Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

Our Top Ten of 2011 (with a couple of details blocked out for privacy):

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

This year was another wonderful holiday season for our family.  I count it as a blessing that everyone in our families are healthy this year and we were able to celebrate the season together.  This is something I used to take for granted but as I get older I consider it a blessing indeed.  

The girls are at the age where they are familiar with the Christmas season and look forward to it all - the goodies to eat, the parties with family and friends, singing Christmas carols, picking out gifts for others, thinking of gifts they would like to receive, sitting on Santa's lap, celebrating Jesus' birthday, looking at the Christmas lights at all the houses, etc.  There really is so much that makes this season special and they are really tuned into it this year!

Julia had a day project at school to draw and write about their favorite holiday tradition.  She wrote her favorite thing is going to MomMom and PopPop's house for Christmas Eve and seeing all her cousins and family and eating dinner there and seeing Santa visit the house.  It warms my heart that she is more focused on spending time with family than the presents of Christmas morning.

Each year the Cochlear Implant group at Emma's hospital has a Christmas party with a visit from Santa.  Emma fell quick and hard in LOVE with Santa!  She was squealing and screaming and kicking her legs to get over to him.  We had no idea she would react this way because last year she wasn't so happy with Santa.  Each encounter with Santa during the season got the same reaction - lots of love!  I could swear that I sometimes see sunbeams shooting out of Emma's head and eyes.  She is so expressive and full of happiness and sunshine and it is so hard to feel sadness when you are in her company.  It's an amazing gift that she has and she is more than willing to share it with everyone she meets!  I can assure you that Emma's reaction to Santa over the season had more than a few people smiling wider than usual.

This year we continued some old traditions and made a few new ones.

  • The girls and I made another gingerbread house.  We use a pre-made kit because I don't really like to bake all that much.  This year we finished the kit in record time - our attention span for it was a bit less than last year.  Emma's school Christmas party had graham cracker houses for us to decorate and the girls really seemed to enjoy that!  They each had a house to decorate and the teacher had a sheet of paper made up with the symbols for each of the candy on it so Emma could choose what she wanted to use to decorate.  I loved that idea!  I think I'll do that for our family gingerbread house next year if Emma doesn't have another communication system in place by then.  This meant that our gingerbread house count for this year was a whopping 3.
  • We did a lot of family movie nights where we watched the Christmas movies on TV.  We turned out the lights, left on the Christmas tree lights and spread some blankets and pillows on the floor, added a bit of snacks and enjoyed the night together.  These nights are some of our best times together.
  • The girls and I attended the sing at the senior center again this year.  My Mom's group from when Julia was born still gets together frequently and one of the girls coordinates visits to the senior center that her mother-in-law attends.  The seniors love seeing the kids, the kids LOVE to perform for the audience, and there is a bunny there that gets lots of extra attention from all the kids.  This is such a great activity for the children and it really is a great way to put the spirit of the season into action.
  • Julia helped me bake Christmas cookies again this year.  She gets better and better every year and is quite creative in her colors and shapes.  She is also a master taste-tester of the cookies which could be why we didn't have too many extra to share with friends this year.  Did I mention that I don't love to bake?  Well, I do like it but only in moderation and when you pair this with a house of taste-testers doesn't give me lots of extra cookies for sharing outside of our get-togehters.   The cookies were very good again this year and next year I'm thinking of picking a signature cookie and making extra of that kind only and sending them out to friends.  Here's to hoping!

  • On Christmas Eve we laid out cookies and a note for Santa, sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn and then went to the same mass with my parents and headed back to there house for a light dinner.  We sang some Christmas carols and a few of the girls played some carols on the piano.  On Christmas day we did karaoke with the new machine that Mary got from Santa.  It was great fun even if it wasn't so great on the ears.  Also, each of the children performed after dinner.  There was some piano playing, flute playing, irish dancing, and standing.  It really is nice to see everyone showcase their talents!  

  • Chris' parents came over for Christmas breakfast and it was so nice!  The girls loved showing off their presents and playing with MomMom and PopPop.  It made for a very nice morning and we hope to have them over again.  

