Sunday, January 28, 2018

Christmas is HERE!!!

As I stated in the Christmas Eve post, Brandon and I were both up late setting up for Christmas morning.  The kids both woke up about 6:30 if I remember correctly.  It could have even been later.  Much better than the 4:00am wake ups of the past.  

The day started with a chat at the top of the stairs.  Each child was getting a "big" gift, but one child's gift needed to be set up and we needed to prepare them for the size difference they would notice.  T had her "how to show appreciation for gifts" sheet ready to go.  Both kids decided to change PJ's so they could "match" for opening presents. 

M and T: Mom talked to us forever!

Then the kids had to wait for Brandon to get in place downstairs before they could go into the family room.

M and T: We were SOOOO excited!

The first look!

M: I was so excited I fainted.  T: Since M fainted, I did too!

Then in torture of all tortures, we forced the kids to stand by the presents for a photo before they were allowed to open them.  Traditionally M "needs" his presents to be on the side closest to the family room entrance, but he was understanding of the situation.

M and T:  We were SO excited!!!

Stocking are always opened first!  I am an expert stocking packer and can manage to get a lot in the stockings.  I have learned that I tend to accidentally over buy stocking stuffers.  This is a place that I can easily overspend.  Luckily I pick up a lot of fun things at Dollar Tree. 

Besides the stockings, the kids each get four gifts from us.  We do the classic "want/need/wear/read" technique and it works well. The kids also get to open presents from local "grandparents" and friends on Christmas morning.

T: Smell it, it really smells like strawberries!

T: It looks like a sucker, but it is really hair ties!

M: I love a good brainteaser puzzle!

T: Curt and Deb got me this cool sticker face book!

M: I read Luke 2 in my REAL Bible!
You will notice that T changed clothes while opening gifts!  She got some great dance outfits and needed to try them on!

T: I couldn't wait to see what was in here!

We got T a 9 Cube storage unit in pink that we are calling a "Barbie House."  We love that it is solid and that she can use it for more than just Barbie stuff.
T: My very own Barbie House to keep in my room!

M: I wonder what this is!
M: Wait, is it a real Basketball hoop thing with a real buzzer? !?!?!

About fourteen seconds after the picture above, M and Brandon were in the basement setting it up!

M: This is SO COOL!

T: I like it too!

While the kids were busy playing Basketball I prepped the candied bacon (bacon that you bake with maple syrup) and took a quick shower.  I timed it perfectly to flip the bacon and then dry my hair.  We all enjoyed a tasty breakfast of eggs and bacon.  The bacon was so good that I was almost crying when I tried it.  I HIGHLY recommend this tasty option for the next time you are craving bacon. After breakfast Brandon took his shower while the kids tried out T's new hair chalk.  

I need to just write a bit about the hair chalk.  It was awful!  It is colored grease. I thought it would be a chalk texture... you know... like the name!  Nope!  I purchased it for my daughter... WHY?!?!  The colors do show up on my kids hair so that is a plus, but the texture left behind is just gross. Fun idea, but I would not endorse this product!

M: Like my blue hair? 

T:  I can't wait to have pink hair!
After the hair makeover I went out and shoveled the sidewalk and driveway while the kids played more Basketball in the basement.  On a typical Christmas we would just spend the rest of the day playing and relaxing, but this year we had another exciting round of presents coming our way!  

My family arrived around 9:00 I think.  M was eager to show everyone his new gift!

M: I think Grandma Kathy liked it!

After the kids showed off all their new things they were VERY eager to open another round of presents.  
T: We had so many presents to open.  Cousin A was with us and that was fun too!

M: A book about drawing dogs!  This is awesome! 
T: I love it!  Can I keep it in my room???
Yay!  My mom was taking photos.  One of Brandon!!

M got lots of art/drawing supplies for Christmas.  He got a really cool book of set by step instructions for  sketches of many things in his stocking and a real sketch pad in his "need" gift, along with some other art stuff.  He also got more sketch pads from some friends along with an awesome pencil and paint set.  He was thrilled.  My parents gave him a book that taught how to draw dogs.  He spent a lot of the day sketching!

