Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas from down here in Texas! We had a very memorable first Christmas with our little elf, Reid. Very memorable indeed!

Andy’s family made the trip in to meet the littlest guy and to celebrate the holiday together. Craig, Susan and Michael drove down from Kansas City, and Brian, Michelle and Charlie made their first trip back to Dallas since having moved to Atlanta. Yes, it was crazed at times having everyone under one roof (I’ll expound on that more later), but so awesome to have everyone together.

Uncle Michael hasn’t lost his touch with babies. :)

Craig, Susan and Michael drove in on the 23rd and Brian, Michelle and Charlie arrived on Christmas Eve. That night, the family (minus Reid and I, opting to stay out of crowds to avoid this righteous cold and flu season) attended Christmas Eve services and came home to a meal of lasagna, caesar salad, garlic bread and glazed carrots.

Graham served up the appetizers – cream cheese and pepper jelly – offering to make everyone cracker after cracker with spread on it. ūüėČ

I seriously love that kid so much.

We also had the opportunity to partake in a new tradition that night. Michelle brought¬†opŇāatki, which is part of a Polish Christmas tradition using a wafer where we all essentially take the time to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Loved it. :) Makes me feel like I’m making my distant Polish relatives proud.

Our family. Can you believe it? To think that Andy and I were just starry-eyed high school sweethearts at one point.

The boys.

And the expanded family. :)

Mama’s little Christmas cookie. Slept through most of the festivities!

Speaking of Christmas cookies – talk about a struggle getting two 2-year-olds to leave Santa some delicious treats! The glass of milk was no problem, but getting the boys to put cookies on a plate without eating them was practically not worth the effort. Charlie took a big bite out of one and put it on the plate. Graham put a couple of cookies out, but then grabbed his last Spritz cookie and shoved the whole thing in his mouth and made a run for it.

Sorry Santa!

Santa was merciful though and blessed our home with lots of goodies anyway. What a guy. (Note Reid’s infamous Christmas stocking at the center of the mantle. Ha!)

Charlie was the first little one up on Christmas morning.

Graham followed shortly thereafter. (If you think you notice some color under his left eye, you do. He had a run-in with Charlie and a drumstick on Christmas Eve.) Here we are finding the Play-Doh Santa left in his stocking. Santa also left him a Thomas train track (to go with the Thomas train that baby Reid gave Graham in the hospital) and a fire truck.

Charlie got a tricycle for Christmas this year! Don’t get too attached to the handlebar streamers though, they lasted mere hours before Charlie pulled them all out!

Charlie took every opportunity to get acquainted with his new cousin.

And we played a rousing game of baby torture in the form of several outfit changes. This one is my far-and-away favorite. Courtesy of Auntie M’s Black Friday endeavors.

As if that wasn’t enough… GUESS WHAT??

We had a white Christmas!! That’s right… snow and ice! What a great excuse to snuggle in and not go anywhere! Hot cocoa for everyone! :)

Brian and Michelle were staying down in Plano, but Christmas night we ALL stayed at our house. There was nary an upholstered surface in this house that didn’t have someone sleeping on it! Craig and Susan were on a pullout couch in Andy’s guitar room. Brian and Michael slept on our big sectional couch in the game room. Graham moved to an inflatable mattress on the floor of his room, and Michelle slept on his twin bed. Charlie slept in Reid’s room, and Reid was in his usual accommodations in the Pack n Play in our room.

These two boys were not upset at ALL to have the extra time together. :) Here, they’re sharing a bag of Goldfish crackers that Graham snagged from the pantry.

Charlie was happy to have some extra snuggle time with Reid.

Nothing like an impromptu sleepover, huh? It made me so happy to have everyone under one roof. In fact I told Andy so when we went to bed that night with the glow of the moon kicking off the snow in the backyard. What a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. Hope yours was wonderful too!

Charlie’s House

We ate dinner. It was early, so we took a walk to the park. We played with the big kids. We reluctantly came back home. Once there, we broke the bad news: it was bedtime.

