Christmas 2014

We have had a wonderful two weeks of vacation for Christmas! I’d love for this to be one of those beautifully written and thoughtful essays on the meaning of Christmas, and the joy of the season with our small children that leaves you with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face, but…this isn’t really that kind of blog. So you’ll get a recap instead. 🙂

DSC_0125_WEBMostly our vacation was great because our daycare was still open for the non-holiday days. (So grateful!) And since we both took the time off work, we still sent them to daycare when we could so that we actually had some free time at home! It. Was. AWESOME. Oh my god, it was amazing.

The last six or seven months got really busy for me, and I was able to keep everything juggled, sometimes just barely. Most weekends as well as evenings after kid bedtime have been dedicated to at least some work (which is why things like this blog got pushed to the back burner). Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy about the work, but I kept wishing for an extra day of the week so I could get more stuff done. So, starting in late November, I had been clinging to the idea of TIME, finally, to just sit around and relax…and work on all the other things on my list. 🙂

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My first major accomplishment was catching up on Project Life. I’d been caught up to Week 49 with photos, but was something like 13 weeks behind on the journaling part. It took more than a few days, and it was hard to focus, but finally, that got done and checked off the list!! Hurray! (The other day I just got the last three weeks of pictures for the year, so I’ll have to get those done hopefully soon.)

IMG_9181_WEBMy next big task was getting some rest. CHECK! I took naps most of the first week, and slept in when I could. I literally hadn’t felt that good and rested since before the babies were born. The second week I’ve gotten less sleep again, but I’m hoping to get back on track. In addition, we worked on getting caught up on the big DVR backlog. I’ve also been watching some stuff on Netflix. I EVEN started a small knitting project. Look at me, such a lady of leisure! I love it!

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We also did some big household projects. With some amazing help from family, we now have shelves in our kitchen, which means a ton more storage for all the crap that has been accumulating on/in/around the cabinets. We also did major cleanup and organization in the basement! It only took an afternoon, but the results are INCREDIBLE. (No before picture, because it was pretty icky and messy). There are some other storage things I’m working on in the garage too. A couple smaller tasks got done too: Andy finally anchored a couple big pieces of furniture, which we’ve been meaning to do for over a year, and he also put together the new storage/dresser thing for the living room, which we’d left sitting in the garage for over a month. Generally, because we’ve actually had some time, we’ve gotten on a roll of getting shit done around the house! Woohoo!

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I’ve also been working on other personal photos, and trying to catch up on this blog, and also starting on my massive list of business-related tasks. I’ve made great progress for such a short amount of time, and I’m really happy and excited. The crossing off of items on my endless to-do list is so damn satisfying and has me all psyched up to keep up the good work!

DSC_0170_WEBThe Christmas part itself has also been really fun. Everyone says that the holidays are amazing through your kids’ eyes, and it’s so true! This year, the holiday decorations are so happy-making for the boys, and for me too. They know and talk about Christmas trees (which they adorably pronounce “mih-miss ree”), lights, stockings, ornaments, presents. I was really excited about the gifts that we piled up under the tree, though I had to consciously resist buying lots of stuff for the dudes, since they got lots of wonderful gifts from family. I got some cheap plastic ball ornaments for them to ‘decorate’ with. They loved it, and kept putting them on and then ripping them off again. Sigh.

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We did go see Santa again, to the downtown Macy’s Santaland. I would like that to be the place we go every year, it’s a fun outing downtown to see the big tree and see the Santaland display. They cared more about pushing their strollers around than looking at the moving reindeer this year, of course! The train stuff later on they thought was super cool. And the Santa there was great again this year too. The boys were not at all sure about sitting on a stranger’s lap. They didn’t cry, but they did do their classic wary/stoic thing. I wonder how old they’ll be before they’ll smile for Santa pictures. 🙂

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This year is an interesting one, because though they’re just starting to notice and learn things, they aren’t old enough for ideas like Santa Claus, or that there’s a special day, or that they can expect presents. Next year is going to be completely different, but this year they’ve been beautifully innocent and fun. I’ve really enjoyed it all, and I’ve been surprised at how happy and how emotional it’s all made me. Turns out I really am a big old softie. 🙂

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Christmas morning was so much fun–I started them off with stockings (because that was always my favorite). I gave them each a matchbox car and a packet of crackers. They were psyched and wanted to eat them right away, and I let them, because it was Christmas! 🙂 They got into the unwrapping thing, but they weren’t that good at it, or understanding that things have to be unwrapped or unpackaged before they can play. They got a fun new lawnmower push toy and a toy guitar, which were the two big toys they played with a lot right away. They also got the Goodnight Moon board game, a doll, some great new board books, some adorable clothes from their very fashionable auntie, a hammering toy, and some bookstore gift cards. Quite a haul for two year olds! They’ve been loving all the new stuff!

