Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

T’was the day after Christmas,
We’ve survived another.
It’s a tough time of year to be a father or mother.

If I hear "open this toy" even just one more time,
I can't be held accountable for committing a crime.

The trash can is full, the lid closed with a clamour,
the get half of these toys out of boxes you need a jackhammer.

Where is my Advil? A headache is here!
But don't forget, it's a most wonderful time of year!

There are several telltale signs that it is the day after Christmas:

  • places are wicked crowded because many people have the day off from work,
  • parents everywhere are deafened from the ruckus of new toys,
  • trashcans, at the curb awaiting pickup, are literally overflowing with gift bags and discarded wrapping paper, and
  • neighborhood children everywhere are crowding the streets, tooling around on their new rides.


A few photos from Christmas....

The boys discovered their new bikes and quickly climbed aboard. I am quite pleased that they are the perfect size (I did a lot of hemming and hawing over this matter!).

The obligatory attempt to get a Christmas morning photo of all three of my children. Those of you with more than one know that getting a good shot of them all together is like getting blood from a turnip. Mason is a champ though, he say exactly like this while I fired off about ten shots. The other two were all over the place.

Cole opened this DVD and was beyond excited to receive the "Move It Move" one. Can you guess what movie it is?

Each boy got one of these remote control trucks that hauls Matchbox cars. It's their favorite gift!

Cole and Mason made short work of "helping" Lila open her gifts. She was pretty ticked though because she like playing with them wrapped (shiny paper, girls love shiny things you know).

Cole got these Hulk fists from Uncle Nick. Mason put them on and promptly pummeled his brother. Thanks Uncle Nick! (He has no kids and doesn't realize the liability of this toy.)

As is typical, Lila made her way to be underneath something, this time the chair in the living room. She's army crawling everywhere and getting herself into a world of trouble!

Cousins, at Granny and Pop's house. These two are too cute, and so lucky to have each other!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

O Tannenbaum

"He had a broad face and a round little belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself."
Clement Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Other White Meat

What’s your family’s Christmas tradition?

Singing carols?

Drinking eggnog?

Our family roasts a pig. (I married into this.)

This first time I saw an entire raw pig, it was lying on my mother-in-law’s kitchen countertop. I had been party to enjoying a meal off one of the family pig roasts prior to this, and I’ve seen a whole pig fully cooked before, but I had never seen one raw, pink, and so very Wilber looking. It was weird to think this creature had been alive mere hours before. I’m definitely a meat eater, and understand that this is the ugly truth behind that fact, but it was a)shocking to see and b)astounding to me that it was on someone’s kitchen counter. As I got over the initial shock, my father-in-law and his cousin carried in another pig and slapped it next to the first.

One of the first questions I get when people find out about this tradition is: Where does one go in Naples to locate a whole pig suitable for roasting? You’d be surprised how easy it is! Rey’s cousin Carlos has been raising them, killing them and selling them since I first met him when he was 13. He was a strapping young lad at 13, and I remember being struck by how entreprenual he was at such a young age. He still is, and he still raises pigs (also dogs, horses, chickens, I call it Old Carlito Had a Farm). So sometimes the pig literally comes from the family farm. But there’s also a Cuban butcher that you can buy them through, already killed and cleaned and prepared for cooking.

The night before, the pig is prepared. The pig is split at the open at the breast, opened up and the men will season up this pig. It’s a pretty simplistic seasoning, the main ingredient being sour oranges. Then they’ll close it up so it looks like a normal pig again and left overnight to marinate.

The next morning, they start cooking it in a box that looks like a cheap coffin. It’s called “La Caja China” but the Cubans pronounce it as “La Cahacheena”. (It took me a long time to realize that this box was Chinese and the name was two words. I thought it was just yet another Spanish word that I didn’t understand.)

Here comes the particularly laborious part—the men sit around the roasting pig and get drunk. Sometimes a game of dominoes is involved.

When the pig is done, it’s taken to an area to cut up, and people will literally snap off piece of skin as it goes by (think pork rinds, same concept but it’s fresher). Trays of white rice, black beans, yucca and Cuban bread come flying out of the kitchen, a buffet line forms, and the rest is history.

Our family does this every single Christmas Eve, most birthday parties, many weddings, some baptisms, and once in a while just for the heck of it. I think it’s interesting how something that was once such a major culture shock for me has evolved to have its own little place in my holiday tradition.

And as a side note: When Rey was in college he, and his fraternity brothers wanted to roast a pig on their semi-annual brotherhood retreat. It was the first time he had been “in charge” of a pig roast and I think in an odd way it was somewhat of a coming of age experience. I remember hearing about them icing the pig overnight in a hotel bathtub. I hope they left the maid a really good tip.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Have you seen this kid?

Today we took the kids to the mall to (among other things) make the obligatory trip to see Santa. After seeing Jolly Old St. Nick, Lila needed to be changed, so while I took care of that, Rey took the boys to the play area.

After I finished changing her, I walked up to the play area just in time to see a little boy open his chompers, lean over, and bite into poor (little?) Cole’s arm. Cole immediately started screaming like a banshee.

Most mothers can attest that their children have a regular cry and an I-am-really-really-hurt cry. Cole was crying the latter. He’s a pretty sturdy kid, takes a lot of beatings from his big brother, but he was inconsolable from this bite.

The little boy broke skin. Cole has a big purple welt on his arm, along with three very defined teeth marks.

Here’s the part that’s pretty astounding to me—the parent of the biter made no motion to discipline his child, nor did he inquire as to whether of not mine is okay.

Look, I’m really sympathetic towards the parents of biters. My nephew was a biter and it nearly drove my sister to the brink. I realize it’s often not correctable and simply needs to be outgrown.

However, please, have the decency to come over, check on the bitten child and at least offer a meager apology to the parents for leaving them with a freaking out child.

Cole is healing well physically (it’s not nearly as raised or purple as it was) but the poor guy is emotionally wounded. He doesn’t understand why a kid would hurt him like this. He explains with tears in his eyes that “That guy eat me on the arm with his mouth!” And even if you ask him about it now, hours later, he tears up, almost like he’s scared.

Once bitten, twice shy.

Hell has frozen over and Pigs are flying

I was sorta on the I'll-never-have-a-blog bandwagon. I always labeled it as something that's too time consuming and yet another thing in my life to maintain.

I actually started a blog back in January 2007, but it never really took off. Rey was working in Key West for three weeks and I had some spare time (which was probably the last time in my life I can honestly say I had some spare time). But he was only gone for three weeks, and when he returned to my life, blogging left it.

I started again in July 2008. I figured it'd be a good way to keep people abreast of our life and of Lila's every growing newborn self. I can't really explain the failure to launch on that attempt. Just one of those things that went alone the wayside as I exercised a preference for the occasional wink of sleep.

Alas, I have been strongarmed by several (you know who you are!) to join to blogosphere.

So here we go again. The re-relaunch, just in time for the Holidays. I hope to have some Christmas cheer to post in the coming days! : )