What an amazing Christmas! This year was full of surprises, love, fun, joy and good times. We started our holidays by going over to the Littles' house on Thursday evening. We had a wonderful dinner and a great time visiting. We actually had to wake Xander the next morning at 9am. He loves to sleep when he's at Grandma's!
Xander got a bunch of riding toys this Christmas. He got a wagon, a riding car and a trike/big wheel - from Grandma, Grandpa and GG. When we were almost finished opening gifts Xander came to me and said, "Night-night. Please?" It was only 12:30pm. He was exhausted!
We visited David's grandmother that afternoon. She's 91 years old, but did surprisingly well with Xander though she has a hard time seeing well these days. This picture is of him "giving Gran a hug" - sure, that's what we'll call it. :)
We ended up at Papa and Mimi's house that evening. We did an adorenament tree where we hung different ornaments on a small tree that represent different names of Jesus. There was the Lion of Judah, King of Kings, the Living Water, the Great Shepherd, Savior, the Vine, etc. It was a great lesson for the kids and a great reminder for the rest of us. Mimi and Papa had also recorded stories for each of the kids and gave them as Christmas Eve gifts.
On Christmas morning we woke up at Mimi's house where it had started snowing! A white Christmas! Very cool. We ate a yummy breakfast including homemade cinnamon rolls (by my sister - I was thoroughly impressed), opened gifts and had a great time!
Xander got a Cars big wheel to leave at Mimi's house. He loved it, too!
That afternoon the Littles joined us and we opened gifts again! Unfortunately the snow had gotten so deep that we were concerned about getting out of Mimi's driveway, so David, Xander and I left before Christmas dinner. It took us about an hour and forty-five minutes to get home. It usually takes an hour. But we arrived home safely.
We woke up this morning to about 4 inches of snow on the ground. It was beautiful! We had our Christmas this morning, opened gifts, ate yummy breakfast, and lounged around. We went outside before Xander's nap and played in the snow. We made a snowman, some snowballs, and even snow cream! It was so much fun! I felt like a kid again and was so glad to share that experience with my husband and son. Xander slept almost 3 hours this afternoon and probably would've slept more if we would have let him. He was worn out! It's been a nice, relaxing evening and we're so thankful to be together as a family. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by people who love us!
Over the past few months I've posted about a grant that the library received to provide story times for kids and workshops for parents regarding pre-literacy skills. The program was 6 months long and we finished up this month. At the end of the program I gave each child 15 books to take home and keep at their house. Here are some pics of my kiddos receiving their books.
The Outreach Department (aka. my work family) celebrated the holidays by going to Pewter Rose, a very stylish and feminine restaurant in Charlotte's South End. It was so nice to go out with everyone and spend some quality downtime together. We rode the light rail down together which is always a fun experience!
Back Row from left to right: Irania, Connie, Dot, Amy, Emily, Meryle
Front row from left to right: Veronica and Varanrat
The beautiful origami geese on the ceiling of Pewter Rose.
Meryle trying to avoid the pic. Dot smiling, but I don't think Varanrat was ready for this pic!
As promised, here are some Christmas pics. The Christmas tree situation with my almost 2-year old has gone beautifully! Xander wasn't all that interested with decorating, so David and I hung ornaments while he played with his toys. He hasn't tried to get into any of the ornaments or the tree itself. It's been a great experience.
Xander and Daddy hanging an ornament.
Hugs for Mommy.
Santa on the other hand...
Well, I pretty much knew that Xander wasn't going to be okay with sitting on a stranger's lap, much less a stranger who is an old man with a big white beard, and an even bigger belly. We only stood in line for about 10 minutes at ImaginOn for a free visit to Santa, mind you - I wasn't crazy enough to take him to a mall where I knew I'd have to pay $25 for an awful picture/experience. We then walked up to Santa, me talking to Xander the entire way about who Santa is and how he's our friend, etc. David walked immediately to the photographer (who didn't even attempt a shot), I handed Xander over, he started crying and screaming, I looked at David and asked him if he got the shot, he said yes, and I got Xander back from Santa. All of this took about 45 seconds. As soon as I got Xander off of Santa's lap, he laid his head on my shoulder, buried his face in my neck and didn't look up for about 10 or 15 minutes. Even when we went over to the library and started talking to my friends Darci and Jason, he still wouldn't look up. He eventually got over it and started playing with David in the toddler area. Oh well. This will be a funny story when he's older.
