Sunday, December 29, 2013

Here's to you, 2013!

Our year in review! It has been a fantastic 2013. I know it's not quite over yet, but I wanted to get a jump on making the collages because they take some time. The biggest highlight of our year was welcoming Jackson into the world in February. He is brought so much joy to our lives! He is a little trouble maker with a killer smile and a happy personality. Watching him grow has been awesome!

Lily turned 2 this year. She transformed this year from a toddler to a kid. She is talking up a storm, singing, and dancing, and really just enjoying her life. She is curious about everything, and always has something crazy to say. She has had many big adjustments this year-- she became a big sister, got rid of her pacifier, and moved into a big girl bed (and she is currently learning how to use the potty). It's hard to believe she will be 3 in 2014! It seems like we were just welcoming her home!

I don't know what 2014 will have in store for us; however, whatever it may bring, I know this for certain: that we will face each joy, each sorrow, each change with strength and love.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Our Winter Break

Yes, I realize that break isn't over, but I feel the impending sense of school on the horizon, and, while I have some time, figured I would update about winter break. From the previous post, you can see that we had a lovely Christmas. Lily and Jack have more toys than a toy store and enough clothing to last them through adulthood. We saw both sides of the family, stayed up past our bedtime, and watched a lot of Charlie Brown Christmas (which is far better than the Caillou Christmas of last year).

The toys that have emerged as the favorites (at least, for today):
For Lily: Fisher Price Click-Clack horses castle, a Melissa and Doug house with keys and doorbells, puzzles, her Play-Doh ice cream maker, a Melissa and Doug stamp set, and her drum/music set
For Jack: sensory balls, Fisher Price Cars track, Fisher Price Dog plush, and anything he can chew

We have seen the Symphony of Lights, visited the Train Garden (Lily loved this), had fun at a Christmas party, ate a lot of delicious food (crab cakes, shrimp, pastas, roast beef, cookies, cakes, etc...), and enjoyed family time. All-in-all, a very successful Christmas. I can't wait until next year!

In other news, Lily used the potty today...for the WHOLE day! Yes! You read correctly! She peed AND pooped on the potty with only one half accident. How can an accident be half? Well, she saw she was peeing, asked Grammy what she was doing, Grammy told her she was peeing, she got up, and finished on the potty. She did need new clothing, but it was her only accident. She seems excited about wearing big girl underwear, so I am hoping that by the end of the break she will be fully potty trained.

Also, Lily and Jack have become siblings who interact, and it's basically the cutest thing ever. Jack finds his sister extremely hilarious and constantly laughs at her. She has taken to treating him like a puppy and runs around saying, "come on Jackson! Follow me!" And he does. He crawls just as fast as he can, and she changes direction and he turns and crawls toward her. She hugs him, says "I love you!", and kisses him. When he pulls up on furniture she tells him to be careful. It is so cute.

Jack has been changing a lot over break. He is finally, really, sitting up very well. He is always army crawling into places he shouldn't be. He pulls up on the furniture and is cruising around the room. He can even stand by himself for a few seconds. I think walking might come sooner than I anticipated! He also has 8 teeth. By this age, Lily had 0. Crazy!

Anyway, that is our break so far. I am sure we will have more adventures over the next four days. Also, I need to grade or plan or something. Crap.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lily at 30 months!

She's 30 months she is officially 2.5 years old...and this month Lily loves...

1. ...making arts and crafts.
2. ...turning basically any stick and surface into drums.
3. ...french fries.
4. ...being a ballerina.
5. ...wearing her ballerina flats (and not her sneakers).
6. ...talking! Girlfriend has a million things to say lately.
7. ...all things Christmas (except Santa, he is scary).
8. ...snow.
9. ...Charlie Brown Christmas (she can recite many of the Snoopy scenes...).
10. ...and, of course, mama and dada!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where Santa Lives

For most little kids Santa lives in the North Pole. A magical workshop sits in the middle of a snowy plain. Stars shine, Christmas lights adorn every evergreen tree, and snow is always lightly falling. At some point in each of our lives, Santa becomes less and less real. He fades away, a distant memory from our idyllic childhood fantasy of Old St. Nick.

