Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Memories

Much like the other 95% of our country’s population, we’ve been getting ready for Christmas in our home. (No, that’s not a real stat. It’s made up. Fight the urge to correct my politically incorrect assumptions). When Tommy and I first got married, it was important to us to go ahead and establish a few Christmas traditions for our new little family, nothing particularly unique just special to us. This year, Abi Kate has been a partaker of a few of these traditions and some new ones, and can I just say that Christmas is soooo much cooler with a kid?! I’m definitely not hating on a childfree Christmas. I lived and loved those Christmases for a long time and never felt like I was missing out on anything. This is just a great new season of our life and so far it’s pretty much surpassed every expectation I had of it. This will be our 6th Christmas together and one of the things that Tommy & I have always done is to go cut down our Christmas tree at the same tree farm. So, I strapped on Abi Kate (see, the beauty of babywearing once again!) and we headed out with our camera and saw and measuring pole in tow. It was fun talking about how things had come full circle from it just being the two of us to bringing her out to experience it as well. I just can’t get rid of the teacher in me, so I’ve stopped trying-- and because of that, I LOVED giving her this learning experience. Touching trees that felt very different from any she’s felt before. The new sight of rows and rows of green trees- far more than she’s ever seen in one setting. A new smell for her to experience (nothing smells better to me than a fresh pine tree!). Even just the experience of watching a tree be cut down, carried back, trimmed, and tied to a car. I know she’s too young to understand, but I do know her little senses were in overdrive out there!

 Cutting down the chosen one.... He put his shoes back on, but he always takes them off and puts them under his knees so his pants won't get muddy. He decided to brave it this year ;)

 I know holding the saw beside the tree on the ground makes it look like I did something-- what a nice thought. Mostly, I just carried a baby.

 Of course after cutting down the tree, the real important discussions began like, “How do we keep her out of it?!” and “Oh man, she’s going to be eating pine needles!!” We’ve never been particularly successful at keeping our dogs out of the tree, but somehow Abi Kate has proved much more manageable than Layla (not really a surprise.) In fact, the other day I couldn’t find Layla and she was behind the tree. Genius.  
Another tradition we’ve always had is to turn on Christmas music, have coffee, and decorate the tree together. Abi Kate participated this year. She was mostly intrigued by the lights and any ornament that would fall to the ground. She couldn’t quite burn the midnight oil to finish decorating with us (ok it was really like the 9 o’clock oil) so she headed to bed and we finished up together as usual. Sweet, sweet memories for us.  Last year when we decorated we talked about how we’d have a baby girl with us this year. I remember my belly bumping into the tree while doing the lights. And this year while we decorated, we talked about that same sweet, anticipated baby’s reactions to Christmas so far.
 Hanging the lights... Tommy got to play with Abi Kate. I think he got the better end of that deal.
 Look what I found!

 Family time :) I had to change shirts because the tree was slicing up my tender arms ;) (Also, don't judge. I know my makeup looks horrendous here!)
Hanging up her ornament.

We opted to forgo the icicles this year. Layla is famous for walking around the Christmas tree very slowly, like abnormally slow. I think the smell does something to her. Anyway, she walks around it knocking off ornaments as she goes and when she comes back out she tends to have a nice little pile of icicles on her back (which she’s totally unaware of). She then proceeds  to drop those all over the house wherever she goes. We decided there was no need for our baby to get those wrapped up in her intestines.  We also put the tree in the corner of our living room where our ottoman can be angled just perfectly to block any babies (or dogs!) from getting into the tree.  And as a side note, if you have not met Layla, you are seriously missing out. Can’t you tell?!