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Mid morning, though, we had a scare. I wasn’t paying attention while Malcolm was over by the tree, and suddenly there was something in his mouth. Little red shards. He had eaten or bitten something off the tree! Andy realized it was a tree light bulb. I found the end third caught in his bib and got some biggish shards off his tongue, but I had no idea how much else there was and how much, if any, he had swallowed. Oh god. I was really scared, and so worried, and so guilty. I took him to the ER – the children’s hospital where they were born has a pediatric emergency room, which meant that the decor was really friendly and nice, there was a toy right on the wall of the exam room, and the staff were extra gentle and wonderful and kind. That made things so much easier for both Malcolm and me. Happily, he seemed fine; the doctor told me that if he had swallowed anything, it would most likely pass right through with no damage at all. He was showing no signs of anything amiss, so they were not worried. Which meant that I didn’t have to worry anymore either. And indeed, he’s been totally and completely fine. I was so relieved!

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Later on, we continued our Christmas Day tradition of watching a movie and making/decorating a gingerbread house. Last year we watched Pitch Perfect and this year I sort of wanted to watch that again, but we ended up with 21 Jump Street, which was totally dumb in just the right kind of way.

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We also got in plenty of fun quality time with the four of us together. We went out for a walks a couple times; went to the indoor park; took the Max together for the first time; went to the bookstore; and went out for pizza. Not to mention the jumping and tickling and dancing and playing at home.

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Overall, like I said, it’s been a beautiful, productive, restful, and fun two weeks with our family this Christmas. I hope that you and your family also had a wonderful holiday and new year!

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Getting Ready for Christmas

December has been a busy month! DSC_3260-47

We got our tree on the 8th, put lights on it on the 10th, and finally got some ornaments (and living room lights) up on the 21st. Oops. (We also got some larger outdoor strands for the front of our house…those are still in their boxes.)

Pictures with Santa was on my list, but we kept putting it off and I was afraid we’d never actually get to it. But on Sunday morning before Christmas, we went downtown to the Macy’s Santaland. The line wasn’t long at all (and much better to wait indoors than outside for the Pioneer Santa, though I heard he was a great Santa), and there were several neat Christmas displays in the waiting area, like the animatronic reindeer.

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The Santa part was really quick and really easy. Santa himself was very nice–I realized that one baby was stinky right when it was time to put them on Santa’s lap! I told Santa and he didn’t mind. The babies did not scream and cry; they did their classic, slightly-nervous staredown like they do in all new places.

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In comparison, here is their first Santa photo from last year, when they were only a month old!

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There was more neat stuff past Santa–an old monorail car and this awesome train display:

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A quick photo of me with the babies, too:

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The last piece was our stockings! I grew up with two handmade, personalized stockings–my grandma knitted one for all of us on my dad’s side, and my mom sewed matching/coordinating ones for all of us when I was little. So I wanted to have a new set of stockings for this new family of my own that was also handmade. Last December I asked my mom if she would make some for the four of us. We bought fabrics but there was no time to do anything last year. But this year, my mom was ready to go! She was down here for a day to finish everything up. They turned out really nicely!

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Next year, we will figure out a place to hang them, and we’ll fill them with goodies!

First Christmas Time Capsule

Dear babies,

2012 was your first Christmas. You were five weeks old and you slept most of the day.

You’re still squishy, lovey babies. You weigh somewhere between 7-8 pounds and you’re both around 20 inches long. You’re still wearing newborn-size clothes, though you’ll be ready for 0-3 month pretty soon. We grab whatever onesie is in the drawer of your downstairs changing table when you need a fresh outfit. You have a nice little head of soft hair that is adorably spiky in the back. You sleep in Rock N Plays in our room at night and hang out in them for a lot of the day. You do some tummy time on a boppy or on one of your playmats, though you don’t like it for very long stretches of time. You don’t know how to communicate your needs to us. You’re not smiling for real yet, though you coo a lot. Mostly you grunt and squeak. You drink 3.5 ounces of milk or formula every three hours. That means you don’t sleep more than about 3 hours at a time. We bathe you twice a week in a plastic tub wedged in the kitchen sink.

