Doug was gone this weekend (on the other side of the planet in Singapore and now India), and weekends without him are always strange. He's gone a lot during the week, but there's something different about the way it feels to not have him here on a weekend. It's a lot more intense for me, certainly. It's harder to get basic housework and errands done when you don't have a co-parent, for one thing. I don't envy single parents at all!
But we had a fun weekend anyway. It's our last whole weekend at home before we head to NC for Christmas, so I wanted to do some Christmas-y things. Carter, of course, mostly just wanted to play. He knows Christmas is coming sort of vaguely, but because we've carefully avoided placing any emphasis on it being about him getting lots of presents (he'll figure that out soon enough), he doesn't seem to be terribly excited about it. He loves the lights and the decorations, though, and so we've had a lot of fun with that.
One thing I decided to do this weekend was to keep the TV off the entire time. It wasn't nearly as hard as I expected, and neither of us actually missed it at all. We had some Christmas music playing off and on, but for the most part it was just quiet in the house. Except for when we were doing our own hard rock version of "Jingle Bells", with Carter on the drums. Definitely not quiet then!
We did a craft project I saw either in a magazine or online: a cardboard Christmas tree. I used an old box to cut out the pieces and we painted them.
We talked about different ways of decorating the tree (Carter still wants to add lights, but I wanted something more simple) and we ended up using glitter glue to make ornaments.
The finished product is really cute!
This is a picture of Carter talking to Doug (who was in India at the time) on the phone tonight. He always likes to put the phone on speaker, for some reason.
Last night I had planned for us to go to the Wildflower Center to see their Christmas light display, which is only this weekend. Carter loves Christmas lights, and he was really excited. We had dinner first at one of our favorite restaurants and then headed down there, about a 35 miles drive from our house. The parking situation was insane, though, and I drove around for a good ten minutes trying to find a place to park. I finally looked back and saw that Carter had fallen asleep, so I decided to just drive home. It was actually nice to have a quiet evening to myself - something I hardly ever get these days!
Today we finally got our own Christmas lights up, and Carter asked if we were going to see any lights tonight. I thought it would be fun to put on our pajamas and drink hot chocolate and ride around in the car looking at lights, and he completely vetoed the pajamas idea. He was adamant that pajamas are only for sleeping in! But that was just as well, because our plans changed a little anyway.
Here he is in the car, all bundled up with hot chocolate, ready for lights-viewing.
We drove around our neighborhood for a while, and we saw some awesome light displays. It was still early, so I decided to drive down to 37th street in central Austin, where there is a street that always does an amazing light display. We found a place to park and walked around, and Carter really loved it. In fact, he spent most of the time with this expression on his face:
The displays were awesome and kitschy and so Austin. Many of the displays were interactive:
A fascinating array of objects were lit up:
This giant pterodactyl was amazing!
The owner of this house was out front flying a remote control shark balloon around in the air. Yes, a shark was swimming in the air over our heads!
I had to drag Carter away, literally, and promised we'd come back later in the week with Daddy. On the way home he said he wanted to go to the Galaxy cafe and eat dinner (though it was 8:30 pm by then and we'd already had dinner) and then go to Krispy Kreme, and then go back to look at the lights again. This kid is a total night owl! Wonder where he gets that from? ;-)
It was a fun weekend, even though we didn't do most of the stuff I'd planned. But that's how it seems to go these days, and it's all good. For example, I'd planned to go to a play this afternoon, a children's theater improv show that seemed like something Carter would like. But then the time came to leave and he was having so much fun just playing that I couldn't see the point in going somewhere else to do something completely optional that he might not enjoy as much as just playing.
Another example of fun in surprising places came when he accidentally knocked over a tub of popcorn we'd gotten as a gift from my aunt and uncle in Iowa (thanks so much, if you're reading this!). Half the popcorn, three flavors mixed together, was spread all over the hardwood floor by the Christmas tree. Carter and I just stared at it for a moment, and then I thought, well, what the hell? And I sat down and said, "I guess we'll just have to eat it off the floor, won't we?" And we sat there and ate popcorn for a while, and when we were both full of popcorn, he went and got some little diggers and dump trucks and hauled popcorn all around the room for a solid hour. He loved it! And after he went to sleep I swept it all up and threw it away, which was super easy. I would never have dumped it over on purpose, but it turned out to be something really fun, and it was so unexpected!
I guess that's one of the things I've really learned about parenthood that I didn't have a good handle on before -- how to live in the moment. There's something about having a baby that completely changes your perspective on time (or did mine, anyway), and I've been able to just stop and be in these last few years. Sometimes I just look at carter and what he's doing and think, Wow, how amazing is this? And I drop whatever I'm doing and sit down on the floor with him and play. Not as often as I wish I did, of course, and I could always be better about seeing the world from his perspective, but I try. And it gets easier all the time.
Especially now that we've hit the "why" stage full on. Tonight we came back from Christmas light viewing and he said he wanted to leave the garage door open, and I said no, we have to close it at night. So he asked why and I said that it was for safety, that we didn't want anyone to come in the middle of the night and steal things, and he said, "What would happen if they took our things?" and that started this whole conversation in which he seemed to be pushing me to talk about what would really be the worst thing that could happen if we lost some of our material possessions. He says so many things that make me stop and think, that surprise me, and I love that. I know that part is just beginning, too. :-)