Monday, December 28, 2009

December 23-24

As you might have read a couple of posts ago, our family's Christmas begins on the 23rd when we venture to the Humphrey house to celebrate with the Calverts (my Mom's family). This is a function with roughly 35 people attending... not exactly nirvana for a toddler, particularly for one whose nap was interrupted by a visit from the Euless Fire Department. (An aside: be sure your carbon monoxide detectors work properly. Sheesh.) Last year, Luke essentially screamed the whole time. It was ugly.

But this year? Well, this year, we arrived, I set Luke down, and he was walking all around. I tentatively thought, "Okay, this seems good. But I'm sure he'll have a breakdown soon enough." I thought I'd try to capture a picture of him when he was happy. And - for those of you with wiggle worm children, you know what a rarity this is - when I said, "Luke, stop and look at Mama," this happened:

Folks, that's a bona fide obedient smile. Whoa! What a Christmas miracle! He was just awesome the whole night- he had an awesome time with his six other little boy cousins: William (5), Brayden and Bryce (2.5), Wynn (19 months), and Jordan and Nathan (~9 months). Unfortunately, I couldn't get pictures of all of them - they're a tough group to get still!

Here are my cousins and significant others - this is almost all of Granny's grandchildren. Wow!

Mom got a Snuggie in our white elephant gift exchange. I just included this picture because whatever I'm doing in the background looks like a cheesy Olan Mills photo circa 1985.

Here's Nathan (a.k.a. Nate Dawg, or, my favorite of his aliases, Nater Tot). He is a hoot! His twin bro Jordan was very sleepy, but Nater Tot was ready to par-tay!

Here's sweet Wynn, whose mommy scored an Elmo and a Cookie Monster in the gift exchange. Niiiice.

Here are Luke and Wynn, who, as you can tell, brought the same paci. At one point, Luke, while sucking on his paci, took Wynn's and tried to put it in his mouth. = \ I hear Wynn returned the favor though. Oh boys...

We had a wonderful time. I'm so thankful for having my Calvert extended family so geographically close, and I'm thrilled that Luke has built-in buddies that are so much fun!

Next was Christmas Eve... which was SNOWY. Yes, in Dallas, we had SNOW! I'm still baffled at this (and baffled at how much of it still hasn't melted). Before we went to Honey and Grand's, we had to bundle Luke up. How awesome is his hat?

We kicked off our celebration by going to church for a moving Christmas Eve service. We left to find windy ferocious snow - it made for a hectic drive home, but once there, we kicked back and enjoyed great fun together and lots of wonderful gifts. Johnny and Jackie brought Buzz, their new dog. I think Buzz thought Luke was another puppy (not totally off, Buzz). He was quite into Luke, and vice versa. Here's my bossy boy putting Santa Buzz into his crate.

Later, after dinner and pre-presents, we got Luke in his jammies. Um, Buzz was not having those Elmo slippers. We had to take those off Luke pretty quick before Buzz got one of his feet!

As usual, I didn't take nearly as many pictures of the family as I would have liked, but it was fantastic to have the Featherstons with us, too. Luke particularly enjoyed chewing on and tossing Parker's K-State football around. (Thanks, Parker, for tolerating that.) Here he is with his Dad celebrating his Christmas score:

Finally - because I've written two really long blog posts today - here are pictures of our snowy yard. How nuts is this?

I've spared you all the picture where Hannah mars the pristine white snow with her urine. You're welcome. : )
Alas, we had a wonderful holiday. Now it's time to take down the decorations and look ahead to 2010. I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Christmas Day

What a Christmas! We had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I'm going to make several smaller posts over the next few days to chronicle our three days of Christmas - the 23rd celebration with the Calverts (though Becca does a great job with her post here), the 24th at Mom and Dad's with immediate family, and the 25th - our Christmas morning, lunch with the Eubankses and Calverts, then a road trip to Winona to spend time with the Robertses. It was a great day!

Part One: A White Christmas Morning at Our House
Santa was very good to Luke this year! Luke got his very own red chair (which is perfect given that he loves climbing right about now), a talking Elmo, a light-up, talking turtle book, Handy Manny bath toys, and a new talking phone. (I've discovered that a kid can't have enough talking telephones. I think our current total is four. Really.)

Santa's deliveries:

He ate our cookies and drank some milk! (The reindeer didn't get any carrots though; sorry, Santa. We're still newbies at this.)
Luke with his latest button-bearing, light-up toy:

Our white yard:
Luke chills in the chair:
This, is the best: this is Luke the first time Elmo spoke. His shocked stare says it all, really. I still think he hasn't warmed up to this toy. I'm hoping he does; Santa said it wasn't cheap...

After this, Luke got quite fussy; after all, it was time for his breakfast. A little after this, Mom and Dad got fussy; when Dad took Hannah to the boarding place, no one was there, and shortly thereafter, we discovered we had a flat tire - bad news for a family planning a road trip. Luckily, the boarders did show up, we moved the carseat to the Saturn, and all was right again in the universe.

Part Two: Christmas Lunch at Mom and Dad's
Next, we headed over to my parents' house for Christmas lunch. It was soooo delicious - easily my favorite meal of the year! We had a great time with my parents, my sister Megan, her husband Eric, and my nephew Parker, who all came in from Chicago, Granny, the Calverts, Meriwethers, and Humphreys. It was a brief visit since we wanted to hit the road to make it to Winona by dark, but it was wonderful nonetheless.