PopPop loved his gift so much he actually hugged the box!  Horray!
Happy Birthday, Jesus!  I hope we manage to keep the spirit of the season alive throughout the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Overheard in our house

If you were a mouse in our house, you might have overheard some of the following:

  • Julia:  "Mom, I made you this Menorah.  I made it as a surprise for you and it's very special.  I made it for you because I knew you always wanted a Menorah."  Me:  "Thanks - it's the best Menorah I've ever seen!"  What I didn't say was that we are Catholic so I never even thought about getting a Menorah, but if she made one special for me because she knew I always wanted one then it's my most favorite Menorah of all time!  And she was so observant to realize that is the one decoration that doesn't show up in our house at Christmas time.  
  • Julia:  "When Santa brings my coach..."  Me:  "How do you know Santa is going to bring the Coach?"  Julia:  "Because I already put my order in with him.  Remember my note?  It had the 3 things I wanted on it."  Oh, to be so sure of yourself!
  • Julia:  "Emma, that is NOT nice" sob, sob, loud sob.  Me:  "That's right Emma, Santa is watching you and you don't want to get on his naughty list."  Emma:  hysterical laughter, more hysterical laughter, falling over from laughing and laughing some more.  Heard right after Emma grabbed Julia's hair and pulled it during a game of Crazy Eights.  I don't think Emma did it on purpose, but she sure does love to watch others cry and thinks it's the funniest thing ever!  It does not endear her to the person crying, however ;-)
  • Julia, Chris and Emma munching on Christmas cookies.  Emma crying where hers is gone and demanding another.  Chris yelling at Finnegan to stop licking Emma to get all her crumbs.  Julia and Chris just sneak into the kitchen and take more and I wonder why it's taking me so long to build up a stash of Christmas cookies this year.

Lots of fun happening around our house this time of year.  Both girls are now done school until next year so we have lots of plans to sleep late, hang out with friends, and take some trips to the local museums.

Christmas from years past.  How is time going by so quickly?  My babies are growing into lovely little girls.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time and some random nonsense

The older I get the quicker the time seems to be going by.  I see the girls growing up right before my eyes and want the time to go a bit slower so we can make the most of these years.  I truly feel like these past few years with the girls have been the best of my life and I think there is something magical about seeing the girls grow up and come into their own a bit {really, they are still only 5 and 4 so plenty of time to come into their own}.  Each day I feel a bit of magic.

And I also feel some of the not so magic.  You see, there are the pesky loads of laundry, never ending housework, grocery store runs, cooking, etc.  That stuff is not so magical but still necessary.  I get it done but my house is never in perfect order.  If you stop over - even announced - it's likely that many things will be out of place and there will be dog hair all around.  It's just the way we roll around here and I won't apologize for it at all.  I vacuum every night but our beloved dog still seems to have more hair to spread around the next day and the next day and the next day and we just don't really notice it around this house anymore.  Each night I pick up all our clutter and the next day it is back again.  This is sooooo not a Martha Stewart picture-perfect house.  I've learned to let go of a lot of things now that I'm a mother.  My old house was usually 99% tidy before husband and kids, but it never felt magical.  Our life these days feels magical and that magic includes a well lived in house!

The other day I was listening to a tv show - while completing some non-magical tasks such as unloading the dishwasher or peeling potatoes - and they were saying how it's awful that some people don't even sign their own Christmas cards letting the company that makes them sign them instead.  There is a lot of that type of messaging out there these days.  Trying to make people live up to an ideal.  And I just think this type of messaging is utter nonsense!  Not to mention that it was stated by people who do not have any little kids at home.

Many days I fall into bed utterly exhausted with a back that feels like it worked more than it was meant to work (for all the silly people who ask my how my back doesn't hurt after moving Emma around all day, it does!) but there is always a smile on my face.  Because no matter the season, no matter how busy the day was, I took time to share some special moments with my family.  To do that I sometimes take the "easy way out" -  including sending out cards with carefully selected photos (taken by me) that was pre-signed by a computer and the envelopes pre-addressed.  I didn't include our typical yearly update letter and instead added a sticker to the envelope telling people about this blog so they can get their update here.  I'm totally fine with this short-cut and have no problem with it at all!

Let's stop listening to the wild media messages and reclaim the magic of the season.   Spend time with our family, let our houses be a bit messy, make crafts, read Christmas books, take a drive around town to look at all the lights, go to church to listen to the carolers, visit with others.  This is how I want to spend my time and I want others to do the same.  So, this year if you send us a Christmas card and it is not hand signed with a message to us, I'll be happy to read your card and know you thought of us at Christmas amongst all the other things you had to do including experiencing some holiday magic with your family.