And when I say wonderful, what I also mean is busy! This has been such an amazingly busy month. I kept telling myself to sit down and write a blog post, but other things started creeping up on me. The first weekend of the month David, Xander and I went to the lake to hang out with Becky. We had a great time playing games and visiting! On Sunday we went to Mocksville to celebrate Nathan's birthday. Poor Nathan. It's tough having to share a birthday month with Jesus. He tends to get the short side of the deal, but he's always a good sport about it and allows us to celebrate his special day while decorating trees and doing other Christmas-related events. Thanks, Nathan! And Happy Birthday!!
Last weekend David, Becky and I went to see White Christmas at Ovens Auditorium here in Charlotte. Loved it! I love the movie, but it was fun to see in person, too. David's office Christmas party was that evening. We had a great time! I enjoyed getting to meet all of David's co-workers and their spouses. It was at David's boss's house which is absolutely gorgeous! The food was good and the company was fun. Becky spent the night with us and we had a great time hanging out with her. Thanks for babysitting Xander, Beck!
Of course during the week we've been decorating, shopping, cooking, working, and enjoying all the festivities that come along with the holidays. Also, Xander's been going through a very strange sleeping pattern. He'll go to sleep okay at night (when I say okay what I mean is that I'll put him down and then he'll cry for about 5-10 minutes and then fall asleep) but then he wakes up around 4am. He isn't ready to get up yet, he just wants me to rock him. Whenever I go to lay him down he cries again. If I send David in to do it he screams. Not just crying screams, but blood-curdling screams. He's definitely in a Mommy-phase right now. His naps are going okay - some days he sleeps for about an hour and other days I have to wake him up after 3 hours. At least he typically does get a nap. I guess this all seems strange to me because it's somewhat the reverse of what he used to do - no nap, but a great night sleeper. I liked those days. :)
So, on top of all the busyness of this season, I've been doing it on 4-5 hours of sleep. I'm getting better at going to bed earlier, which is difficult with all the things I need to do, and sometimes I am able to get a quick nap when Xander does. Ah, the life of a mommy with a toddler.
First of all, I can't believe we're already approaching my child's second Christmas - this means he'll be two in February, folks. Two. Wow.
Hmm...where to start. Parenting an almost 2-year old toddler is so different from a 1-year old or even an 18-month old. I'm definitely in new territory. He throws fits now - like, real ones. I used to think he threw fits, but I was sorely mistaken. Here are two examples of recent fits.
We were in Target yesterday and he spied a big red circle advertisement on the floor that said something like "5% off TODAY and EVERYDAY" and he loved standing on it pointing out the Os, Ys, Ds, etc. He was having a really great time, but this big advertisement was in the middle of the aisle. And he was standing right on top of it. So, I obviously couldn't let him stand there for long, and besides, it was time to go home. I told him that he could play for one more minute and then we would need to leave. Negotiating never really works, and he has no concept of time, but sometimes preparing him seems to help a little. When his minute was up I told him it was time to go, and took his hand so that we could walk out of the store. That didn't work, so I finally had to pick him up. He started screaming, threw his head back and then proceeded to attempt to hit me in the face. This is a new thing with him - when he doesn't get what he wants he goes for my face. I firmly grasped his hands, told him "no hitting, that's not nice" and then he cried harder. I finally got him distracted enough that he calmed down, but I felt like every eye in the place was on us. David (who wasn't there, mind you) assures me that "probably no one was even paying attention to you" - but I see it differently.
