Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Christmas

First let me say we had a WONDERFUL Christmas.  In spite of many things...   

We began our morning in prayer and then head downstairs.  Ace was so excited!  He just couldn't wait to get down there and get into everything.  His excitement was infectious.  :)  Mae, still battling a cold and not really understanding was content to go along for the ride.

Downstairs we went and it was a frenzy of wrapping, stockings, and excitement! Mae enjoyed a cautious observation, but was quite happy with things in her stocking.  I got her a wallet of her very own - and she pulled the cards in and out.  It was adorable.   Ace was SO excited about everything.   I loved it.  His smile was genuine and his joy was present.   I love the 'magic' of Christmas.

We all opened our presents from Ace - mine were beautiful flowers that I had already received the day before.  Ace chose them especially for me.  Ace picked out a pair of flashlights for his dad so that he and his father could go for walks in the dark with them.  For his sister he got her some weebles.  Excellent choices as she absolutely loved them and played with them repeatedly throughout the morning.     He did a good job choosing with some guided direction - inexpensive (roughly $5 presents) for his family members. 

Another exciting present was from his Auntie Dawn... a few weeks into Christmas a catalog arrived in the mail and he was flipping through it and came upstairs going on and on about how he didn't want a camera or a swarmfire (gasp!) but that he really wanted THIS: a remote controlled car.   He probably stared at that picture for a solid ten minutes, taking in every angle, every picture (all 4 of them) and I'm sure just imagining the possibilities - his Christmas present had already been purchased by us though, so I shot his Auntie an email and she happily made his Christmas wish come true and the reaction was so great!

Mae was adorable and very observant and watching everything that was going on. She participated in paper unwrapping with curiosity, but she was certainly more interested in the item within the wrapping than the actual paper. She wanted whatever was under that wrapping and she wanted it out of its box for her to manipulate/play with right away. She got books, dolls, puppets, and a tea set and she has since played again with them all, but her favorite by far was that wallet.

Ace all month has been showing us various things he has been wanting - but one stood out over all others: the Nerf SWARMFIRE gun!  Yes, literally - he had a hawk eye for it in the stores, he could find it without fail in any advertisement, and he was so excited by it.  When I asked him what he thought his dad would like for Christmas his answer was "A swarmfire!"  Um No.   Same thing was his answer when his father posed the question a few days later about what to get for mom.  Amusing and quite smart!  No fret young anxious one...  His Aunt and Uncle bought it for him and remained 'hidden' until the end of unwrapping this morning.   It was quite exciting!

Now this Christmas I seemed to be batting a 1000 in the prepared department - on Christmas Eve minutes before it was rolling over to Christmas, Loving Husband asked where the other part of Mae's ladybug was that he was supposed to blow up.   What are you talking about, LH?   Apparently, there were two pieces of Mae's present and I failed to get the main portion of it.   Siiigh.  Oh well, she had her stocking, and a sad deflated ladybug 'mat' for the time being.    Then after all the excitement of the swarmfire: the build up, the opening, the unwrapping.. I grabbed the C batteries... all four that I had gotten for the gun that required six!  Are you kidding me????  Sheesh.   Our calls to the neighbors turned up nada - the boy and his dad would have to head to the gas station to get the other two.   Siigh.  Oh well funny memories for later... Later.

After presents were unwrapped, Loving Husband got to cooking and we enjoyed some breakfasts and phone calls with various friends and family members.    After that, around 11 we got a bit of excitement - about 30 minutes after breakfast Mae broke out in hives and coughing - 911 was called - paramedics arrived - her and her mommy were carted off in an ambulance to the hospital for monitoring - and 90 minutes after that we were headed home!  Oh yah! No lie.    It was quite the ordeal - she's ok and we'll have some follow up appointments with the doctor this week.   What a way to make a statement for your first Christmas, baby girl! 

After that it was a low key afternoon - nap times for both kiddos while LH played video games and I watched some Christmas movies with a sleep healthy Mae.   Followed pretty closely by dinner and then we gathered around to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas one last time before Ace's bedtime to close out Christmas on Ace's 4th Christmas and Mae's 1st.    And what a sentiment to close on - on a day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the joy of family, and the health and safety of our little girl.     Merry Christmas indeed!

