Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Help Us

We are not big on Christmas.  I don't really think this is a problem.  Kai gets a lot of attention, plenty of presents, and we have a lot of really fun family traditions (especially around Thanksgiving and Orange Food Day!)  And, of course, her birthday is a month-long extravaganza every year (which is likely to become all the more rockus once her baby brother has a birthday just a couple of weeks before hers.... I'm being optimistic and assuming our little eggplant (that's his size at the moment) stays put until April!)  We also have a wonderful holiday tradition of traveling to Timerbline and living it up in the lodge.  Most years we have a fireplace room and spend the days drinking hot coco, skiing, hot tubbing, swimming, and eating the delicious (at least in recent years) lodge food.

Which is to say, we have traditions around the holidays that we all really love.  But, Christmas is not really among them.  And by that I mean what a lot of other folks associate with Christmas. We generally don't get a Christmas tree (we are usually in Oregon for most of the holidays, so it has never made sense... I don't have anything against Christmas trees).  We don't have a Christmas morning tradition (last year we were in a Yurt, the year before we were at Amy and Dave's house, sometimes we do presents, sometimes we don't really do presents.  Sometimes we do stockings, not always).  There is no annual visit to Santa Claus and we have never really spent any times talking to Kai about Santa.

In general, we try to be honest with Kai -- without overwhelming her with information.  And, to us, the whole Santa thing is not in line with the philosophy of being honest.  So, we've never dwelled on Santa.  We didn't go out of our way to tell her that Santa does not exist.  We just didn't say anything about him -- we never mentioned the idea of Santa.  We just celebrated the holidays without a Santa and without making a big fuss on Christmas morning.  Instead, our holiday is stretched out over many days as we travel from home to home, exchange the occasional present, stay at a world-class lodge, and mix it up with different adventures for the entire break.  Santa isn't part of it.

Kai has brought Santa up before -- but, not in a questioning way.  She would just say something about Santa and we would ignore her.  But, kindergarten is a whole new world and the other kids are Santa-believers to their core.

Which led to the conversation we had with Kailey about a week ago when she woke up and said, "you know, Santa can see us when we're sleeping and when we're awake."  Creepy, right?  We both protested immediately, telling her that Santa isn't watching her every move.  She insisted that he was and that he was coming down the chimney to bring her presents on Christmas if she was good.  Not being able to help ourselves, we pointed out that we don't have a chimney.  Kai paused and said, "well, he comes up through the vent in our hallway then."  At that point, we decided to ignore her.  Clearly, 5 Christmases without a mention of Santa and without ever having received a present from Santa was not enough to overcome the myth as it is powerfully presented by the elementary school masses!

A few days later, Kai turned to me and said, "Is Santa real?"  Feeling like a total grinch for the conversation a few days before, I decided not to answer her directly.  I asked her if she thought he was real and she said she did.  We let it go at that.

And, as it turns out, this year we are celebrating a much more traditional Christmas which will play into her newfound belief in all things Santa.  We will be home on Christmas morning, so we got a tree that is quickly accumulating quite the stockpile of presents.  We have a bunch of things for her stocking.  Initially we thought we were not going to Timberline, so we were just trying to do some things that were special at home.  But, now we are also going to Timberline and staying at a hotel in Portland for several nights beforehand.

We also took her to the San Francisco Nutcracker the other day -- which is quite the event.  It's at the Opera House and is really quite an amazing show.  We got all dressed up, arrived early so we could take a picture with some of the dancers beforehand, and eat dinner at the restaurant at the Opera House.  Kai whispered all through the performance, and has been talking about the snowflakes and the sugar plum fairy for the last couple of days.

In other words, this year has quickly become an over-the-top extravaganza complete with all things Christmas plus a lot of extras including performances, hotels and lodges (and, of course, the pools), traveling, skiing, and visiting family.  I think we are setting ourselves up for trouble.  All I can say is, hopefully Kai is right and that Santa is real... because I'm not sure we can sustain our ever-growing holiday tradition without him!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

And the Hip Hop Performance...

