Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

Some highlights of our Christmas celebration, just so I don't forget them. 

Christmas Eve service at my mom's church. Avery went right into childcare with no problems and had fun, which is always a relief. Eleanor made it through half the service before Luke took her out to walk, since it was during her cranky hour. 

Group grand-kids pictures done Christmas Eve morning amidst the chaos of last-minute shoppers at the mall. 

Avery's excitement over opening presents. She had hot chocolate while we waited for the rest of the family to get home from dinner (we left the restaurant early so we could get Eleanor down for the night). We always open one present on Christmas Eve, and it's always new pajamas so everyone looks good on Christmas morning for pictures.

Avery's multiple meltdowns over not being able to open presents when she wanted. All my efforts at focusing the season on Christ and celebrating Advent this year seemed lost in the light of presents. Four Christmases didn't help either. 2 is a difficult age sometimes. 

Avery LOVED the train set we got her. It's now set up in our tiny hallway, thanks to Luke, who stayed up last night to build it for her so she could play with it today. 

Christmas morning brunch at my grandparents, a tradition. Christmas dinner at my Great-Aunt Mary's, in which Avery exclaimed, "Oh, I can't believe it!" when she opened a present of a book from Aunt Mary and Uncle Dan. 

Avery, at opening a doll set from Aunt Lela, "The mommy doll is a little bit scary." There was a doll nearly as tall as Avery and then a standard size baby doll. She played with the baby, but would keep checking on the larger doll to see if it was still scary. The verdict = yes. 

Eleanor slept most of Christmas morning, hanging out in the swing while we opened presents. She didn't seem too interested in what was going on. 

The girls also had colds this past weekend, which made for a cranky Eleanor at times, though she's generally happier than I would expect, quick to offer anyone smiles when they look her way. Some of her crankiness stemmed from shots last week. 

We had originally planned on traveling to Louisiana to visit Luke's grandparents, but by Monday, the girls had reached the end of their limits for traveling and being off schedule, and I have reached my limit for 2011. It was simply time to go home and rest and just be alone for a few days before Luke has to go back to work next week. Christmas was harder than I thought it would be, in missing Dave. It's good to be home.

We took pictures, I promise, lots of them, but they're all on my mom's camera and I forgot to upload them to my computer before we left. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2 and 3 Months

Dear Eleanor,

One day I'll explain why there were no formal pictures taken of you at 2 and 3 months old. We have snapshots, but the monthly photo-in-the-chair just didn't work out. Mommy kind of gave up on 2011. At your 2 month check-up you were 12 lbs 1 oz (75th percentile) and 23.5" (85th percentile)! Today we went for just a couple shots and your new weight (with clothes and a full diaper on) was 14 lbs 1 oz at nearly 3 1/2 months. That's quite the weight gain in a month!

In the past two months, you have:

  • started to giggle, though it's more like "heh, heh", and only when we tickle you under the neck
  • gained amazing head control - you are much more advanced at this than your sister was
  • started sitting in the Bumbo this past week
  • become more entranced by your big sister, who devotes a good portion of her attention to you
  • woken up happy every single day. You whimper until you see my face, and then it's all grins from there
  • busted out of your swaddle way too many times, but you won't sleep without it
  • begun drooling like crazy, though you still aren't a big spitter (yay!)
  • started sleeping through the night in the past couple of weeks - we can get a good 10 hours straight most nights, but the past couple nights you've woken up due to that darn habit of popping out of the swaddle, and you decide that since you're up you might as well eat
  • taken a couple bottles in the past 2 weeks, but they aren't your favorite by any means
  • gained a new cousin, baby Grayson, a week ago
  • taken a 3 hour nap every afternoon on the couch, at the same time as Avery's nap
  • proven how inflexible you are with your schedule. Easy baby, yes, but you like your afternoon naptime and your bedtime. Avery was the MOST flexible baby ever and slept anywhere and went everywhere
  • had a bad case of skin stuff - you have such sensitive skin and it's always flaring up
  • grown more hair and it sticks up all over the place. It's so soft and fuzzy. 
  • attended your first wedding, that of Aunt Lela and Uncle Josh (well, second, but you were about the size of a sunflower seed back in January)
I pray that 2012 brings a little more motivation to take pictures and keep up with your developments. I'm sorry that I haven't been documenting all of this for you, but I'm enjoying everything as it comes and marveling at everything you do. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

