Last week we made our annual, obligatory visit to the Santa who lives in the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Last year, if you recall, it was relatively uneventful. In fact, Santa's camera was broken so we got to play paparazzi and take all our own photos. We had no idea what a lucky break THAT was until this year, when Santa's camera was indeed functioning and we got to pay full price like the rest of the world. Needless to say, we bought ONE photo with plans to scan it in and illegally duplicate it, if necessary. Sorry Santa.
As Colt has grown and become more independent and wiggly and generally impatient, Jeff and I have become slightly better planners. We schedule around naptime, we don't go to popular restaurants on Friday nights, and we do grocery shopping ANY OTHER TIME than Saturday mornings. The 2009 Santa Visit was no exception. We had a plan. Monday. Dinner time. The rest of the world is home with their Hamburger Helper, homework, and football. We were counting on waltzing straight to the front of the line, saying hello to Santa and being home in plenty of time for Big Bang Theory.
Monday. Dinner time. Evidently, we were a little TOO good at picking the least crowded night for Santa. And we inadvertently coincided with Bring Your DOG Night! Yep. Dogs. Big dogs. EVERYWHERE. IN the MALL. Eye to eye with my baby. Awesome.
Lest you think I am being dramatic, and, let's be honest – it happens. Feast your eyes on this little menagerie.
No camera tricks, you guys. That is a Saint Bernard, a Newfoundland and FOUR adult Boxers. And those were just the dogs within a five foot radius of Colt's stroller. It was a zoo! Dogs everywhere, yapping at each other, straining against their leashes for a better sniff of the fresh toddler meat in the polka dot stroller.
There were dogs dressed like Rudolph, dogs dressed like Santa – dogs with no visible dignity left. The whole thing was a riot. The good news is Colt really likes dogs so it helped pass the time in line. The Boxers were in line directly behind us and they took turns being sweet to Colt – letting him touch their little wet noses. He LOVED it.
I wish I had better pictures of just what a mess of dogs it was, but oddly enough I felt a little funny taking pictures of it. I felt like the people in line with their dogs could sense my subtle mocking with every flash of my camera. So I stopped. But dogs as far as the eye could see. Trust me.
As we approached Santa's chair (throne?) we noticed The Big Guy is taking all proper precautions this year.
The sign reads: Dear Boys & Girls, Please sanitize your hands so that we can make sure that Santa takes no germs back to the NorthPole. We want to make sure that Rudolph and all the other reindeer are healthy and strong so that they can pull Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. Thank You.
Sadly, the worst typo in the whole thing is "NorthPole" as one word.
So after lubing up with some Purell so as not to give Santa our Arkansas cooties, it was go time. Colt was ok at first, no crying or gnashing of teeth. But his grip on my neck got a little tighter with each step toward Santa. And after a few attempts at talking him down from the ledge, we resorted to this:
That Santa. Such a good sport. He scooted over and let me sit down, and we got a not-smiling, but not-crying photo with Santa. Success!
Last Friday we went to a Christmas party with a few friends you might recognize. I completely forgot about taking pictures until we were leaving so this photo is at the very end of the night when everyone else had left. I really need to get better at that. But LOOK! Friends! ADULTS! They do exist!
L to R: Matt, Nancy, Autumn, Jeff and Sarah. This should put a face with a name for some of you. Autumn is a very good friend (and coworker of Jeff's) who babysits for us sometimes. And Matt and Nancy are our Mom/Dad confidantes.
I abandoned my "buy EVERYTHING online policy" of Christmas shopping this year and have regretted every second of it. I finally finished my shopping yesterday. Ugh. Cyber Monday 2010 – here I come!
We leave for Arkadelphia today and the beginning of Christmas. I am excited to spend the next few weeks with family, and I hope Colt's second Christmas is as memorable as his first.
Keep warm. Have some eggnog.