Our Christmas Eve

Our Christmas began on Christmas Eve when we ventured over to Gran and Pop Pop's to have Christmas with all the family.   It was a lot of fun to watch Mae explore the presents around the tree,  watch all the kids play together, and enjoy a lot of fun, food and family.   

Is this one mine, mama?
He had SUCH a blast!
There is so much going on in this picture, but Ace is my favorite!

A Merry Christmas, Eve with lots of family!

The Adventures of Holly

We had quite the merry and adventurous Christmas day in our household, but more on that in another post.  This post is about Holly and all her antics that she's been up to this fine month of December.  Who is Holly?  Well she's our elf of course!   We had a lot of fun finding new and different places for her to hide and I must give most of the credit for Holly's hiding spots to Loving Husband - who sometimes even got out of bed and grabbed the camera to go tuck Holly into a new nook... sometimes having to seek her out of Ace's daytime hideout for her -where ever that might have been. :)

Both kids enjoyed Holly being around.  Ace did great not touching Holly until we said it was ok - and he was especially amused the morning he woke up and Holly was above his head. Mae enjoyed Holly too - but mostly to chew on. She did love toting her around after Ace had discarded her.

There were a couple of days he was stumped as to where Holly was... specifically the one in the car and amusingly enough the one where Holly was hiding (and covering her eyes) amid the pile of stuffed animals.   One night we simply forgot - Holly laid on the kitchen floor all night where Ace had left her before.  No picture was taken... Ace found her pretty easily - we sorta passed it off as that's where she hid.  He didn't seem to care too much.   Another night we forgot before bed, so the next morning LH quickly hid her away so Ace would think he thought he was still looking - so after dinner I quickly hid her on the scanner and wala Ace found her when we suggested he go look.  :)

It was a lot of fun and a silly nightly game.  Last night Holly was perched on top of our Christmas tree to watch all the excitement of Christmas morning - and tonight I plucked her down for her to sit with us and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas with us for her final night of festive fun until next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

So much to share, but for now we will just say Merry Christmas!  We hope yours is wonderful too!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Women's Christmas Dessert

Every year my holiday season is started off with a gathering together of some of my favorite women and celebrating the season with candlelight, Christmas pageantry, holiday songs, and cheer.  :)  This year was no different and just as magical... well I had one complaint - they could have made it much darker so the candlelight really would have made the statement.   I suspect this was for the elderly attending, my suggestion for next year is for flashlights to be provided for those that needed extra lighting. Perhaps some of the men  can serve as ushers instead of waiters.  I digress.. aside from too much florescent lighting above, it was a beautiful night!   Bri, D, and Jackie and Dana all got into the creative spirit on tables this year and they turned out wonderful! 
Bri's table, Dana & Jackie's table, and Danielle's table

One of my favorite things was the tree that Bri had on her table.  It was so delicate and caught the light so nicely.  :)  I enjoyed staring at it while I consumed way too many tiny desserts.  

It was a nice night to celebrate the start of the season and to see some friendly faces we don't get to see too often.   It's hard to believe that it's already been so long ago and that Christmas is in less than 10 days now!  

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Giving Spirit

Christmas is a time for sharing.   It's a time for giving.   It's a time for spreading the good news.    But it is often a time for greed.  Frustration.  And consumerism.    Yes, I said it.     Christmas gives (most) people a wonderful feeling - it really is a time to be merry!   We don't just say "Merry Christmas" to piss off the politically correct "Happy Holiday" folk (gasp, did she really just say 'piss off' in a Christmas post? Yes I did. )   It really is because people (in general) are more giving, loving, kind during this holiday season.   But it really is a double edge sword and a fine line to walk... ok enough with the cliche statements what am I getting at??   Giving! I don't want Christmas to become about greed and consumerism.   I want our focus to be on Jesus and giving.  

