Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Wrap up

Life has settled into an amazing pattern of non stress. We are on our stay-cation. And while at some points it has seemed frustrating (shouldn't everything be organized, cleaned and ready while we are staying here at home??) it also has been incredibly rewarding.

Time with family is a gift.

What an emotional Christmas this year was. Having two young children is magical. Everyone tells you that. From the lady in the shop to the old man down the block. But it IS. It really is. I have always loved Christmas. Always. But seeing it through my kids eyes is just a blessing. The excitement was insane! On December 20th, when they opened the three (!) advent calendars, they started to bounce up and down. "It is in the 20s! It is in the 20s!" My gosh, it was insane.

Meanwhile, in non Christmas world, work continued to march on, requiring me to work late hours. Gifts needed to be purchased, holiday cards mailed, etc., etc. My to-do list was multiple pages long. Oh, and we had a bathroom renovation in the works so we were down a bathroom.

And all the while, I kept reading about Newtown. And tears would come to my eyes. Quickly. Seeing images of parents burying six year olds while my own six year old bubbled on about holiday parties at school, her sincere hope for a guinea pig from Santa and her gymnastics class left me feeling both entirely depressed and so grateful. Maybe another post will address all of THOSE issues. But I found myself in tears daily. And I hugged my kids extra tight.  I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Christmas was still about the presents, yes. But this year, in a very real and tragic way, made me think about what is super important: my family, my friends and our health.

Back to the elves.

We did it up right this holiday season. Drives in the car to see lights while sipping hot cocoa, making cookies to share with the neighbors, learning and singing Christmas carols, going on a huge sleigh ride, seeing Santa twice, cutting down our own tree. The kids bought each other presents and we looked for our elf. It was an amazing three weeks.

Christmas eve finally, FINALLY came. As per our tradition, we open the gifts from Sam's parents over skype in the morning of Christmas eve. Seren, my little excited one, woke up at 5:30 on Christmas Eve. She was THAT excited. She actually stood in place and 'ran' in place while squealing!! The kids loved the gifts from Sam's parents. They were way too generous, as usual. The excitement in the air felt like electricity. My gosh. Meanwhile, Sam and I were exhausted- trying to keep the lies in order, worrying about our 'guinea pig' secret, and trying to get it all ready.

Opening up the gifts did take the edge off the excitement and build up. So that was awesome. They played while Sam finished up making his Polish dinner. Complete with fun traditions like finding the north star, putting hay on the table and other traditions that had meaning.  We went to church at 4:30 and Seren dressed as an angel.  We were home shortly after and simply had to wait for Santa to arrive around 8:30.

What a long wait. Nothing like the day before Christmas. I was mostly ready. But we had to fetch the guinea pig (who was staying with friends), pick the bike up from our neighbors house and entertain our balls of electricity.

Then it began to snow! It was amazing!! We got cookies ready for Santa and carrots out for the reindeer. Both Preschool and first grade sent home 'reindeer food' so dressed in our PJs and snow boots, we went into the yard and sprinkled it on the front lawn. It was freezing in the snow but so magical.

Finally, we heard the fire truck and its siren get louder and louder. The moment had arrived. With my own heart pumping, we ran into the front yard to get a look at him. My own eyes watered as my children literally bounced up and down, waved and screamed 'SANTA! MERRY CHRISTMAS!' to Santa as the snow fell.

My best friend asked if I captured it on film.

I didn't. I just wanted to be present. Fully present. The silhouette of my kids waving and jumping up and down is fresh in my mind. It won't be a week from now and certainly, 10 years from now, I won't have the memory. Then I wish that I had brought out the the video camera; I'd be able to replay it.

The cold weather, the magic of Christmas when you are 6 and 4 and the fact that life is really way too short... and that all of life is one giant amazing, complex, mystery...for that moment: that one moment, I FELT Christmas.

We tucked them into bed shortly afterwards. And then our work of finishing it up all began. We finished around midnight. I'm not so sure why it took so long but it did.

At 4:30 Seren was up! I'm not proud to admit it but I wasn't a happy Christmas elf at 4:30 am. I told her to go back to sleep until 6. And she did! By 6:30, we woke up Wyeth.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! What joy! Seren and Wyeth came down the stairs and saw the huge guinea pig cage! She screamed, "Santa got me a cage! He really did! He got me a cage!" Meanwhile, Wyeth is saying, "Something is in it! Something is moving in there!"

The guinea pig arrived!

(And how bad would it have sucked if all Santa got her was a cage!?)

It was awesome! She was beside herself and began to mutter, I can't believe he really did do it. Just tonight putting her down a week later, she said the same thing, "I can't believe he really got me a live animal."

The day moved on at an awesome pace. Not too fast. Not too slow. Just right. After a 3-4 week build up of excitement, there was bound to be a few ups and downs on everyone's parts. But mostly UPs! Wyeth received some beloved trucks (from Bruder) and his own guitar. He also got a sled from Santa which was a huge hit! He sat in it while he ate his Christmas breakfast.  The last thing Seren opened was her new (to us) bike. What a big 'wow' that was!

So we had a blast during our morning. When we all were getting into 'too much Christmas', we took a break and I showered. We just took it at our own pace.

And now it is all done. The gifts are all opened. Time with my extended family is complete. (I will post about time at home with my mom, dad and brother) and the work week calls.

