Thanks to everyone who offered their advice on pets. It was helpful, as was a Real Simple magazine article in the January issue on what pet is right for you. The answer? The only pet that is right for us is a fish. And frankly, possibly not even that given the toddler's destruction of their habitat last week.
The conversation with my 9-year-old went better than expected. I asked what else might make him happy and excited for Christmas. At first, he was adamant about a cat. But then he threw a fit about wanting to go to an adults-only Christmas party with my husband and me, and even said "You don't have to give me a cat if I can go!" I told him the party itself would be boring, but I sensed an opening: he really wants to spend time with us, solo. And that's not something he gets all that often with his numerous little brothers and sister.
So we discussed it, and I will be giving him two "experience" gifts for Christmas. One is an overnight at the zoo with me, but then the bigger one is a weekend-length trip in NYC together. We'll stay in a hotel, go to some museums (he's reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), tour Central Park, eat pizza and so forth.
I am quite excited about this — a lot more excited than I would be about a cat. So that's put me in a bit more of a festive Christmas mood. That's especially true since I finished another big round of Christmas shopping yesterday. I just need a few more little things for the kids. My extended family's gifts are all purchased and wrapped in time for our holiday party on Sunday. Now I just need to figure out what we're eating!
One slight downer? My 9-year-old has been asking questions about Santa. Some kids in class have said some things. I suppose that was inevitable, though I would like to get through one more Christmas. When we had some time to talk, I said that he could believe what he wanted, but in general it was more fun to believe. Much like the little boy in The Polar Express who can still hear the bell.
In other news: The 9-year-old and 5-year-old went to their first karate lessons yesterday. While I'm kind of worried about adding yet another activity into our lives, both loved it. Like seriously loved it. Since the studio has this special where if 2 family members join, all the rest come free, I am mildly considering doing a martial arts class myself. The 7-year-old is also loving wrestling. He has his first meet this Saturday. I have been told that the meets are emotionally difficult on the parents, watching your kid get pinned and the like. Wish me luck.