Christmas Comings and Goings
I blogged previously about what Christmas looks like around our house.
Here is the long story about the highs and lows of Christmas 2014:
Cutting down our Christmas tree
From my journal, “We cut down our Christmas tree on a beautiful day, but we still had tears from two of the kids! Caitlyn refused to wear anything warm, opting to leave her sweater and hat in the car and shiver in her capris the whole time.”
“Daniel would only hold my non-gloved hand and fell 7 times over stumps into the mud. After a while, he insisted he was “stuck” if he wasn’t holding my hand.”
“I swore up and down the tree was much too tall to fit in our living room, but it was absolutely perfect, an inch from the ceiling.”
(Notice how all the pictures are happy? That is why I keep a 10 year journal. It’s an important reminder that parenting is made up of a huge range of highs and lows. Tears and smiles often come just moments apart and I signed up for both!)
Although we are often homebodies, we make an effort to regularly go to community performances. Scott and I went on a date to a lovely choral performance in a gorgeous church, and I snagged a picture of the stained glass to show my girls:
(We had made some “stained glass” with tissue paper recently.)
Mackenzie was my date to the Willamette Master Chorus Christmas concert. It was fantastic and I was so glad Scott has the opportunity to make music of that caliber. It was one of the highlights of the season for me.
We pulled some friends together and put on little Christmas programs for several nursing homes again this year. This is a crazy thing to attempt with preschoolers and there’s always a fair amount of chaos, but it is so incredibly rewarding to see the connection between old and young, between those who are weary and those overflowing with energy. It’s evident that an exchange takes place because the kids leave a little wiser and more aware of others, and the elderly remain, their hearts a little lighter and less lonely.
I’ve said it before: I am not crafty. Scott’s family did homemade cousin gifts this year for the exchange and it was so tricky for me to come up with something I could do, since with a 2, 4, and 6 year old… they really weren’t going to be able to do more than color a picture. 🙂
I decided to make apple print shirts and I was delighted that they turned out pretty darn cute. So here’s an easy gift idea in case you’re stumped like I was:
Also, we ended up making a bunch of homemade pillowcases for a local shelter:
I make pillowcases for different holidays for our family already, so it was a simple project I was comfortable with. The kids helped pick out the fabric, pin the layers together, and deliver the final products. A crooked seam here or there doesn’t matter much with a pillowcase so it’s the perfect project for me! 🙂
Finally, I made a Race Log to give to my dad for Christmas. He’s been doing triathlons, road races, and a hodgepodge of other cool athletic competitions for decades and I scoured the Internet for race results, had my mom turn his closet inside out for finisher’s shirts, and picked the brains of some of his racing buddies. I printed up a complete list of every event (that I could find), location, and time, highlighted his PRs (Personal Records) and included the stories behind his few DNFs. I pulled logos from different websites, photos of him competing, newspaper clippings from when he was featured and then compiled everything. I’m not crafty (did I mention that?) but I just printed the log on cardstock, cut up prints from Costco, and pasted them on… I slipped the pages into page protectors and made a cover sheet for the binder. Voila! I hope it will be something he’ll be able to flip through in future years and reminisce over, and I know it majorly inspired his grandkids (at least the ones living at my house!) to be active “like Grandpa Mac.”
Pssst… I’m making a race log for my own family for this next Christmas. Our list of events won’t be nearly as impressive as my dad’s, but I love to have a place to record our progress on goals, our efforts to stay fit, and our memories.
Potty training Daniel
I’m not sure why I switched Daniel to underwear in the middle of the craziness of December, while I was still hobbling around on an injured foot and scrambling to make Christmas for my family… but I did.
He was just a few months over 2 years old, but caught on fast and was proud of his “Mickeys” (the first time I’ve ever bought character underwear… so worth it.) Naps and nighttimes are still (9 months later) diaper times for this heavy sleeper, but after about a month it was pretty rare to have any daytime accidents. It did add an element of adventure to every outing for a while, and he took a gigantic step backwards when he was ill around Christmas time, but the whole thing went surprisingly smoothly.
A random smattering of the things that went awry last year:
– I mailed a full 15 Christmas cards without stamps and then sent an email of shame to my friends apologizing for the Postage Due stickers I anticipated them receiving. Thanks to soft hearted postal workers across the country, all of them made it to their destinations without a hitch. And, as an added bonus, most of my friends responded to my email with good humor and we had a good time catching up. 🙂
– Despite stressing about it for weeks and weeks beforehand and promising myself I wouldn’t put it off, we finalized gifts for out of town family on December 18th, according to my journal. Only then did I finally feel like I could enjoy the peace of the season. Blah. I’m not a thing-giver by nature and I can spend months scouring my brain for ideas and still end up feeling like the gift I gave was impersonal or rushed at the last minute. I’m blessed with many excellent gift givers in my family and Scott’s family and I know that’s how they show love (and I appreciate it!) but boy it’s hard for me to adequately reciprocate.
– This is another snippet of the failures/successes that seem to just come with the motherhood territory:
“Today we walked a mile and a half each way (in beautiful weather, though we could see our breath) to visit a friend of mine. Daniel fell out of the stroller(!) and scraped his forehead, Caitlyn slid big time in the mud, and Daniel wet his pants during the visit, but we had a lovely walk home with the girls giggling and Caitlyn’s balloon trailing behind her as they raced down the sidewalk.”
– I told Scott that it didn’t really matter if the bottom of our tree was cut perfectly straight. I was freezing at the time and I really can’t think of another good reason for me to say this. Apparently he was cold as well because he agreed. We must have adjusted the Christmas tree a dozen times over the course of the month, shimming it and rescrewing it into the base. We referred to it was the Leaning Tower of Treeza and we could often be seen staring at it with our heads slightly cocked, trying to determine if it was really leaning again.
– The littler kids were sick with croup the week of Christmas. It was so sad to see their excitement pour out in these miserable coughs and wheezes.
– On Christmas Eve, Daniel screamed all day long, sick in my arms and had many potty accidents. Mackenzie was so anxious for the holiday that she threw up, Caitlyn dumped an entire container of cinnamon on the floor accidentally, Scott burned the garlic in his bechamel sauce for our traditional eggplant lasagna (and had to run to the store to get more ingredients and start over… it was a 7 hour lasagna when all was said and done.) BUT, and this is a big BUT:
Christmas morning, we woke up the girls by singing carols and all of us gathered around Daniel’s crib to sing to him. He woke up with a huge smile on his face and we promptly plopped him in his high chair with a stack of eggnog french toast. I don’t know that he’s ever been happier. We had a lovely day exchanging presents and talking with faraway family on the phone, and every one of us sighed in utter contentment a dozen times over the course of the day.
My conclusion? Life in a family, at least our family is often messy, sometimes hard, but so worth living. We laugh and love every single day, and cherish the memories we make together, including the rough ones. 🙂
Here’s sweet, sick Daniel a few days before Christmas: