Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting on 2009

Crazy! Another year has gone by and I'm not sure where the time went. As I think back on the past year I realize I have a lot to be thankful for and I realize there is still plenty of room for improvement on my part!

We had a lot of ups and downs in 2009. The first part of the year I was a miserable pregnant woman. Ed was working 80 hours a week which left me home alone with a two-year-old A LOT and I was tired and lonely. Ed was beyond exhausted and I knew the stress was taking its toll on him. Like with so many people finances were tight adding to already building stress. But a few months into the year life started to better. Ed's work schedule started to lighten up and he was home more often. By the end of the summer he was able to look back and see the hours and hard work paying off with a new smoothly operating warehouse. On May 1st my miserable pregnancy came to an end with the birth of a beautiful and, more importantly, healthy baby girl!

The last few months of 2009 have been pretty great. We still have challenging days but are adjusting more and more to being a family of four. We are learning to manage our money better so that finances aren't such a big stress factor. Ed still works hard and always will but because of all the work and time he invested earlier in the year is able to be home with us much more. I am so thankful for my family, my friends, my home and my husband's job!

Here is a brief list of things I'd like to do better in 2010:
  1. Be a better mom. I want to be a more patient mom. I want to show more love and compassion and less frustration.
  2. Be a better wife. I want to tell and show Ed just how much I love him and appreciate all that he does for us.
  3. Be a better daughter/sister/friend. Because of my hectic life and somewhat self-centered tendencies, my family and friends get put on the back burner much too often. This year I'd like to remember to send notes more often, to call more often and just be there more often for all the wonderful people in my life.
  4. Be a better Christian. I want to spend more time reading God's word and more time in prayer. I want to not only know God more closely but to also have my life outwardly reflect that relationship.
  5. Be a better mommy to my four-legged babies. Once Gabrielle came along the poor doggies took a backseat in the family. When Samantha came along this year, they were sadly and nearly forgotten. This year I want to do a better job taking care of them and giving them the attention they deserve.
I'm sure there is more I could improve on but this is a start! I really am so lucky to have the life I have. To have my husband, my children and to be able to stay home to take care of them. In 2010 I want to be a more thankful person, a more positive person and realize every day all that God has blessed and given me.

Here is a collage of some of my favorite photos from 2009. Originally I wanted to create a collage using my one favorite photo from each month but it was way too hard to narrow it down that much!!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish everyone a year of peace and happiness!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

Despite the beginning of the week not going as I had planned and having two sick little girls, our Christmas turned out pretty great.

Gabrielle had a difficult time getting to sleep Thursday night. She finally gave up the fight around 10:00 and Santa was able to get to work. Santa finished up just before midnight. It was a good thing Santa works fast because Gabrielle woke up not too long after that with a fever. After some Tylenol, she fell back to sleep in our bed. Around 7:30 when Gabrielle started stirring I got Samantha up and the video camera ready. Gabrielle was a little lazy getting out of bed, probably due to the fever and not feeling well. When Ed asked her if she thought Santa had come her response was "not yet." I think she wanted to sleep in a little longer.

Once we finally all made it to the living room, Gabrielle had a very surprised look on her face. The tree tent was a big surprise for her. She had seen it in the toy catalog but never really asked for it. The first thing Gabrielle wanted to get into was her stocking. After she emptied her stocking I helped Samantha with hers. Then we started opening the gifts Santa left.

Gabrielle's tree tent - much bigger than I thought it was going to be!

Samantha's pile from Santa.

Gabrielle opened the biggest package first which was her Disney Princess dolls. She was one happy little girl! Then Gabrielle looked inside her tent, where Santa had left all of her gifts, and saw another wrapped box. She said with such excitement "That must be baby Starsong!" Ed and I laughed and laughed. She only asked for two things. Once she opened the princesses then of course the one gift left just had to be her baby Starsong.

Gabrielle & baby Starsong.

Samantha loved her gifts as well but I think she may have loved the wrapping paper even more.

Samantha and her walker/baby stroller.

After Santa gifts were opened we had breakfast and then opened the other gifts under the tree. Our girls truly have so much so I kept Christmas to just a few things I knew they would really enjoy. Ed was a little disappointed (and maybe me too a little) when we were done opening gifts by 9:30 that morning. He and I couldn't help but remember our Christmas mornings growing up, taking hours to open the living room packed full of presents. I couldn't help but smile when only a couple of hours later Ed suggested we go through some toys and get rid of some stuff because we had too much in our small house!