Our son lost it, then he ran to the front door and demanded to go somewhere – the request was so cute and so unexpected that we practically lost consciousness from the sudden onset of cute.

Andy was fast enough to dig his phone out, and he had Graham repeat himself. Now you get to see it for yourself.

Be prepared.

New School and First Slumber Party

Wow. Talk about lots to post about! And I have had zippo-zero energy to do it. Thus, it is 6:30 in the morning, and I’m slipping one in before Graham wakes for the day.

First, school.

Graham’s last week at his old place was the last week I posted (a.k.a. two weeks ago). The goodbye was super hard. I’m not in a habit of crying in front of other people, but when I went and dropped off our ‘Thank You’ gifts on Friday afternoon during nap time, I was crying so hard I was making the ugly crying face.

Yikes.

Yep, I loved his old place, but mostly for his teachers. I had to keep reminding myself that things wouldn’t stay the same had we remained there. So, we said our good-byes and started a new place last week.

The new place is really good. They’re so sweet there. The transition week went well, but drop-offs were [predictably] tough. Also, Graham pretty much refused to eat the main courses during meals, sticking to the tried and true fruit and vegetables that he recognized. Teachers’ reports said he did great during the day, but he was pretty cranky for us when he’d get home. That’s a lot for a little guy to handle, so I guess he had to let out the stress somewhere!

Oh, and one notable thing coming out of this change? Graham’s words have absolutely exploded. It’s almost like he needed to see other kids talking to give a little credibility to our whole “use your words” spiel. Yes, dude. Communication will get you literally everywhere. So Graham now stops, thinks, and tries to find the word he’s looking for. Short sentences have really started to come too.

As for this slumber party business…

Brian and Michelle needed a break from the grind, so we took Charlie for an overnight to give them a little staycation. It was awesome. Exhausting… but awesome.

Those boys are just buds. There’s no other word for it. I’ve seen Graham around friends his age, and he acts completely differently when Charlie’s around. It’s like the two have a mental connection. It seems that before Graham cooks up the next round of monkey-business, he already knows Charlie’s going to be on board. And Charlie IS… always on board with the mischief-making my son initiates.

All said, Charlie was a dream guest. He was clearly on his best behavior for us – almost like he didn’t know what the rules were at our house, so he played it safe. Anytime Graham would run up with a look on his face, Charlie would look at Andy or I to see if we were going to actually let this happen before a big smile would spread across his face and he’d chase off after G.

Charlie was recovering from an ear infection, so he had to take a couple medicines for us. We were told in no uncertain terms that Charlie hated his medicine. Having Graham around, I decided to see if I could pull the old “all the big kids are doing it” trick, so I had Graham and Charlie run to the bathroom for “Medicine Time!!!!!!” Graham LOVES his allergy medicine right now, and he LOVES drinking it out of a syringe. Granted, we don’t usually go all “Peewee’s Word of the Day” about it, but I played a hunch. Graham, already hyped up on slumber party mania, squealed with excitement and took off for the bathroom.

I had both boys up on their own big boy stepstools in front of the mirror. Graham was still squealing and bouncing up and down. Charlie had no idea what he was excited about, but he bounced and smiled anyway. I said, “Should Graham go first?!?” Graham mimicked, “Graham FIRST!” so I gave Graham his swig of Zyrtec. Then I looked at Graham and said, “Should we let Charlie take a turn??” And Graham pointed at his cousin and said, “CHARLIE TURN!!!!” and he started clapping his hands. ¬†The look on Charlie’s face was as if he’d just won the damn lottery. The sheer joy at being allowed to take medicine was incredible.

