I’m really getting into the holiday spirit this year, and it’s only mid November. I feel sorta bad for Thanksgiving because it’s not getting my full attention – I’m going straight to the fun Christmasy things.
Oh yes. We did an Awkward Family Photo shoot in matching holiday pajamas and corny head gear. It was great fun, and we’ll use some taken for our Christmas card this year. The best part was the photographer’s reaction. She giggled the whole time and kept referring to us as “Where’s Waldo,” which, of course, does resemble our outfits, but that’s totally not the point. She nearly insisted that we put “Where’s Waldo?!” under the “Merry Christmas 2014” on our free Christmas card prints, and I nearly let her. And then we shopped normally around Target for the next 45 minutes and only got thumbs ups and “Aweseome!” from the fellow shoppers.
Wes is 3, and while the past Christmases have been fun with him, this year seems different because he’s old enough to experience and comment and participate in a way he wasn’t able to before. And, heck, I’m able to relive some of the holiday excitement and wonder that I remember as a child through the eyes of my son.
I’ve been one of those people who didn’t want all the Fisher-Price primary colors and Winnie the Pooh and cutesy baby stuff around our house. I wanted more clean, grow-into-this stuff that didn’t make our house look like a nursery or daycare center. Frankly, I was a little too proud of how Wes didn’t have too much plasticy things and could maintain the same bedroom decor for years to come. No licensed character stuff. (Well, except for super heroes. Somehow that didn’t count.)
It sorta got out of control, though. I would buy/acquire things outside of his age range because apparently that would make him seem “more mature” and unlike other kids his age. (This is another post for another day…why do we feel the need to MAKE our kids different than every one else? Religion and faith is one thing, but do kids really need to be cool or hipster?) My kid would be sophisticated!
And then, well, it dawned on me that I was aging my only child too quickly. Three years isn’t that long, but Wes is already outgrowing his little boyhood. He wants to be independent and desires less and less of mama-snuggles and affection. Though, thankfully, it hasn’t been lost forever yet. There is plenty of time to grow into non-Duplo, regular LEGOs. There is plenty of time to introduce him into Star Wars, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, video games and big kid bikes. There is plenty of time to educate him on green, local goods & services.
As I’ve been Christmas shopping, I’ve kept this in mind. Some of things that I thought we would put under the tree will wait another year because, well, Wes is still 3. He likes Thomas and Friends, Daniel Tiger, Curious George and Clifford. And rockets and dinosaurs. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m letting him enjoy what he likes right now, and I’m embracing his interests. They’re HIS presents, right? Not mine.
He’s going to flip out. Who wouldn’t love a Thomas the Train indoor roller coaster?!
I can’t wait to see his face light up when he sees plastic licensed character toys and games – his favorites. All those handmade goods, video games and big kid toys can wait a year or two because we need a little Christmas. (Right this very minute!)
We’re doing something a little different this year. The money typically spent on printing and mailing our Christmas cards is going directly to support my friend of nearly 20 years, Angie Mayle. She and her young family are moving in July to a small Madagascar island to serve as medical missionaries. To follow their journey, visit maylesinafrica.com.
This past week has been nearly perfect. Wesley is such a great kid when we’re all home, all day, every day, and I’m sure his mood is helped now that he’s (finally) finished teething. I’m spending my afternoon similar to the last several ones – lounging, snacking and a whole lot of cuddling – with some Gilmore Girls and Wii U thrown in there somewhere.
Our Ashbaugh family Christmas was a large one. It was the first time in several years that all the aunts, uncles, cousins and great grandkids were able to make it. Minus one spouse, we were a party of 33. It was truly special to have the nearly entire family together, and I know my grandparents loved it all.
Steven brought the Wii U to the extravaganza, and I’m pretty sure my favorite part of the day was my 2.5-year-old nephew’s attempts to contribute to the 5-person game, only to get stuck in a corner and announce periodically, “I just scored!” What a fun day.
Christmas Eve is always spent with my parents and my sister’s family. The kids are getting old enough to really get excited about the presents under the tree, and that makes Christmas all the more fun and special. We lost Elli to impatience halfway through our Christmas brunch, so the rest of the day was spent sipping coffee, eating biscotti and enjoying each other’s company. Perfect.
Christmas Eve service was beautiful. However, I spent more than half of the service in the hallway due to Wes’ discouragement that the ceiling fan was, in fact, not spinning. He was adorable in his red tie.