God gave the ultimate gift to all mankind when he gave us Jesus.   The reason we (all should) celebrate Christmas.    The wise men brought gifts to baby toddler Jesus to show adoration, love, thanksgiving.   We give to each other to show that we love and care for each other.    I've talked about this before, last year.   These are grand topics that cause people to reflect on the true meaning of why they give, how much they give, are their motivations correct and in line with the real meaning of Christmas... but this year it isn't about me or my motivations for giving - this is about creating a good foundation in Ace for the season of giving.    Teaching him that it isn't about presents, it's about Jesus.   It's about helping him celebrate the season and Jesus and not getting lost in the consumerism.    Not lost in the greed of "more more more!"  Teaching him that there are others less fortunate than him that he can choose to help rather than have "more!"    It's my biggest and most rewarding challenge yet.

I set out to come up with a list of 25 various ways we can share, help, give to others.   I was going to set it up in sort of an advent style - but I'll be honest, I never got that going and off the ground and as it is now dawning on the 16th day of December, it just isn't going to happen.   Instead I've just been mentally ticking off the list of things that I have come up with to help Ace understand a more giving side of Christmas.     To be honest some of the concepts are quite abstract for a three year old.  I can only explain so much that we're giving toys to other kids that don't have any money to buy them.  He sees the toys, but he never sees the other kids - he also doesn't understand the concept of money just yet either - but I think we're on a good path for understanding in the long run (I hope.)

We started off getting a tag off of an Angel Tree.   We chose as a family a tag for a 7 year old girl whose father's hours at work had been cut and she wanted an easy bake oven.   He helped me ordered it on Amazon and was very excited to see it arrive at the house.    We talked about the little girl and the limited information we had on her situation.    We said we were helping to make her Christmas that much more special - but it wasn't for us to feel good about ourselves for doing something good - but that we should thank Jesus that we were in a position to help others.  

Another way we're teaching him giving was Toys for Tots.   I made the decision this year to not send out our Christmas card to the masses.   There are so many people that I regularly communicate with on social networking sites, that I figure why spend $30 on stamps, plus the cost to print each of the cards, when that money could be put to a better purpose.   We had already planned to donate one toy for TFT, but with the decision made to reduce our Christmas cards - we went to the store and planned to get 4 presents to put in the box.   It just seemed like a better way to spend our money this year.   I explained to Ace that these toys were for kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to have toys.   This motivated him.    We walked through the store and he was very generous - I had to scale back his generosity just a little - again since he doesn't understand the concept of money. In the end we decided on a two toys for younger kids and two toys for slightly older kids, one of them Ace exclaimed "I would really love this on December 25th if it were for me, so other kids will too!"   We checked out and then we walked over and put them in the box. That is the only thing we purchased in the store, even though I did need to get other things.   We left the store with nothing, because I felt it would make the best impact on him.   After we got to our car we said a prayer for those that would receive the toys and for others that have needs and wishes that might still not be met, and again thanking God for our ability to help others. 

In days to come we will donate some food to a food bank, some of his toys and mom and dad's clothes to charity, bring a poinsettia to a friend, and have him read his sister a story.  I want him to see that helping others doesn't have to be just giving to strangers or giving money, but also giving of his time and that doing something nice for someone else is giving as well.   So while he's excited for Christmas and excited for presents, we are hoping to help him keep his focus on what truly matters:  Jesus and that we can point to Jesus and share Jesus with others by giving, sharing and helping others.    I leave you with a story that really touched my heart, such a wonderful example of selfless giving - and while it might not have been done in the name of Jesus it is an excellent reflection of the giving spirit.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ten on Ten - December

This month I did things a little different.  Normally the general idea was to take ten pictures, one every hour... I was a bit more 'as the moment' struck me style and with that we have the following.

To see others stop by A Bit of Sunshine

Eleven Months Old

I am not sure why but my baby girl turning eleven months old is freaking me out.   I had a mini-meltdown and internal struggle with the idea of getting rid of her swing... one that I have not fully completed mind you.  I am in a bit of a power struggle of sorts with myself on that one.   Logically, she doesn't use it anymore.  In fact only twice since we returned to the NW.  But she might, right?  :(   She used it every day, multiple times a day, for months and months.   I have wonderful memories of looking at her peacefully asleep in there... sitting up smiling and playing with her toes... she can't be done with it?? (See that's just a small glimpse at my nuttiness on this subject.)   Perhaps I'm having this freakout now because I know that when she officially turns ONE YEAR OLD! (gasp!) I won't have time for this mourning, sadness, craziness. It will be a time of celebrating and being excited that my little girl has achieved such a milestone!  But that's in another month, so I choose to embrace my sadness over the quickly slipping away baby in my little girl.

