Busy times here in La Casa de Brannan. First, all five residents are saddled with colds. At least one person in the house has had at least the sniffles, if not a full blown cold, since September. This is getting seriously old, and we still have two-plus months of winter left.
Family members start trickling into town tomorrow. This year we’re having slightly less complete representation than in the past. Three of the in-laws won’t make it home this year. We wrapped up the Christmas cookies tonight. Got a decent start on the house cleaning today. We’re just about done planning our menus for the week. As we did last year, we’re hosting two get-togethers. Wednesday night, after we attend Mass, we’ll host the big family dinner. Then on Thursday, after opening presents then heading to the in-laws for breakfast, we’ll have a bigger family gathering for dessert.

That’s a long-winded way of saying this may be it until next week here on Ye Olde Blog. But, before I go, I’ll share some kid stories.

First, C.’s been all kinds of fun lately, She’s in the wonderful two-year-old phase of being utterly charming one minute and a complete head case the next. We still have issues at the breakfast table, with her crying about anything and everything. If you check <a href=”http://web.mac.com/dbrann/Media/Albums/Pages/Dec._2008.html”>our picture site</a>, you’ll see a pic of her pouting at the breakfast table. That came on a morning when I told her I wasn’t going to give her any breakfast until she stopped crying. She chose to pout, with her head down, for nearly 10 minutes.

Even better is the pic of her passed out under the kitchen table. One day when S. was at work, C. didn’t want to eat when everyone else did. So, when she finally decided to eat around 1:30, she was extra grumpy. I warmed up some leftover pizza for her, cut it into bite sized pieces, and put parmesan cheese on it. Apparently I missed a piece of pizza with the parm, and she started throwing a fit. This was a problem, because I had used the last of our parmesan on her plate. I tried to explain this, but she wasn’t hearing it. I was holding the baby at the time, so after a couple minutes, I grabbed C. in my free arm, took her out to the dining room, and left her there. I told her she could come back when she was done crying. She carried on for about ten minutes then came sniffling back into the kitchen. She sat down and asked me to cut her pieces smaller. OK. I cut them down, but skipped one that was already quite small. As soon as I turned my back, she started throwing a fit again, this time about me not cutting that piece. After about five minutes, I took her back out to the dining room, took L. into another room, and did my best to ignore the tantrum. She was kicking the floor, kicking chairs, throwing some toys that were within reach. It was a text-book tantrum. Eventually, she went back into the kitchen, laid under her chair, and continued to scream. I grabbed a bottle, took L. into our family room, and sat down hoping S. would be home soon. Around 2:15, C. finally started to wind down a little. A few minutes later, she was quiet. I peeked in and she was passed out under her chair. Good times. She napped there for a good 20 minutes.

The girls had their school Christmas program last Wednesday. C.’s class went first, singing a song about ringing bells so the children know that it’s Christmas time. We could barely see her, but thanks to the magic of digital recording equipment and a tiny window through the crowd, we were able to record her performance and watch it when we got home. She just stood there, looking around, ringing her bells, not singing a word. Of course, ever since, she’s been singing the song at the top of her lungs all over the house. The two-year-olds marched out and left the rest of the school to do their thing. Meg’s class sang a couple songs, and then did one with the entire school (three year olds up to kindergarten). We had a good view of her and she was trying hard, but like a couple of her friends, spent a good portion of the evening yawning. Some pics of the night are up at our site as well.

The girls are getting into the Christmas songs around the house. We listen to the Music Choice Traditional Christmas Music channel quite a bit, so they’re picking up on the standards. We made paper rings for the girls to count down the days to Christmas two weeks ago. M. announces several times a day how many more days it will be until Santa comes. She also checks several times a day to make sure we’ll be putting out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve. She’s a smart kid. When we’ve seen Santa in malls or on TV, she’s asked me if that’s the real Santa or just a helper Santa.

We did not take the girls to see Santa this year. We thought about it, and debated which of our local malls would be the best place to do it, but ended up going with the Wait One More Year option, thinking C. would freak out. I think that was a wise choice. Last week I had the girls at the mall and when we walked by Santa, C. was hiding behind me rather than even look at him.

It’s interesting to see how the two girls approach the holiday differently. M. is focused on Santa and C. is focused on Jesus, or specifically the Baby Jesus. Any time we see a nativity scene, C. starts shouting about the Baby Jesus. We watched Elf last night and when Baby Buddy crawls into Santa’s bag, she was yelling, “Dat Baby Jesus!” M. did ask me what the difference between Santa and God was, though. I think the whole “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” thing got her thinking about that.

Thursday morning should be interesting.

Which reminds me, I hope all of you – my friends, family, regular readers, and random surfers – have wonderful holiday weeks. As time allows, I’ll do a post-Christmas summation of how things went down here.