Friday, December 31, 2010

A Magical Christmas

As long as I live, I'll always remember Madeline's words when she opened her new baby doll on Christmas morning -- "Santa knew just what I wanted!" It was like her first plane ride when she shrieked over the roaring engines, "I just knew I would love this!"

Christmas was a joy. In the days leading up to it, Nashville had its first snowfall (which melted by noon) -- we had so much fun bundling up, then drinking hot cocoa to warm up again and snuggling by the fire to read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The kids were manic in their excitement when Rob's parents and sister arrived -- Madeline literally screamed, and Charlie does whatever she does. Together, we went to a special kids sing along at Whole Foods, decorated a gingerbread house, and went out for a fun Tex Mex lunch. Rob and his dad took Madeline and Charlie out for Krispy Kreme early one morning, just like they used to do when Rob was a little boy.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the early candle light service at church. The music was incredible -- I teared up and got goosebumps at least five times and Rob said even he couldn't help but sing along to every song. Sandie asked if we'd made a wrong turn and ended up in Opryland -- it was quite a show! But also a lovely message that really reminded us of why we celebrate Christmas. We came home to a wonderful ham feast; every dish on the table was one of Gram's tried-and-true recipes. It felt like a special way to make her a part of the festivities. 

And then it was game on! It was like Christmas roller derby -- Madeline was winging presents to people and tearing them open faster than we could check the tags, pausing only to give hugs and say thank you. One of my favorite moments was when she opened her pink ballet slippers from Rob and me -- her excitement was palpable as she danced on her toes and spun around the room to Christmas carols. Charlie took his time, putting on every article of clothing he opened, and playing with each toy. He opened his bike helmet first, and never took it off again.

On Christmas morning, we awoke to our second snowfall of the season -- it was a true Tennessee white Christmas! Charlie woke up first, then popped his head right into Madeline's room to make sure she didn't miss a thing. The kids padded down the stairs in their footed pajamas to find their stockings and a special note from Santa and his reindeer, who appreciated their midnight snack and chocolate milk. We had a wonderful brunch with Sandie's strata (I've actually had vivid dreams about it) and a special Beef Wellington Christmas dinner, which is what my mom often made for our family growing up.

It was truly a magical Christmas. We're wishing you a very happy new year!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Best Gift of All!

We're adding more monkeys to the Vlach zoo! We are beside ourselves with joy to announce that we're expecting our third child mid-June. So now, we're officially the Vlach-Tastic Four-and-a-Third.

Madeline is enchanted. She asks me all sorts of questions about when the new baby is going to "hatch" -- the best way I can explain it to her is that she'll have a new brother or sister when we get to go swimming again in our neighborhood pool. And she is hatching all sorts of babies herself -- she has set up a hospital in Rob's office and carries her newborn baby dolls around in their carriage (a bag we carry library books in). She burps them, nurses them and puts them to bed -- there are parts of the day when we all have to whisper because the new baby is sleeping. Watching all that....well, I'm enchanted too. The other day, Madeline drew a mommy with a baby in her tummy. While she's sure it's a girl, we're trying to set the stage early that it could be a little brother too. She loves to tickle my belly, then listen to see if she can hear the baby inside me giggling.

Charlie has no idea what's about to hit him, but he gets really excited whenever anyone else gets excited, so he happily kisses my belly when he sees Madeline roll up my shirt. Today, he got into the wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree (it was the sound of paper tearing that drew me from the kitchen); he had opened his copy of I'm a Big Brother and ripped two pages out. We'll take it as a two-year-old boy's sign of his growing anticipation.

We feel so blessed that our family is growing, and that our children will have another best friend to throw into the ring. Thankfully, I'm never sick during my pregnancies. But the first trimester exhaustion with two young children was staggering -- I felt like I'd taken an imaginary dose of Tylenol PM and I was doing everything wearing a snow suit. Underwater. With weights on my arms and legs. I would lie Madeline and Charlie down for their naps, and collapse on my bed across the hall face first. We ate more frozen pizzas in the last three months than Dr. Oz would recommend. But I'm feeling my energy surge back just in time for the holidays. We plan to not find out the gender, just like we did with Charlie. That moment in the delivery room was so incredible that we can't wait to repeat it.

We have so much to celebrate this year, and we are simply overcome and infinitely humbled by how grateful we feel.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am so in the Christmas spirit that I can hardly contain it. I'm wishing everyone aside from telemarketers a Merry Christmas (and that's only because we put ourselves on the Do Not Call list). So when we went grocery shopping day before yesterday and I saw Advent calendars, I had a flashback to my childhood and grabbed one. Then I imagined both kids wrestling to open the same tiny perforated window and sharing the tiny chocolate inside that I paid for a second one in the checkout line and grabbed it on the way out to our car.

This morning, before Madeline and Charlie had even finished their breakfast, I handed each of them their calendars and explained that we get to open a window every day leading up to Christmas. Madeline attacked hers and managed to open several windows in the short time that I helped Charlie with his. When they realized there was chocolate inside, their eyes got big and they forgot all about the made-to-order eggs on their plates.

Then this evening, we got caught in rush hour traffic while running an errand and a 30 minute drive took three times as long. But inside our car, we were singing carols and excitedly pointing out any Christmas lights we passed. In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined the kids would want to stay in the car even a second longer than they had already patiently endured. But they were so excited to look at more Christmas decorations in our neighborhood that we drove around for another half hour, slowing down at every third house to admire all the lights and colored bulbs! I actually had to pump more gas to continue on. Madeline would exclaim, "Ohhhh Mommy, you aren't going to believe what's coming next. Keep going....keep going.....okay! Ta-Da!!"

I've said it before, but having Madeline and Charlie allows me to experience the wonder of things through a child's eyes. And it really is wonderful.