New things for Mae this month: walking, shoes, Black Friday shopping with her mama, her first Christmas tree, a top tooth, and a three day fever followed by roseola.

Mae in the mobility department is more interested in ascending heights than traveling on foot.   Yes, our little girl is a climber, part monkey really.   She has scaled the baby gates, climbs up onto chairs, boxes, coffee tables, anywhere she can get to.  She's a pro at the stairs and VERY quick especially if she knows she's not supposed to be climbing up them.    She also would happily climb into the tub if we let her, it's amazing how high she can kick that little leg up!  In the walking department she is still pretty wobbly but can cross a floor without falling down 6 out of 10 times.   Her speed is increasing and if she follows the couch line she really can move fast!  Mostly I think it's confidence, so she just needs more practice.  :)   In light of this mobility Mae received her first pair of shoes - and she does well to keep them on for the most part.

Sleep still is sub par in my opinion.  She wakes regularly and often takes until 10pm or later to go to sleep.    I think it's partially due to teething, but a greater deal with habit that she's formed in spite of our efforts.   I suspect the new year will bring along with it some sleep training.   We'll see.  I really don't want to talk about it...

In the illness department - Mae has now been able to check off another high profile childhood illness: roseola.   Yes on Friday morning she began running a fever of 100.6  and it persisted all day Friday and Saturday, it spiked to 102.5 in the middle of the night on both nights, but I suspect being too cuddly in blankets and next to her mama was mostly the culprit of that.  I refrained from too much tylenol, as we're advocates of fevers being the body's natural remedy to fight illness and over the course of her three day illness I gave her 4 doses of tylenol.  Twice to bring the temp down and twice for her comfort.  Sunday morning around 5am she woke up and threw up everywhere.  Thankfully I had a blanket that caught most of it.  I called the doctor and one came out to the house to check on her.  Prior to that I was almost certain it was roseola.  Which by Monday it was proven to be just that - but the vomit threw me off.   Tuesday she woke with a cough that sounded tight - so to be safe we took her in.  I don't take chances with coughs anymore.  The cough turned out to be nothing and didn't even linger much past that day.   So she had a rash for about 2 days and by the third day it was gone.    I will say that her rash was much milder than her brother's was when Ace had it at 10 months.

Mae now officially has three teeth.  She is slowly starting to eat more solid food each day.  Mostly still baby food jars, but she also enjoys puffs, and LOVES french fries - I know not the best but still cute.  She also enjoys steamed carrot quite a bit and the freeze dried apples and pears that I have as one of Ace's snacks.   She will also eat a lot of food if her dad baby birds feeds her. 

Mae also loves to play.  She tries to play peek-a-boo still by raising things over her head, although she is getting better about putting things in front of her eyes to do it.   She laughs at her brother doing silly things and loves to climb up on his bed and the two of them play together in his room.  She is waving 'bye bye' very well now and smiles the biggest smile when her dad walks in the room.   She wants to play the game with her hand and making noises on her mouth regularly too.   Vocab wise - she still mostly just has: mama, dada, bruder, up.   Sign language - the only one she really ever uses is 'all done'. 

This last month all the holiday decor has come out and Mae has enjoyed exploring a whole new world of exciting colors, lights, and new toys.  She is fascinated by the tree, but is doing a decent job for the most part letting it be.   She loves the fisher price nativity set and is enjoying chewing on them.  ;)   It's such a magical time of year and I'm so excited for her first Christmas and can't wait to see her experience everything for the first time!    Hold on tight we're headed full speed ahead toward ONE!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A girl and her shoes...