Next year you’ll be 13 months old for Christmas. You’ll weigh…20 or 30 pounds I guess, and be a lot taller and probably leaner too. You’ll be mobile! You’ll know how to crawl and you will probably be walking or working on it. You will probably say a few words and be able to make your basic needs/wants known to us. You’ll smile at us and hug and kiss us back when we snuggle with you. You’ll probably have even more hair, and it will surely be messy. You might have opinions about the clothes that you wear, and you’ll wear actual clothes sometimes instead of just one-pieces. You’ll be sleeping in separate cribs in your own room–and I sure hope that we’ll have helped you learn to sleep for the entire night by then! You’ll be eating some real food, though maybe some formula/milk as well. You’ll have highchairs in our kitchen and will no doubt make a mess of each meal. You’ll eat regular meals three times a day, along with some snacks. You’ll be taking real baths in the bathtub, probably every day because you get dirty.

Your grandparents and aunts got you some gifts this year–some toys and clothes. We didn’t get you any presents ourselves, seeing as how we already got you the gift of life and continued feeding and unconditional love. 🙂 This year you are completely oblivious to holidays and presents. We picked out a Christmas tree with you dozing in your car seats/stroller, and you don’t seem to notice the pretty lights. We made a special ‘feast’ for Christmas dinner, and we built a gingerbread house while watching a movie, like we have for the last three years. But of course you didn’t know or care.

Next year you probably won’t understand the concept of Santa Claus or Christmas very well, but I bet you’ll know what presents are, though! We can have you help us pick out and then decorate our Christmas tree. We’ll have to be careful with the breakables of course, and strategically place the ornaments. We’ll hang our new stockings (one of your grandmas is making us a family set!). We will probably get you one or two things each, and hopefully the grandparents won’t go too crazy with presents. 🙂 I will probably take photos of you on Christmas morning if you can ‘unwrap’ any presents. We’ll dress you in a special Christmas outfit for at least part of the day (and then I’ll take more photos of you!). Maybe you’ll help us decorate the gingerbread house and we’ll make you something special so you can participate in our Christmas feast.

I can’t even imagine what this life next year will feel like, but I bet it will be fun (with plenty of hard times in there too). You two have been a pretty great gift for us this year. I am looking forward to next Christmas with you being even more special!

Love,

Mommy

Merry Christmas!

2007 was the first year I got my own Christmas tree. It was a fake tree, twenty bucks at Target. It was a nice little tree, and I really enjoyed having a little Christmas cheer in my cozy studio apartment.

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In 2010, we finally bought a real tree for Christmas, and haven’t looked back since. They look so much better, obviously, but oh, that heavenly aroma. That’s what I love!

Living in Brooklyn, it was super easy to buy and transport a tree. There were tree stands across two corners from us, so it was a very short and easy haul up to our apartment. Now that we live in a less walkable neighborhood, we had to drive to a tree place and transport it on our sweet new car.

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Then, of course, we had to make some space for it in our living room.

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We added lights only the first night.DSC_8207-3 DSC_8217-5

(Taken with Photojojo’s sweet bokeh filter kit)

We didn’t get around to ornaments until the next night.

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Ta-da! So pretty. DSC_8239-8

The day after, while admiring the tree, I was thinking about what an odd tradition it is, putting a tree inside your house and then putting stuff on it. Obviously it’s an old tradition that we’ve conscripted, but still, it’s kind of strange, you know?

For the past however many years, I’ve had a photo ornament made of us, and we’ve also started to collect ornaments on our adventures. I think the first one was on our road trip to Acadia. This was a busy and special year, with two big trips and now babies. Here are the ornaments we added to our collection in 2012:

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(Commemorating our cross-country road trip this summer)

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(Commemorating our Central Europe trip this spring, to Budapest, Prague (Praha in Czech), and Vienna)

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(Duh, couldn’t resist a camera ornament! Although, come to think of it, it’s perfect because this was the year I incorporated my photography business)

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(Hand-stitched by my cousin, and there are two of these, one for each twin)

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(The photo of us for this year has two extra people! :D)

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(I bought this at Salmon Days in October–the snowman hats are meant to have names written on them. I didn’t want to inscribe our chosen names before they were born, so I’ll get them written on there by next Christmas. This is to commemorate our first year with two babies!)

And some gratuitous baby photos as a bonus!

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