Friday, December 26, 2008

Little ones bring big smiles

Every year on Christmas Eve, Jim's family joins other members of their church for a time of caroling at a local nursing home. For a number of years now, even back to our dating days, Jim and I have enjoyed taking part in this annual tradition. We hold our little song books and make our way up and down the wings of the nursing home belting out every Christmas song you can think of. The kids pass out goody bags to the residents as we go along and we spend a few minutes here and there socializing with anyone who welcomes our company. This year, we brought our girls with us.

We didn't think of it as a big deal. In fact, we didn't really think about it at all. We wanted to go caroling with Jim's family, so the girls, naturally, would come along. When we arrived, I strapped Kylie to me in the Baby Bjorn and Jim took Kyra with him. We joined the group and began roaming the halls.

As I made my way, I noticed something special. I noticed the faces of the residents light up as I passed by, but they weren't smiling at me. They were enamored with the tiny little girl strapped to my chest. So I began taking her to say a little "hello" to some of the elderly folks. And as soon as she was close enough, they would reach out a fragile, wrinkled hand and take hold of hers. And she wiggled and giggled and cooed and smiled as she met each one. A few of them even pulled us closer so they could kiss her hand or forehead. And I swear I witnessed the years lift from them, just for a moment. I could picture them as a new mom or dad. I knew they were once where I am now.

Kyra also brought joy to the residents as she ducked and dodged her way around their wheelchairs. She danced to our songs and even tried talking with a few of them. Several times during our visit, we were told what a joy it was for the residents to see such small children and how much they love being around little babies. In the world they now live in, that aspect of life is missing. And most of them, having been a parent and grandparent miss the feeling you get from seeing a baby smile or a child at play.

So even though we didn't come in a Santa suit bearing loads of presents, we apparently brought a much more precious gift.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Wonder

I have always been a big fan of Christmas. For the obvious reasons:
1. It is when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of the one who came to save us.
2. Everyone goes on the same diet known as "It's the holidays, eat whatever you want".
3. You can give your husband silky underwear that he has to open in front of his parents.
4. No one cares if you're belting Christmas carols in your car at the top of your lungs, slightly off key.
5. Christmas decorations divert guests attention away from the mounds of toys strewn all over the house.
6. The look of utter shock and amazement on an unsuspecting relative's face when you actually give them something they needed.

Yes, this Season of seasons brings about so many fun and joyous things. But in the last couple of years Christmas has begun to reveal even more excitement around here. Since we have had kids, I find myself anticipating Christmas with a new fervor. One that I'm sure I once felt twenty-something years ago, but had since faded away. Seeing my children experience Christmas and all it's trimmings fills my heart with giddiness.

This will be Kyra's third Christmas, but it is the first year she has really taken note of the decorations, gift wrapping, and endless supply of sweets. For Kylie, this really is her first Christmas and she has found endless fascination with the tree in our living room. I make mental notes every time I spy either of them noticing something new.

Last night was our church's Christmas Eve Service (yes, it was the day before Christmas Eve). The girls were dressed to the nines in their matching Christmas dresses. Kyra even decided to add a little apple juice perfume to her outfit for that little something extra. We watched the toddler class bound onto the stage and sing their best rendition of Jesus Loves Me and I grinned ear to ear knowing that Kyra would be joining them up there next year. We sang Christmas songs and lit candles (which dripped wax all over my hands and jeans - is it easier to get wax out of denim if you were singing Silent Night when it dripped on you?) And when it was all over, we watched Kyra sprint all over the fellowship hall, so as to not get caught by mommy's camera.

We left the church and headed to dinner with Jim's parents and our friend Faith. The restaurant was packed and we were seated next to the bar area. Kyra must have known she looked super cute in her Christmas dress because she immediately took to flirting with the thirty-something year old men in the bar behind her. And they played right into her tiny little hands by flirting back. (I was half expecting her to leave with a few phone numbers!) She definitely kept us entertained during our meal to say the least.

This morning she must've been exhausted from her night out because she slept until 9:30. But as soon as she was awake, I eagerly raced into her room and jumped onto her bed, bouncing and squealing "Kyra do you know what today is?! It's Christmas Eve! That means tomorrow is CHRISTMAS!!" She gave me a strange look and then crawled out of bed. I sort of love the fact that she has no idea that tomorrow morning she will be overwhelmed with presents.