M: These are my first dogs ever!
After the presents were opened the girls were playing happily and the adults were talking and M was happily sketching a Santa.

T: I let A wear one of my new dance dresses.  It is still a little big for me!
M: I had no idea that sketching was this much fun. 
M: It takes a lot of focus and concentration. 

My parents gave me a very special gift this year.  I have been asking my dad about making me some benches for a while.  We have large groups of people here for potlucks and benches are great space savers.  You can fit three on a bench vs. two on chairs.  They also take up less space and allow more room for people to move between tables.  Anyway, my dad decided to make me a very special bench for Christmas.  My dad spent several months taking apart a granary at my grandma's house.  The granary was very old and used pegs instead of nails!  He was able to rescue and sell some of the barn wood beams to people eager to try out their pinterest skills. He used pieces of this special granary wood to make me a bench.  I know it took him so many, many hours to complete.  I feel so blessed by this gift.  The significance of the wood and the time my dad spent with it make it one of the most special things I own.  Thanks Dad!

I am so thankful for him... and the new bench. 
M finished his Santa drawing as we were taking the above photo.  He came and showed us.  I love the photo below as my dad and I check out the finished product.

M: So, what do you think? 

M: They loved it!

By 11:15 my parents brother and niece were on their way back home. Our niece A was eager to see her mom and excited to celebrate her 4th Birthday on the 26th! 

After everyone left we picked things up a bit and ate some very tasty leftover meatballs for lunch.  After lunch the kids watched Polar Express while I did laundry and packing for our Christmas Roadtrip. 

After the movie T was eager to take her "little bed" (toddler bed) out of her room so that her Barbie house could go in its place.  This was a big decision for our daughter and we were very proud of her.

This is really happening!

T: I was a great helper!

T: I couldn't believe how much space was in my room without that bed in there!
M: While T took apart her bed, I was painting my Santa! 
T and I spent a long time in her room setting everything up.  It was all quite thrilling for her! Brandon and M spent A LOT of time in the basement playing Basketball.  Brandon said that M would hug him between games and thank him for the gift!  Such sweet and joyful memories!

M: The games go very fast!

M: Daddy gives me a little head start!

M: I loved my new gift!

We had a very good Christmas Day.  There were some hard times here and there, but there was much laughter and much joy.  Every year I am SO VERY THANKFUL for our Christmas Day at home.  Our season leading up to Christmas is so taxing and this year was especially taxing.  It was such a gift to our family to have the day together.  I was still up pretty late folding clothes and packing food etc, but not as late as Christmas Eve.  

It might take a few days, but the Christmas Roadtrip post is in the works and will be up soon!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Post in progress...

It has been a couple of weeks since I did a photo post.  Big posts are always daunting for me.  It is fun to sit down and do a short post, but when I know the post will take me several days to do I avoid it and procrastinate.  This doesn't help get the post completed or help me psychologically.  You see, blogging is such an emotionally healing activity for me.  Putting things off and allowing things to pile up isn't emotionally healing.  Therefore, even though it will take a few days... I am off to tackle the Christmas posts!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

M's Big News

If you have followed our trauma story though the years, you know that our M holds a lot of anxiety within him.  This anxiety is very powerful at night and has resulted in me sleeping with him for years and years.  This Saturday a miracle occurred.  M slept on his own in his room for the first time in several years!!!!!  He even got up in the night and used the bathroom... ON HIS OWN!  These are HUGE milestones for our family.  We are so proud of him and this new level of independence and trust.  We are thankful that we stayed the course with him and that in a time that was not our time he has transitioned to this new sleeping arrangement without rage, panic or fear, but with joy and confidence.  I even heard him tell someone yesterday that he is sleeping better than he did when I was in the room.  We thank God for this answered prayer!  We also must acknowledge that his dose of anxiety meds was increased this month.  We know this could have helped contribute to his confidence in sleeping alone.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family on this trauma parenting journey.  We have had a very challenging month and we treasure each prayer and we are thankful for moments to share praises like the above.