I'm trying hard to just keep the important things first. The quiet of the last few days, post Christmas, has been  calming. Our 'adventures' have been limited to family walks, one haircut, some errands...but mostly playing, and just BEING family. I have focused on 'DOING' family time. For instance,  I found myself playing the game 'Sorry' for about an hour. That sort of thing. I have loved it.

It was an emotional Christmas for me. Sadness and grief for Newtown. A sense of deep gratitude for my blessings. Knowing that life moves on quickly. It was a week full of excitement, sadness and deep joy. We are so very blessed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Seren is working through what it means to have a best friend. It hasn't quite gotten to the middle school levels of what it means to have a BFF but she is thinking about it. She reports that some days, during recess, she doesn't play with the other 4 girls; she plays with a boy.  She seems kinda ok with that. There are only 5 girls in her class- pretty slim pickings!

Last night, as she was swimming around in the tub, she noted, "Mom, I  have a BBF".
Me: "You do? Great! But don't you mean a BFF?"
Seren: "Nope. I mean a BBF"
Me: "Huh?"
Seren: "Yes, for Best Brother Forever!"


She went on to say she had a BMF and BDF (Best mom forever, Best Dad Forever, etc).

A note on tubs. I have given my last 'double kid' tub. It was a great 4 years while it lasted. But I decided last week that we were done. The pushing, the shoving, the splashing, the lack of tub space. Too much fighting. Too much yelling on my part. Enough.

Still, it was good while it lasted. 

(I was going to add a naked tub shot since I have so many. But ya know what? This is the internet and the internet is freaky. No naked kid tub shot)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Beck, the elf, should not go hungry

This is our third year of Elf on the Shelf. Our elf, Beck, is a good elf. He doesn't get into trouble. And I can barely remember to move the darn thing after about a week. But we love him. Seren totally LOVES the Elf and it is fun to have magic in the house.

Wyeth took one look at him this year and said, "That isn't an elf! He is a stuffed animal!"

Then Seren, the believer said, "And why does he have a tag on him?"

We were off to a rough start. Sam quickly pulled out the book which explains the whole story and somehow, by talking about magic, both Seren and Wyeth were cool with that. Oh, ok. That makes sense.

And all was well with the world. Beck, the elf, had a place in our hearts. Again.


Last night during dinner, on day two of the Elf, Seren started to wonder aloud. "What does he eat all day? I mean, he has to sit there and watch us eat all three meals and he doesn't have anything! He must be like a bear and eats everything thing at once and then he doesn't have to eat."

I could tell she was really thinking about this.

Later that night I was grumpily putting dishes into the dishwasher and Seren asks me for a plate. "What? What do you need a plate for?" I asked in a grouchy voice. She opened  up her hand and in it is four pieces of bow tie pasta.

"For Beck."

Right. So we placed the pasta on a little plate and placed it in the fridge.  Last night, I of course, moved the elf and ate three of the four pieces of pasta.  This morning when she woke up, she was all upset at herself for forgetting to write him a note or leave the pasta out.  We finally found him and there, beside him, was only one little piece of pasta.

She was so excited! " I didn't need to write him a note! He knew to look! See! Wow!"

Why yes, we do 'feed' our stuffed elf. Don't you?

Wyeth Turns Four!

My dear little Wyeth

Today you turn 4. At 10:53 pm, you will officially be four years old. You are my little one. Momma’s boy for sure. And I can’t seem to grasp where the time goes. In my mind, even when I hold you now, I can see the infant that they placed on my chest. You were and still are a beautiful child. And you make me so proud.

This year has been a busy year for you. You mastered how to ride your bike with training wheels. You enrolled in and love gymnastics class and of course, you went to school for the first time. You are enjoying being with your friends and adore your teacher. You are learning how to share in class and how to let someone else ‘lead’ the game. And you continue to be stubborn about issues related to the potty. You aren’t exactly ‘coachable’ right now. You still have your stubborn side- the passionate side. That we (mostly) love. For instance, you refuse to pee in the toilet during morning preschool. Not because you don’t know how. But because, well, you can control that part of your life and assert your control. But we’ve got your back on that stuff- in time, in time. You are also one of the most empathetic kids I’ve ever met. You are always the first to sound the alarm when someone else is in physical pain. And the first to rush over to check on them. You also are emotionally sensitive. You shy away from ‘scary’ things on tv and get visibly upset when someone on TV is in trouble or hurt. It isn’t uncommon for you to run out of the room while watching Martha Speaks or another PBS special. We love that you are sensitive this way. We love watching you care for us and your friends. You are especially talented with little kids and babies.
You also continue to love trains, trucks, your cars and Webbie. You will listen to stories but not really seek them out. If someone puts a story in your hand, you will read it. But otherwise? Huh. On the other hand, you create your own stories constantly. Your stories are amazing! There is action, adventure and many many details.
And let’s carve some space out to talk about poop, shall we? One day perhaps you will tell me what the obsession is with poop, pee and snot. Those words are the trifecta of 3-4 year old talking points!

And my goodness, child, you have an ear for music! Seren started taking piano lessons in October and has enjoyed them. But several times in the last few weeks, we have heard your plucking out ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ and more recently, “Good King Wenceslas”- all from ear! We are so proud and now trying to frantically figure out how to get you into piano lessons. We predict lots of music in the years to come!

Oh my sweet boy. Thank you for the joy you have brought to us in your short 4 years. We love you and cheer on your accomplishments. Thank you for so many smiles! Please don’t grow too fast- we love your innocence.