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Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

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This Christmas season was by far the most relaxing one we have had in a long time. Maybe ever. Usually I put a lot of pressure on myself (and Andrew) to pack in as many activities as possible during the holiday season and then I'm disappointed when I run out of time to do things or they just don't get done for some reason or another (usually my own procrastinating tendencies). But not this year. As much as I love my Christmas traditions and try milking every last drop of holiday spirit, I made myself take a step back this year and look at things from a different perspective. Now that Lily is 3 1/2 years old and mature enough to understand why we celebrate this holiday, I wanted to focus on slowing down and making things less commercially focused and more concentrated on Jesus, the reason we celebrate this holiday in the first place. We've actually become a little less commercially minded recently in other aspects of our family life but that's for another post.

I purchased a children's book about the nativity and Lily and I read it together several times and talked about the baby Jesus. We discussed why we celebrate Christmas whenever the topic came up, which was often since you can't go shopping or even to church without seeing a myriad of fancy decorations or hearing cheery holiday music. Another topic that was new for this year was the subject of Santa Claus. At first I thought Lily was still too young to notice that he was even an item and I wasn't planning on bringing him up if she didn't say anything. In case you haven't figure it out yet, we don't "do" Santa Claus at all. :) Then out of the blue one day she started talking about him so I just casually told her that he wasn't a real man but that some kids believe he is because their moms and dads tell them stories about how he is but we know that Daddy and Mommy are really the ones that buy presents and put them under the tree at Christmas time. After that whenever a kindly older person would ask Lily if she was excited to see what Santa was going to bring her for Christmas she would either tell them matter-of-factly that "he's not real" or she didn't feel like talking and would wait for me to answer. You wouldn't believe the nasty looks I got from some people after explaining that we don't believe in Santa! They must think I'm depriving my child of Christmas joy. Ha!

Christmas morning we awoke early and had morning cuddles in bed with two wiggly little ones. When it came time to sit near the tree and unwrap presents the kids had a whole other agenda and started playing with the wooden tool set that was sitting unwrapped under the tree for Reuben and ignored the rest of the gifts. This went on for a while and Andrew and I let them play while we enjoyed watching each other open the gifts we bought for each other. Eventually the kiddies became curious and noticed there were a few more gifts under the tree. Still once Lily opened one or two more presents she wasn't interested in any more. Reuben was happy still playing with the tools. They even took a breakfast break halfway through! Andrew was excited for the kids to open the wooden train tracks and cars we got them (I think he just wanted to play with them!) so he helped them open the box and set it up. By the time the kids were done opening presents and were settled in for some serious playtime there were still one or two small gifts under the tree waiting to be opened and it stayed that way till the end of the day.

I made a turkey with a few of the fixings for dinner that night, nothing super fancy, and Andrew's brother Kevin, his wife Marie and their son Seth came over to share it with us.

It is my sincere prayer that every Christmas in the future is just as calm and peaceful as this one was.

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Lily picked out a little fake tree at Walmart earlier in December and her and I went out one night in search of decorations for it. She selected everything pink she could find.

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She likes to take all the ornaments off and put them back on. Sometimes putting all of them on one branch. Oh and she tells Reuben "I can't let you touch my Christmas tree, you might break it." He looks all dejected when she says that. The boy really just wants a chance to pet it.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

17 Months

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Weight: 26 lbs. 2 oz.
Wears: 18 month sizes and some 24 month shirts
Shoe size: 6
{New} Words: ...
{New} ASL signs: eat
Teeth: 16

Brings me dress up skirts to wear so he can dance to songs just like his big sister.

Grunts when exerting energy like when he's carrying something. Its usually something super light like a stuffed animal but man he puts the effort in!

Figured out how Legos work and is now a champion tower stacker as you can see from the picture. :)

Knows where his eyes are.

Discovered peekaboo by himself one day while sitting in a Walmart shopping cart. I never taught him how to play it so he was so adorably cute when he discovered he could "hide" from me and then suddenly reveal himself much to his own delight.

When he doesn't have a car or truck he moves his hand up and down your arm or leg making car noises.

Pretends to talk on the phone. He doesn't say much but he listens intently.

Brings books for me to read to him. He doesn't sit through all of them except for a select few. I'm going to post about his favorites soon.

Discovered the joy of slides. One day at the park Andrew helped him go down one and there was no stopping the little guy after that. He loves them! And he's fearless but very confident when climbing up and going down. I just wish playgrounds didn't have 5 foot drops without any rails to make sure little ones don't fall off. If it wasn't for that I would totally let him at it all by himself but I have to be fairly close to make sure he doesn't fall and get hurt.

Has his own song now. When Lily was little I used to sing her the same song over and over and it became her song (Bushel And A Peck). Now Reuben has his own song. The kids were given a stuffed chicken at their joint birthday party back in June that, when a button is pushed, sings You Are My Sunshine. Reuben loves it. So that's what I sing to him when I'm rocking him before nap or bedtime. It absolutely suits him too. He's my little sunshine boy.