The next week was Kai's Hip Hop performance.  She has been less enthusiastic about Hip Hop class, I think mostly because none of her closest friends are in Hip Hop.  She had been saying for weeks that she doesn't want to do Hip Hop anymore and that she wants to take ballet instead.  However, just the other day she found out that Talia (her "BFF"... did you know that 5 year olds use acronyms?!)  is going to sign up for Hip Hop, so now she is all about it.  In fact, now she wants to take Drama, Hip Hop, Club Jam, Ballet, African Dance, AND go to Spanish School.  Oh, and more gymnastics at Head Over Heels.  She is going to have to be a bit more choosy.  I think she wants to do most of these things based on which other kids are also doing them -- at this point, Kai still is a bit of a generalist.  She likes most everything she does.  She isn't particularly into any particular activity... she's just happy to be with her friends and learning various things.  I think that's probably a good thing at 5... but, at the same time, I am not going to sign her up for SEVEN activities!

Anyway, the Hip Hop performance was at 4:30 in the afternoon -- better than the 1 PM drama  performance but, geesh, how do they expect working parents to get to all these things?  The winter concert next week is at 9:30 in the morning!  School hours and functions are not designed with the idea of a life outside of school in mind.  Anyway, Kai's part of the performance lasted 1 minute.  But, it was a cute minute -- and she was quite proud of her "handstands".  
The Hip Hop performance was on a Tuesday, and on Thursday of that week Kai was supposed to join her Spanish School classmates for their winter performance and fiesta (a nighttime performance!  How novel!)  Anyway, I picked her up from school a little early so we could get ready to go -- but, when we got home, Kai burst into tears and said she didn't want to perform and she didn't want to go to the fiesta.  I was a little torn because I felt like her teacher was expecting her, but -- Kai isn't one to turn down a party and I could tell she was just tired.  And, quite frankly, I was feeling a bit worn down by all the work, travel and school function juggle as well (this last week, I was in LA one day, Sacramento two days, and Kai had two performances... it's a lot to try to fit in!)   So, we decided to have pancakes for dinner and watch videos instead.  Turns out it was a good decision -- her meltdown was a prelude to illness... the last couple of nights, Kai has had croup and today she is feeling under the weather. 
This weekend we are all hoping to catch up on a bit of housework and take a break.  Here's to resting!

Drama Performance - Part 2

And here is the second half of 3 Little Pigs.  I have to say, I like how the instructor has them perform in groups.  There is no pressure on a single child to remember lines, and it was a HUGE help to Kai to have her classmates up there with her.  So clever and a great way to build confidence among the kids that are a little crowd shy. 

Kai has already started her second drama class -- next session they'll be performing the Elves and the Shoemaker and Kai is SO excited because she gets to be one of the three shoemakers (with her best friend Talia!)


The end of the semester brings with it a multitude of performances -- particularly because Kai is in a lot of different after school activities, and it seems that each one has its own final performance.   I was particularly excited about Kai's drama performance.  When we signed her up for drama, I wasn't sure that she was going to like it.  She isn't big on performing, and when I mentioned the class to her she said, "no, I don't want to do that.  I don't want people watching me."  However, the description of the class was that it was a very low key introduction to performing, and it was the only class available on Wednesdays right after school -- and I was trying to fill her afternoon.  Without a class after school, it meant 2.5 hours of Adventure Time before someone would pick her up and take her to Spanish school... which is too much Adventure Time, in my estimation.  Adventure Time is really aptly named because it is a bit of a free for all.  She's in with all the other grades -- so there are 50 - 100 kids (it's hard to tell how many because they are running all over the playground and then in the AT classroom, which is generally PACKED).  I have no idea how they keep tabs on everyone.  The door to AT is always open and the kids come and go from the classroom as they please.  They have a couple people supervising the playground chaos and a couple supervising the classroom... but, it really requires the kids to be watching after themselves a bit.  Kindergarten is really such a BIG change from preschool!

Anyway, I digress. I wanted her to have a class on Wednesdays.  Legos was full - so, drama was the only option.  I signed her up and crossed my fingers that she would take to it.  And, it quickly became her favorite after-school activity.  Kai would come home and tell us all the hilarious stories from drama and talk about the funniest parts of the play they were preparing.  A few times, she expressed apprehension about doing a performance, but as the classes continued and she got more comfortable with the material, she got more excited.  I was supposed to be in Anaheim doing a training on the day of her performance, but the more she talked about drama, the more I wanted to be there to see the performance that had her so excited.  So, I canceled my trip and asked my colleagues to fill in for me so that I could be at school on a Wednesday afternoon at 1 PM to see Kai's first drama performance.

Here she is part 1 of her debut performance (it seems that blogger is making me post each segment separately.  So annoying).