 I have missed my classroom this Christmas season. Kindergarten at Christmastime is just utter chaos, but it is also extremely fun. To replace that, I pulled out all my Christmas books and Abi and I have spent lots of time reading the past several days. I follow a very age-appropriate curriculum (and I do use that term very loosely) with her, just little activities that last about 15-20 minutes that are geared towards developing the whole child. Because I’ve been privileged to be home with her, it’s very important to me that my days with her are intentional. I’m so easily distracted by other things-- laundry that needs to be done, errands, commitments to others, and technology is my big timewaster/addiction. (In fact, I ‘m writing this while she’s napping. I should be switching over the laundry…..) The TV rarely makes it on during the day, but it’s far too easy for me to sit down and get sucked in to the laptop. Having purposeful activities keeps me focused on what my goal is while I’m home-- her. Not a clean floor, or a perfectly dusted house, or my favorite blogs. However,  said activities weren't planned with the knowledge that she would be 10 months old at Christmastime, so they’re not thematic, which is just a no-no for my Kindergarten loving heart. So, I decided to adapt a few things. One of the things I used to do for my little friends was make gingerbread playdough. They always loved it and I loved watching them play with it. Even though she’s too young to really play with playdough, letting her  feel new textures, smells, and participate in the making of it were good enough for me. So….

 Smelling the nutmeg
 Helping momma stir
 I let her try to stir it alone.... Sometimes you just stir with the wrong end of the whisk, ya know?! ;)
Deciding what she thinks about her playdough
 Yes, I am aware that this looks like a pile of poop. She was getting excited about it though!
 And into the mouth.... the face she made after this was pretty great. 
 Since she eats when she's in her high chair, we decided to move her to the table so she wouldn't be confused about not eating the playdough.
 She was really more excited about sliding all over the table.
 Washing down that nasty playdough taste. Now, this picture just kills me. Abi Kate is breastfed & until she was 3 months old (almost 4 months) she refused every single bottle that we tried-- and we tried a lot of different types. I assumed that having her drink from a sippy cup would be the same experience. Not so much. Someone had given us one or two of these at a shower. A few weeks ago I pulled one of these out of the pantry just to let her try it. She sucked the water right down. Seriously?! The lid on this thing isn't even slightly like a nipple. Clearly, I should've reached for this at 2 months old when she was busy singing "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing."
Once she figured out it wasn't a snack, she really liked the squishy texture.        

And because she definitely couldn’t play with this huge amount of playdough, we decided to share with a few of her little friends that she just loves and sees regularly (who are a bit older and can actually enjoy it!).
We sealed up the rest of the playdough in these and took them to her sweet friends.

 We always want the purpose of Christmas to shine through in our home and in our actions for Abi Kate. So, even though she’s young, we read the Christmas story to her from Luke and we talked about giving to others  because God gave Jesus to us(ok, I talked and she kept eating her peas & broccoli. Nonetheless….). I really do know that she can’t cognitively grasp these concepts, but it is important to us for her to always see those things and have her be a participant in ways that are applicable to her, like with her toys (or in this case playdough), even when she can’t quite understand. And even though the words from Luke 2 don’t mean much to her right now, we hope that by hearing the beginnings of the gospel story it will be hidden in her heart even from the earliest age. If all else fails, talking with her is really great for speech and language development. :)

I’m excited to share this Christmas with her, to see her open presents and taste new foods. I’m excited to watch her continue to grow in the coming year. And mostly, I anticipate the day that we will look upon Christmas with a shared view-- as the day that holds great victory for us as believers, where we celebrate the baby in the manger who will become the man on the cross, the conqueror of death, the Redemption for mankind.  


  1. You are one incredible mommy! Abi Kate is so lucky to have such a creative, fun Mommy.

  2. Oh, I remember Zoey's first Christmas last year! She was 9 months old and it was a BLAST! I think definitely more for us than her, haha! And now that she is 20 months, I'm even more excited to see how she reacts to waking up on Christmas with presents under the tree. :) This is definitely one of the most exciting things about being a part - holidays!!!

  3. That seems crazy, doesn't it?! 9 months to 20 months! I bet she is going to EAT IT UP! I can't wait either! :)