen.  Therefore, I was a little confused when she told me that Max was Santa.  She corrected herself and said, “we all wear santa hats, but Max is actually santa with the suit.”  I mentioned this to Melina, Max’s mom, before everyone came out.  Melina said, “Max is a Wise man.”  The singing started and there was Max, Santa.  LeAnne said it once and it’s so true, “Joelle is the Diane Sawyer of her generation.”  All the moms know to ask Joelle about something if they want to find out what happened.

I beamed with inner pride today when I asked Joelle what Christmas was all about.  “Jesus.”  Chris, you were totally right.  Joelle belonged at MDUMC one more year.  “Happy holidays” is all she would get at public school.  I am not complaining about the separation of church and state.  It’s a vital necessity, but I’m proud that Joelle knows what Christmas is about and that she had one more year to focus on the religious aspect of it all.  They wouldn’t be singing, “go tell it on a mountain” at Wilchester.  

Joelle and I were playing with her “Christmas” Playmobil set. The way Joelle plays with figures right now she usually has them all do something as a group. For example, “they are all going to go ice skating” and she takes them via a sleigh ride in groups to the lake. If she asks me what I think various characters should do I usually engage them in dialogue and make up situations.

So, I was surprised when Joelle abruptly started a dialogue between two characters: Santa and a boy. I was further surprised with the direction the discussion went:

Santa (Joelle): Ho, ho, ho. I am brining GOOD NEWS to Playmobil Land.

Boy (Joelle): What, Santa?

Santa (Joelle) : There will be NO CHRISTMAS this year.

She stopped here as if that was the full script she had worked up by herself, so I interjected as “the boy”.

Boy (me): No Christmas? That’s not good news!

Santa (Joelle): It is for me, I get to take a break.

Santa (Joelle): Actually the elves and the reindeer aren’t available and they usually help me so Christmas has been moved to May 25th.

Boy (me): <silence>

I guess one of the hardest thing for kids (and adults) to learn is to look at a situation from someone else’s point of view. Joelle impressed me with her insight there!

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