This was the first year that the kids really knew what was going on. There would be parties, there would be Santa, and, most of all, there would be presents! For them! They totally got it and it was so much fun to celebrate with the littlest Zs.
It was also a great year for me. As you know, I come from a big family. When I had Zayd, I looked around and saw a shrinking landscape of people. I am not sure that it was actually shrinking, but that was my lens. This "our family is not big enough for our kids to come from a big family" pressure weighs on me sporadically throughout the years, compelling me to just create that "big family" all by myself. Anyway, as our kids grow and interact with the family we have, and as my generation grows and starts to consider families of their own, it seems like maybe I can relax a little. These babies that I am raising ALL THE WAY OUT IN SAN ANTONIO have family. They know that family. They love their family. Everything is pretty much right with the way of things. The pics of Zaydie showing his dinosaur off to his "favorite friend/cousin" (his words, not mine), Zahra curled up with Uncle Jon, or the lentil, lolly, and Bri playing tag in my Uncle's backyard show me that whether I have two or four kids, the family around us is perfect.
First off in the Chritmas picture extravanganza: a very Pakki Christmas Eve with spicy Afghan food, Zahra's favorite present of the season - her new doll Dolly, and a dinosaur tower.
My wonderful cousins spent at least an hour looking at each of Zayd's dinos, oohing and ahing as necessary, and just generally acting like kiddos 1/2 their age. I think it was Zayd's favorite part of our two-day Christmas bonanza.
Mommy stayed up late getting everything ready for our Saleem/Mammen Christmas morning.
He gets it. She is not quite sure.
First up, a little Constantine (Evil Kermit) face paint so we can play Muppets Most Wanted at Home. It was my only DIY gift this year, and definitely the best thing in his stocking.
She is also easy to please.
Presenting Dolly and the awesome carseat mommy bought for her. Frankly, I at stunned by what a little "mother" my sweet lolly enjoys being. Bottles, binky, changing babies clothes...I never would have guessed.
Zayd has been obsessed with the National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs. So, after checking it our from the public library 3 consecutive times, and missing it for 2 solid weeks after we could no longer renew it, we are back to reading it cover to cover twice a day. Frankly, there is no better dinosaur book. I know because we own them all. :)
A month ago, I explained to Zayd that he would get three Christmas presents, just like he gets three birthday presents and three Eid presents, three is the number. He tried to negotiate me to four: a giraffe, a whale, a penguin, and a styracosaurus. That was his whole Christmas list! (He means the figurines. To be clear, a $3 animal is a stocking stuffer, and does not count as 1/3 of his total Christmas haul. I am not that mean or that disciplined.) Frankly, the penguin was a big surprise, I had already picked up giraffe, and I am never sure which dinosaur he will obsess over next. Here is the collection that Nini and I put together. At Jon's birthday dinner the next night, Z revealed that the whale was his favorite gift from all of Christmas.
We started a new tradition this year and I took each kid to buy their sibling a Christmas gift. (Yes, now we are at four gifts.) Zahra knew she wanted to get Zaydie legos but she was just about as indecisive as I was once we were in the lego aisle at Target. She finally settled on a duplo dump truck kit that is pretty awesome. Zayd knew what he wanted right away: "a BIG bag of lollipops so we can give her one every time she poops in the potty". OMG. How many parents does this Mammen house have? Here he is showing off his find the night before and then their gift exchange. It was not as picture perfect as I had hoped but she sure loves those lollipops. She also shares her lollipops which I bet the lentil was counting on.
And here we are enjoying herbal tea between family Christmas and getting ready for Big Family Christmas.
Next up, Big Family Christmas...