this was our first time in 7 years that we have been on our own for christmas, just our little family. i don't necessarily count the group home year in north carolina, because when we were there, we were never alone.
we did miss our extended family but it was also nice to be home and not living out of suitcases this year. let alone the stomach flu that seems to plague us whenever we step foot outside of arizona.
for christmas eve, we kept it low key inviting some friends over for dinner and ben's first viewing of "it's a wonderful life." i know what you're thinking... how has he made it through 3 decades of life without seeing this movie?? it's a classic! i mean who doesn't feel the christmas spirit when you hear jimmy stewart cry out,
"MERRY CHRISTMAS MISTER POTTER!"
if the answer is that you don't, then you very obviously have a heart of stone.
we also told the story of the true meaning of christmas, the birth of jesus and what his life did for each of us personally. we sang a couple of christmas carols and then our friends went home. ben and i set up the goods for christmas morning. we had so much fun getting all ready for the kids to wake up.
here we are. well, they are....in their christmas pj's. ready to go see what was waiting for them under the tree. (even ben had a surprise coming at him--i am so sneaky and awesome!)
ben's going to pinch me for posting that picture, but it had to be done.
here are the boys with their remote control trucks. (ben felt that caleb needed a remote control buddy....um, whatever you have to tell yourself to justify driving one at 30, sweet pea! and i feel pinch #2 is probably quickly on its way.)
leah with her table. she danced all morning to the tunes.
opening up games to play together,
new animals to chomp on,
a keyboard piano to fill the house with harmonious, peaceful music...
and also to fight with your sister over.
caleb's two favorite gifts were his remote control truck and this little fella:
rocky the fish.
appropriately named by caleb because he is so tough and can whistle the "rocky" theme song whenever he is fed. not really, but ben does.
so here was ben's surprise:
and here is the story behind it. when i asked ben what he wanted for christmas, he said with a somewhat flippant tone,
"my own socks."
then launched into this drama-filled, woe-is-him-filled explanation about how i borrow his socks all of the time and don't wear matching ones so now he has no matches.
for a more accurate and non-biased description of his socks, here it is.
YES i borrow his socks. but how often?? like, never.
YES i don't care if they're the exact "match" but if they're both white, and the same length and same size, who really cares of one has a nike check on it and the other one has a grey line at the toes? (answer: ONLY ONE PERSON. BEN.)
YES he still has matching pairs of socks. like, a lot of them. but if he wants to be a drama queen, so be it! :)
so as a surprise to him, i woke up early, confiscated all of his "non-matching" socks and decided to become their proud new owner. and i left a note in ben's sock drawer saying that all of his socks had been taken by the sock bandit. with a big bow on the outside, so that he would open it up first thing.
then i bought him like $30 worth of new socks and covered our apartment with them. i taped them on walls, doors, tables, chairs, and on our bookshelf.
and they all have their own distinctive mark so that i will never make the grave mistake to borrow one of his socks ever again! NEVER. AGAIN.
and he was happy.
merry christmas darling. (he got more than socks, but that was the one that needed to be documented)
christmas day we just relaxed, then that night we went to the beckers house for dinner and fun.
here's miss leah:
caleb chilling with the ladies:
and playing pirates:
i wish i would have gotten a picture of ben and i, but forgot to.
we had a wonderful couple of days and couldn't have asked for anything more.
we're so grateful to be able to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and spend time with those we love.
well, because after the california trip i've been feeling a bit like this:
which isn't good for anyone, because that leaves my hair looking like this:
i came home frazzled and sooooooo tired of being tired. and it just felt like i couldn't catch a break. so for my christmas present i asked ben for one thing:
a good night's rest.
and yesterday he surprised me by telling me he had gotten a sweet deal (think less than a pair of shoes, ladies! a cheap pair of shoes.) on a hotel room for just little old me.
i was so excited, especially after being woken up by caleb last night at 2am letting me know he was hungry, then 4am letting me know he needed to go potty, then 7:30am letting me know he was ready to wake up now.
