We took her on the slides and on the big kid swings too (sitting on our laps) but the safety swings are her favorite. There were quite a few families there (it being a fine Saturday in December after all) and she was distracted by all of the other children so she didn't seem to pay as much attention and have as much fun as she has had at the park in the past and it was harder to catch her smiles or get her to face the camera.
I told Paul on Friday night that I was sad because after an initial blast of Christmas Spirit in our home shortly after Halloween and leading up to Thanksgiving, all that magic had somehow fizzled away for me and I wanted to rekindle some of it this weekend. I'm not entirely sure what happened to make me feel more Ebenezer than Bob Cratchet, but it might have something to do with me going back to work.
For the sake of the record, I will admit that I am having a really hard time being back at work. Clara seems to have adjusted pretty well to daycare, and that is the most important thing. But I am not doing O.K. I have cried almost every single day when I have dropped Clara off and picked her up. One particularly rough night after I had been back about a week I ended up bawling for two or three hours. Surprisingly, the day after that was one of the best days I've had, so maybe I just needed to get it all out. I know my situation isn't unique or anything, so sorry for all the whining I have been doing (and will continue doing in all likelihood).
Anyway, so Saturday morning all three of us woke up bright and early and turned on Christmas tunes while we did chores, made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and got ready for the day. Even though all of our Christmas shopping is done, we decided we might go hit the mall just to people watch and maybe buy some of those cinnamon almonds if we could find them (we never did find any! are they only in Utah or something?). Before we left, I wanted to take photos in front of our Christmas tree because Clara was so adorable in her little white boots, black knit snowflake skirt, and red bow top.
Clara is all smiles and giggles and talking these days. She talked our ears off all weekend long - it was so fun. Her other obsession is walking and even though she can crawl really well now, what she really loves most is to have us hold her hands so she is in a standing position and then follow her around while she practices taking steps. Clara-girl is actually really good at walking and if she could only figure out the balance portion, she has the motor skills down of one-foot-in-front-of-the-other.
We had fun at the mall too. We ended up buying Paul a couple of presents from me (since I got my presents the day before - the Blurb books I made of all our blog posts up through 2010. They turned out so great and we have been looking at those books all weekend.) Paul got a remote control for the camera so we can take family photos now without setting the timer setting and a new tie. Clara was crazy about the mirrors in the stores and was cracking up in J. Crew because I was throwing her up in the air in front of a mirror so she could watch herself going up and down.
On our way to get lunch at Wahoo's Fish Tacos at Santana Row, we saw a kids' performing group doing their Christmas show in an outdoor plaza. I had to stop and watch since this was the kind of thing I did when I was growing up. As we were watching the show, we started recognizing some of the kids from church and then spotting their families in the crowd. Over half the groups seems to be made up of Mormon kids from the area, just like the group I did when I was growing up in Southern California. My favorite number was something like "Santa does the Mambo" - it was hilarious watching these tiny kids shake their hips in a mock mambo. Clara is very excited to be old enough to participate.
Finally, on Sunday after church, our home teachers told us about a church in Santa Clara that puts on a live nativity every year called "Bethlehem." Since it ends tomorrow, Paul and I decided it would be the perfect way to end our weekend of reclaiming the Christmas spirit around our house, so we bundled up and headed out around 5:30. The church shuts down their parking lots, trucks in 100 tons of sand and erects two story buildings all around to make it look like Bethlehem might have looked at the time of the birth of Christ. They then have a bunch of different stations where members of their congregation show things like dying fabric, metalworking, animal care, etc. before the Nativity show itself is performed. Clara and I signed in at the Census station.
Clara eyed the goats warily as the last time she was near goats (at Paul's firm's Halloween party) they freaked her out really bad.
The llamas were more her style. They just laid there and looked around.
Mary and Joseph did a great job. The donkey was seriously cute. The only weird thing about the show was when Mary sang a Christmas version of a song from the Broadway musical "Miss Saigon" called "I swear I'll Give My Life For You". The lyrics were changed to be totally appropriate for a Nativity program, but it was still a little odd for anyone who actually knew the original song and storyline.
We didn't get any photos of the wisemen on camels or of the shepherds and sheep. There were easily a thousand people there and while we were watching the "show" portion of the night, a little girl behind us whispered loudly to her dad: "When is the angel Moroni going to show up?" It was one of the best parts of the night.