We were lucky to have a laid back, quiet Christmas morning. Wes opened a few presents after we got coffee and actually woke up. By 1o am, we were in the car and heading to Ohio for Christmas Day with the Shattucks. I always enjoy the ride over on Christmas day because it was then that we made phone calls to family and friends with news of our engagement in 2006. It’s fun to reminisce.
Shattuck Christmas is always crazy with loooooots of presents and wrapping paper and chaos and then everyone veges out for the remainder of the day. We snack on clam dip, sausage dip and cookies all day long. It’s just wonderful. Wes followed Pa around the house all afternoon, pointing out the various clocks in their house. While Wes was entertained, I got to play with my silly little niece, who was fascinated with taking goofy photos of ourselves.
We headed home that night because BLIZZARD 2012 was headed to Indy. The next morning we woke up to only about an inch of snow, but it accumulated as we began hibernating for the next two days. We left the house only to shovel/play in the snow (of which Wes is not a big fan)…
…and to check out Christmas at the Zoo, which was amazing. The newly fallen snow made a beautiful backdrop to all the lights and animals at night. It is definitely worth doing again next year.
Since we’ve been spending so much time with Wes, we’ve noticed a few things. 1) He’s walking EVERYWHERE. He is getting fearless, and it’s totally unlike him. Now he’s even trying to climb stairs! 2) He eats far better if he’s sans tray in his high chair – sitting at the table. He’s pretty big stuff. 3) Transitioning from a 2-hour nap to a one-hour nap is happening whether we like it or not. 4) Grapes are like candy.
Steven and I do not go back to work until after New Year’s Day, so the rest of the week’s plans remain unplanned. Just soaking up family time and spending an afternoon here and there with friends is pretty much the best vacation ever.
I didn’t realize how much I needed this break. We’ve mostly read, spent time with family and played on the floor with Wes. I’m pretty sure Wes needed this break, too, because he’s slept much better at night (daytime sleep is still iffy) AND he’s finally rolled over! And to top it off, he decided to take it one step further and is sitting up really well. Of course we have pillows all over the place for when his balance sways, but it’s so much more fun now that he’s able to grab his toys while sitting. We can entertain him for a pretty good amount of time this way!
Christmas was so fun. Wes was a little overwhelmed by it all, but he enjoyed watching all the paper thrown around everywhere, the lit candles and eating apples, bananas and sweet potatoes for the first time. Santa was super generous this year.
My To Do List for the week was pretty simple (that way I could actually accomplish everything and not feel guilty if it was too overambitious). In no particular order:
– clean bathtub/obliterate rust stains
– take down tree & put Christmas decor away
– find homes for Christmas toys & gifts somewhere in the house
– take Wes’ 5-month photos (I didn’t have the nice camera, so I had to take them outside. It was snowing and made super cute shots!)
– update Baby Journal
– work on Joy’s House calendar design
– spend Christmas money on clothes for me!
I’m proud to say that I have nearly all of these items accomplished with days to spare! I feel productive, which is important for me even while on “vacation.” Now I’m looking ahead to 2012 and how to make it as successful, efficient, productive and fun. Some of our Christmas presents (and Pinterest, of course) helped me shape what I want to focus on for the coming year.
1) We got a deep freeze from my parents! WHOA, I know, it sounds crazy ridiculous, but I’m waaaay stoked about this. We had to be creative on how to maneuver it into the basement, but there it sits, humming away, and it makes me want to FILL it with STUFF to STORE. I’ve known since I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to make baby food when the time came. I’m all oodles excited now that I have ample space to cook tons of food and freeze it to use as needed. I found some really amazing sites, like this one, through Pinterest, to get me started. Who knows if I’ll get geeky nuts about it, as it appears this blogger is, but regardless, it’s happening. My parents, along with my sister & her husband, are all going in together to buy half a steer, too. We’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but we really didn’t have the space before. EEEEEE, now we do! Lots of fresh beef a-comin’!
2) More visits to the Children’s Museum and Indianapolis Zoo. Wes is becoming much more aware and responsive, and I can only imagine how he’ll enjoy these two favorite venues, now that we have memberships (and grandparent memberships) to each. We’ve gone to the Children’s Museum a couple times with him before, but he was a “blob” then and slept the whole time. I want to make sure to set plenty of family time aside for us.
3) Read aloud more often. As much as I enjoy reading, I really haven’t done a very good job of reading to Wes. My neighbor purchases a new book for her 3-year-old daughter every month. This is an easy way to build up his library and make it fun as you build up.
4) Teach Wes to sign. Not much to say about this – I just think it’s fun, educational and most likely streamlines communication between kid & parent. (Also hoping for less tantrums!)
5) Personal resolutions:
– Practice contentedness. I’m tired of complaining and wanting, only to GET and still not be satisfied.