Playing in the tent together.

The rest of our Christmas day was spent in our pajamas, taking naps and being lazy. It was the perfect afternoon.

Working on the giant candy cane lollipop from her stocking from Santa.

The girls are now feeling much better. They have enjoyed playing with all of their loot. We were not able to get to church the Sunday before Christmas nor Christmas Eve due to sicknesses but we were finally able to get to church yesterday. I thought the girls looked just adorable in their red, black and white outfits. (Samantha's hair was a little fluffy and out of control yesterday though.)

This week we'll try to get back to some type of normalcy. We'll take the decorations down and try to get the house back in order. Of course Gabrielle has already started talking about what Santa can bring her next Christmas. It is going to be a long year!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Invisible Woman

My sister sent this video to me in an email. I thought the message was so great. I just had to share it.

I'll be back with a post later about our Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Want For Christmas...

My poor baby Samantha isn't feeling very well today. She has thrown up twice and had a fever earlier this evening. Tylenol brought her fever down quickly which is good. I called the after hours advice nurse and now I have some peace of mind but I still hate having a sick baby. I've had to rock her to sleep twice now tonight and I keep hearing little mumbles from her room which means she is not sleeping very soundly. So all I want for Christmas is for us all to be healthy!

I felt so good about how much I had completed last week in preparation for Christmas. I had my mind set that this week was going to be so relaxing and fun and stress-free. Well so much for that idea! I still don't have the girls' handmade gifts completed - no where near completion to be more exact. I had my heart set on having their gifts done by Christmas Eve. I still haven't given up on the idea but it's not looking good right now. I didn't get all the baking done yesterday I had hoped. I just finished cookies for Ed to take to his employees tomorrow and I promised Gabrielle we would make chocolate chip cookies for Santa tomorrow. I also have Christmas Eve dinner to make tomorrow as well as prep the breakfast casserole we'll have Christmas morning. **Sigh**

I don't know how it will all get done, especially if Samantha is still feeling bad tomorrow. Earlier tonight I was getting stressed over everything still not marked off my mental to-do list. Did I mention Santa still has to wrap a couple of his gifts and put a couple of things together? Dear Lord, please let there be no missing or broken parts on anything!! Please!!

The reality is it all won't get done. I will just have to give on some things. As I was rocking Samantha earlier I felt God was trying to teach me a little lesson, to remind me what Christmas is really all about. Early in the season I was determined to keep Christmas meaningful, to not get caught up in the hustle and bustle and the materialistic side of Christmas. And here it is, not even two days before Christmas and I have filled my days with this to do and that to do and not once have I sat to really enjoy and think about CHRISTmas.

So I will probably stay up a whee bit longer and work on my sewing projects but if they don't get finished in time for Christmas morning then I can give them to the girls some time next week as a simple "I love you" present. And I will save some of the sweets and goodies I had hoped to bake for Christmas for another time. There will probably be other little things here and there tomorrow that simply don't get done or even thought about. But that's okay. I'm okay with that. I just want my girls to feel well and be happy and enjoy Christmas. I am sure my husband and my girls want a happy, fun mommy and not a tired, stressed out party pooper. And I am certain God wants me to take this time to give thanks and praise for His son, Jesus Christ, who is the most important part of Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let the Christmas Celebrations Begin!!

I love the week or so before Christmas! That's when it really starts to feel like Christmas to me. This year I actually had my shopping and wrapping done early so I was able to enjoy the season a little earlier and not stress about last minute things to do. But the week before Christmas seems to be when all the little celebrations begin with friends and family.

Last Wednesday was Gabrielle's last ballet class until January. It was also Parents' Day which meant family and friends were invited to come into the classroom and watch. Gabrielle's class had learned a little routine to The Nutcracker to perform for us. She and the other little girls could not have been cuter!**

This past weekend was the Guthrie family celebration (my side of the family). We were all a little worried whether we would be able to get together due to the forecast for snow and sleet. Our prayers were answered and none of us were hit with anything to prevent us from traveling to my brother's house in Garner. Instead of a traditional Christmas dinner we opted for a good ole Harkers Island clambake! Yummmmmmy! The kids and some of the spouses weren't thrilled but the rest of us enjoyed it.

