Monday, December 28, 2015

santa baby

Santa is EVERYWHERE. It's not just at the mall anymore. You can swim with Santa at the YMCA (cue the hand gestures). You can see him on a boat, on a train, with a fox in a box. But seriously, you can even see him in the frozen foods section at a local grocery store. You can also see Santa in a barn.

Or at your piano recital.

Even with ubiquity of the jolly old soul himself, I feel a sense of responsibility to keep the magic alive for Little Miss J and J2. My parents always did such a good job. I was definitely a believer. While I want my kids to feel that same sense of wonder, it turns out we are kind of terrible Santas. 

My friend, Jenn, has special Santa wrapping paper and has gone as far as having coworkers write on the gift tags or write with her left hand, so that her kids do not notice her handwriting. I tried the special Santa wrapping paper one year, but then Gus was being helpful by wrapping presents and used a combination of wrapping paper that included the special Santa wrapping paper. 

This year, about a week or so before Christmas, I noticed that my stocking was already stuffed. Gus had, apparently, already put gifts in my stocking. When I mentioned that this was going to be difficult to explain to the kids, it became clear that the stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there, left no impression on him. He said, "Wait, you mean Santa puts stuff in stockings?"

On Christmas Eve, Gus was faced with the task of assembling a 4 foot dollhouse for Little Miss J, who wrote a letter to Santa a week before Christmas requesting a dollhouse. Since she fell asleep on the way home from the annual Chunglund Christmas Eve crab extravaganza, we got straight to work on the dollhouse. J2 was still awake, but he's 2, we figured we weren't messing up his Santa magic. While Gus was diligently working away, J2 watched and said, "Appah building!" 

Fast forward to Christmas morning. Little Miss J dutifully stayed in her room until J2 woke up, and then we all headed for the living room to see if Santa had arrived. As soon as J2 sees the dollhouse he smiles and starts clapping, "Yay Appah. Good job!" Thankfully, Little Miss J was too excited about gifts that she didn't seem to notice. 

In my stocking were pajama pants and a selfie stick. When I opened it, Little Miss J said, "Appah and I bought you that at Target!" She seemed surprisingly unphased for such an astute little girl.  

Overall, I feel like a Santa failure simply because my kids do not seem all that impressed with Santa at all. Perhaps it is just a function of the on demand lifestyle that we live in these days. They just don't seem as AMAZED as I think they should be that they ask some strange man for something and he actually gets it for them even when he has to fly all over the world giving all the other children all the stuff they asked for! 

But maybe that's OK. I was teasing her Christmas morning by asking "Do you think Santa came? What if he didn't come?" She solemnly replied that she would still be happy even if he didn't bring anything. I somehow think the kids should be more excited about their gifts, but really I should just be happy that Little Miss J was most excited about spending the day with her family and then going next door to play at the neighbors. Even as a five year old, Little Miss J knows that "maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more." And that in and of itself is a pretty good gift. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Little Miss J Show

Little Miss J's holiday performance tour came to a close yesterday at our church's Christmas performance. She was THRILLED (and my thrilled I mean very much dismayed) to be a sheep this year. It may or may not be a promotion from the camel, which was last year. But she does make the most adorable sheep.

As part of the performance she sang Little Drummer Boy and Away in the Manger in the kids choir. She pa-rump-a-pum-pummed her little heart out on Little Drummer Boy.

Other stops on the Little Miss J holiday tour were:

a piano recital
a dance recital
and a school performance
J2, President of the Little Miss J fan club, was just along for the ride.

With her holiday tour over, Little Miss J will return home to spend time with her family for the holidays. The little diva is so excited for Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

nimbus fish hatchery

For a person who isn't all that into kids, chaperoning a kindergarten field trip was about the very last thing on my list of things to do - but at least it didn't involve glitter. The whole process of getting "approved" to drive on this field trip involved background checks, fingerprinting, and driving records. I certainly appreciate the due diligence, but it was a bit of a pain in the ass. Little Miss J somehow thought Jamberry nail wraps were my fingerprints and so when she saw I put them on she immediately shouted, "Yay! Now you can go on the field trip!" And so I did.

The fish hatchery was actually pretty cool. We saw a salmon come in from the river and make its way up the salmon ladder (my only other exposure to a salmon ladder was American Ninja Warrior). Then we walked down a path and saw the salmon splashing in the river as they made their way upstream. And the kids got to feed the fry (baby salmon)! The kinders were spared the harvesting of the eggs, which was probably the right choice.

We started off inside where the ranger told us about the life cycle of the chinook salmon. Then the kids got to try on cosutmes that represent the different stages. Little Miss J was the egg. The kid who originally volunteered to be the egg changed his mind because he "wanted to be the daddy." Hopefully, we can disabuse of him of that notion when he's a teenager. 

After the indoor part, the ranger took us on a little walk to see the salmon ladder and then down a path to see the fish swimming in the river. Much like myself, the ranger may have been overwhelmed by 20 kinders. At one point, while the kids (mine being no exception) were jockeying for the first position in the line she told them that "it doesn't matter who is in front." Clearly, she is not a parent - so observed one of the chaperoning dads.

The last thing we did was feed the fry. There were several cement pools of bazillions of baby salmon. When the kids threw the food in, they would all splash on the surface. The hatchery is also open to the public and you can go feed the fish for 25 cents a pop.

 Despite me being absolutely chilled to the bone, to the point where I am just now finally warming up, Little Miss J was thrilled to have me with her on the field trip and the fish hatchery was way cooler than I anticipated. I'm not much of a nature, circle of life kind of girl. But see how happy she is? Yes, that's the crazy eyed, I'm so happy Umma came on the field trip look.