A couple days before the Target incident Xander and I had gone to the post office to mail a couple of packages. When we got there, I needed to get my boxes and put the gifts inside, so I set him up on a counter that was specifically for these purposes. When it was time for me to get in line, Xander didn't want to get off the counter. There wasn't anyone in line at this time (a rarity during this time of year) so I knew I didn't have time to waste. I grabbed Xander and started to walk up to the counter when he pitched another one of his "little" fits. I set him on the ground where he proceeded to lay on the floor and kick his feet. I know you're picturing it in your head right now and I'm sure it was as bad as you're thinking. I continued up to the counter and the woman looked at me and said, "Is he going to be alright?" To which I replied, "Oh, he's fine." She weighed my packages and Xander finished up his screaming only because he had lost sight of me and wanted to make sure I was watching his fit. Once he found me, he came over and I picked him up to sit on the counter while we waited. He wanted to push the buttons on the key pad, and the lady behind the counter told him no. Anyone who knows Xander is aware of how sensitive he is. He may try to hit me in the face when I make him do something he doesn't want to do, but when I tell him no, he sticks his little bottom, lip out and cries. Hard. So that's what he did. And that was the end of the post office trip.
David and I pulled the Christmas tree out last night and set it up in the living room. Now it's fluffed and ready for decorations. I'm so excited to decorate it tonight with Xander. Two things that I'm certain NOT to do - put any breakable ornaments on the bottom OR any balls that I don't want to get thrown across the room. One of Xander's favorite things to do these days is throw a ball!
I promise to post pictures soon. We're also going to meet the big man himself tonight - that's right. Santa. Xander's not too keen on strangers, especially those whose faces are mostly concealed with hair and who have extremely hearty laughs. Hmm. This could be interesting...
For some reason the thought keeps coming back to me over and over about how we grow up. Why do some of us pick really bad choices, some of us pick really good choices, some of us are just really blessed, and some of us just really aren't. I've been thinking a lot about the way I grew up. There were some rough moments during that time, let me tell you. But overall, I have been extremely blessed.
Xander has so many people in his life that love him. Does that make a difference? Tremendously. He is loved on everywhere he goes.
Some kids never have that. They're alone or just plain lonely. Some have to grow up so quickly. There are so many children out there who won't be able to celebrate Christmas. So many children don't have people to love on them, encourage them and spur them on to great things.
I love my child so much and I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to mold and shape him into someone awesome. Ultimately God will guide him and give him opportunities to make good (and bad) choices, but I know that without good parents he barely even has a shot at life. So, I thank God for this wonderful, yet challenging role in which I've been place. I just pray that God will give me wisdom and clarity through my parenting.
This past Saturday, David and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. Six years! It's so hard to believe that we've been married that long! A huge part of me feels like we've been married our whole lives, but in so many ways it feels like I just walked down the aisle a couple of months ago. That's how much I love him - so much that I'm excited to greet him when he walks through the door at the end of the day, I get chills when I see him across the room, my heart is full when I watch him playing and wrestling with our son before bed each night, and I look forward to every single day with this man that I married.
I'm so blessed to have him as my partner in life - someone I can trust, count on, laugh with, cry with, share my joys and my sorrows. We have such a good time together! Now we get to raise our child together which has shown me a whole different side of my husband. I have absolutely loved watching him with our son. He's an amazing father! Xander is so excited to see daddy at the end of the day. It's so sweet how he runs to the door, calling out for him. This is just one more blessing that I didn't count on. I always knew David would be a great dad, but I didn't know that having a child with him would make me love him that much more. And to see his love for our child just melts my heart.
Six years together and I love David Little more today than I did the day we were married.
Today Xander, David and I will take a trip to Murfreesboro, TN, to visit Grandaddy and Nana for Thanksgiving. We will be joined by Erin, Nathan, Kaitlyn and Patrick, my aunt Karen and Cheryl, and many of my stepmom's family.