Samantha really got into opening her gifts. She tore right into the paper as if she knew what to do. Once the gift was opened she had as much fun playing with the tissue paper as she did with the gift itself. Unfortunately she only lasted through about three gifts before she fell asleep on MeeMaw's lap.

Gabrielle was super excited. We did not do a very good job capturing her first reaction to her gift with this photo but she LOVED everything. She has literally played with everything she got on Saturday and has played with Samantha's stuff too.

While we came home with some great stuff and while it felt good to watch others opening their gifts, the most important thing is that we all were able to be there together. It doesn't happen nearly often enough. We each have our own families and busy schedules and so much going on. But it is so nice to all be together to laugh and pick on one another.

Today we had our friends Casey, Gus and Anna over for cookies and milk. Gabrielle was so excited all morning. She kept going to the door and window asking when Gus was going to get here. She would say, "I think I hear his car" and run to the door. Once they all got here and after a little playtime, Gabrielle and Gus did some Christmas crafts. My friend Casey (Gus and Anna's mom) is starting a new business selling ready made craft packs for preschoolers. She has such cute ideas! Today Gabrielle made a Rudolph puppet and Gus did a Santa puppet.

What do you think could be more troublesome than getting a good Christmas card photo of a 3-year-old and a baby? Taking a picture of two 3-year-olds hyped up on sugar and two hungry babies!! Once we got one baby happy the other one would get upset and the 3-year-olds were practically bouncing off the walls! Oh well...below you'll see our attempts at getting a cute picture.

The next couple of days will be fairly low key for us. We'll do some baking but other than that we'll take it easy and relax - or at least I'll try to relax. Gabrielle is about to burst she wants Christmas to be here so badly!

Now I'm going to get comfy in my new flannel pajamas and slipper socks and enjoy the quiet evening with a good book.

**I was trying to upload a video clip of Gabrielle's Nutcracker performance but it is such a large file I have to use YouTube and it was taking forever to upload it there as well. I'll try to get the video up soon on a separate post but right now I want to go to bed!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Decorating Ideas

As I was decorating the house for Christmas I felt like my decorating was a very sad attempt. A lot of our decorations were hand me downs from our parents. There is certainly nothing wrong with hand me downs but over the years things tend to wear out and start looking not so great. The last couple of Christmases we've had to discontinue use of some of the decorations. I've decided this year I am going to brave the after-Christmas sales in hopes of getting some new things to spruce up the house next year.

If you want some new and different ideas on decorations you should check out Christmas Tour of Homes 2009 with The Nester. Last I checked there were 1005 links!! Yes it is a lot but I just randomly checked half a dozen or so and saw some really cute and creative ideas. Even if you don't have or don't want to take the time to go to every link I bet you could still find some neat ideas by checking just a few.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

This Week

I'm sitting here enjoying some hot chocolate trying to catch up on blogging, emails, making to-do lists, to-buy lists, and to-bake lists for the next week or so. This time of year is so busy. When my mind starts getting frantic with thoughts of all I "need" to do I try to stop and remind myself to slow down and enjoy this time. But regardless of how much I try I tend to get wrapped up in the busyness of it all.

My new favorite flavor at Starbucks is the Peppermint Mocha so I thought why not add a little peppermint via a mini candy cane to my hot chocolate. It is delicious! I highly recommend trying it yourself!!

I guess this Christmas there will be no parades for us. We chose not to go to the Youngsville parade a couple of weeks ago because of cold wet weather. I had hoped we would make it to the Wake Forest parade this past Saturday but once again decided it was too cold to bother. Maybe the weather will cooperate more next year.

Last Saturday wasn't a complete bust however. We had dinner with a good friend of mine from high school and her family. Janie and I "reconnected" after years of not being in touch with one another via facebook last spring. When we started chatting we realized we were each due with our second child the same day! The more we chatted and caught up we realized our lives had even more similarities. Her firstborn, a little boy, was born in September of 2006, just a couple of weeks before Gabrielle. We both went past our due dates and had hoped we would end up in the hospital together. Our doctors apparently had different plans!! LOL Her little girl was born two days before Samantha.

So back to dinner... we went over to her house and we met each other's husbands for the first time. I think our husbands hit it off pretty good and our kids definitely did! I didn't get any photos of Will and Gabrielle but they were hilarious together. Here are Samantha and Avery chillin' together.

