December, December

Yesterday, I called it quits a little early at work and picked Cruz up just in time to replace his usual daycare snack with a cupcake from Scratch.  We snuck away to downtown Cedar Falls, just the two of us, picked out a cupcake and some juice, and sat by the window to observe the walkers, the pretty white lights on the trees, and Santa's workshop just across the street.  I love these little impromptu getaways, and know Cruz does, too.  He was so sweet and so good, as if he knew it was special time for the two of us.  These little experiences are the ones I will remember, when it was just us, in the midst of this little life, doing our best to soak up the simple pleasures and make time for special adventures along the way.

Afterwards, we went to the park.  It was December 1st and 65 degrees Iowa.  This in itself called for a celebratory Scratch cupcake.  I'm already having flashbacks to last year's mild and (almost) snow-less winter, and starting to think I could get used to 60s in December (with two inches of powdery, sparkly snow on Christmas Eve, of course).  

All around me it seems I hear and see countdowns to Christmas.  My December calendar greets me out the door every morning, keeping me up-to-date with a busy month of parties, family get-togethers, and end-of-semester work deadlines.  The mittens on our mantle advent calendar dwindle so fast, and even Llama, the main character in tonight's bedtime story, gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of this busy month.  No matter how much I try to organize, and simplify, and start early, December is always jam-packed with ways to celebrate the season.  It's a roller coaster indeed, and I've learned the anticipation of it all is almost as good as the ride itself.  

Our December started with perhaps more Christmas than ever before.  Cruz woke up to a breakfast from the North Pole itself, brought to him by a new friend dressed in red who's made quite the home in our little gingerbread house.  We kicked off the Christmas season with donuts and muffins, eggnog and presents, and took part in a naming ceremony for our new friend (more on him later).  Afterwards, Cruz and I left Daddy at home and headed to my hometown for the library's annual holiday open house, complete with a visit from the real deal himself.  While I was pretty confident Cruz was not going to be a fan of Santa Claus, I knew it could only go up from last year's impression.
Better, but still not a fan.  I think the peer pressure worked, as Cruz seemed a little more confident to sit on Santa's lap after watching many other littles do the same.  He was a little awkward about the whole thing, refusing to make eye contact with the man in red, looking as if he was attempting to teleport, or at least envision himself in another, happier place --- one where his mom wasn't forcing him to sit on some creepy man's lap while everyone stared and snapped pictures.  He didn't cry, but seemed a little tworked about the whole thing.    

It's a bit of an oxymoron, really.  Here we are, pounding into our children's head that they mustn't talk to strangers, and then in December, we force them to sit on this strange man's lap, whisper in his ear, and tell him what you want him to bring you when he creeps into your house while you're sleeping one night.  Isn't it strange how certain traditions stick?  

After an open house at Grandma's work, Cruz and I returned home to Dad, who had returned home from some Christmas shopping of his own.  We enjoyed a lazy afternoon and night at home, a trip to Wal-Mart to pick out some toys for our Christmas Store at church, and a big bowl of popcorn and movie before bed.

Sunday included 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' at church, followed by lunch at Famous Dave's with Rob and Jill, and afternoon of football and naps, and a trip to Hampton for Beau's mom's birthday and an amazing dinner at Gabe and Gina's.  We ate delicious food, celebrated with a special woman, and laughed until our bellies hurt watching Cruz interact with Buck and Boz, Gabe and Gina's two dogs.  He loved them, well, loved telling them what to do, petted their backs proclaiming 'they're nice,' and even attempted to give a dog's life a whirl by crawling on all fours, panting like a dog, and following our 'shake,' 'sit,' and 'lay down' commands better than Cruz the human does.  Needless to say, we had fun, and were three tired souls on the car ride home Sunday night.  

The countdown has begun and December is upon us.  Hoping for impromptu adventures, simple pleasures, and slow days ahead as we anticipate another Merry Christmas.  

There's so much to be merry about.