Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Tree That Almost Wasn't

Having grown up Jewish, I'd never had or decorated a Christmas tree. This changed when I was an adult, and I helped to decorate a tree or two. When Craig & I got together, we got a little "Charlie Brown" fake tree for Christmas time and put our presents there. And when Mia was 4, we bought a fake tree at Target. Craig wanted to give her the whole experience, just like he'd had it. I admit - it was fun - yet the whole experience was a little lacking because I'd never experienced it all as a child - only from the parent side. When Mia was 5, Craig was overseas for the 3rd time. I gave her Christmas since she'd remembered it from the year before; that's what a good wife I am. Pretty classic; a bunch of Jews decorating a tree the day after Thanksgiving (except our friend Nick who came over too - so thankfully we could have some guidance).

This year we bought a real tree for the first time. For several reasons; we left the fake one in storage, and thankfully so - we would have no place to store it here. Real trees are quite reasonable here - the 5 1/2' tree was $26!! Craig tells me (and I know) that's a STEAL. And if we're going to have one, I was a little excited to have a real one - piney smell, living thing and all. Though admittedly with my "brown thumb" I was nervous about that. Neighbors & friends here spoke of how their trees died after a week, but you have to get them fast because they arrive on one day - and then they're GONE.

So coincidentally, on the same day I picked up the gelt & candles from the Rabbi's office, I went to the outdoor store on Camp Foster to ask when trees would be coming. They informed me that on Saturday, December 1st, they'd be for sale, and the store opened at 9. I had a shoot that morning, so I told Craig to take Mia and pick up a tree. His deal anyway, so maybe it'd be fun! Thankfully he agreed without argument.

After my shoot I asked about the morning, and Craig said, "Wow, I'm REALLY glad we got there when we did. The tree was inexpensive, and we picked a nice one - but that place was crazy!"

Apparently he arrived home with the tree and our neighbor, Chuck, saw him and said, "Where did you get that!?"
"Go NOW, Chuck." Replied Craig as he brought the tree up the elevator, with "oohs" and "ahhs" from our hotel staff! Chuck returned with a tree for his family and for our neighbors' family and said there were 10 left when he went. And yes - that was the only shipment that would be coming. Kind of sad, really - I'm certain that not everyone who wanted a tree on this island got one - they were out of fake ones too. (Side note, I thought of an idea - if we had brought our tree, there's no way we could've found a place to store it with 3 small closets that are already full - how about a holiday tree- put up Valentine's Day decorations, Easter ornaments, 4th of July - you get the point! So you never have to put it away!)

So I helped him assemble it in the stand we're borrowing from Anne & Derek (they'll be in the states this holiday, so they didn't get a tree) and we got it up and fed it and watered it and the following day (Sunday) we decorated it while enjoying hot cocoa and we were happy.

Until I realized that it wasn't drinking. And after surveying the moms at the school bus stop, apparently those trees sit on ships for close to a month, and we need to have the bottom sawed off when we purchase it! Fabulous.

"CRAIG! You grew up on your grandparents' farm, they RAISE Christmas trees! How do you not know this!??"
"We always cut them fresh for people who picked them, why would I know that?"
"Well dang, you should've known better than ME... please buy a saw and I'll take off the decorations." Sigh.

Craig sawed an inch off the bottom of the slightly browning thirsty tree on Tuesday night. I added water and the 3 of us talked to the pretty tree and asked it to drink and stick around through the holidays. Thankfully, she listened and she's very happy now and drinking, I'm proud to say. Crisis averted!

When we first brought her home:

Mia & I began hanging garland:

Lights are in...

Ornament time - goofy girl:

Topped the tree!

One of my favorites I found 2 years ago:

Uncle Jake made, yes MADE this for Craig when he was overseas. It's so detailed & incredible. I cannot imagine the amount of cussing that probably happened over this little glass bulb.

One of my ornaments - Wendi gave it to me.

