More Advent Adventures

Today, door 8 of the advent calendar, we did an oldie with a new twist. In our history as a family, we have made quite a few trips to the Como Park Conservatory. On one of those trips, Dan and I even got married there. Somehow, I have never been there during the holiday season. We will definitely do this one again – the Sunken Garden is incredibly beautiful with all of the poinsettias.


During pretty much any Team Wonderful activity, something will go awry. In fact, we adults have a saying that doing things with kids is a good idea in theory alone. But doing things with kids is like childbirth – you forgot how bad it was last time and can’t wait to do it again after a week or so. In some freak of nature, planets-lined-up, string-theory-systems-go timing, the trip itself was great. No major meltdowns, no baby issues, heck, I didn’t even have to visit the ladies’ room. A blizzard was brewing, so we started the festivities mid-morning. I let Rex-Goliath do the door-opening by himself.

Terrible idea. I really must pay more attention to my toddler.


As with most things in the house, there is a system in place to ensure fairness with regard to the advent calendar. The kids switch off opening the doors, unless there is something for Chloë to do once the door is open (e.g. scratch off a lottery ticket) – then Rex-Goliath gets the door piece of the ritual. Chloë wasn’t with us today, so Rex-Goliath got to run the show. He opened the door I pointed at, pulled out the slip, and read off a proclamation of nonsense syllables in a way that would have made our great orator, Barack Obama, proud. I figured that he knew the ritual by now (you read the slip and then we are done), but apparently not.

I was looking for the pacifier leash (that thing that attaches the paci to the baby so it doesn’t wind up in a puddle of melted snow, pug hair, and stale pretzels on the car floor), when Dan told me to come and see what our son had found. The big door, the number 25, had beckoned, and Rex-Goliath could not resist the urge to open it. He was rewarded for his efforts, as I had stuck a little Christmas-themed Percy (from Thomas the Tank Engine) in that door. So my little Christmas surprise is now over.


I’ll be honest, I wasn’t heartbroken – it is much more exciting to get a surprise present on a day when you are not getting any other presents. I ordered this little guy off e-bay, and I now suspect that he may have been procured by the seller (a Hong Kong native) in a not-so-wholesome manner (Santa Percy is part of a set sold at Target in the stocking stuffers section – somehow Mr. Hong Kong only had the Percy piece). I thought that he was a Thomas Wooden Railway engine, but he is actually a Take-Along Thomas engine. The Take-Alongs don’t fit the wooden tracks, and I have this premonition that by Christmas morn Rex-Goliath might have some wooden tracks. Percy may have caused some frustration if received on that day. So this is better. Now I’ll just have to get that lump of coal that I had originally intended for door 25.

I packed up Xavier, Dan packed his man-whore satchel, and Rex-Goliath packed up his trains. P. Puggy sat on her butt and watched, in case anyone is interested. Then we were off.

Once at the conservatory, we did our usual thing – Tropical Encounters room, Bonsai Room (currently lacking of bonsai trees), Fern Room, then the rest of the conservatory, saving the Sunken Garden for last.

Rex-Goliath, looking at the koi in the North Garden:

Rex-Goliath, appreciating the beauty of the poinsettias (read: playing with his trains in a location that includes beautiful poinsettias):

Xavier, before he took a snooze in the baby carrier:

The picture of Xavier was so good, we spent a fair amount of time blowing raspberries, dancing like monkeys, and pretending to be robots after a shot of Jack Daniels in a misguided attempt to get a shot of Rex-Goliath of similar caliber. The boy was not having it, though:

This was the best we could come up with:

And, of course, the requisite picture of Dan, looking very debonair and a little like a tourist:

Another not-completely-disastrous outing, brought to you by Team Wonderful.

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