Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Photos with Father Christmas is not the same as photos with Santa Claus

Maybe some of you were wondering why I only included a photo of Seth on Santa's lap yesterday (at least my parents were thinking this), but it was too choice not to leave it to it's own post as this illustrates so well a part of British culture that does not compute in America....well at least not where I'm from.  

Exhibit A:

Annual picture with Santa fail.
This is as close as she would get, and I don't think I need to tell you how she felt about it.
Call me a bad mom, but I was totally fine with having Santa hold her and getting that quintessential crying with Santa photo, but British Santas frown on this and will not take screaming children.
What?!  Who does not own a photo with Santa where at least one sibling is crying?  Anyone?

Seth never went through the "scared of Santa" phase which I was always kind of proud of since all of our photos, he's totally cool about it.

Who, this guy?  We go way back.

I figured Avery wouldn't be as willing since she's always been a mama's girl, but she surprised me her first Christmas.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane and check out the difference between Photos with Santa in the US and the UK.  I only did one or the other each year because I am not a glutton for punishment.

Texas 2010 - Seth at 6 months
I don't even think they had a sit with Santa option this year in Edinburgh.

Texas 2011: Seth at 18 months (and photo credit to Memorial City Photographers).
I thought he might cry this year because all of his cousins screamed for their 18 month Santa photo.
Um no.  This kid loves Santa. And I'm pretty sure that is actually Santa Claus - I mean look at him.
No wonder Seth didn't cry! Best.Santa.Ever.

Now we knew getting to Houston on Christmas Eve wouldn't give us enough time to make it for Avery to have her first Santa Photo with Santa himself, but we settled for Father Christmas in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh 2012: Seth 2.5, Avery 9 months
She looks concerned, but she was actually totally fine and was just pointing out the twinkly lights.
Main difference between Edinburgh sit with Santa and US...where do I even begin?!  It's literally a gold chair under an arch covered in fake greenery and lights sitting in an open area in a mall.  That's it.  No photographer trying to nickel and dime you, no back drop blocking the pink fluorescent store lights in the background, and most obviously no Santa hat - what?  Is he supposed to look like a festive Jawa?
And actually I'm fine with all that because no fuss equals no queue line!

I noticed this year as Christmas drew nearer that Santa's photo area had been revamped.  I wondered how this would affect the line and if that meant we would now have to pay a photographer to photograph our children.  Wait.  What? Even hearing that somebody could force you to pay someone else to take a photo of your child with Santa instead of allowing you to just do it yourself  for free sounds so wrong - I can't imagine that happening here (at least not in Scotland...maybe in London).  But my fears were assuaged when we showed up with the kids dressed up and nary a photographer or line was to be seen.  If only my daughter would have cooperated.  Or Santa had only just held her long enough for me to snap one shot.

And we've gotta end with this photo again because her face is so classic.
Edinburgh 2013: Seth 3.5 seriously contemplating what he'd like for Christmas,
Avery 21 months and


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas Traditions} Day Nine: Just Kidding

Sorry to leave you hanging by not posting how we do Santa like I said I would (like you even remember I promised this!), but hosting Christmas at your house is a big job!  I am just now recovered! But seriously, I never realized how much work it is for Christmas Day to happen when it's at your house.  It was fun, and not having jet lag was a major bonus, but whew!  I appreciate my mom and mom-in-law so much more now.  They make it look effortless!  Next year I plan on re-posting my 8 days and actually including the last 4. We'll call this a New Year's Resolution though that will probably kill it dead right there.

I've been thinking about the blog lately and how I abandon it every so often.  I love writing. I love how it's a great way to look back on our lives, but I don't want it to turn into: and then we did this, and then we did that, and then and then, etc etc BORING.  I hate writing like that more than I dislike reading stuff like that.  This however means that I must have a muse and there just hasn't been one.

Taylor has encouraged me that writing leads to more writing (and he should know since he's currently writing a book) and to just go for it; if I wait for a muse every time, then I'll never be consistent.

I also realized I'm not doing a great job of capturing what it's like to live as an American in Scotland, and as our time here comes closer and closer to an end, I know I'll regret it if I don't.  Seth will remember a little bit of his childhood here, but Avery probably won't (even though she is our true Scot), so I want them to be able to come back here and see a glimpse of what it was like. And hopefully this will give my friends back home some insight into why I'll be a homebody who wears wellies even on sunny days and suggests we walk to inappropriate places (think the grocery store or the park not actual inappropriate places because Houston is not what you would call a "walkable" city) when I move back. Who complains that Downton Abbey is on during the wrong season and how the season finale shouldn't just be the last episode, but should air on Christmas Day effectively ruining the most wonderful time of the year. Who calls her stroller "a buggy," shopping cart "a trolley," lollipops "lollies," and other vernacular I've picked up without realizing it.  Who never answers her mobile phone (and calls it a "mo-bye-ul" phone). And whose kids do not know how to swim (this will be the first issue we'll deal with upon our return!).

As much as moving here provided many culture stressors, moving back may prove to be as difficult.

Point #1: Every time we leave the house, my children assume, "we're walking, right?" and proceed to whine and beg on the rare occasion I say we're going in the car because it's too far to walk.  Seth's favorite mantra these days is, "I super do not like our house.  I want to go back to Texas." (I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that it's either his birthday or Christmas every time we go to Texas) So the other day when he said this, I told him, "in Houston, you never walk, you always have to ride in the car and they don't even have double decker buses. " He just stared at me, dumbfounded.

Point #2: I can count on one hand how many times my children have gone on trips to the "big" grocery store with me.  I will definitely be looking into online grocery ordering when I get back because wow - could I ever go back to shopping myself?  I don't think so.

Point #3: There is no "rat race" here.  Kids are signed up for a million activities by the time they're 3 in America.  In the UK, parents take advantage of all of the free stuff to do around the city (granted there are way more free things to do here) - music classes, playgroups, the National Museum of Scotland to name a few. And they don't even worry about how this might setback their future Olympic hopes. (This might also explain the slight discrepancy between the US and the UK's medal counts...just a theory).

Point #4: No one ever calls me.  My friends and I make plans when we see each other (at all of the free events around the city), or email,  or shout plans out window of our flat down to friends in the garden because I share a garden with most of my friends), or on the sidewalk when we see each other in town, and as a last resort text.  I love not being a slave to my phone, but in Houston more people will need access to me.

So if you're interested in what it's like to live in Scotland, check back!

And here are some Christmas photos to catch up:

 When he's older, I'm sure he'll love that I put him in a longall at 3 - even my mom gave me a hard time about it. :)
But he LOVED it because it has Buddy the Elf on it!
Christmas Eve service

Avery right after opening her ornament on Christmas Eve; I think she liked it!

Seth opening his Chrismtas Eve jammies

Patiently waiting to go in the living room on Christmas morning
Sister was super excited about her new toothbrush.
Wish she was this excited when it's actually time to brush her teeth!
Fun car from Mia and Popsie
I love Seth's face in this one.  Diapers?!
And no, we didn't get him diapers, read here if you're confused.
Sister means business - she was so funny opening her presents Christmas morning - much less enthusiasm compared to Christmas Eve!
And when she was all done, she'd say, "prisints?" I think she mostly preferred unwrapping though this particular toy makes a debut all over our flat at least once a day, so I think it was a hit.

This was by far the hit of the morning as we suspected
(and also why we gave it to him, not Santa Claus!)
She liked my Christmas present too.
What can I say, the girl loves shoes!
Love these guys!