December 27, 2010

Christmas, done right

This Christmas was perfectly balanced. We did everything that was important to me, but I resisted the urge to overschedule or overdo.
We visited the tree farm, and put up about half of our decorations. Enough that it felt like Christmas, but not so much I was overwhelmed. And I chose the ones that either wouldn't break or wouldn't break my heart, so that I didn't have to worry about quick little hands as we walked by.
We went to the mall once (and only once) to check out the decorations and find her Christmas outfits. (While there, we made the second out of three visits with Santa. We definitely covered that tradition this year.)
I made the munchkin's stocking, but left the embellishments for another year. I did line it with super soft corduroy from my local quilt shot. Even though she isn't nearly old enough to grasp the importance, she enjoyed pulling things out of it. It was also her only gift from us. We filled it with spoons, rice cereal, a teething toy and a new Dr. Seuss onesie. She cut her first tooth the week before and has been dying to eat solid food. So, the cereal was the best gift we could give her. At five months, she was not surprisingly more interested in eating the paper than in any of the gifts.

It was also the only handmade item given this year. Gifts were lovingly selected and carefully wrapped, but they came from a store. This wasn't the year for handmade for me, and the season was so much more fun because I recognized that. The same goes for baking. I wanted Christmas cookies, but I was fine with getting the dough from the grocery store and just decorating them.

But, we set aside a day for a special trip with Grandma and Aunt Megan. That was important enough for the extra effort.

By the evening of the 23rd, there was nothing left to do but watch The Grinch and drink hot chocolate. By the afternoon of the 25th, we were curled up together reading books. And every hour in between was spent enjoying my girl and her first Christmas.

I'm sure I'll miss it some years, but I sure hope we have many more Christmases with just this lovely mix of important traditions and quiet pleasure. I really feel like we got it right this year.

December 19, 2010

A Real Christmas

We woke up Saturday to a gray, cold rain. I declared it the perfect weather for my plans to immerse myself in all things Christmas and sat down to make a list. A few more gifts to pick up, 15 mini cakes to bake for office presents, a trip to the Quilt Shop and a stocking to make for my baby girl...a list worthy of the week before Christmas.

Then my little one woke up from her morning nap in a decidedly restless mood. Normally a munchkin that delights in the very existence of her world, nothing was right yesterday. She didn't seem to need anything in particular, except her parents.

And so, I gave in to it. The day would be about playing with her. We did run a few of those errands, when being out with other people made her happy, but the rest of the shopping list was put aside to wait a few more days. Cakes were baked after she went to bed, and while they aren't the prettiest baked good I've ever gifted I'm confident they'll be appreciated anyway.

I thought today might be the day I got back to that list, but when we got home from church it was clear that today wasn't that day either. Instead, I turned my phone off, set the list aside and decided to just be here. We spent several hours in the rocking chair, took a long nap together, and spent over two hours playing with blocks. Perhaps I'll get a start on her stocking after she goes to bed tonight. Or perhaps I won't. Either way, this has been the perfect week before Christmas. Focused on family and time together, enjoying the rhythm of life instead of fighting it.

The gifts will get wrapped, or they'll be given with just as much love in brown paper bags. And if the stocking doesn't get made, she can borrow mine. But, we will be with family. We will celebrate the birth of a man who asked not for gifts or baked goods, but for kindness to one another. And we will have enjoyed ourselves on the way to the celebration.

December 15, 2010

At Five Months

Oh my, kid, you continue to be such a joy. Every month a bit more fun than the last. I may be late writing this letter, but its only because I can't even begin to capture the magic of you these days.

You still laugh and play with wild abandon. And you are learning more and more sounds with which to express that joy. Gs and Ls, lots of ahs. Sometimes you'll throw a B or D in there. You watch how we form words so closely, and we can see you oh so quietly practicing new sounds.

Perhaps most effectively, and certainly most thrilling to me, you now use Mama (or just as often Mamamamam) to call for me or express excitement at seeing me. Boy does it work. You were fussing yourself to sleep one night when you plaintively cried out Mama from your bed. Your Daddy looked and me and said "you're sunk now." And he was right; I couldn't resist and picked you up for a cuddle. His turn is coming, though. You're right on the verge of saying Da-de. You were practicing last night, watching how Daddy was saying it and trying to imitate him. You got tired, though, and turned to look at me and said Mama instead. We had to laugh at the way you reverted to the one you have down, clearly done trying to learn something new. But today you tried out Da-de again while we were playing, and it was clear as day. I couldn't get you to repeat it, but you will. And you will hold your Daddy in the palm of that chubby little hand.

You're sitting up on your own for long periods of time now. So well that the pediatrician checked your birthdate in disbelief when he saw you doing it. You're also trying to get in to a sitting position on your own, and you almost can if you're reclining. We continue to be amazed by your strength. And your cleverness. If you're in your swing and want to get up, you have started holding on to the sides and using your hands to pull yourself up.

While your preference is still to be constantly interacting with you, with new skills comes a greater independence. You're more willing to sit or lay and play with your toys alone for a few minutes. And you'll happily play in your jumperoo (where you jump, jump, jump) as long as I stay within sight. The kitchen also fascinates you now, and I can do a little bit of cooking as long as I bring your Bumbo chair in so that you can watch. You're also putting yourself to sleep more often now, though that generally requires a bit of fussing (and sometimes alot of crying). You take a pacifier from Daddy and I now, too, so that helps. Oh, and your Daddy is very grateful you've agreed to accept a bottle from him now. Thanks for that.

You had a big month, which was capped off by Thanksgiving with the entire family. Baba and Diado came up for a visit, and we all went to DeLand for a big family meal. You met the rest of your cousins there, and took a long nap on the floor with Julie. We were all particularly charmed by the image of you guys sharing a quilt on the floor, and I love that you will have a cousin so close to your age. It will be so much fun watching you grow.

It is so much fun watching you grow.