Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

My Christmas wish list year was very brief: To not spend it in the hospital in labor and/or giving birth. As excited (and a bit anxious) as we all are for our baby's arrival, I really just wanted one last Christmas with Clare and Danny and a reliable family schedule. I am happy to say my wish was fulfilled!

Clare and Danny had lengthier lists that everyone nevertheless managed to exceed. Fortunately, they remained honestly appreciative of every gift, and watching them really made the day for the rest of us. Clare continues to astound us in the self-control department, too: We had settled on 7 a.m. as the appointed time for everyone to reconvene in the morning. I heard Clare use her bathroom at 5:30 a.m., and I knew full well that she did not go back to sleep. As they walked down the hill from their accommodations at our gracious neighbors' house, Karen and Brian reported that they saw her light on and her walking around her room. Yet she did not so much as crack her door open until Tim went to retrieve both kids. Suffice to say that she bounded down the stairs very eagerly once she was officially released!

For his part, Tim wowed us all with a new recipe for Christmas dinner that we will definitely prepare again: mustard seed-crusted prime rib roast. This, paired with the first white Christmas Atlanta has seen in 128 years, was just one of the many elements that made for a magical holiday.

We had a beautiful Christmas Eve, too. While mass in the school gymnasium is never ideal, but necessary unless we are willing to arrive two hours early to nab seats in the cathedral, it really was a nice affair. Every year we see more and more familiar faces, and this year we lucked out with Fr. Frank as our celebrant. From church we went home to prepare our annual feast of fried shrimp and twice-baked potatoes, followed by the kids hanging stockings, placing Baby Jesus in the manger (this year accompanied by Clare on the piano), and preparing cookies for Santa. There really is nothing like tradition.

We are so grateful to Karen, Brian, Donna and Larry for making the trip to join us for a very merry Christmas. Now we're looking forward to a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Last Shot

I hadn't planned to take the kids to visit Santa this year. While they enjoyed their visit last year well enough, it didn't seem like that big of a deal to them. Between Jason (our "Elf on the Shelf") and the lists they wrote, I figured we were covered. Danny, however, did not agree. So a few days ago when he mentioned what he was going to tell Santa, I realized that he expected to visit him again. Great. He was really looking forward to this, too, and I could tell it was important to him. So I gritted my teeth, prepared to be jostled among the hoards and stand in line for a long while, all in the name of Christmas spirit.

Fortunately, we lucked out and got to the local mall's jolly elf at a time when there was just one little girl ahead of us. By this time, though she was previously indifferent as to whether or not she spoke with Santa, Clare had decided she needed to chat with him as well. It can't hurt to cover your bases, right? Particularly when an iPod is on the line. They opted to go together, making the process all the more speedy. Danny even presented Santa with one of his increasingly prolific Star Wars drawings, and it was nice that Santa had the time to ask Danny explain it to him.

I think both kids walked away satisfied, though they didn't seem blown away or anything. I guess it just struck them as a necessary step on the way to Christmas morning joy. Once it was accomplished, they were primarily interested in lunch. The apples don't fall far from the tree.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

In response to a certain mother's relentless nagging for a new blog post, I present you with Danny's version of his favorite Christmas carol this year:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Showered With Love

I was reminded (again) of the many wonderful people and blessings in my life this past Sunday, when Amy B., Amy P., and Jennifer hosted a lovely baby shower for me. From darling invitations to a delicious (and gorgeous) spread of food, not to mention the marvelous bounty of gifts from the guests, it was the kind of event that makes a person feel very special, and very loved.

When I first received the invitation, I noticed that it was addressed to both me and Clare. Until that point I had never thought of having Clare there, but I instantly knew that it was a terrific idea. In hindsight, it would not have been the same without her. She reveled in the whole idea, and had so much fun getting dressed up for the occasion. As we arrived, she quickly found her niche, too: Explaining the rules of the game (everyone wearing a diaper pin necklace, with a list of four words/phrases you were forbidden to say; if you did, and someone caught you, you lost your necklace.) As we all know, Clare loves rules, and she also loved wandering the room, eavesdropping on the chatty ladies to try and catch someone speaking the verboten words. Needless to say (with a little help from sneaky people like Steph), Clare won the game hands down, and was pleased as punch about it, too!

In between, though, she did me proud with her ladylike manners and helpful ways. I try not to get my hopes up too much, but I think it bodes well for me when the baby arrives.

Thank you to everyone who made the day so fun, and who supplied us with so many darling and needed items!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tree Trimming Time

As usual, the Christmas season is rolling by at a quick clip. This past weekend it was time to make our annual trek to Home Depot to pick out our tree, which we decorated later in the evening. All four of us really look forward to this tradition, especially since it's accompanied by our tasty buffet. Clare and Danny didn't take the decorating quite as seriously as last year, as they were distracted by some game of their invention. However, since it kept them happily occupied without parental intervention, Tim and I were content to be the consistent trimmers. There was a certain amount of excitement for hanging the ornaments we bought at Wilderness Lodge in Disney - the trip that continues to crop up in conversation. One of the reasons why the ornaments we buy on vacations are typically my favorites!

We are very pleased with the results, too. We found our tree very quickly, but judging by its straight stature and lack of gaping holes, I don't think we made a hasty decision at all. We put the spare tree shopping time to good use, too, and picked up a beautiful lighted angel for our front yard. She's struggled a bit these past few windy nights, but the overall effect is quite nice.

After the tree was finished, Clare asked if we could sing Christmas carols. At my suggestion, she accompanied us on piano, which was very sweet if not professional quality. Hopefully this will become an annual tradition, too!

And so we have one more event under our belt, as Christmas and Baby Girl draw nearer!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making His List

As much as I love to listen to Christmas music and the merry sounds of the season, of late there has been a much sweeter music to my ears. Over the past few weeks, Danny has been on a phonetic streak, sounding out words right and left and truly entering the world of reading. I definitely credit his teacher and school with this, and I also applaud Danny for an academic enthusiasm that, if I'm really being honest, never would have imagined him possessing.

The cutest example thus far took place just a couple of days ago. As we put the Thanksgiving decorations away and began the Christmas transformation of the house, both kids asked when they should make their lists. "The sooner, the better!" Later that same day, Danny got himself a piece of paper and announced that he was going to go make his list. I assumed I'd be hearing from him shortly thereafter for some help. Not so. A while later, as I was walking past the playroom, I heard him sounding out "Playmobil," "LEGOs," and "book." He was totally in the zone, and happy to work independently.

As you can see from his list, his fine motor skills haven't quite caught up with his mind. At the same time, I really appreciate that he opted to do his best, on his own. The editor in me cringes that he spelled "book" B-U-C, but the mom in me understands where my four-year-old arrived at this spelling. I really am very proud of him, as I also wonder just where my baby boy went?