which made the idea of a night away with me sleeping in tomorrow morning so much more appealing!
so now i'm here, and feeling a little bit lost as to what to do. you mean, just sit around and watch a movie? there's no laundry to do? no dishes to wash?
just me and some chocolates?
the hotel room is beeeeyoootiful. sitting in 25 acres of loveliness that i didn't know existed in arizona. a big puffy bed, soft sheets, bottled water, a jetted tub.
i almost don't recognize this girl:
who has a few more hours to figure out who she is again. not just the titles i have been wearing for years:
cook. (well, we use that term loosely around my place.)
but also the girl who's been existing beneath the surface of those titles.
it's not that i don't enjoy my life. i do enjoy it.
in fact, i love it.
but there are times when i feel like i'm being swallowed up by it.
it was hard for me to ask for this. i felt guilty. selfish. like i should be fine with the way things are going and that the feeling of being stretched too thin will go away or get better.
but the truth is that things weren't getting better. each time i thought i could get extra rest, or enjoy a couple of hours to myself, something would come up. and i was finding myself pushing back my needs and my "me time" to someone or something that needed me more.
so i'm here to say to any of you out there reading this: it's okay to ask for something for yourself.
whether it's a longer shower, or time to get ready without a baby trying to eat your blush brush, or an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill.
or one good night's sleep.
and if you have married someone who not only gets you, but wants you to get back to yourself,
we had a really special visitor today, who came right to our front door.
you should have seen caleb's face when he heard the jingling of his bells outside.
during his visit,
he tickled caleb with his beard...
showed us what happened to rudolph's nose (if the picture wasn't B&W you'd be able to see it glow (like a lightbulb!))...
read a story about the true meaning of christmas...
gave caleb a special bell, like the one from the polar express... (which we will now have him watch, oops.)
while miss leah stayed occupied with the goods... (don't worry folks, the plastic is still on. i may let my daughter eat stuff off of the bathroom floor in target, but by heavens she will NOT have processed sugar!)
and they all posed for a picture before saying goodbye...(doesn't leah just look elated? she could hardly contain her excitement. in her defense i had to awaken her from a deep slumber for her very 1st santy claus encounter. she was a little shell-shocked.)
the best part is that now caleb thinks i'm now in "santa's loop." so i have the threat of calling santa on the phone if he's not kind to his sister or obeys his mom and dad. (oh the power! i must not abuse it. but i sorta feel like frodo with the one ring that rules them all.)
the fear in his eyes is enough to make me want to buy a santa suit so we can whip that puppy out when caleb needs a strict talking-to.
we were so lucky that we had awesome brother goodwin from our ward who could make this visit possible. it sure beats the waiting in line to sit on his lap for 3 seconds while getting trigger happy with the camera to try to get a good shot.(i still went trigger happy, but this year actually got a good shot.)
i wish the joy in this picture could sum up our trip to california.
i also wish that after a few days of being home, i could look at the silver lining of what went on and be ready to "chalk that one up."
chalk it up to what though? the realization that EVERY SINGLE TRIP i have been on in 2009 has ended or had during it some sort of major illness or disaster??
i know it could be worse, i get that.
i know we made it through in one piece (even though i felt like i left several pieces of my own behind in our hotel room).
when it comes to trips:
I CAN'T SEEM TO CATCH A BREAK.
so here's a slight summary:
2 out of 4 of us vomited 1 out of 4 of us went to the ER 1 out of 4 of us missed a day of disneyland 4 out of 4 of us were severely sleep deprived
4 out of 4 of us had a lot of fun intermingled with the other stuff 4 out of 4 of us...nope, wait. 3 out of 4 of us would totally do it all over again
i won't go through the day-by-day sordid details, however there were a couple of severely "come on! you have got to be kidding me!" moments that deserve their own postings. so they will get them.
