Wednesday, December 08, 2010

December overload.

Several people have told me that the month of December in Bermuda means a flux of activities in the first two weeks, and almost dead silence near the end. Right now, it seems like we're heading in that direction. The kids' school activities have certainly kept them, and by extension - me, busy.

First, we started with the Christmas Fair.

I have to explain this, since this is the first time I've ever encountered such a thing.

At the Christmas Fair, the kids are provided with an opportunity to "shop" for gifts for their immediate family. Those gifts each cost a dollar, and are generously supplied by the parents themselves in advance.

Get it?

I buy the gifts, send them to the school, and the kid gets to buy them again! From an economic point of view, this arrangement wasn't making a lot of sense to me, particularly given the cost of goods in Bermuda. But, I chalked it up to a quaint local custom and kept my mouth shut.

I also took advantage of our recent trip back to the States to stock up on presents from Target. Oh Target.. how I miss you.

I sent in the gifts early in the week, with our names on them, thinking Jordan would be steered in the direction of those gifts to re-purchase when time. No. It doesn't work that way.

I got a call that afternoon from the school to set me straight. The gifts were all put out as donations and it was a big free for all as to who bought what. Someone else might like that pretty little Disney merchandised doll from the movie "Tangled," that I had picked out for Mina. And someone else might like that very cute hipster t-shirt with the flag of Brazil that I had picked out for Jordan to buy for Jeff.

She explained it all to me on the phone very slowly,much like you would to a five year old child.

"Oh," I said, silently thanking God that I had not turned over the new Bakerella "cake-pops" cookbook, but had greedily kept it for myself.

"Would you like your gifts back, Mrs. Trimarchi, so you can send in something else?" She asked sweetly.

"Uh.. no, that's fine." I said, cringing because she clearly thought I was a crass, materialistic American hell bent on having a glittery, consumer happy, Target-inspired Christmas.

"We can donate those, that's fine." (grumble)

Needless to say, Jordan came back with gifts that were not the ones I had hoped he would buy. I know this, because I was there at the fair, volunteering.

Look how cute he is there with the shopping list I made for him. And when his class came in to shop, I tried my best to grab him and lead him to the right tables with stuff I wanted ( I know, I suck). But for whatever reason, I didn't see a single thing out there that I had sent in. The doll was gone, the t-shirt was gone, the cute cookie cutters I sent in for myself were not there either. And then some other kid needed help; and Jordan snuck away.

But, when it came time to WRAP the presents, he found me. Want to know what he bought me?

For the record. I happen to LOVE books. Books are great presents. Books meant for grown-ups, that is. He got Jeff one. A grown up book. I know. Because I got to wrap that one too. And Mina did get a doll.

A Bratz one.

While I was busy wrapping, Jordan was busy doing other things.

Look at this kid. At least he has the decency to look embarrassed that he's eating instead of shopping.

Which leads me to another lesson learned. I like to bake. I do it quite often. But, there is still plenty I have to learn. Including remembering that atmospheric temperatures will affect baked goods.

This is what I sent in:

And this is what they looked like within an hour of sitting out at room temperature in the damp, Bermuda air:

I don't think the moms at the bake table even put them out. They certainly didn't make an appearance during the time I was at the fair. And as punishment, I think they kept the cupcake container I sent in, because no one has bothered returning that back either.

Yeah, so two lessons learned: Cupcake frosting melts instantly here. Don't send in good tupperware containers.

Yes, that is orange frosting on his nose. Apparently a more seasoned Bermuda mom knows the secret to melt-proof frosting.

I'll figure it out eventually.

Do you like how Zen I sound? Trust me, that's not what I sounded like when I realized what the air was doing to the cupcakes that I spent several hours of my life on. I sort of felt like crying a bit. It kind of felt like the cupcakes melting into oblivion symbolized how well I was handling adjusting to Bermudian life in general.

It was that kind of week. I didn't seem to be able to do anything right.

In addition to volunteering at the Christmas Fair, I also got assigned a craft project to work on for the Christmas pageant. I was asked to make the Christmas crowns. Christmas crowns are usually found in Christmas "crackers" (these are an English thing. They're usually found at Chrismas time, gracing a table or two. You open the little container and out pops a small toy and tissue-paper crown.) I know, because I often use them at our table. Not because I'm English. Just because they're cute.

Exhibit A:

Last year's Christmas Eve dinner.

I just love that picture, and needed to use it again for my own amusement. Look at Jeff's face. This is him putting up with my entertaining nonsense year after year.

Anyway, I digress.

So, the teacher asked me to make some crowns and she quickly agreed that tissue paper would not work because she wanted to use the crowns again repeatedly during the day for several classes. She gave me sturdy large sheets of cardstock. REALLY LARGE SHEETS OF CARDSTOCK. So large, and so precious, she spent several minutes explaining to me how she wanted the carstock folded so that I could create a maximum number of crowns per sheet of paper. I half-listened because I had both kids with me at the time, and they were both running around the music room creating havoc and destruction; and I really wanted to get them out of there.

"Um.. yeah, I think I can figure this out," I said to her. (so says the college graduate, lawyer, mother- of-two who's done more craft projects than she cares to remember. I should have a degree in card stock given how much I've used over the years).

The next day, while the kids were safely at school, I prepped my table with paper, scissors, glue, pencils, markers and glitter. My ipod was playing happy music in the background and the sun was shining through the dining room windows.

Being methodical, I decided to do this assembly-line style. First, I'd cut out the strips of paper for the crowns, then design the points, cut them out, then glitterize them.

I didn't even get close.

After I cut out 16 strips of paper, I looked at them almost as though I was looking at them for the first time. Hmm. Something looked wrong, but it didn't hit me for a minute.

And then it did.

I had cut the paper the wrong way. The crowns, when wrapped around and stapled, would be too small for the kids heads. All 16 crowns were too small. And I had managed to destroy all four sheets of card stock the teacher had given me. Card stock that probably cost her a small fortune, and which probably came on the one shipping container per season that brought the stuff over.

That's when I really felt like crying.

A few frantic emails later, I was told of a local store that might carry card stock big enough to re-create the crowns. Why didn't I just ask the teacher for more paper, you wonder? Seriously? Was it that big a deal?


Yep it was. As I explained to Jeff, I'd rather shell out my own money than be known as the paper wasting mum. That's a label that will haunt you forever.

I did eventually make some crowns.

And this is the mess I got to clean up after:

The clock she wanted me to make was a lot easier.

I never owned up to messing up the crowns. I just handed over the bag full of them and ran out of the school as fast as I could. I don't think the teacher can hate me that much because she called me the other night to ask me to come in and help decorate the stage for the concert. So, I did. Lord help me. As I stood there dangling from the tall stepladder, stringing garland from the beams and stapling heavy-duty staples into the wall, I wondered whether this made up for the destruction of the card stock.

We'll see how it looks on Friday when this concert is finally over.

The kids seem to be enjoying the season. They made merry at Jeff's office Christmas party recently:

(note, this frosting did NOT melt either.)

Whew. That's it. I have to go now. I volunteered to make two dozen cookies for Mina's post-concert party tomorrow. Thank God they're cookies. No frosting involved.

I also got roped into helping "dress" the kids for Jordan's concert on Friday. Given that most of them are at least 5 years old, I'm praying they know how to dress themselves and I just supervise. I should be able to get that right.
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