So much Christmas

So much happened over the last few days Christmas-wise that it's hard to know where to begin and I'm bound to miss something amusing or interesting that I really want to write about. . .

For starters we finally got up to Hiroshima to see Dreamination. Dreamination is a yearly Christmas light's display. It's fairly impressive and it has been on my to do list for awhile. It runs from the beginning of December until the first week or so in January. It took longer to get there than it did to see the whole display, but Coryn loved it. We took a train to Hiroshima then got onto a crowded trolley (I've seen worse, but its always awkward to be packed in like that) that we rode down to the displays, several city blocks with different light sculptures. Some you could run through or under or even climb on. Coryn liked the "blue castle" the best. I liked one that looked like a phoenix. Some had plaques which I'm sure explained a more in depth theme, but since I don't read Japanese, I'm not sure what they said.

Afterwards we stopped at a Starbucks for a coffee and a hot chocolate (Matt didn't want anything). My grande caramel macchiato probably cost about $7 with the exchange rate. It is not cheap to live in Japan.

That was Thursday. Friday was our 5th anniversary which really deserves a post in itself. I never really had any doubts Matt and I would make it to five years (I still am pretty confident we can take this "til death do us part"), but it's really reassuring just to be here with someone I still love as much as I love him. The short story is that we went to dinner and a movie while Coryn stayed with her friend Dominic who she intends to marry someday, apparently.

My husband's work schedule has been awful lately, long hours, incomplete weekends, working holidays. He thinks it is partially because he is the only Marine trained on approach (This is air traffic control stuff; I have a slight grasp on the subject from hearing him talk about work, but I'm not really sure I could explain it) right now and partially because they know he has less than three months left here (part of which he'll be spending on paternity leave once little bitty Claire gets here) and they want to use him while they can. Matt has always assured me that the next time he gets promotion there will be "less work." He told me this when we first got married and he was a corporal, when I was pregnant with Coryn and he picked up Sergeant, and last year when he made it to Staff Sergeant. . .by that time I'd figured out that this whole, "People of higher rank than me work less" thing is an illusion. Maybe some of them do, but Matt certainly doesn't. Of course a few days ago this man was moaning that he wouldn't get a chance to go to Afghanistan. You'd think two tours in Iraq would've gotten it out of his system, but no, he "didn't join the Marines to sit on his rear" (He didn't say rear) and apparently he wants another deployment. I wonder if he remembers how much he hated the last two. It must be like childbirth, where you start to forget how awful it is after a bit.

So my husband worked Christmas day. My family has always unwrapped our presents the evening of Christmas Eve, but with Christmas Eve here being the 23rd there, it feels a little earlier, plus there we still had enough family to spread everything out comfortably over two days, and with there only being the three of us, everything is over so quickly. Still, this year, we did the Christmas Eve unwrap. I spent the morning tidying up the house, heading to the commissary to pick up anything we needed for dinner, or at all for the next two days because the commissary was closed Christmas Day and the day after Christmas, and there really aren't any off base grocery stores in what I consider walking distance (I don't have a SOFA status license which would allow me to drive a car in Japan; I could've gotten one, but I kept putting it off and now we're leaving in a few months and there isn't any point). We had a snack style dinner with deli meats and cheeses, a tray of shrimp (which apparently Coryn likes, this surprised me a little), and other bite sized treats.

After that, Coryn kept asking whether it was time to open presents or not. She asked me. I told her when Daddy was ready. She asked Daddy a few times. . .We finally gave in a little before 5PM. Not because we had a set time we had planned to do this at. I just didn't want Christmas to be over and once the presents are open, it feels like there isn't much left to do. Well, it took us about twenty minutes altogether to rip through the presents. She got a toy princess tent, a barn with dozens of tiny toy plastic animals, a "Don't Break The Ice Game," a Leaptop Computer, a Vtech Camera, two pairs of pajamas, two Disney Princess Barbies (a Rapunzel and a Cinderella), a set of jumbo sized plastic dinosaurs, about a dozen new story books (I get carried away buying books and she also got a few from her Aunt Robin and Grandma Tawny), and it felt like there was a lot more, but I can't remember anything specific.

Initially the barn (from my mom) was the biggest hit. She sat there and looked at all the pieces then launched into an hour quiet play session, making the animal and farmer-figures talk to each other. I set up her toy tent, but she really didn't get into it until I agreed to play with her. Then we filled it with blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals and alternately pretended to sleep inside and then ran into the computer room (where Matt had of course settled, thanks to his new found Star Wars: The Old Republic addiction) and attacked her daddy with foam swords and butterfly nets. We kept this up for an hour or so. She also slept in the tent that night, and a few nights since. I tried to get a good picture, but I didn't really want to risk waking her up by turning on all the lights in her room and my camera (which sturdy and serviceable) doesn't handle poor lighting well.

