Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Our first sign of Christmas's arrival was Aunty Anna's arrival!

We had two days together before Auntie Caroline and Uncle Joe arrived too! 
Despite his grown up appearances, Joe still sleeps like a teenager! We had a little car drama with Caroline's car and she ended up renting one to drive the rest of the way. Our drive was intensely stressful as the roads were solid ice with semis speeding past regardless of the danger. It took us an extra 2 hours to get there, but luckily we did safely. 
Julia was just thrilled to be there and immediately set to work playing with Olaf and her other aunts and uncles. 

since the roads were so bad, we opted to go to church via sled. 
the kids learned about santa lucia traditions. Julia was much impressed with the candles in the hair and even more impressed with the cookies they got to hand out to everyone. 
we spent time painting, cooking, wrapping presents, and playing. Julia slept under the tree with Olaf, a family tradition for the kids young enough to enjoy that sort of thing.  

We went to the train station to meet Auntie Erin and Uncle Christopher!
and built snowpeople with Auntie Caroline
We went sledding out at my Granny's
with Auntie Anna and Loki
the hill was steep! I thought Julia would be scared but she loved it! 

Games were played, and more feasts prepared. 
Caroline's boyfriend Matt sent the family an amazing amazing ham. It was soooooooo delicious! Before....
and after....
Back to church on Christmas eve! The kids sang a song and made snowflakes to send to the new school where the kids of Newtown will begin in January. They are collecting them from all over so that the kids will be welcomed by a winter wonderland. 

at home, we got ready for our new tradition, a White Elephant gift exchange. We each provided a nice, desirable item and had a great time stealing and trading back and forth. It was a great idea! Julia and Olaf were exempt from the stealing, and he got a huge Lego and Julia got a horse from her Auntie Caroline.
Christmas morning! We opened stockings, which we did Secret Santa style, assigning everyone to a stocking. That worked really well! We did the rest of the presents too, and Julia was just thrilled to actually get her hands on them!
we attempted to give chris and erin a "christmas moon" as they walked over to the house, but they didn't look up!!!! too bad, because that is the one and only time I've seen my mom moon someone. 
buffalo horns were received
and many rides on the buffalo followed. 

we took a family photo right before Dave and Julia and I had to take off. We were in a hurry to get home since we will soon have a huge crowd of friends at our house! Fortunately the roads were better than we expected. Unfortunately Julia threw up the whole way home. (it's rumored she consumed an entire whitman's chocolate sampler before we got in the car)
Despite her health, she still wanted to open more presents at home!
and today has been spent playing, cleaning, napping, mourning saying goodbye to family, and anticipating the arrival of friends. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Moving forward amidst tragedy

The devastating killings in Newtown have weighed heavily over us the past week. Unbelievable losses in an unbelievable setting. What does that leave us with? How do we continue to live in and trust in this world? What choice do we have to do otherwise? The principal who died in Newtown was a first year administrator in a school remarkably similar to Mosier Community School. Dave faces heavy questions from terrified parents who can never be reassured enough that this nightmare won't reach them. He has to train his staff on lockdown procedures and try to brainstorm with them every horrifying way that someone could try to kill them and the children they would seek to protect. In 3 years, I will walk Julia to her first day of kindergarten and the thought of the slain will never be far from my mind. It is hard to turn on the radio and hear the coverage of Newtown interspersed with coverage of juvenile behavior on Capitol Hill and other news drivel. It is hard to see the dichotomy of facebook, where posts of grief alternate with posts of trivial complaining/regular life and posts of "my personal view on gun control." It is hard to make Christmas cookies and think of those who will forever associate Christmas with the anniversary of the death of their child. And yet I make cookies and listen to the news and take Julia out in public knowing full well that I can never protect her enough. That even if I homeschooled and stockpiled weapons that I knew how to use, that wouldn't be enough to save her from a fatal accident. That I can never be sure that she isn't in the wrong place at the wrong time and fall prey to violence or illness or nature. Therefore I go about my day, continue to trust strangers to have good intentions, and try to make sure Julia knows she is loved.
We watched the school's holiday play and when Dave made his appearance as Santa, Julia immediately informed me "oh, thats my Daddy" 
It was good we were in the back since she had to get up and dance whenever a song was sung.  It was a pretty amazing production. 
We got the cookie cutters all unpacked and Julia's been very fond of identifying them. 
The first of many batches of cookies. 

We had our first snowfall, soon followed by rain, then more snow. It is lovely to see it fall and since I don't expect it to last, Julia and I try to get out right away to play. 
At goodwill, I found a little camera toy with the picture wheels. Julia is much taken with it. 

Julia's little friend Aurora and their beloved umbrellas
Unreal beauty on morning walks
I'm so grateful to have a friend to share it with. 

