Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Christmas Comes and Goes...

We had a wonderful Christmas with my family right here in Nashville! Everyone -- my dad, Ning, Mollie, Andi and my grandma -- flew in from all around the country. It was a gift to be together, and an even greater gift that they all traveled to us! We stayed in a rented house only 40 minutes from where we live (interesting sidenote: it's owned by a Pro Bass Fisherman named Rusty Rust, who has his own Saturday morning fishing program).

We celebrated Christmas Eve at our house in Franklin. Santa and his reindeer came while we were at the candlelight service at church. Madeline was so excited to leave out cookies and carrots, and tore at her gifts with squeals and delight. Charlie could tell it was a special night and enjoyed the festivities too!

Back at the other house, we took walks, read gossip magazines, had a fabulous dance party, soaked in the hot tub, played spirited card games (lots of trash talk, especially from my grandma!), got pedicures, and talked and talked and talked and talked... Of course, we all had on our matching pajamas embroidered with our names! Ning does an amazing job quietly orchestrating every small detail so the rest of us just relax and enjoy. It was so fun watching my family play with the kids. My sisters spun them and knocked down giant block towers, my dad took Madeline down to the lake to chase geese and throw rocks ("bonk fish on the head," which she thought was hilarious!), and Ning played make-believe princess (she conned Madeline into washing her hair by making a bubble hat -- genius!). Charlie charmed everyone with his gummy smiles, and made us laugh by bouncing in earnest during our dance party! It was so special to have my grandma with us -- she added so much to our Christmas. My sisters' and my gift to her was to tell her, in words we wrote before hand, how she and my grandpa have influenced our marriages, relationships and childhoods. We all had tear stained cheeks!

We received one more surprise Christmas gift before the week was over. Mollie's flight was canceled, so we got to have her with us for an extra day! We were thinking of Rob's family, as I know my sisters were thinking of their significant others as well.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's Almost Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I just love this time of year. Madeline helped decorate the Christmas tree; she loves using the ornaments as jewelry for herself and her stuffed animals. If I try to put them back on the tree, she'll say, "Mommy, that's Foofah's shoe!" (Foofah is a character from a strange, but entertaining children's show called Yo Gabba Gabba.) Charlie's fascinated too, but he mostly just likes to chew on the low hanging ornaments that we know are safe. We play A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker on repeat; Madeline asks me daily when we can leave carrots and cookies for Santa and his reindeer. After waving to Santa in the mall, Madeline peppered me with questions about the North Pole for days. I sat her on my lap and we looked at Google Maps for 30 minutes, talking about polar bears and all sorts of other things. We're in the South, so there are giant nativity sets in every other lawn -- it's a great reminder to talk about Baby Jesus every time we hop in the car to run errands. Children put the wonder in Christmas; they allow us to be kids again!

We had so much fun going to Opryland's Christmas display with friends! There were millions of lights, a Christmas tree that rivals the one at Rockefeller Center, train rides, and life size zebras and giraffes on giant swings hanging from the atrium ceiling. We've also been doing the playdate circuit, celebrating Danish Christmas traditions, making ornaments and decorating gingerbread cookies. Every time I see Madeline and Charlie in the matching sweater dress/vest that Rob's mom gave them, I think I've died and gone to heaven.

Here are some of the day-to-day highlights in our house over the last few weeks:
  • The heel on one of my black boots buckled and snapped. I took them off and said, "Oh well. These are broken." Madeline, who helps her daddy fix things on the weekends, ran into the kitchen and started smearing chap stick all over my boot. I realized she thought it was a glue stick! Then she asked me for a piece of tape and was absolutely triumphant when I let her believe they were repaired.
  • Today in the grocery store, Madeline exclaimed out of the blue, "Mommy, you're awesome and I'm fun!" I should record that and play it for myself on bad hair days.
  • Charlie is cruising, crawling on all fours, pulling up like a maniac and cutting his top two teeth (ouch!). Today as we were leaving the grocery store, he demanded his own balloon. If you think a ten month old can't tell you want he wants, well, then you should have been there. He's growing up!
  • On Monday, the kids and I went to Rob's office to visit his coworkers and get their H1N1 boosters. I realized when I got home that I had two pairs of Elmo underwear dangling out of my back pocket.
We can hardly wait for Meg's family and grandma to arrive on Wednesday. Hope you're all enjoying this festive season and looking forward to the holiday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

We had a great time celebrating Thanksgiving with Rob's family, who was so generous to travel all the way from Chicago for the holiday. Rob was Chef Extraordinaire, beginning with Thursday's feast, which included a smoked turkey, a maple-and-orange oven roasted turkey, spicy cornbread stuffing, buttery green beans, mashed potatoes and a wonderful cranberry cointreau chutney. On Friday, he made two batches of homemade turkey soup -- one traditional and one a spicy Mexican version. On Saturday, we celebrated Christmas all day long -- Rob ended our day with a delicious southern barbecue. Every morning, we had big batches of french toast or oatmeal, and every night, after the kids were in bed, we watched a movie. Oh, and there was lots of football in between.

Madeline and Charlie had so much fun with their Grammy, Grandpa, Aunt Nicki and Gigi! Tom gave Madeline a remote control car, which both fascinated and terrified her -- she loved using the remote, but begged to be picked up whenever the car lurched towards her (it was hilarious watching her scramble onto the nearest piece of furniture). Rob and I felt pampered -- we stole away for three quick dates.

On Sunday, after the Vlachs started their nine hour drive home, we spent the day decorating for Christmas and we've been listening to carols ever since!