– Trust. Worry is written all over my face and all over my heart. It’s a no-brainer to just let God handle it.
– Pray for wisdom. I already do this, but not nearly enough. God has promised to give wisdom to all who ask – who wouldn’t want this amazing gift?
Mr. Chubs is awake now, so I am off to play blocks and cars on our freshly cleaned rug. Watching him learn is thrilling. Here’s to an exciting 2012!
Since neither Steven or I had to work today, Santa came early for Wes. He “opened” his big present so that we could spend the day playing together. I’m pretty sure this Fisher Price Step n’ Play Piano is a hit.
Did you notice the Poop Face? Yeah, that was the first of a series of looks as he ridded himself of the sweet potatoes that Grandma fed him yesterday.
Christmas Vacation is off to a great start. Besides the piano thingy, we’ve enjoyed Starbucks, a slow morning and Papa Roux for lunch (where Wes took a nice, long nap). An episode of Ellen, some Metroid and some cookies & fudge later, we’re just enjoying our little family before Christmas begins tomorrow at my parents’. We’ll spend Christmas morning at home and then head out to Troy, Ohio, for the Shattuck Christmas.
And then… we have the whole next week off! Both of us! It will be glorious.
I’m gonna go heat up some leftover sesame chicken and pop in Love Actually to further bask in Christmas-goodness.
Happy 5 months! You certainly are a happy child – as long as you don’t have teething pain and aren’t suffering from a fever like the last few days. Somehow, even in your confused state of what-is-wrong-with-me, Daddy can make you smile from ear to ear. And your giggles are just too much. They continually make Mommy’s heart melt. All those hours of consoling you when I have no idea what to do are totally worth just one of those gorgeous laughs.
Within the next few weeks, that beaming face will show off two little bottom front teeth. The caps have finally peeked out over your gums, and soon they will grow into sparkly, white, adorable baby teeth. Will we keep them when they fall out in a few years? It’s unfortunate for you that they decided to make an appearance so early on because you’re JUST now starting to hang on to toys. Keeping a teether in your mouth is next to impossible – you’d much rather chomp on your bib or thumb. But, it’s rather fortunate for you that they decided to make an appearance so early on because you’ll be over Mouth: Stage 1 before your 6 month birthday!
As I write this, you finally clonked off to sleep. Tylenol certainly helps dull the pain and your pitiful whimpers. This stage of your life may just be about the hardest for Mommy thus far. Daddy is a champ and takes everything in stride, but I worry endlessly about how to comfort you. I’m still learning how to fully trust the Lord, so when you cry, I cry, too. It will get easier – or, different, I guess – as we learn each others’ signals over time. And most importantly, how Mommy relies on God to get over the current bump in the road.
You’ve become such a natural part of our days and lives. Mom & Dad enjoyed our 4 married years as just the two of us, but you have brought us into a family. Jake & Lucy will always be our “kids,” too, but your flesh & blood is pretty remarkable. You have changed the relationships we have with others and how we interact with our parents, friends and neighbors. We love you tons – like, it’s hard to describe. And how fun is it to see bits and pieces of relatives and genetics with each expression you make?
I am so thankful for you. You’ve made me a softer, less selfish, more understanding person. I thank you for being the reason I complain less. (Or, rather, my complaints are now in a different category!) We are proud of your rapid growth and development. And those lovely thighs. I could eat them!
I’m looking forward to spending a special moment with you, Daddy and the dogs on Christmas morning this week. Let us remember to be grateful for everything given to us from our Father, to celebrate our friends and family and give to those in need this season and always.
A first Christmas has got to be one of the most entertaining of all things for parents. I love this time of year anyway, and it’s even more fun with a super jolly & round kid. Stick a Santa hat on an infant, and BOOM, instant adorable.
We went to see Santa today after brunch at Dufour’s in Irvington, a yummy spot for fresh-squeezed orange juice and the 5-for-$5.50 breakfast menu. I could hardly contain my excitement, since obviously, Wes isn’t yet old enough to be itching for the annual chance to sit on the Big One’s lap! My parents still tease me about how I had to wear my best dress to visit Santa each year. It was a fancy ordeal. Wes was a champ. He looked at Santa in confusion and amazement, then let a grand smile for a cute photo.
The tree is up, most all the presents are wrapped and stockings are somewhat full. Cards were mailed today. Maybe I’m going a little overboard, but I’m loving it. And having Mondays and Fridays off this month are fantastic to get Christmasy things finished and still have time to watch Ellen and give undivided attention to my almost-5-month-old.