The neighbor chickens came to live with ours for the winter, so now we have six. I expected a bit of pecking and status-seeking when we put the two in, but I have not noticed any at all and have yet to figure out who is top chicken in my little herd. None of them seem too keen on dominance. The white one escapes daily but hangs out by the coop door and waits to be let back in. Despite the addition, we seem to be down to about one egg daily. I've had to supplement, especially with all my baking, but it makes me grumpy to buy eggs.  
Julia re-learned that snow is good eating! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A bit of December

Julia earned her crown!  
She was soooo pleased! So was I! The movement to sleeping in the big girl bed has gone well. The first night, she was up a lot, but not upset. She'd come up, I'd wake up (on high alert myself) and take her back down and remind her about earning her crown. She came up probably 10 times that night. The next two nights were about 6 times. She earned a little glowworm doll baby that sings quiet songs and some other trinket that i've now forgotten. After that, she woke only 3 times. Now, we are down to ONCE a night!!!!!!!!! I cannot say how happy I am about this. I now am a much happier mom in the morning.  She still asks for a "surprise" in the mornings, but we have downscaled considerably, usually to a piece of halloween candy.
Dave had a saturday class in Portland, so we went and made a day of it, going to the art museum. I was nervous to take Julia, especially as we arrived right about naptime. I brought the stroller along, but for 15 minutes, it was shaping up to be a disaster. She wanted to climb on displays, roll around on the floor, and generally be a bit naughty and loud, magnified by the austerity of a museum. Thankfully, a guard came over and asked if we knew that there was a kids discovery center upstairs. I gratefully fled there with Julia and hung out while Dave looked around. We switched, and when I came back, by some miracle, she was asleep in the stroller. So it ended up fine, we got to see art, which I have not really managed to do for years! The picture is of one of my favorites, a wool blanket embroidered and pieced. 

and this one, a metal bowl adorned with feathers. 

We returned home to guests! Mike and Mary Chiles, family friends from way back came and spent the night with us. Julia was delighted with Mary in particular and is playing "go to sleep" with her. She was quite sad when they left. 
So was I! It was lovely to hear all they had been up to and to update them on our lives. 

I did a bit of decorating, lights around the front windows, candles lit and a wreath on the door.  
That was all I had time for because my friend Andrea came to see me, all the way from Minnesota! She brought her 4 month old, Wesley along, but her 2 year old William stayed home with his Grandparents. This was my first time meeting Wesley, and he was adorable! Cute and content and he stayed where you left him. That stage is amazingly short!

We had a great 5 days together, and on top of that, Julia's Grandma Gini came down, so we had a full home! Julia was just thrilled. She loves Andrea, she adores the baby and on top of that, her Grandma was here! Julia decided she was going to sleep with Grandma Gini and so she did. I wasn't sure how going back to her bed would seem after Gini went home, but she had no problem. It was the first night (two in a row actually!) that I didn't have to wake up to attend Julia since her birth. On top of that, Gini agreed to take care of both Julia and Wesley one night while Andrea and I went out for a drink and dessert! 
bathtime for babies!
Julia wanted to help feed the baby some cereal.  
and she actually did a great job! It reassures me that if we do indeed have another one, that she might actually be a big help! 
Andrea and I went for long walks and I tried my best to convince her that the west is where life is best!

here's a better picture of the baby. Still in the adorable chubby cheeked stage!
Julia was all about holding the baby
for 6 seconds, then she wanted to go play. 
she was captivated by the guitar!
We stayed the last night of the visit in Portland, since Andrea's flight was early in the morning. We went to the saturday market, got Voodoo donuts,  swam in the hotel pool, rode the lightrail, saw the tree in Pioneer Square, had dinner and went to bed early!
Andrea got home without a hitch, and Julia and I swam once more, ate breakfast and hurried home to get our tree! 
I love our tree! It is the first tree that I've ever hung all my ornaments from the Christmasses since I went to college all together. From my house in Northfield, from Holden, from Alaska and from my childhood, as well as some made by Dave's  Great Great Grandma. It made me feel like I've finally arrived in my adult life, even more so than having Julia made me feel. I guess it feels like the transient years are over (and for me, that is a great thing) and we are close to buying this house and hopefully will live here a good long time. While I was busy getting the last ornaments hung and feeling all sentimental, red wiggler worms were busy escaping from the tree! I saw one, and liberated it to the outdoors, came back and noticed 50 more!!!!! I thought about freaking out, but decided that I wasn't about to take all the ornaments off again, so instead got a cup and flashlight and collected worms for a good hour. I haven't seen any since, so I do hope they are all removed. I did have to run around a bit and make sure they were not somehow escaping the worm bin in the basement and coming up through the floorboards, but thankfully, those worms were safe and secure and busy eating food scraps and not crawling up through the floorboards. I've never heard of worms in a christmas tree, but I am glad they were not spiders. That would have involved a great deal of freaking out. 

So we are getting along fine. Life has calmed down again since our many guests have come and gone, and we are making plans for more in the future!!! I learned to give a subcutaneous injection in EMT class and didn't pass out, so I think I might be able to handle whatever is to come! My term final is in a few days, so we'll soon see if I make it on to the second half of the class.