The last couple of days the girls and I were at my mom's visiting. It was a short notice and shorter visit than I would have liked but at least we got there! I finally got some gifts wrapped. Gabrielle was supposed to help since it was our Advent chain activity for the day but she wasn't too interested. She did wrap one of Ed's gifts with next to no help. I don't think it will take much for him to get into it!

You probably can't tell that well from this photo but Gabrielle piled about 4-5 gingerbread dolls my mom has onto her MeeMaw's lap and then squeezed herself onto it as well.

Tomorrow is an exciting day. It is parent's day at the dance studio which means we get to go inside Gabrielle's dance class to watch and even video her class. Ed is taking a couple of hours off in the morning so that he can attend as well. I know they have been practicing a little of "The Nutcracker" and I'm so excited to see her. Gabrielle's dance teacher had suggested a couple of versions of "The Nutcracker" for them to watch so they would have a better idea of what they were performing. I found one of the versions she recommended, "Barbie and the Nutcracker" at Walmart about a week and a half ago. Gabrielle wants to watch it everyday. She LOVES it! And now every time she hears the music whether it is playing in a store or in a commercial she stops what she is doing and starts dancing. It is so cute! After Gabrielle's performance we are going to have lunch with Ed - a very special treat for us (it's also our Advent chain activity for the day).

Samantha still isn't crawling up on hands and knees yet - surprisingly to me! But she is doing the army crawl thing quite a bit and is getting pretty quick. She also is no longer afraid of our Christmas tree and now is always getting into trouble around it. The other day she grabbed the tree skirt from under the tree and had rolled herself up in it. I'm telling you she is wild and into everything so much more than Gabrielle at this age. She is definitely keeping us on our toes!

Well I have work to do and more lists to obsessively complete and a couple of new books I'm dying to start reading so... Good Night!!

Oh - I had to add this photo. I just peeked in the girls' rooms and found Gabrielle all snuggled up with her doll Sammy. Sammy was her first real baby doll. She got her on her first birthday. She might go a week or so without playing with her but then all of sudden she will take Sammy around everywhere. And Sammy is definitely a no-no when it comes to sharing with anyone. Gabrielle is a very protective little "mommy."

Christmas Like A Child

I bought the cd "Christmas Offerings" by Third Day last Christmas. This song has become one of my favorites this year...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Excitement Builds...

I never thought Christmas could be more exciting than when I was a child. I remember not being able to fall asleep on Christmas Eve because of all the anticipation. As a teenager and young adult I still looked forward to Christmas because of all the great traditions my family kept going. Christmas 2004 was special because it was mine and Ed's first Christmas together as a married couple but it was also difficult because it was the first Christmas without my dad and everything was so different that year. At some point I guess as an adult Christmas became another holiday squeezed in a hectic life and work schedule. And then I became a mom...

Christmas in 2006 was our first Christmas as parents. Gabrielle was only 3 months old and looking back at the video we took of Christmas morning makes me laugh. In the video I act almost as if I expect Gabrielle to help rip into her presents. She couldn't even sit up by herself yet!! And then we almost expected some sort of reaction from her once the gifts were open. But it was our first Christmas as parents and was like no other Christmas before that.

The following year was so much fun. Gabrielle was just over a year old and did have the reactions we longed for and was able to rip into the presents. We went so overboard that year with gifts when honestly she would have been just as happy with one or two things wrapped beneath the tree. But Ed and I enjoyed shopping and picking out this and that for her. Once again we felt that anticipation we had as children ourselves.

Last year, while it was difficult because it was the first Christmas without Ed's mom and Ed had an insane work schedule, Gabrielle had more expectations for Christmas. She understood the idea of Santa a little more and the presents and the decorations. I think last year is when we really started making our own traditions and figuring out what we wanted Christmas to be for our family.

I never would have thought Christmas could get any better or that I would more closely feel what I felt as a child but I would be wrong. Now we have two little bundles to shop for - our complete little family! Gabrielle now has a little sister to share the excitement with. She talks to Samantha about Santa and Christmas. This week I took Gabrielle to Build-a-Bear where she picked out and made a bear for her sister's Christmas gift. I was so proud of her. While she of course asked for something for herself while we were there, she did such a great job picking out a gift for her sister and never once threw a tantrum or cried or anything when we left the store with a gift for Samantha and nothing for herself. For a 3-year-old that is a pretty big feat! Gabrielle is just dying to give the bear to Samantha already as well!