So I gave it a shot. ¬†Antibiotic first, I held the syringe up to Charlie’s mouth and squeezed in the thick white liquid. He drank it down, then puckered his face up and looked at me like, “WHOA, what’s all the excitement about,” but just at that moment, Graham clapped and cheered, “YAY CHARLIE!” ¬†So we all gave Charlie a round of applause. ¬†Charlie’s smile came back, and he joined in on the applause himself. I repeated the whole ordeal for the second med, and that went just like the first time. A little peer pressure goes a long way!

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve seen the album of pics from this weekend. I’ll try and get them up here, but since I still owe ‘after’ pictures from the furniture, I wouldn’t hold your breath. ¬†For now, here are a few!

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

We had another rough start this year.

Based off last year’s impressive showing at Christmas, I was ready to give you a chance, but once I saw you up close… hey dude, you’re really intimidating. Do you know that?

Regardless of our tenuous face-to-face experiences, I wanted you to know that Christmas?  I totally get it. And I dig it. You are definitely in the right line of work, in my opinion.

Mom tells me you work really hard all year long at a place called the “Norf Poh” and she says this is your busy season. ¬†That really sounds like the pits. Since we only see each other once a season (thank God) and you only come to our house one night for a really short time, I thought I might give you some suggestions about how to celebrate this season based on what we do around here.

First, there’s this thing called “Cookie Day”. You’re definitely going to want to get in on this. It’s a day when some of your favorite people surprise you by showing up at your house first thing in the morning. Then, you get assigned a play buddy and run around and eat pretzels all day long. You can eat as many as you want, no questions asked! The rest of your family stays busy in the kitchen playing with flour, banging on pots, making machines whir, opening and closing doors – basically playing like I play in the kitchen all year long. Then things start to smell really, really good and before you know it, someone hands you cookies! ¬†It’s GREAT.

Do you go to school? ¬†Or do you just go to Work like Mommy and Daddy? I hope you go to school, because if you do, you get to have parties. Party Day at school is kind of like Cookie Day. Everything seems like a totally normal day, until all of the sudden you come back in from playing outside and ALL THE MOMMIES ARE THERE! ¬†Yes, IN YOUR CLASSROOM! It is great. Some daddies are there too. Party days are great, because the room is really pretty, you get to make neat things out of stuff people don’t normally let you touch (we made jingle bells, I hear you really like these), and then you can eat and eat and eat as much as you want. ¬†Again – no questions asked! ¬†I love parties.

Finally, I don’t know how you celebrate Christmas Eve, but we do it right, in my opinion.

First, very like Cookie Day, your family comes over to your house and surprises you.  Then you get to run around and play while everybody talks and laughs.  I got to see Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Brian, Aunt Michelle, Charlie and Uncle Michael too!

Also on Christmas Eve, we all went to church pretty late, which is confusing because usually on days we go to church, it’s the very first thing we do! ¬†I didn’t go to the nursery this time either, but instead got to stay with everybody. I did what I usually do at church – ran around, colored everything in sight and talked to everybody I saw – but Mom and Dad seemed really uptight about my doing this. ¬†I got lots of shushes and everyone tried to get me to sit on their lap. ¬†Joke’s on them, though, because we went to a service that was made just for little kids like Charlie and me.

There were lots of kids of all ages. ¬†The service went really quickly. ¬†Pastor Tommy hardly said two sentences in a row each time he talked, and then we’d sing Christmas carols. Pastor Tommy told us a story about a baby being born who seems really important to everyone. More important than you even. ¬†(I know, I’m interested to hear more about this guy! ¬†Is he as scary as you are? I’ll report back.) Anyway, then we played with glowsticks and went home. I was hoping we’d play with real candles, because I’ve been looking for a chance to get my hands on one of those, but these glow things were cool because everybody left me to my own devices. ¬†It was probably for the best, now that I think about it.

Then we went home and played some more.  Mommy put a video together for everybody to see, so you can see what we did that night.  Pretty fun.