I wonder what Kyra will say when she opens the box of Sesame Street stickers we bought her and sees Elmo. I wonder if she'll help Kylie open her gifts. I wonder if we will be able to get her to sit still long enough to take a picture. I wonder if I'll be able to sleep tonight with all the anticipation I have for Kyra's Christmas tomorrow.

I won't have to wonder much longer.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's the most wonderful(ly insane) time of the year

I can't believe it's been over a week since I've had a chance to sit down at the computer and blog. Then again, I think back on what all has transpired during that time and I can believe it. Time is just flying by. I mean, by the leftover turkey and stuffing that was still in my fridge up until a few days ago, I could just swear that last Thursday was Thanksgiving.

To say the least, the girls and I have kept very busy lately and today was no exception. After getting up and around and playing superstar diva for a little bit, we headed to West Chester to play at our friends' house. Ang had made graham cracker houses for the kids to decorate and I was curious to see how this would turn out. Kendall, Foster, Owen, and Kyra gathered around the table as Angie put out dishes filled with delicious decor: m&m's, gumdrops, licorice, pretzels, lollipops, marshmallows, sprinkles, smarties, and even coconut "snow". Kyra has never had access to so many sweets before and as soon as she realized the adults weren't swatting away little hands that ventured into the candy dishes, she took full advantage. She had sampled nearly all the various goods before any actually made their way onto her house. But to my surprise, she did an excellent job parting with the candies and gluing them to the graham cracker structure once we began putting the icing on for her. Although, I believe her method of decorating went something like "one m&m for the house, two for my mouth". We knew she was done decorating when the "one for the house" part diminished and all candies went straight to the mouth instead. The final product was pretty impressive considering this was her first ever edible craft. I was really proud of her and found myself looking forward to years of cookie baking and decorating in the future.

After the confections were cleaned up, the kids ate lunch (much to my amazement that they even had any room left in their little tummies after downing so many sweets). They then proceeded to jump on all Angie's living room furniture, propelled to new heights by their sugar buzz. We watched (and refereed) the crazy energy until I could sense nap time approaching.

We said goodbye to our decorating buddies and I tried to race home in an attempt to beat the "car nap". 15 minutes into our drive, I realized I had failed. So.... Kyra got a 20 minute nap in the car and when we arrived home, she was wide awake. In need of some "down time" myself, I decided to put Kyra in her room for a bit and just see if by some miracle she would fall back asleep. But it was all for naught. So I reluctantly went to her room to get her. However, when I turned the door handle... it was locked. Kyra recently discovered the push button locks on our interior doors and has spent a lot of time playing with them. Though she can't turn the knobs to open a door, she can turn them enough to release the lock so I called to her through the door and told her to turn the knob. I could tell by the sounds coming from her room that she made a few attempts, but after that she got upset and gave up. So there we were, on opposite sides of the door. I got a bobby pin and began to attempt to pick the lock, but it wasn't budging. And the longer I tried, the more frustrated Kyra sounded, so I called for backup. Yes, I dialed the facilities manager at Jim's work and asked him what I was doing wrong with the lock. He helped me get it open and then encouraged me to buy door handles without locks on them. But now that I know how to pick the locks on the knobs we have now, whats the point? :)

Five months old

Five months old and cute as can be!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


We've all heard the little saying "Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me." And we all know that it is definitely NOT true. Words often times cause wounds that take ions longer to heal than a flesh wound. And yesterday I fell victim to words, or rather the lack thereof. Allow me to explain.

For about the last 4 months I have had moments of concern regarding Kyra's communication skills. I read things on parenting websites and monitor other children Kyra's age (and some much younger) regarding spoken words. I struggle as I try not to make comparisons. But with each day that passes, I grow more wary of the fact that Kyra appears to be behind the "average" child her age in terms of talking.

Her pediatrician was not at all worried when I took her for her 2 year check up, but she did give me a referral to have Kyra's hearing screened should I continue to be concerned. I thanked her and filed the paperwork away, feeling very optimistic that Kyra's vocabulary would pick up any day. And I am still hopeful of that, but yesterday really tested my hope and faith.