Most women are shoe-obsessed, or at least have a good appreciation of their art beyond just function.    I am a shoe-obsessed woman.   I have waaay too many of them and I love to buy them.  While I am not going to try and instill an obsession in my daughter, I won't lie I was excited to get her first pair of shoes.   I was excited to get Ace his first pair too, but not in quite the same way.   Boy shoes are just that: shoes.   But for girls, even tiny girls, they are such adorable fashion statements.   :) 

Now that Mae is walking a bit more it was time to get her first pair of walkers.   I probably would have waited a couple of more weeks, but she doesn't like to keep socks on and so shoes were more necessary to keep her feet warmer than anything else.    So we headed to Nordstrom in mid-November and were off to find her some shoes.

Her brother joined us on this adventure and he did very well watching the process of finding his sister shoes.   Mae did well getting her foot measured: two little feet measuring a solid 3.5 shoe size.   Which meant we went with a size 4 shoe for a little bit of room to grow.      

We found a pair of little mary janes that would go well with most of her clothing and have a bit of sparkle to them to boot.  Bonus they were on sale!   So for $19.95 we had Mae's first pair of shoes.   Can't beat that - I think Ace's first pair was closer to $50 for basically the same boy equivalent shoe. 

Since this was Mae's first pair of shoes, she was gifted a little Nordy to take home with her and she was very much into snuggling with her Nordy.  Ace received a balloon and we were on our way home! 

Mae did very well to not try and take off her shoes - she was curious about them, but was even willing to walking on her feet with them on.  She's officially a stylish walker with her cute mary janes.    Congrats on your first pair of shoes, baby girl!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Tree Decorator!

"Mom, can we decorate a little?"   This is the question that has been posed to me every day since we got out the tree.   I try to accommodate - as it is true we are slow to complete the decoration process, but I mostly find it amusing that he's so excited to decorate for Christmas.   I asked him one night what he thought Christmas was about and he said "decorating!"  

I had to stop and pause and have a discussion with him that went something like this...

Me:  Do you understand why we decorate at Christmas time?
A: No.
Me:  Well remember when we decorated for your aunt's birthday party?
A:  Yes, we put up balloons and streamers!
Me:  Yah, that's right.  We did that to help celebrate her birthday.

A:  Oh ok. 
Me:  Do you know that we celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas?
A:  YAH!! (said with animated jumps and glee)

Me:  Well, we decorate for Christmas to help celebrate Jesus' birthday, and Jesus is the most important of all and so he gets the most special decorations and that is why he gets so many, because we really want to help celebrate his birthday!
A:  ((excited and jumping))  yah and that's why he gets a TREE! 
Me:  Yep you're right!  So while it is fun to decorate for Christmas, the reason we do it is for Jesus and the reason for celebrating Christmas at all is because...
A:  We want to celebrate Jesus being born! (Said with a big grin!)


Subway Art found here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mae's First Tree

This is Mae's first Christmas.  I love that everything is so new and exciting.  She loves to look at and explore the tree, the Nativity, the Christmas stuffed animals that I have amassed over the years... it's just so fun to see her seeing it for the the first time.

When we first got the tree got the tree out and up (which she watched with little bit of awe - and a lot more distraction of racing back and forth on the couch) she wasn't quite sure.  She and her brother walked around it touching and poking at it.   I then went and broke out the stuffed animals and both kids had a lot of fun with those.  She particularly enjoyed some peek-a-boo with them.

I love to watch her fascination as she looks at the lights and touches them.  I chuckle as I hear her brother say "No, sister you're not supposed to touch them!"  as I gently remind him that he's not the parent but that it's nice he's looking out for his sister's well-being.  :)  She also likes to play peek-a-boo around the tree.  Her brother did as well when he was little. 

Another favorite past time is taking ornaments off the tree.  Once again this year's tree is completely shatterproof.  Breakable ornaments are still on the tree.  Including that one that's got in her hand.  Ace broke him 2 years ago.  Super glue fixed little elf-elmo right up, but after Mae discarded the little guy, I moved him higher up in the tree - he's suffered enough and has graduated to a safer zone.  :)  I try not to encourage too much removal, but at the same time I don't nag and prevent it too often. 

Besides, look how happy it makes her.   I love this time of year, but watching my children explore the wonder makes it all that more cheerful and magical!