*****And I should now write a disclaimer that Chris thinks I shouldn't watch some shows because they just make me mad.  I think I'll be taking his advice and staying away from such shows for a while.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We've been busy around here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Love You {Finnegan}

Emma has been very quiet lately.  She used to make more vocalizations in the past than she does now.  I am not particularly excited about the quiet time.  I prefer chatter.  Lots and lots of chatter.  And the pitter patter of little feet.  I don't get much of either from Emma, but I'm still keeping the Faith that both will come.  I've pretty much wrapped my head around the fact that Emma will likely use an alternative to oral speech to communicate and that she might not walk.  Walking to me isn't all that important, but the communication means everything to me.

Emma seems to be the most vocal with her dog.  She love Finnegan and Finney is so tolerant of Emma.  After all, Emma usually tries to show her love by giving her a big love bite ;-)  Today Emma crawled over to Finney and took a rest on her belly.  I caught it on camera and asked her if she loves Finney and then told her to say I love you.  She smiled and then made an approximation of I Love You.  I love it!  She's never made the approximation of I love you for me, but she has done it several times for Finney.  I'll take it.

Here she is in all her cuteness.  Enjoy!  And listen close at around the 16 second mark ;-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Catching Up

Nothing fancy tonight, just a bit of what has been happening here in bullet list since I'm in kind of a relaxed, lazy mood tonight ;-)

  • Julia and I were driving to a birthday party she had yesterday and we were talking about how her favorite subjects at school are the monkey bars and P.E. (gym).  I decided to ignore the fact that monkey bars are not a subject and I asked her what they did in PE this week.  She said they played soccer both days so I asked her if she liked soccer and she said it's not her favorite.  I asked her what her favorite sport is and she thought about it for a while and then said very definitively "Bocce Ball!"  I couldn't help but let out a few good for your soul laughs.  She joined me in laughing and kept telling me that Bocce ball is definitely her favorite.  I didn't know she like bocce ball so much, we have a set we used a lot at the old house and we'll have to find a spot around here that has enough of a lawn to play it.  Yes, she isn't going to be a great athlete.  Dancing is more her gig.
  • After I wrote the post on Emma's Tobii eye gaze trial mentioning that we might want to test the Eco2 next, I received a note the very next day from her SLP saying they wanted to talk to me about the Eco2 and that they think we should trial that system, too, and see which works best for Emma.  I SOOOO love how in sync I am with Emma's speech therapist at this school!
  • The weather here has been unseasonably warm.  We went and purchased our tree today and it was in the 60s.  We were even debating if we needed a jacket or not!  Last year we had the girls in 2 layers, hats, gloves, and boots to get our tree.  The wind was whipping and we were so cold and a highlight of the day was the hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows afterwards.  Today we found a truly mom and pop tree farm, had our pick the 3 trees they had that were around 6' tall (seriously!  that is not an exaggeration! this farm seemed to really love the 3' tree...), and came home and had some water with ice in it.  Of the two, I prefer the warmer weather but I wouldn't mind something in between.
  • Julia and I decorated Emma's wheelchair for Christmas.  It has tinsel and battery operated Christmas lights.  Emma was over the moon happy with the chair and couldn't stop laughing and squealing when she saw it.  It made my Momma heart feel good to see her reaction!  Julia then got a little sad.  We eventually got it out of her that she was sad because didn't have any lights.  I told her I would get her some and that made her happy.  The next day I bought her a strand of the battery operated lights. We decorated her doll's stroller and then we all went to the mall that night.  Both strollers sporting lights and Emma's with the additional garland.  We had so many people smile and comment on how they loved the lights!  It was so refreshing to walk around the mall and only get positive attention from people.  Not one person said God Bless You to me!  Believe it or not I usually get lots of well meaning??? people coming up randomly to me and Emma and saying that.  For the record, I HATE it when they do that!!!  So, I consider that a great trip to the mall.  Plus, I loved watching the girls enjoying the lights on the strollers.  
Lots of photos to share and I'll post some this week.  Now, off to work on my Christmas to do list!