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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas and Beyond: A VERY Belated Post

As Sharon just helpfully pointed out, I never did manage to do the Christmas post. I have also not managed to post much of anything else. The heart is willing, but the blogging hands are tired is all I have to say. Things have been nutty around here lately: we are currently experiencing a rare moment (that I am no doubt jinxing as I type this) when both kids are well, but between Thanksgiving through the end of the first week of the New Year, one or the other kid was sick, and quite dramatically so. Then they both recovered but Nadia, our mother's helper/nanny, contracted pneumonia (unrelated to Hallie's; she came back to work on Monday already showing symptoms of distress) and she's been out of work most of the week. So I've been doing pretty much all of the daytime childcare AND trying to prepare to start teaching full time again in a couple of days. Needless to say, blogging has suffered.

So, in the spirit of trying to catch up before the proverbial crap hits the fan, here goes:


We have crappy pictures that do not do justice to how much fun the kids, and especially Hallie, had at Aunt Laura's on Christmas eve (sadly, Santa neglected to leave us a D-SLR under the tree; we are trying hard not to believe we were on the naughty list). Both of the girls were thrilled to see their cousins and things got even more fun after Hallie cracked open a Christmas cracker and found a very small ball inside. She located a cardboard tube from some wrapping paper and initiated a game of 'blow the ball through the tube' with Hannah. What's notable here is that it was Hallie who came up with the idea for this game.

As usual, Hannah was thrilled to play with Hallie. She is a great older cousin and Hallie has benefited so much from being around her quite a bit this year.

Lea had a lot of fun, too. She spent a considerable amount of time at the chalkboard practicing her writing skills:

Now, while she did not in fact write the names on the board, she is really interested in writing/drawing because she sees Hallie doing it so often. She can smell a crayon a mile away and she has successfully drawn a few scribbles on our easel at home. She also enjoys biting off and swallowing the tips of crayons, so we tend to keep her away from them as much as possible.

We ended our Christmas eve soiree by going outside and scattering reindeer food for Rudolph & co. As you can see, we still had a whole lot of snow left over from the two-foot snowfall of the previous weekend. I find it much easier to believe that Santa comes flying in on his reindeer-driven sled when there is some snow to cushion the landing. And, since Sharon had been tracking Santa's progress via an app downloaded on her iPhone, we knew that the big guy was getting near and that it was time to get the kids in bed.

By the time we got back to Grammy's that night, Hallie was thoroughly exhausted. Perhaps she was coming down from a slight sugar high (her Christmas eve dinner consisted of two two-bite brownies; what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in calories). She opened her Christmas jammies, put them on, hit the bed, and crashed for the night.

As is typical, Lea completely came into her own just as Hallie was going down for the night. (This has become a source of great distress to me, by the way, since it bodes poorly for me getting my work done in the evening after Hallie goes to bed).

The first project that Lea undertook was stealing (and eating) Santa's cookies:

Then she moved on to Grammy's dish of Peppermint Patties. She found the shiny silver paper very alluring and the minty chocolate contents even more:

The kids slept in, but we finally shook them out of bed around 10:00am. Hallie clearly had no idea that Santa, Mommy and Mama, and Grammy had left a huge number of presents under the tree for her and Lea. It took a bit of time for us to manufacture the requisite excitement of opening presents on Christmas morning, but by the time Hallie was done, we think she got it. She certainly was into the presents -- which is not at all surprising and, for several weeks running, would regularly ask to open more presents from Santa. This, of course, was reinforced by the fact that we saw lots of good friends and family after Christmas was over and exchanged gifts with them then. I think that by the time New Years Day came around, Hallie was pretty convinced that every day is Christmas.

Anyway, I digress. The big ticket item that Santa got Hallie was a red guitar.

By evening Hallie was strumming away at it quite naturally. We've downloaded an iPhone app to help us tune it but we've yet to find an app that will prevent Hallie from turning the keys and loosening the strings again.