I'm proud of her imagination, though. She knows how to turn a princess game into an adventure with dinosaurs guarding the outside of the tent and raids on a grumpy old giant named Daddy.

Since then the tent and the barn have remained her favorite gifts. The barn's endless supply of small pieces has been my nemesis, of course. I keep telling her if she doesn't remember to pick up better I'll end up vacuuming up some of them (the set came with three ridiculously tiny barn mice and some baby rabbits that look a lot like carpet debris from a few feet away). The cat is crazy jealous of the tent. I've caught her inside it a few times, but if Coryn catches her, she banishes her immediately, so Kamikaze only manages to tent crash if she's being sneaky or Coryn is distracted.

Oh, Matt doesn't like Christmas. Don't ask me why, I don't quite know the reason. He thinks Coryn has too many toys as it is. He doesn't appreciate the disruption from his normal schedule. He has memories of it being inconvenient and disappointing as a child. . .these are his excuses anyway. I've never really been able to get to the heart of the matter. He "puts up with it" for mine and Coryn's sake, but she is aware that he doesn't care for it much and has told me that "Daddy doesn't like Christmas."

I'd been jokingly calling him the Grinch, but then we watched the tail end of the Jim Carry live action Grinch movie and his "Grinch-heart-growth-scene" made Coryn very nervous. If you haven't seen this particular version or for some reason aren't familiar with the classic story in any form, at the end of the story the Grinch's small heart grows three sizes, and the way the live action version portrays this makes it look almost like the Grinch is having a heart attack. He clutches his chest. He falls on the ground. He cries out in pain. . .of course, he pops up a few seconds later, almost cartoon style, and is ready to go, but Coryn had turned away from the screen with a very worried face at this point. Later that night she crawled up into her father's arms and I heard him laughing.

"She just told me she's afraid that my heart is too small," Matt smirked. That's because you are a Grinch, dear.

Oh, but he lets me put on a pretty good Christmas and he got me a Weird Al cd and some awesome (I'm afraid to ask how much they cost) emerald earrings . . . super sparkly. I mostly got him World of Warcraft logo gear, t-shirts and a hoodie. . .though it looks like next year he'll be upgrading to Star Wars gear: WoW is on the way out; SW:ToR is up and coming.

Christmas Day, Matt had to head into work fairly early, before either myself or the girl was up, so Coryn and I attended church and came home to make Christmas dinner, which he said he'd be home in plenty of time with. I tried out several new recipes: one for fennel seed and mustard encrusted pork tenderloin (a hit); one for cheddar biscuits (needed more cheese, but they were good); and one for Brussels sprouts that was supposed to make Brussels sprouts good even for haters of Brussels sprouts (they lied). Plus I made an apple pie because that is Matt's favorite. Everything went well (though we wasted a lot of Brussels sprouts. After everyone had taken a few token bites they went into the trash.) except for a stupid mistake I made. I seared the pork in a large skillet then popped it into the oven. Afterward I took it out of the oven, and several minutes later I made a mistake I have made before, but never to such an awful extent, when skillet cooking. Because a skillet has a handle, I always forget that I can't just pick it up by the handle when the entire skillet has been in a hot oven for the last twenty minutes or so. Yeah, I burned my right hand, not badly, but certainly painfully. If I remember correctly from first aid babysitting class, a first degree burn turns your skin red, a second bubbles up, and third is where you have your skin literally charred off. If so my burn was only a first degree. I released it quickly (and I discovered that even when truly in agony the worst I'll yell out is "That's stupid!" referring, I guess, to my own action of grabbing a pan handle I should've know would be hot, but it was pretty instinctive so I could've just been berating life in general), and Matt came over to assist. He really wanted me to put ice on it, but ice hurt so I sat with my hand under the faucet for awhile, eyes watering. I didn't really want to do anything for the rest of the day, at least not anything that involved my right hand. I did give into his ice pack solution (as he said, if you muscle through the part where the ice is hurting you, eventually your hand goes numb) and thawed out two sleeves of ground turkey, some frozen spinach, and a bunch of ice cubes. I even tried vapor rub on my palm (which also stung like the dickens going on but after I'd washed it off my hand went numb for at least ten minutes so it worked like the ice in a way) while I was waiting for something to refreeze. Matt wrapped up the left overs on his own and told me he'd help with dishes when he got home from work the next day, but the next morning my hand felt better and I cleaned up in the morning instead.

I guess that's it. There's probably a lot more to say. I'm sure I forgot something Coryn did that was ridiculously cute, but this was a quick over view of our Christmas holiday. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.