We are doing a couple of different countdowns for Christmas and each morning she asks about each of them. The enthusiasm and anticipation is building and building.

This is also the first year Gabrielle has made her own list. In years past she got what we thought she would like and what we wanted her to have. This year she was the boss! She looked through the toy catalogs we got in the mail and picked out her favorites. She "wanted" a lot but there were definitely a couple of items that became favorites. There are two items in particular that if Santa doesn't bring I know she would be absolutely heartbroken. A friend of mine who also has a three year old put it so well when she said "This is such an important year for their relationship with Santa." Of course I want Gabrielle to know the real meaning of Christmas and what is really important but right now for a three year old, whether or not Santa delivers the goods is key! And if that means Santa has to make a last minute, unplanned purchase then so be it.

Tonight as I tucked Gabrielle in bed I told her to get a good night's sleep because we have a big day tomorrow. Her response - "Yeah, it's Christmas!!" She had such a big smile on her face and a light in her eyes. It was seriously one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I had to break the news that tomorrow is not quite Christmas but that it would be here soon. She is about to burst with excitement!! Once again I feel that wonder and awe of Christmas that I had growing up.

I just know I will be up all night Christmas Eve, lying in bed, waiting for Santa and eagerly awaiting that little voice to get me up to see the gifts!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Saw Santa

What a cold yucky day! We were supposed to go to the Youngsville Christmas parade this morning but opted out since it was cold and drizzly. However, much to our surprise as we were driving through town today by the signs of all the candy still left on the sides of the road there must have been a decent crowd out for the parade. Unless the people in the parade were tossing candy at empty sidewalks!!

Today was the big trip to see Santa. Last night Gabrielle and I sat down to write her letter to Santa. I don't think she quite understood the concept of the letter though. I decided I would keep the letter as a memento rather than have her take it to Santa today.

Samantha surprised me because I was a little worried that she would cry and scream but I'm not sure she even realized I passed her to a stranger. She is usually pretty good if Gabrielle is with her anyway.

Gabrielle was hilarious. She pulled a Ralphie (from the movie "The Christmas Story"). When she was sitting on Santa's lap she totally froze and wouldn't mutter a word. Then as we were walking away she got upset and started fussing about how she didn't tell Santa that she wanted "3 princesses in a big box and baby Starsong." She was really upset that she didn't tell Santa what she wanted and I honestly think she was worried that he wouldn't know what to bring her. We assured her that he knew and that it was in her letter that she wrote so for her not to worry.

What a Fun Friday

Today turned out to be much better than I had expected. We got off to a late start with shopping - pretty typical for me actually - so we didn't get much Christmas shopping done despite the fact we were in Target for over 2 hours! We spent a lot of time casually browsing at Christmas decorations and the dollar section. I ended up getting some pretty good items from the dollar section. I also found a stocking for Samantha but no stocking holder yet.

Gabrielle now has a tree for her room. We saw this one and it was only $5 so I had to get it. I was a little surprised that she chose purple over pink though. She also wanted ornaments for her tree and fortunately the dollar section had a tube of 16 perfectly sized and colored glittery ornaments we strung together with ribbon for her little tree. She is also requesting a star for the top which I guess we will make out of paper tomorrow. Gabrielle was and still is so excited about her little tree. She carried it around the store for the rest of our shopping trip and even carried it around from room to room once we got home. She can be pretty cute at times!

Gabrielle and I got haircuts after dinner tonight. Isn't Gabrielle's new do so cute? I love it! It is a tad shorter than I had intended but I think she looks so cute with her hair this length. Now I feel like I need to definitely take all new Christmas card photos because she looks so different now!

The other kind of fun and exciting thing today is Samantha had puffs for the first time. For anyone who doesn't know, puffs are little bites of cereal that dissolve in your mouth pretty quickly. They are made by Gerber and are a great first foods for babies, sort of like Cheerios. Anyway, Samantha was not so sure about these little things. She played with it and would knock them off her high chair tray which the dogs were thrilled about. I finally put one in her mouth and she gave me the strangest looks. She got a little better with them but still can't quite get them in her mouth very well. She hasn't learned to pinch them with her fingers yet so the puffs get stuck to her palm most of the time. She also has gagged a couple of times because they get too far back on her tongue. The puffs dissolve really, really quickly so she won't get choked on them. (Gabrielle is enjoying the puffs as well.)