one of them being a complete dedication to the ultrasound tech who was checking to see if i had gallbladder stones.
i hope he is somewhere close, has nothing better to do in his spare time than read mommy blogs, is a secret follower of mine, and reads that little ditty. because i have a feeling that after it, he will never open his mouth again. or at least i hope so.
another being the adventure where i...the self-professed germaphobe... let leah suck on my car keys after they had been on the bathroom floor at the local target(multiple! times!).
yeah, go ahead and vomit. i already did.
well luckily i have already come to the point where things are quickly becoming ironically funny. and so hopefully the postings won't reek of the bitterness i felt on the drive home and instead turn around and be able to convey that sometimes things aren't always roses and chocolates, but you can get through them and still cling to the glimmer of hope that you might be able to one day have a successful family vacation.
where ben is attending a psychology conference and the kids and i are supposed to be out and about on our "vacation." however leah and mother nature teamed up to make some different plans.
instead of doing ANY of this:
she has chosen to do this:
and the weather has been like this:
instead of what we had hoped to be more like this: (i will interject here to say that right now the worst feeling in the world is sleep deprivation combined with having the bottom of my jeans wet while walking barefoot around the hotel room. ugh.)
which is leaving me a bit...no, a LOT....like this:
when i would rather be feeling like this:
after much research on what to do to help a baby sleep easier in a hotel room, last night i found a solution.
leah slept the whole night through without a peep. it is still raining and the bottom of my jeans are still dripping, but one out of two isn't bad, right?
so to spread some much-needed vacation-turned-hellacious-3-days-and-back-again cheer, i am offering up a special surprise to the first person who can answer correctly what i used to help her sleep. (only one per comment but you can guess more than once if you'd like to)
this is no joke! the surprise is fun!
so take a guess, give it your best shot.
what would you do in an act of desperation to get your baby to sleep?
and since tomorrow and the 2 days after that we will be here:
i will be checking back probably wednesday or thursday to see if anyone has guessed it right.
and cross your fingers for me that this is, in fact, the happiest place on earth. and that they have a magical room where moms can nap all day long while the dads get to take the kids and stand in lines. :)
we joined the beckers for the annual phoenix festival of lights and had a fabulous time... those beckers make it hard to NOT have a good time with them. we went to their house first for some hot chocolate and treats, then bundled up for the freezing (yes, even for us thin-skinned arizonians it was about 35 degrees) weather to watch the parade.
(look how pretty fawn is?? there are many things that are unfair in this world, and she is one of them.)
we actually busted out the winter coats for this event.
here's leah in hers:
caleb in his:
ben and i in ours:
i figured i'd document it because it's probably the one night we'll actually use them this year. and i'm not bragging about this, it feels like such a waste to have to buy warm gear when we know we'll hardly get any use out of it. luckily caleb's on the slight side so he wore his from last year. but i'm pretty sure miss-double-chin will outgrow hers before the week is up. (and no, i'm not talking about myself. but thanks for asking.)
there were a couple of other families who joined us this year, and we had so much fun with all of them. i'm pretty sure caleb had the best time though, since all the kiddos his age were ladiessssss. he got his mojo on, and i had to remind him several times to leave the girlies alone so they could enjoy the parade.
"but mom! they think i'm funny! i'm making them laugh!" was his reply. who is this? my 4 year old? good grief.
anyway, here are some more pictures for your enjoyment:
(warning: MAJOR double chin alert. isn't it awesome? relax ben, i'm not talking about you.)
the big man in red with a bowl full of jelly brought up the rear in the final float and i yelled out to him what i wanted for christmas.
i made sure it was inaudible though, so that there wouldn't be any other listening ears leaning into cheat. (will let you know if santa delivers. :)
we had such a fun night and are eagerly awaiting to do it in 365 more days. hoorayfor tradition!
PS-i just had to throw this in. anyone see a resemblance?? maybe less cute, more scarf? yeah they would be pretty much twins. "show me how the piggies eat!"