It started at the very beginning of our day, before I'd even fed her breakfast. Kyra took to whining and fussing as a form of communication, entirely forsaking the small vocabulary that she does have. I did my best to encourage her to use her words to tell me what she wanted or needed. I asked questions that begged her to just afford me a little yes or no. But as the day wore on, her whining turned to full blown crying and the fussing became temper tantrums that flung her onto the floor. And I did my best to stay the course, to keep my patience with God's help. And He covered me with His grace and allowed me to stay calm all day long as I continued to try and encourage her to speak.

When Jim came home he immediately said I looked frazzled and I told him all about my day. He took over the role of encourager, but had little more success than I had all day. By the time I was getting into bed, the weight of the day came crashing down on top of me and I found myself sobbing as I talked to God about it. Of course He already knew what I was going through and how I was feeling, but I needed to release it all to Him because it was too heavy a burden to carry on my own. And so I told God that I just want to be able to begin to have little conversations with my daughter. I want her to tell me what she wants. What she needs. What she likes. What makes her happy. Where she hurts. I want to hear her call me mommy. I want to listen to her talk about Jesus. I want to teach her how to pray.

And after I got it all off my chest, I asked for peace and for rest. And He gave me both. And today is a new day. Although I didn't wake to find Kyra rambling on in full sentences, she has been using some words today and that has once again restored my hope. I like to imagine that months from now I'll read this post and laugh because I will have seen God's goodness in Kyra's and my own life. I will be getting bombarded with questions from an inquiring toddler on a minute to minute basis and just when I am at the pinnacle of being annoyed, I'll thank God for it.

As an encouragement to myself, below is a list of words that Kyra does say (although most are slightly mispronounced):

mama (although she doesn't seem to connect me with the term)
chay chay (Chase, our dog)
thank you
uh oh
nana (for banana)
all done

Sunday, December 7, 2008

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

Actually, we did have somewhere to go. And we almost made it there. Almost.

For weeks I'd been anticipating, planning for this night. Jim's company Christmas party. It was not only to be a guaranteed night out without kids, but it also provided the oh so rare opportunity to really get dressed up. You know, one of those nights when you get to wear the kind of outfit that makes you forget you're a parent because you feel like a celebrity instead.

I had arranged for another couple to come over with their kids to watch Kyra and Kylie and so I spent the entire day cleaning the house, preparing dinner for our sitters, ironing, and getting myself ready (which takes quite a while when you have a 2 year old wrapped around your knees).

Just a little bit before our friends arrived, Jim informed me that it was snowing. I didn't know it was supposed to snow, but I was delighted at the thought of it adding a little additional romance to the evening. Our sitters arrived with their two girls in tow and I gave them the rundown for the evening. We grabbed our coats, said our goodbyes and ran to the truck. We took the most obvious route toward our location only to find an ambulance blocking the road, so we detoured down a back road that would get us to the road we needed a little further down. However, our alternate route proved to be blocked as well. So we turned around and headed another direction. We had been on and off the phone with Jim's parents who were also attempting to make their way to the party. They were telling us of all the accidents they had seen and how icy the road conditions were. After discovering that only a handful (6 or 7) employees were actually at the event, they told us they were calling it quits and heading home. With no family to hang out with and few other employees, we weighed our options and decided to go back home ourselves. If the roads were already so bad who knew what they would be like when our babysitters headed home with their kids later on and we didn't feel right about putting them in jeopardy just to hang out for a few hours with a dozen people that we may or may not know.

We arrived back home only about a half hour after we had left and sent our friends on their way to get their own family home safe as soon as possible. We changed out of our fancy clothes and in the blink of an eye were daddy and mommy once again. I kept telling myself we had done the right thing, but it didn't take away the sadness I felt. And I realized it was because I was mourning the loss of something dear to me, quality time with my husband. Time where we are husband and wife. Time to socialize with other adults. Time to make memories that don't involve the kids. And I cried. And then I learned that Jim's family and about 90 other employees did all eventually make it to the party. And I cried harder. And as much as I wanted to rush upstairs and change back into my nice clothes and speed (slowly so as not to spin off the icy road) toward the party, our fate had already been set. We were home, our sitters were gone, our kids were asleep.

It will most likely be another year before I get the chance to play dress up again and knowing that makes me feel a little sad even today, but maybe life will surprise me. And knowing that life is full of surprises makes me smile and anticipate tomorrow.