Luke with the rock star toy of Christmas: the shape-sorting barn. He got two: one from Honey, and one from Aunt Tara. They're such a hit that one went home with us and the other stayed at Honey and Grand's.
Luke has something in his mouth (big surprise), but I had to show off the adorable outfit Jeremy got him. Doesn't Luke look so handsome?

It occurs to me that it may look like no one exists in our world besides Luke. While that may be at least symbolically true, here is some proof that Luke does, in fact, have parents. : )

Finally, Luke watches his cousins Wynn (19 months) and William (5 - which STUNS me. He's grown up so fast!) wrestle. Luke's reaction was priceless. He was staring, smiling, and clearly thinking, "Okay, is it cool if I join in? Because this looks awesome!"

Part Three: Roberts Family Christmas in Winona
Our final stop in the Christmas World Tour was Winona for some quality time with Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Michelle, Uncle Bobby, Aunt Lori, and cousins Brent, Alyssa, Halle, and Alex. As soon as we arrived, we sat down to another wonderful meal, and within an hour we were opening more presents. We're so blessed!
I have to be honest that Jeremy and I were a little nervous. Truth be told, Luke had been a rock star at every Christmas function so far, and we were a little afraid he would hit a wall at this point. While he was a little tired, Luke was a very sweet boy once again. We're so proud of him.
Here are Luke's lovely cousins, Alyssa (8), Halle (4), and Alex (15). Aren't they pretty?
Next, Luke loves on his awesome gift from Aunt Michelle - this big ole horsey. I'm thrilled - it's something big and soft he can climb so, perhaps, he'll stop climbing his parents. Ouch. : )
Finally, Luke was particularly enamored with Grandma's Christmas tree. We spent a lot of Christmas night intercepting him from the tree. Oh well.

Once Luke got snuggled to bed, the grown ups watched Christmas Vacation - which is still as hilarious as ever. We headed home around noon on the 26th to start our holiday recovery, and I find that I am feeling very tired after this holiday season, but I'm also very overwhelmed and thankful for our family's health and prosperity. We're so blessed, and I hope you had a blessed Christmas, too!

(More posts to come over the next few days with pictures from the 23rd, 24th, and some around-the-house pics and videos of Luke enjoying his Christmas gifts. I can tell you the chair is a HUGE hit.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear Christmastime: Please Slow Down!!!

Jeremy and I were talking the other night about how chaotic the holidays can be, and how that chaos keeps so many of us from getting into the Christmas spirit. It's one of the season's greatest ironies: all of the things we do to prepare (shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, etc.) excite us but, frankly, wear us out. I'm thrilled to say that our shopping, wrapping, and decorating are completed - yippee! But I can tell you that the process has been complicated by two runny noses (Luke's and mine), one solid run of molar misery (Luke's), an emergency trip to the vet for Hannah Bear (she's fine - she got into something and has what we'll euphemistically call "stomach issues"), and an unexpectedly hectic work week for Jeremy. PHEW. Our family's festivities begin tonight with the Calvert Christmas celebration, and I'm hopeful that, as much as the season has to throw at us over the next four days, we are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of being together and watching Luke really experience Christmas for the first time.

Speaking of: the top picture is of Luke with one of his Christmas gifts. I got some Mickey Mouse paper to wrap all of his presents, and since he is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's #1 fan, he looooooooves his presents. I hope they stay wrapped before Christmas! The picture below is from my last day of school. It was cold, so we had to bundle up. Luke's wearing an early Christmas gift: those Elmo slippers. How fun are they? He actually leaves them on and can walk around in them pretty well. It's a Christmas miracle!

Next, we have our Christmas tree. It's not my best work - having a toddler around who really likes glass ornaments complicates the decorating process, so our tree doesn't exactly look like it came off the pages of Southern Living, but we like it, and it will do. : )

Finally, here are our stockings - hung by the chimney with care, of course.

Our next few days are packed: Calverts tonight, Mom and Dad's Christmas Eve, our house Christmas morning, then off to Winona for the 25-26. I wish everyone a blessed Christmastime - be sure to slow down and enjoy it!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More on Santa, and the Eubanks Christmas Celebration

To say that this year's visit to Santa differed wildly from last year's is a vast understatement. Last year: we saw Santa on 12/23. This year: we saw Santa on 11/25. Last year: over an hour wait. This year: maybe 10 minute wait. Last year: tranquil picture. This year: well, you saw. : )

A few pictures from the day. First, Luke had his signature dish, shells and cheese, to get fired up. As you can tell, we needed to take a bath before we ventured to the mall... oops! Kudos to me for forgetting a bib at this meal, huh?

As traumatized as Luke appeared in his Santa picture, he quickly rebounded once he visited the play land at Willow Bend! He loved sitting in the car and roaming through the play area.

Last weekend, we ventured to Caldwell to celebrate Christmas with the Eubanks family. Between a 3.5 hour car ride, the invasion of four of his molars, and the accompanying grumpiness of both, Luke was not in his best form, but it was wonderful to visit family and catch up. I didn't get near as many pictures as I had hoped... largely because my subject was crying and fussing most of the time. But here are a few:

Luke and DadLuke checking out the landscape with Grand

Gotta stretch out these legs before the drive home!

I hope everyone is having an awesome holiday season. More to come: today we're (finally) decorating our Christmas tree, so I suspect Luke will provide some photo-worthy moments. Have a great weekend!