Posts about our Christmas Day and our Christmas Roadtrip are in the works, but they might not be published the next couple of days.  We will see how productive I can be.  There are lots of photos to caption and stories to recount.  I am excited to share them with you very soon!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Christmas Eve Continues...

Christmas Eve was such a full day.  It is amazing how looking back on the day and working on this blog post is causing my heart to beat a bit faster.  A very light snow fell all day.  It made the day feel extra special! As I have been writing this post snow has been falling again and T commented "it looks like Christmas."  Indeed it does!  

As soon as the Christmas program was over I bolted home to get cooking.  I browned the meatballs and made the gravy and got it in the oven.  They need to cook for 2 full hours and our meal time is pretty strict due to the afternoon festivities.  Browning the meatballs took quite some time.  Thankfully there were many adults here to entertain the kiddos and help with the last minute meal prep.  

This year Charissa's kids went with their grandparents after the program so they didn't join us for the meal.  Having the program the same day meant that the sanctuary had to be reset for Christmas Eve.  It was nice for Charissa to have those hours before lunch to get everything ready for the 4:00 and 6:00 services. 

While I was in the kitchen, the kids were putting on costumes.  The girls mermaids also got into the make-up. 
3.5 and 5.5 and about the same size!

Cousin Lovin!!!

M: I protected the mermaids with my super powers!

After a round of dress-up it was time to wrestle and play with Uncle Bret... always a crowd favorite with this bunch!

M and T: We got to do this at Thanksgiving and Christmas!!!

We ended up eating about 12:30.  Thickening gravy without corn starch or flour is a trick for sure, but we managed and everything turned out tasty and almost all M friendly!  We had meatballs and gravy, mashed potatoes, my Grandma's corn and pickles, olives, sweet potato casserole that tastes like dessert, strawberry/avocado/spinach salad, watermelon, fresh pineapple and dessert.  My mom made cheese cake and pumpkin pie for M and I!  We all had happy tummies after eating!

Passing was tricky with the two girls sitting next to each other. 

The best meal of the year!!!

After the meal Brandon, David and Charissa scooted over to church to get ready for the services.   The kitchen was cleaned up and we had some extra time so we decided to go bowling.  The kids had fun together and my brother bowled a very good game.  M got to play the car game after we bowled.  Suddenly we realized we better head home quickly so we could get ready for the services!

T: Let me just try and program this...

T: It is hard to get things lined up!

M: It was fun to play the car game with Uncle Bret. 

The church was reset after the Christmas program and it looked beautiful!  

Almost like a cozy home. 
The other side of the stage

The service was lovely and impactful as always.  Everyone uses their gifts so beautifully as we celebrate the holy night. It was very special to have our family with us this year! After the services we took pictures as usual.  The kids are really into silly pictures right now.

Merry Christmas 2017!
Silly Christmas pose!

Silly Mother/Daughter pose. I was supposed to be a bunny.

My parents!  It was a blessing to have them share Christmas Eve with us!

Charissa and Shelly's kiddos... plus cousin A!

After the first service we came home and ate and then my family went back to the hotel and the kids and I went to the second service.  I was quite emotional during the service.  I was very thankful for our church family and the way we walk the journey of life and faith together.

T: L and I were totally over Christmas Eve!!!  

Once we got home we got the kids to bed and went into full-on work mode.  The house was a big mess and very disorganized.  Brandon had to build one of T's presents and much present set up needed to happen.  I had to figure out breakfast and clean up the house.  I also had to move all the gifts from my parents to the front room so that everything would be ready for the morning.  It was great to be able to spend time with Brandon post Christmas season craziness (from a work perspective).  We ended up staying up until 12:30!  Morning would come early... stay tuned!