Plus I don't throw old stuff away unless it's in bad shape (which is almost never), but instead donate it. Doing that is also difficult since M goes everywhere with me and he gets awfully suspicious about all those donations boxes. But anyway, I'm getting off track here...
So, the house is mostly clean and ready for the New Year. This is not the most cheerful season for us since Chris is gone, but don't you think we are left to celebrate all the holidays on our own. In fact, we have way too many invitations to various parties, dinners and playdates. Big love goes to all our wonderful friends who might (or might not) be reading this post!
Last Tuesday, on the first night of Hannukah, we went to the Jewish Cultural Festival held in the nearby Cary. I wasn't sure what to expect there, but it turned out great and we had an amazing time there with M. First, he did a couple of Hannukah crafts. Can you guess which ones? Of course, he made a menorah out of paper, silver pipe cleaners and LOTS of Hannukah-themed stickers. He got totally into the craft and only stopped when there was no space left for any more stickers on both sides of the menorah. Only then did he move on to the candle-making craft which he also loved.
We got to the crafts area early on when it wasn't very busy. So by the time more kids showed up we were done and ready to move on to something bigger and better. Luckily, we were just in time for an olive oil making workshop. The moment I saw the hand-cranked press, I knew M would love this presentation. What I didn't expect was how hands-on it was for the kids. They got the front-row seats AND got to help the rabbi press the oil. Along the way they learned about the story and the miracle of Hannukah. Once oil was pressed, it had to be separated. Since we didn't have days to wait like in the times of Judah Maccabee, a centrifuge was used. So the kids ended up with vials of oil that they poured into the cups on the menorah, the wick was made out of a cotton ball and it all worked out beautifully!
Again, M loved the whole process and held his hand up high every time the rabbi asked for volunteers. Also while at the festival, we ran into a neighbor of ours and she invited us for a Hannukah party complete with dreidel games, latkes and Hannukah music. The kids at the party were a few years older than M, but he did just fine and had a lot of fun there. Now he thinks that Hannukah is an awesome holiday and we need to do it more often!
We also started getting ready for the New Year which I, as someone who grew up in Russia, consider one of the most important holidays of the year. And since New Year prep is much like Christmas prep, we got ready for that one along the way. First, we decorated the gingerbread house.
Actually, this year M did most of the decorating. I just put the house together and made the icing. And since it came in a wonderfully simple to use and organic kit, I can't take any credit for this. Except I made it a lot less organic by giving M some jelly beans, gummy bears, mini marshmellows and chocolate chips for decor. Wait, chocs were organic, so there, it's a mostly organic house.
Then we went to the Farmers' Market to buy a tree. We managed to find one small enough to fit into the trunk of our KIA Rio. Or maybe it says something about how spacious that trunk really is? Nah, it's a pretty small tree! I put up the strings of lights and M did pretty much all the rest of decorating work. I did help him with a few ornaments that were either too tricky to attach or had to go up high. He was so excited about the tree and kept saying елочка! я тебя так люблю! сейчас вот наряжу и тебе понравится! спасибо, елочка, что ты пришла к нам! (New Year tree! I love you so much! I'm going to decorate you now and you'll like it! Thank you for coming to us!).
We also went to a New Year party at the local Russian school. The party was open to all and we were told that all kids would get little gifts from Father Frost who was supposed to appear at the end of the party. Now, Russian New Year party is not just a party, it's a concert where kids from the school perform songs, dances, and skits. M was a bit bored with that. But then all the kids were asked to come up to the stage and read a poem or sing a song for the Snow Maiden and M practically ran to the stage. When it was his turn, he stood up in front of the audience of about 100 people and in loud and clear voice ringing with enthusiasm read the little rhyme he chose and memorized all by himself: Экскаватор ров копает. Сто лопат он заменяет! (Excavator digs the ditch. It replaces 100 shovels! - yeah, I know, it doesn't rhyme in English, but in Russian it does). For this he got a great round of applause (I think it was because a) quite a few people in the crowd know him; b) he beamed with happiness; c) he didn't mumble or shout into the mic and d) the rhyme was mercifully short (this was like the second hour of the concert and everyone was a bit tired)).
I thought M was going to be most interested in Ded Moroz. But turns out, it was the Snow Maiden who truly made an impression. Must've been her all-white and sparkly dress and a white-fur hat. M later kept talking about her, but said that "she behaved oddly. She went into the hallway and disappeared". I explained that she had other parties to go to. Then M thought about it a bit longer and said "Mama, I think the Snow Maiden really likes it when it's clean and neat and all is in its place". I asked him why he thought so and he explained that it was her beautiful all-white dress that gave him this idea. Not too shabby.
Ok, well, I'm totally running my mouth here... Today, on Christmas Eve, we were going to see our friends for a celebration and a playdate. But their youngest is sick and we didn't go. Instead, I took M to jump on inflatables as a reward for behaving so well and doing all the chores. And then we went to see our other friends...