One Little Word

The time is quickly approaching for One Little Word. My word for 2011 was simplify. I completely forgot that this was my word by February, possibly March. By the end of this year, I thought that I had picked the word rejoice. Why? Probably because it was part of my blog header. I certainly didn't simplify much of anything in my life, though I had all intentions to do so. Did I rejoice either? Not really sure. This has been THE HARDEST year of my life, for many reasons never covered here on the blog. I have learned to rejoice in the good - that's always easy, and I've tried my darndest to rejoice in the bad, which has been a daily struggle the past few months. How does one rejoice over bad? Or, are we simply to learn that no matter what the bad is, God is constant, and we are to rejoice in HIM always. Not the situation, but in the God who controls it? So, we still grieve for the loss of a loved one, but not because the loved one is worse off. The loved one is in a far better place, sitting with his Savior. We grieve because we are sad, because we miss him. So, we still grieve for the trials and tribulations that come our way, but not because we are victims and how dare God allow this to happen to us? We grieve, yes, but we rest in the peace and comfort of the God who carries us through those trials and tribulations. I've learned that I am not alone in any of this. I have felt more alone than ever this year in many ways, at least in the moment, but looking back I can see God's provision throughout it all. The support for my family through the loss of my father. The support of me and my family through bedrest and birth. The support continues, on and on and on. Prayers and meals and friends willing to step in at a moment's notice for everything that seems to keep pouring on us.

While I have lived through the hardest moments of my life this year, I have also lived through some of the most joyous. God has been gracious and sandwiched the pain within some of my happiest moments - we started the year with joy, with an answered prayer of pregnancy discovered literally on day one of 2011, and we end this year with joy, in the birth of my nephew just a few days ago. I may not have finished my year's original word - life might still be cluttered and messy and anything but simple, but I've worked hard to adapt to my adopted word, rejoicing in all. I fail daily. Grace prevails.

I challenge you to pick a word for 2012. I'm pondering my own. Think hard, but if it just doesn't seem to fit what the year brings you, change it, and watch it change you.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Season of Advent

A lot has happened since Halloween (my last post), including another entire holiday, but I'm going to skip over all of that for now. I'll go back and highlight Thanksgiving and Eleanor's 2 month check-up, but I'm just not ready to share my feelings about everything else just yet on here, so thank you for understanding.

Christmas this year just isn't at the top of the list for our family, but I was thinking about how to make this a special season for Avery. Last year she was a little too young to understand anything about Christmas, so I didn't start any traditions with her apart from our annual Christmas Eve pajamas. So, this year, we're starting a Jesse Tree. This is a new-to-me concept, having heard about it only in the past couple of years. I didn't grow up with a Jesse Tree, but the idea definitely caught my attention and I mentally bookmarked it as something to start with our children.

The Jesse Tree devotion walks you through the season of Advent, telling of the entire story of Christ, beginning in Genesis and touching on "historical moments that lead to the birth of Christ" (Simple Mom). I'm using this devotional, from Ann Voskamp, but I'm finding it too advanced for a 2 year old. I think it's something we'll have to grow into as a family. I did print out her ornaments and decoupaged them onto inexpensive wooden tags found at Hobby Lobby. I still need to drill the holes in them to thread ribbon through so they become actual ornaments. Right now Avery just props them on the tree, and they move about through the day.

Eventually I'd love to curate a collection of real ornaments for this, built up over time. This is quickly becoming a learning year for us, and hopefully next year we'll have a real system down. I think tomorrow I'll switch to reading the scripture from Avery's storybook Bible, and I want to check out this site - it seems like the devotional is better geared towards children, but I have yet to read through it fully. And Sojourn Kids has adapted the RCA's devotional a bit further, making it ideal for toddlers!

If you want to make your own devotional, here is a listing of the scripture readings and corresponding symbols to put on your Jesse Tree.

I love that there is a practical activity that is to be done each day with Voskamp's devotional. It's a way to act out what we just learned and to help cement it in Avery's mind. I guess over time I'll pick and choose my favorite parts of each of these and formulate my own book to use every year.

How are you celebrating the season of Advent this year? Please share!