I wanted to take this time to mention the many things I'm thankful for. I am thankful for Jesus, without whom nothing in this life would matter. I am thankful for my beautiful family - my amazing husband who has stood by me through the best and the worst times, my sweetheart of a son who brings joy wherever he goes. How is it that a laugh can be so infectious? His certainly is! I'm thankful for my mom who has always been there for me and continues to be an amazing influence, mentor, and friend. I'm thankful that both mine and David's mom have such an amazing relationship with Xander and that they care enough to want to spend time with him. How glad I am that I get to send Xander to them while I'm at work and not to a daycare. I'm thankful for all the people I'm surrounded by daily who love me and have my best interest in mind. I'm thankful that David has a job, even if we don't know how long it'll last. I'm also thankful that I have a job, and not just a job, but one I enjoy. I'm thankful that I get to make a difference in the lives of young people in Charlotte by introducing them to books and literacy. I'm also thankful that I get to work part-time so that I can spend the majority of my time with little Xander. I'm thankful for my many friends. They're such a support and encouragement to me.
I'm sure I could name so many more things that I'm thankful for, but these are foremost in my mind right now. I hope everyone has an opportunity during this holiday season to give thanks. Thank God for the many blessings he has given us. And take a moment to say thank you to someone who's really touched your heart over the past year. Everyone be safe and have a very happy Thanksgiving!
We have reached the final pre-reading skill of the Every Child Ready to Read model. It is called Letter Knowledge. Letter Knowledge means knowing that letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds and recognizing letters everywhere.
Here are some tips on how to help your infant or toddler recognize letters. 1. Help your baby and toddler see and feel different shapes as you play. (Say, "The ball is round.") 2. Read alphabet books. 3. Point out letters on toys, food boxes and other objects around the house. 4. Talk with your toddler about what is the same and what is different between two things.
Here are some tips for your 2-3 year old. 1. Help your child see different shapes and the shapes of letters. 2. Talk about what is the same and what is different between two things. 3. Write your child's name, especially the first letter. 4. Make letters from clay or use magnetic letters. 5. Point out and name letters when reading alphabet books, signs or labels. 6. Read alphabet books with clear letters and pictures.
Here are some tips for your preschooler (4-5 year old). 1. Write your child's name. 2. Make letters from clay or use magnetic letters. 3. Point out and name letters when reading alphabet books, signs or labels. 4. Show your child that the same letter can look different. 5. Write words that interest your child (like "dinosaur" or "truck") using crayons, magnetic letters or pencil and paper.
Remember that knowing the names and sounds of letters helps children figure out how to sound out words and how to say written words.
Recently in my story times dedicated to Letter Knowledge, I have been reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. I happen to have the actual tree (made of felt) with letters that have velcro on the back. I give each child the first letter of their name (I have at least 2 of each letter, just in case) and when I read out their letter, they get to place it on the tree. They love it! It gives them an opportunity to be unique with "their" letter and also helps them practice listening. The majority of my kiddos know the first letter of their name, so this helps reinforce their knowledge. I've also been reading alphabet books like Alphabatics by Suse MacDonald, Alphabeep by Debora Pearson, Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman and K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo by Giles Andreae, to name a few.
The director of one of my sites took a video of me signing the alphabet with the kids. It's not the most flattering of shots, but it gets the point across. Enjoy! :)
I am so thankful for date night! Since Xander was born David and I have tried very hard to do something together at least once a week with just the two of us. We've done many things - from staying in after Xander goes to bed and playing a game (our favorites are Hand & Foot and Sequence), watching a movie or TV show at home, going out to dinner, movies, dessert, bowling, etc. Now that we're back in Charlotte as a family we instilled Thursday night date night. I love it! It works out so perfectly. Xander spends the night with his Grandma on Thursday nights, so we get free babysitting and an opportunity to spend time alone together. Awesome!
What we do for date night is directly related to what gift cards or coupons we have, so we both ask for gift cards to movies, restaurants we like and other activities for our birthdays and Christmas. We don't have much money, but we want to make sure we spend quality time together. I'm truly thankful for this time with my wonderful husband. I hope we're able to do this for as long as possible. It means a lot to me that I get to spend such good time with David.