Samantha has been "talking" a lot lately. She has always been a much more vocal baby than Gabrielle was. I guess because the rest of us are so loud and always talking she must figure that is the only way to get any one's attention! Recently though she is making all sorts of new sounds, including the "m" sound a lot. Here is a video of her jabbering away tonight.

I think she is trying to say "mama." At least that is what I like to think and am going to continue to think! :) Gabrielle said "Dada" first which didn't bother me but she said it for months before she ever tried to say "mama." Mama was pretty far down the list of her first words. I didn't think she was ever going to say it. So for Samantha to be making so many "m" sounds makes me kind of happy. Ed said he was fine with that too since Gabrielle did say "Dada" first.

Even though it has been an extremely long day (the fact that I'm up after 1:00 am to get this blog post done isn't helping) it was a pretty fun day and a pretty good start to the weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Card Photo

Today's Advent activity was to take our Christmas card photo. I had not thought about how much more challenging taking this photo was going to be with two! I had to plan around naps and feedings so Samantha would be happy for the photo. Then I had to get them dressed. Then I had to pose them and try to get both looking at the camera with a decent looking smile.

Here are the outtakes:

Samantha was fascinated by her shoes and by Gabrielle. In the majority of the photos she was turning to look at Gabrielle which was actually pretty cute. I have a couple of them looking at each other that I'm holding onto as card possibilities. If Samantha wasn't looking at her shoes or Gabrielle then she was trying to escape to get to a toy or Gabrielle was making a silly face or the photo turned out blurry!! We have a couple of different "events" coming up that I may get some good shots to consider for the card so we'll see...

And here is a super close up of Samantha's teeth:

I know the photo would have been much cuter if I had her entire face in the frame but this was the only way I could get a photo where you could really see her teeth. Within a few more days I think the teeth will be much more visible in all of her smiles.

And here is Gabrielle with her ornament from Monday's Advent activity. It still isn't on the tree because I have been slack about attaching the cord to it. Sorry Gabrielle!!

Tonight Ed surprised us all by taking us somewhere "special." Wait for it.....Chuck E. Cheese!!!! Ha ha ha! He called me late this afternoon and asked if I had started dinner. I told him no and he asked if I wanted to go out somewhere. Well of course!! Like I would turn down a night of not having to cook. And then he said he wanted to take Gabrielle somewhere to do something fun. Last night Ed came home from work a little later than usual and with a migraine coming on so he ate dinner and was in bed by 6:30. Gabrielle only got to see him at dinner and asked about him all night and this morning. I think Ed was trying to make it up to her tonight. Gabrielle had seen the commercial for Chuck E. Cheese fairly recent and asked if we could go. She was so excited when Ed got home and told her where we were going. Once we got there she was just so cute. She kept calling it Chuck E. Cheese's house. Samantha was a little freaked out by the singing muppet/robot things. After eating dinner she was so tired because she had only had one nap today. I carried her around and considering how noisy it was in there and how much was going on I think she handled it really well.

The above shot is Gabrielle and Ed riding a giant rocking horse. Gabrielle really loves horses right now so was very excited to see this ride. Ed said when the horse rocked backwards it was actually a little scary.

It was a fun day! Tomorrow is our routine grocery shopping day and I would like to get mine and Gabrielle's hair cut and maybe do a little bit of Christmas shopping so unfortunately tomorrow probably won't be as fun as today. Maybe Saturday will make up for it!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas!!

I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone already! Over the weekend we got all of our Christmas decorations out. Now the house really looks and feels like Christmas!

Gabrielle was super excited about all the decorations. She decorated the tree pretty much by herself with the exception of a few fragile ornaments that we put on well out of reach. She really likes to group similar things so the ornaments are clustered together into little sections. We could re-do it to our liking but she had so much fun decorating who really cares if it may not be magazine worthy! She is absolutely dying to move the little snowman on the countdown wall hanging. There are 24 pockets so she'll just have to wait until Wednesday and then I'm sure she'll want to move him several places a day.

We are doing a couple new things this year. I mentioned in an earlier post the Advent paper chain we are doing. We got the chain made and hung on Saturday and started tearing open the links Sunday. On Sunday our activity was to make an Advent wreath and to "light" the first candle. We made the wreath, candles and flames out of paper. Gabrielle colored and glued the pieces and added a little glitter just to give it some sparkle. She pasted on the flame for the first candle and she'll paste a new flame on the appropriate candle each Sunday. I'm trying to explain to her the symbolism of the wreath and candle and to read some scripture with each Sunday. Even in the simplest terms she still doesn't quite get it but I figure it's never too early to start.