You know how I mentioned last month that he started sleeping through the night? That didn't last long. The fall time change switched things up completely. November 3rd was D-day for more night wakings and wake up times of sometimes 4:30 am. Let's just say this past month I have been a zombie. After several weeks of him waking up grumpy at 5 am to start the day I started bringing him into bed with me to nurse for a bit because I needed those last few minutes of rest before hitting the ground running. Well more like dragging. Then one day he fell asleep while nursing right next to me in bed (he hadn't done that since we were co-sleeping when he was less than a year old) and I realized that he was grumpy because he was still tired and not ready to get up at 4 or 5 am. So I worked on getting him to go back to sleep after the 5 am nursing session. There are still days where he won't nod off and so its time to start the day at 5 but its getting better.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Handel's Messiah

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In my humble opinion, nothing starts the Christmas season off right like a performance of Handel's Messiah. I hadn't been to one since I was back in college so I was super excited to find out that there was a free (!) performance at the Bob Carr in Orlando on December 1st. I remember going with my mom and sisters when I was younger. One time in particular stands out. It was a cold, crisp night in Maine. We bundled up and headed out to the Catholic church in town where the performance was being held. Not only was it Handel's Messiah but it was a sing-along as well so we were able to lift up our voices with the choir, only it was a slightly off key voice in my case. Also, I always get teary eyed when its time to stand and sing the Hallelujah Chorus. I hope that tradition never dies.

My sister-in-law Marie and our friend Charity went with me to the performance. We had an incredible time. We found great seats in the orchestra right section probably about 10 rows back from the stage. It was a good thing we were fairly close because the only fault I had with the performance was that the soloists weren't very loud. I felt bad for the people sitting in the balcony.

The Messiah Choral Society is performing in April for Easter and this time it'll be a sing-along. You'll find me there, belting it out with the best of them.

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In the spirit of the season enjoy this "silent" rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus.

Friday, December 06, 2013

A Mommy and Lily Date

Every year I try to avoid the chaos that is Black Friday by staying home and hanging out with my family doing relaxing stuff. But since Andrew was home from work that day I thought I'd take the opportunity to enjoy a little one-on-one time with Lily doing something we both!

First up was a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts (or Dumpkin Donuts as Lily calls it - ah! it gets Andrew and I ever single time!). Lily always asks if we can eat inside whenever we go but I always use the drive through since its so much easier than getting two little ones out and then back into the car while handling a box of donuts and the occasional coffee. This time though, we got to go in. She picked out a strawberry frosted donut, I got my regular maple frosted and we shared a chocolate milk. It was lovely.

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After our snack we drove to the mall to check out the Christmas trees at Kmart and play with the toys. They have the best toy section in town. Which isn't saying much for my town. Our fun was ruined pretty quickly though by the stressed out older female employee who calmly yelled at us (yes, that is totally possible to do) for playing ball in the aisle. Um we were actually chasing after an errant ball, not playing, but she was too busy to notice that so we left.

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Last place on our itinerary was Micheal's Arts & Crafts, one of Lily's favorite places, where we picked out snowmen foam stickers to buy and perused the ornament collection. While I looked through the baskets she designed a very elaborate and gorgeous foam structure.

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Then she found several Christmas mailboxes and had a blast pretending to find various things in them. I even got in on the action. :)

There needs to be more Mommy & daughter dates in our lives.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

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This year we traveled 2 hours north to visit Andrew's aunts and uncles on his mom's side for Thanksgiving. After making an entire dinner by myself last year it was nice not having to cook much. I did make a gluten-free pumpkin pie. So Andrew would have something sweet to eat. I cheated and bought a tub of pie dough in the freezer section at Publix. But I made the filling myself! And it was the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted if I do say so myself. Make one yourself if you want to impress your relatives or coworkers at your next Christmas party. Andrew ate almost the entire pie himself over the course of a couple of days so I'm calling it a win.

Uncle Donnie made all of the food at his house and carted it all over to the very large kitchen at the thrift store where we all got together. He recently remodeled the entire kitchen, built bathrooms and redid all of the wiring at the store so we were allowed free reign to have our family get together there. It was seriously the greatest place to hang out. After dinner the kids went out into the store area and played with all the toys sitting on the shelves. Reuben headed straight for the cars and trucks and Lily found some clothes to play dress up in.

After dinner, playtime for the kids and some good conversation time for the adults, we took a drive to visit Andrew's grandmother at the assisted living facility where she resides. Lily still talks about how "nice" her great-grandma is and how she gave Lily a little American flag. It will probably be one of the things she treasures forever.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

A Month of Thanks

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During the month of November I participated in a month of thanks challenge on Instagram. The challenge was initiated by Courtney Slazinik on her photography blog Click It Up a Notch (an awesome blog for snap happy moms, like me, by the way). Using the hashtag #30thankfuldays I collected 30 snapshots of what I was thankful for this past month. Click on the picture to go to my Instagram page to read/see more details for each photo.

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
~Ephesians 5:20~