Tonight will be the first date night we've had in two weeks due to the fact that we've been away from each other over the last two Thursdays - the first from my appendicitis and the second when Xander and I were in TX for my papa's funeral. We haven't quite decided what we're going to do tonight, but I'm sure it will be enjoyable. I'm thinking a nice, quiet dinner might be in order. Yay date night!
On Monday, October 18th I had my appendix out. I had not been feeling well all day on the 17th. My stomach hurt and I couldn't really pinpoint what was wrong, but I didn't feel right. That evening I started throwing up, but thought I just had a stomach bug. The next day David had to go to work, so I called Ame to come help me out with Xander. She drove to Charlotte and hung out with Xander all day while I attempted to sleep and rest upstairs. I came downstairs that afternoon so she could go home and mentioned that I couldn't get comfortable with the pain in my right side. She was a little concerned and said that it sounded like when she had appendicitis 27 years ago. We ended up going to the emergency room and arrived there a little before 7pm. They admitted me right away, took a blood sample, urine sample, started an IV, gave me some pain meds, had me drink contrast fluid, took me to have a CT scan and after all that confirmed that my white blood cell count was over 20,000 and that my appendix was perforated. Ame had stayed in the waiting room with Xander, my mom had driven down from Mocksville, and David came straight from work. Mom and David stayed with me until they took me into surgery around 11pm. Ame took Xander back to her house to put him to sleep for the night. Since my appendix hadn't actually ruptured and was only perforated they were able to do the surgery laparoscopically. I woke up from the anesthesia around 12:30am and they took me to my room. Mom and David were there - I told them both to go home and get some rest. The next morning David came back to the hospital, but my mom stayed home with Xander. My dad flew in from Nashville and spent the day with me in the hospital. David had to go back to work that afternoon, so Dad drove me home when they released me that evening around 7pm. I spent the rest of the week in Mocksville at my mom's house so she could take care of me and Xander. I'm so thankful to have my family close by!
On Saturday, October 23rd my dad and Karen drove in from Nashville to stay the weekend at Erin's - a trip we had previously scheduled. David, Xander and I stayed at Erin's, too, and we were all able to enjoy the weekend together, despite my recent surgery.
David, Xander and I drove home on Sunday night. David and I were in bed that night when my mom called around 11:30pm. I knew it was strange for her to call so late, so I answered the phone right away. She told me that my grandfather had passed away that evening. He was 93 years old and had been in the hospital that weekend for pneumonia and a kidney infection. I immediately started looking up flights and trying to figure out what I should do. David doesn't have any sick or vacation time since he's working a contract position, so there was no way he could come with me. I finally decided to take Xander and fly to TX on Wednesday morning, the 27th. Erin flew with me or I wouldn't have been able to go. I was only a week post-op and my child weighs over 30 lbs, so I definitely couldn't have done it alone.
The visitation was on Wednesday night and the service was Thursday afternoon. It was beautiful. Xander and I couldn't stay too late on Wednesday - it had been a long day and he was very tired. Thursday we met a good portion of my family - around 50 people or so - for lunch at the church. About 15 minutes before the service I took Xander and rocked him in the nursery. He fell right asleep and I was able to slip into the sanctuary for the entire service. I was so thankful for that. It was a nice service that paid good tribute to my grandfather and allowed me to say goodbye. Xander woke up just as we were exiting the church and we drove on to the cemetery. The graveside service was very short and Xander did beautifully. He even leaned in and kissed me unprompted 3 or 4 times and gave me some hugs, too. I guess he knew I needed some extra love. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon and I appreciated that Isabel showed up at the cemetery for the graveside service.
I loved my Papa very much. He was very elderly and frail and had lived a long, full life. I'm thankful that he's no longer suffering here on earth. I am so glad that he is now with our Lord and Savior. One of the things I never want to forget about my Papa is that when I told him I loved him he never told me he loved me back - he just said, "I do you, too." I'm so thankful that we got to visit with him in August of 2009 when we took Xander for his first trip to TX. I got some great pictures and even a couple of videos while we were there. I'm especially glad that "Big" Papa got to meet Xander - he loved little children and I hope that Xander brightened his day.