We ate our bag lunch on the picnic benches and then headed back to school! Four more parent hours in the books ... 17 more to go!
lunchtime selfie

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas will be on top of us before we know it. Little Miss J has finally taken to the advent calendar and is at least using it for its intended purpose. Today she declared, "9 more days until Christmas!" When asked what's going to happen on Christmas she replied, "We get to spend time with our family." I am secretly glad she did not mention presents, Santa, etc.

Two weekends ago, the entire family was down for the count with fevers, runny noses, coughs, etc. In spite of illness, Little Miss J played in her very first piano recital. I was beyond proud and held back a few tears. And yes, Ralph, I held my breath while she played. I am my mother. I embrace this because, quite frankly, she was awesome.

Parenting while sick is up there on my list of most un-fun things EVER. Thankfully, we all seemed recovered for this past weekend, which was jam packed with holiday events. On Friday, Little Miss J had her school performance, where no, she was not a nun, but instead, a pilgrim. Because Thanksgiving is not in December, but whatever.

On Saturday, it was her holiday dance recital.

After which we bundled up and headed out to Cal Expo for the Global Winter Wonderland with some of our friends.

It was so cute seeing how excited Charlie was to see J2. Charlie is a year older than J2, and up until now, for the most part, they've basically ignored each other. So it was pretty cute to see them interact.

On Sunday, we went to Santa's Secret Adventure. It was at a horse stable, which was all lit up with Christmas lights. There were bonfires, pony rides, miniature ponies, carriage rides, etc. J2 even rode his first horse!

And we got to see Santa! This is a much different reaction than Santa got from J2 last year, which can be viewed here.

And in between dancing and pony riding, Little Miss J and I managed to decorate some cookies!

With the exception of the lights on our house and the sad, deflated snowman lying in the front yard, the Chunglunds are ready for the holidays! Bring it, Santa!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

four days

Before the winter holidays have descended too far upon us, I needed to recap our Thanksgiving holiday. Every year I get a little bit grouchy because I miss my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., and in spite of this our holiday this year has gone down in history as one of our favorites. We packed an awful lot of fun both planned and spontaneous into those four days. 

We participated in Run to Feed the Hungry, where Little Miss J correctly pointed out that we actually didn't literally feed any hungry people. It was pretty cute watching J2 run. He was so happy with the freedom he kept looking around with this big smile on his face weaving back and forth like a little drunk resulting in only a few face plants with no real injuries sustained. 

Then we headed over the river with Gus's parents to Rachael's house for apple cider mimosas (yum) and dinner with the McKinneys. It was so good to see Rachael's mother-in-law up and about doing so much better after she had suffered a broken leg several months ago. The highlights included, Little Miss J receiving the game Simon, which she said is a game "I have to play all by myself" (THANK GOD); and J2 sleeping through turkey dinner whereby I only had to field 6 million questions from my five year old rather than answering said questions and being prepared to spring into action when J2 would inevitably decide to spit out and/or throw food.

Thursday night Gus and I got a little alone time, which we spent getting chair massages and Starbucks at the mall and swinging by Target for a few gifts. 

Black Friday we did our weekly Costco shopping and then headed over to Gus's mom's house. I helped make radish kimchi and then Gus's cousins came from the Bay Area for lunch. Both kids had such a fun time playing with aunts, uncles and cousins.

Saturday we headed to Tahoe for some sledding. The weather was perfect. We went with our neighbors and everyone had a blast. This I think was my favorite event of the four days. 

a shot of liquid courage
because what's cuter than a toddler in a ski helmet & goggles?

Karly kept the kids entertained on the drive home
oh yeah, and there was actual sledding too!
On Sunday we thought we'd just chill at home. I got an unexpected text from my college friend, Carrie. She and her family were heading back to the Bay Area from Tahoe and wanted to know if we were free for a playdate. Little Miss J was so happy to see their daughter, Eleanor, who is the same age. After a teensy bit of initial shyness, both girls played together the entire time. 

It was a great four days filled with family, friends and lots of fun. Thanks to everyone that shared the long weekend with us!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

best day

Yesterday was the Thanksgiving feast at Little Miss J's school. I signed up to help in the kitchen to work off my indentured servitude parent hours - so I slung mashed potatoes for a little less than an hour before I went to get Little Miss J from the classroom and have lunch with her. She was so excited to have mom at school with her. 

Since school closed at 2:00, I decided to take the remainder of the day off. I was thinking I would have time to run some errands, but instead decided to take Little Miss J to the movies. Before the movie we, however, managed to pick out a Christmas present for Appah. When I asked what we should get him, she said, "Something blue that is good for adults." Ummm ... a bottle of Sky Vodka? We ended up narrowing it down to a "blue play shirt," also known as a blue shirt that isn't for work. I let her pick it out and boy, does that kid have expensive taste. Thankfully, I managed to talk her down from the $90 Ralph Lauren polo shirt. IT'S JUST A POLO SHIRT, PEOPLE! During the movie, I managed to make some good headway on one of the scarves I'm knitting as a Christmas gift for a special someone, who sometimes reads this blog, so shall remain nameless - and no, it's not Gus.

After the movie, since I wasn't sure on the proper etiquette of bringing your 5 year old to happy hour, we settled on a snack at Ambrosia. Then we headed back to the office for about an hour until Gus was done working. I put my little assistant to work!

It was the best day just spending it with my little girl. She is always asking why I don't come help out at school, and the real answer is because I'M WORKING! My boss is so good about letting me sneak out to do stuff with the kids though. He's a real family man himself. 

At no point during the remainder of my lifetime on this earth, will I ever look back and wished I spent more time chained to the desk in my office (at least I got a stand up desk). Little Miss J and I had the best day together, and I wouldn't have traded it for a larger bonus, more recognition at work, a promotion, or pretty much anything else (except maybe winning Mega Millions?).