Today's activity from the Advent chain was to make a new ornament for the tree. My sister had given us a little kit to make a pom pom penguin ornament that we never got around to doing last year so we finally put the little guy together.

Samantha isn't quite as excited about the Christmas decorations as her sister. In fact she had the exact opposite reaction to the tree. While playing on the living room floor Saturday night she rolled onto the tree skirt. She immediately started crying and screaming and it wasn't the normal fussy kind of cry - she was genuinely scared! I picked her up and she grabbed onto me tighter than she ever has and only calmed down once I moved away from the tree. Every time I moved back toward the tree she would start to get upset! Today was better and I'm trying to get her used to the tree gradually. I certainly don't want her to be afraid of it for the next month!

The weather was so nice on Sunday. While Ed put up the garland, lights and bows on the porch I watched the girls play in the front yard. Gabrielle did a little roller skating but our driveway is covered with pinestraw which made it very difficult for her. Then she rode her tricycle for a little bit as well but she is still learning to pedal herself and she gets frustrated easily. Samantha chilled in the stroller most of the time and then rode in the cute little red car a little as well.

And can you believe this photo??? No one is holding onto her. She is just standing on her own, holding onto the kitchen set!! Of course Ed stood her up there but she still shouldn't be able to stand so well for so long at this age. We're still waiting for the crawling but she is getting closer and closer each day.

I can't believe tomorrow is December 1st! That means 2009 is almost over, Christmas will be here before we know it and Samantha is 7 months old!! My babies are growing up way too fast! Where does the time go? Seriously, I want to know!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kelly's Korner - Show Us Your Life - Christmas Traditions

”Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner”

I love Christmas! And since Ed and I were married, even before the kids came along, starting our own traditions has been a big thing for me. Things we do every year:

  • Christmas baking!! I love to do lots of sweets - cookies, fudge, brownies, cake, and cinnamon candy. I usually wrap up most of it and give it to friends and family as gifts. I try to make a batch of cookies for Ed to take to his employees as well.
  • Christmas parades!! I love them. For anyone who hasn't been to a small town Christmas parade the majority of the parade is made up of local fire and rescue vehicles, a few dump trucks and tractor trailers, and sometimes just random people and businesses. But there is usually at least one high school marching band, a ton of girl scout and boy scout troops and several dance studios. Small town charm!
  • Christmas Eve - we usually open one gift and have let Gabrielle open the gift from the dogs. Our Christmas Eve meal has changed over the years. We started out doing Ed's family traditional antipasto tray before going to church and then having our big meal on Christmas Day. But now our tradition is we have our big meal (usually some type of Italian dish ~ lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs, etc.) on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is leftovers.
  • Christmas Lights - On Christmas Eve we go driving around to look at all the Christmas decorations and lights, sometimes before going to church and sometimes after, it just depends on what time the church service is we are attending.
  • Christmas Day - The past three years I have made a sausage, egg and cheese casserole for breakfast. While it is cooking Gabrielle looks at all the stuff Santa brought her and we open gifts. We keep this day pretty relaxing. We're in no hurry to get out of pajamas and pretty much lay around most of the day and eat.
So this year will be very interesting since we will have a new crawler in the house! Gabrielle was only 3 months old her first Christmas and by her second was walking around and understood "no" and "don't touch" to some degree. But this will be a new experience having a little one who is all over and doesn't understand anything about staying away from such things. I guess once again the bottom half of our tree will remain undecorated!!

Today will be the big day of decorating the tree and the house. Gabrielle is ecstatic and has asked over and over the past few days about the tree and everything. I got the Little People nativity out yesterday. This was a family gift from my mom on Gabrielle's second Christmas. Gabrielle absolutely LOVES it and I'm sure Samantha will as well.

Here are some photos from last Christmas!

Dressed for Christmas Sunday!!

Making an ornament for our tree.

Posing for our Christmas card.

And some photos from 2007 (Gabrielle's first parade!)

This year will also be nice because last year Ed was working, working, working. Unfortunately he had to miss out on a lot of our traditions but all the hard work paid off and I am fairly certain he won't have to miss out on anything this year for Samantha's first Christmas.

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