As a parent, I have been faced with the enormous task of playing Santa. I want my children to believe in the reality of Santa Claus, and possibility that magic does exist in our world. It is no easy task. Making sure I don't slip up when I talk about presents; trying to have our little elf run around keeping tabs on the behaviors of the kids (ok, that part is fun...); making sure we write a letter; planning out the feast of cookies and milk to leave of Christmas Eve (also, making sure we have cookies in the house for Christmas Eve...)...there is a lot of careful attention and planning that happens to make Santa work. Lily has already told us she wants bubbles, a Jessie doll (Toy Story), a car, and some dinos. All of this things are hiding in the basement in a suitcase. This year is the first year she really, truly understands that Santa will come, and that he will leave presents under the tree. She told us she only wants "2 presents" and that they should be "blue presents". She will get more than two, and I am not sure that they will be blue, but I know she will be very happy on Christmas morning.

So, as I was saying, at some point, Santa no longer lives in the North Pole. I know, at some point, I will need to face the questions of Santa's reality because Lily and Jack won't believe anymore. I realize that. If they are like my brother, their skepticism will begin at age 3, when, like Tim, they will say that Santa should leave the presents on the front porch because strangers are not allowed in the house (and why would we want a stranger in the house anyway?).

This question, though, is an enormous one. Where does Santa live? Is he real? I think, after careful research, I have an answer.

No, Santa isn't any one real person. That is what makes him so magical. Santa is bigger than just one being. He is bigger than you or me. Santa is so big because he lives in our hearts. He lives in the hearts of mommies and daddies everywhere. It's a magic that lets us know that miracles are possible, that love is transcending, and that goodness will prevail. It is a love that goes beyond presents, and toys, and decorations. It gives people hope. It tells them that things will be ok. It reminds them that love always wins. That is what makes Santa's magic.

And, I do have proof of this magic.

It lives in every home on Christmas morning.

It lives in the hearts of a high school's faculty, staff, and students as they prepare gifts for families that cannot afford to buy their own gifts for the holiday.

It lives in the hearts of this airline staff, who pulled off their own Christmas miracle.

I know that Santa is real. Maybe not the real of living in the North Pole, but real in many other ways. I know he exists when I hear Lily's laughter. When she declares, "Merry Christmas, everybody! Ho, ho, ho!" in her "deep" Santa voice. I know he's real when Jack's face lights up with wonder at the snow, or the Christmas lights. He is real.

I hope everyone finds Santa's magic this holiday season. For teachers, I am sure these past two days have done just that.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Last night, after the kids went to bed, I took a few pictures of the Christmas decorations around the house. I wanted to play around with our new camera, and needed a picture of our tree. So, here is our Christmas, so far:

Lily and I made a gingerbread house!

Our table.

We love CB Christmas!

Our tree

Tree and stockings (Jack's is in production...)

CB ornament that Lily LOVES

I have a lot of CB ornaments...

Nativity painted by my great-grandmother (I love Nativity Scenes...I think I have about 6 around the house)

Lily's version of the Nativity- the baby mice with the farm animals and Jesus, Mary and Joseph with more mice, and then the wise men...

Love these little mice!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I have been meaning to start this post for a few days. We had a really lovely Thanksgiving break; we were able to relax a bit before the push toward Christmas and winter break. On Thursday, we went to Jefferson to have Thanksgiving lunch with Tom's family. The kids were super well behaved, Lily tried turkey (a huge accomplishment), and Jack ate basically everything else. We had a nice time seeing family and enjoyed some yummy food! That evening we celebrated a win over Pittsburgh...which is always a nice way to cap off a day!

Friday, I did a bit of black Friday shopping with my pal, Sarah. We hit up the sales at Carter's, Osh'Gosh, and Stride Rite (we are super exciting people who only shop for our children). We had fun scoring some deals on kid's stuff. Later that evening, Tom, Lily, Jack, and I headed to my parents' house for Thanksgiving Part II. More delicious food and a nice evening with family.

The rest of the weekend was spent putting up Christmas decorations. Lily is obsessed with Christmas lights, and she understands Santa, presents, reindeer, and other Christmas things, so I am excited to watch her curiosity and wonder as the season unfolds. I set up about 5 Nativity scenes (I LOVE Nativity scenes...), one of which is a kid one for Lily. She immediately took the Holy Family, animals, and wise men and put them in a tin that she carries around. I am not sure what this means, but I hope it means she will be as fascinated with the Nativity as I was (and am!).

And now, a few pictures of our weekend...