Hallie especially enjoys playing along with the Wiggles and Muno (from Yo Gabba Gabba). Lea's gotten in on the act, too. While the little red guitar is way too big for Lea (which of course does not stop her from cruising over to the guitar stand and plucking at the strings and occasionally threatening to drag the whole thing down on top of herself), she has taken to putting the guitar strap over her head (yes we watch her carefully when she does this, and the strap has a 'breakaway' feature) and playing the toy electric guitar that we inherited from brother Jake. She is so cute and so smart and reminds us a lot of Hallie in a very, very good way.

Of course, Lea got her own musical gift from Santa. Here she is unwrapping her Bee Bop Baby Band set:

She enjoyed the band set, but her real thrill came when she emptied her stocking. Here she is sampling her binkies:

In this next shot, Hallie is posing with her favorite gift of the day, which Grammy got her:

This remains her favorite and, today, several weeks after Christmas, Hallie took a bath with the Wonder Pets figures (we think she is partial to Ming Ming) and had them floating in a makeshift flyboat.
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Grammy let Santa know what she was getting Hallie, so he also brought her a Super Hallie cape so that she could be just like her heroes. Unfortunately, the tight velcro around the neck bothers her, so we need to fashion a device to make it a bit looser for her. I think that one of the new mitten clips that we bought would work just fine. (Several times now Hallie has helpfully informed me, when I have inquired about the whereabouts of one of her mittens or gloves, that she 'put it on the floor' -- meaning that she had thrown yet another mitten onto the sidewalk during one of our walks. Even at three dollars a pair on sale at the Children's Place, all of these lost mittens have begun to add up so I've diverted our resources toward the purchase of super cute mitten clips from Etsy; one of them can be repurposed for our little super hero's comfort).

After we finished unwrapping our gifts and had time to test all of them out, Aunt Laura and Uncle Bryan and the extended family brought over Christmas dinner. The kids had a blast playing together and Hallie was very much part of the mix. Here, Hallie is playing with her cousins Hannah and Adam and their cousin, Quinn. The three older kids got Nintendo DS's for Christmas and Hannah shared hers with Hallie after Hallie asked for a turn. Hallie loved being part of the older kids' games.

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She also really enjoyed pretending to be one of the five little monkey jumping on the bed and alternatively rough housing and cuddling with her cousin. Hannah makes Hallie very happy and I know that the feeling is quite mutual:

Lea also enjoyed playing with her cousins in her own Lea-like way. Here she is running her hands through Adam's hair (which is super thick). Adam was great because he also tolerated lots of face-patting (and slapping) and hair pulling from his littlest cousin.

We left Grammy's exhausted and in good spirits. The next day, more fun was in store because we had Boxing Day plans with Anne, Eliza Grace, and her Nana. Hallie was super excited when we pulled up at Nana's condominium complex. She knew exactly where we were (she has a phenomenal memory and sense of direction; perhaps she can get us out of all of those jams where we get lost and circle round and round when she gets a bit older). And she was thrilled to be there.

Here's a lovely shot of Anne with Hallie and Eliza:

We hung out all day, exchanged gifts, played hard, ate a couple of meals together and generally enjoyed the company of good friends. We love it that we manage to get Hallie and Eliza together pretty regularly and wish only that we all lived even closer to one another.

The girls ended the day with a nice bath and had a brilliant time splashing around in the tub and playing with Eliza's excellent array of tub toys:

After her bath, though, Hallie's face got very flushed--which is always a sign of a fever--and I became a bit worried. She seemed a tiny bit warm, but the condo was very hot (we had the oven on to cook dinner), and we attributed her slightly more subdued nature to lots of play and no nap. Hallie kept wanting to pretend to take a nap in Eliza's bed, and I suspect that she really did want to sleep, but there was too much going on to really settle down.

That was the evening that Hallie came down with pneumonia. Thankfully that's a thing of the least where Hallie is concerned. Now let's keep our fingers crossed that Nadia (our nanny) recovers in time to take over for me when I need to return to work on Tuesday...

Stay tuned for more (and hopefully shorter and less delayed) developments in the life of our little family during the month of January....

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