Christmas morning was quite the deal. ¬†You outdid yourself, Santa. ¬†I LOVE my kitchen – thank you!!! ¬†I see you took my advice about having it unwrapped and assembled, all ready to play with! ¬†And play I did. ¬†I love it. ¬†My Uncle Michael and you must have been in cahoots, because he got me a bunch of play food to go with it. ¬†This year instead of having Grandpa, Grandma and Uncle Michael over, it was just Daddy, Mommy and me. ¬†We opened presents, which… okay, I love presents, but it is SO overwhelming! ¬†I need to take my time and just absorb things for awhile. ¬†Every so often, I’d just need to sit down at my new table [that Grandpa and Grandma F got for me] and think.

Here’s another video that Mommy put together for our family to see what Christmas morning was like for us.

Like I said, you really did yourself proud. ¬†Just because you clearly seem to know my tastes and interest, I guess I’ll go see you when you come around again next year. Maybe we’ll have more of a chat next time. I’m learning like a thousand new words every day, so I should be able to better tell you how I’m feeling.. if I can work up the courage.

After we unwrapped all our toys at home, we all got dressed and went over to Uncle Brian and Auntie M’s house. ¬†Charlie was sleeping when we arrived, so I got to play with all his toys – score! Do you have a cousin? You should get one, because they are the best.

At Uncle Brian and Auntie M’s, it was like Christmas Eve all over again. ¬†We played and played and played. ¬†After a day of running around and figuring out new toys, Charlie and I worked up quite the appetite, and I ate a ton of dinner. ¬†(I think Charlie just ate cheese – he must really like cheese, because it’s almost all he ever eats!) ¬†We had twice-baked potatoes, which I thought were oatmeal at first. ¬†Have you ever eaten a bite of twice-baked potato thinking it was oatmeal? It’s like the grossest oatmeal you’ve ever eaten. It got so much better once Mommy told me what it was.

In addition to the potato, I had cornmeal stuffing with sausage, green beans and tomatoes (two of my favorite veggies), and something called a Greenberg smoked turkey. It’s a lot like regular turkey, but so much better for some reason. ¬†I loved it! What does Mrs. Claus make you eat for dinner? Maybe you should have her get this Greenberg turkey, because I think I heard Auntie M say they ship.

Santa, Christmas is exhausting. I don’t know how you do it. Maybe you want to celebrate like we do, because we have an awful lot of fun. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, this is not an invitation. Please don’t show up at our house next year expecting to join our party, because you are terrifying. ¬†Just to be clear.

But thanks for all you do for us, anyway. I think Christmas is awesome, and I’m glad you’re committed to working behind the scenes to make it that way.

See you next year, Santa!

Love,

Graham

P.S. Mommy posted a lot of the pictures she and Daddy took in our Photographs section, if you want to have a look!

You’d Better Watch Out, You’d Better Not Cry

We did The Santa Thing this morning. :)

Andy, Graham and I drove out to Grapevine to the Gaylord Texan – a big resort where, every year, Santa takes a break from toy-making supervision at the North Pole to terrorize young children ask kids what they want for Christmas.

Let’s just say we never got around to making any requests.

Graham couldn’t wait to see The Big Man. He kept pointing and saying, “Santa!” (You know, the man famous from all the Christmas ornaments on our ‘twee’.)

G tried several times to run up to Santa while he was busy with other kids. When he was next in line, he jumped up and down over and over and over, actually knocking me flat on my butt once as I crouched to try and keep him from severely injuring himself before his big moment.

Soon enough it was our turn. Classic toddler behavior ensued. I took him over with Charlie not far behind. We introduced ourselves. Graham waved and said, “Hi.” Santa reached out for a high five, which Graham happily returned. I set him down on Santa’s lap and “OMG APOCOLYPSE NOW!!!”

Not terrible, just full on tears. And he for SURE was not about to let me go anywhere. Charlie was taking Graham’s cue that all was not on the up and up. I glanced over to see how he was faring and he looked at me like, “Aunt Debbie are you going to save him?!”

So, at Santa’s suggestion, we got a family shot this year. ūüėõ

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Merry Christmas!