Got this at Cost Plus last year - I do love to bake!
Happy holidays, everyone! More on the latest holiday haps soon.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Of Course This Happens

Back in late September I think it was, Mia had a school picture taken. Her first "real" one, as a kindergartener. Pretty big deal. She put on a dress, I did her hair just like she likes it (she had a pretty headband on), and off she went with the advice to "smile naturally, no cheesy faces!" and all that.

She returned from school without the headband, and I asked and she said the photographers made her take it off. Well, I guess as long as she didn't flip out on them, that's fine - though I wasn't sure why they'd do that. Oh well, as long as they made sure her hair wasn't doing anything freaky.

The pictures got lost in the mail coming here. (Campus Photo International took the pictures) Side note- now that I have the pictures, maybe someone would've noticed that the company has an AOL email address and thought to themselves maybe we should find someone a bit more established. I'd pay a few bucks more for decent school pictures, especially since we're overseas and will be sending them to relatives & friends back home! But I know, I'm a photographer, and my expectations and reasoning on this might be a bit elevated. Sue me.

We got a note home speaking of the lost photos, and that the company would be reprinting and sending again and they'd be here hopefully in time to drop into holiday cards. Fabulous.

Yesterday Mia got off the bus and said, "I have great news! We got PICTURES!" She proceeded to unzip and unload her backpack in the middle of the street on the walk back to the house - very excited. (mind you, this is my picture taken of her picture - so bear with the quality)

Wow! My little girl is all grown UP! I can't get over how big she is and how pretty. Best picture she's ever taken? No, definitely not - but for a school picture, very pretty.


What is that?

It's in an envelope with a plastic cover, that has to be crap on the sleeve.

I take it out.

No - it's the film, it has to be an imperfection on the film. Is it on all the pictures?

I look closer at the 5x7.


One thick gorgeous strand of hair is hanging smack dab down the center of her face. Not just across her forehead, but it continues to the side of her nostril, around the corner of her mouth, and to the right of her jaw. You have GOT to be kidding me! I can't even look at these pictures anymore. It makes my teeth itch. I can't stand that there wasn't SOME person there - in front of xenon bulb lights shining on her face while taking pictures of my well-behaved child - after removing her headband or having her do so - who didn't say, "Oh, wait - she has a GIANT HAIR HANGING IN THE MIDDLE OF HER FACE AND HER PARENTS WILL PROBABLY BE COMPLETELY IRRITATED BY THAT - especially her photographer MOTHER!"

I think even if I email these people at their AOL address they'll say there's nothing they can do. I mean Photoshopping that out would be quite time-consuming and probably impossible for their crack team of editors.

Or the email will bounce back. They don't even have a website.

I'm done with the rant of the day.

Happy Hanukkah!

That was from the first night lighting candles. It was lovely.

These delicious babies were part of a fantastic meal I cooked last night for the Neathery fam and the Bowmans. Yes - that's right, dare I say, "toot. toot." Toasty delicious matzoh ball soup (I know, wrong holiday - but Craig & Anne have colds and I LOVE matzoh ball soup!), beautifully falling apart mouth-watering brisket, oh-so-tasty crispy on the outside soft and savory on the inside latkes, and yummy homemade apple fritters for dessert! YUM-O.

We had a great time yapping and the kids had a great time destroying Mia's freshly organized room. Oh well, it's Hanukkah.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Okinawan Sledding

As Anne & I perused the Camp Lester gift shop a couple of weekends ago, Derek & the kids discovered a nearby hill. There were 2 boys there with pieces of cardboard, and as I came over to where they were playing, it came clear that the kids were having one heck of a time.

Derek said, "I'm not responsible for grass stains or anything like that!" and he quickly coined it "Okinawan Sledding". I just know I threw away the pants she wore that day because there were rips in the seat from all the sledding. No biggie, they were from Target & didn't owe us a thing. And her fun was well worth it!

I give you Nicholas, Mia & Logan:

They ran back up the hill so many times I was exhausted watching them. It was nearly dark out when we left - and if it weren't for the grown-ups whining about being hungry, they would've stayed!