Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas Family

Yesterday was my daughter's third Christmas. At just barely two years old, it was the first Christmas that she could fully enjoy with all her senses. And enjoy she did. The twinkling lights reflected in her eyes. The fancy trees all decorated uniquely. The lovely music in all forms, including awe inspiring bells. The manger display that showed one of her favorite animal filled biblical stories in full dimension. The over abundance of food (and sugar). The precious time with family. Oh, and the gifts. 

Even though she still lacked full understanding of what was going on, she will probably be asking for Christmas for the whole month of January. (She has finally forgotten about the pumpkin patch.) And next year she will have memories that will add to the anticipation and excitement. 

The best part of the whole experience is watching her bond with family. To see her cautiously approach an uncle over and over and over again with curiosity. To see her randomly run over to her great grandmother, whom she does not see often, and give her a big kiss. To see her playfully greet one after another. To see her share food with others. Mostly corn. She can't get enough corn and even after three servings of her own she had to ask others to share.

I am so grateful for every person she gets to spend time with and I long for her to get to see so many more family members. She briefly talked to her cousin on the phone (the five year old asked her if she was still little). She Face Timed her sister and niece. She told her Oh-Oh-Oma that she loved her (she has decided that there is Oma and then her great Oma is Oh-Oh-Oma). Today we will call some more people, as yesterday just had too much. 

The morning with family over was so overwhelmingly exciting that it was very difficult to get her to go to sleep for her nap. (The new bed added to the dilemma.)  I had to promise her that after she slept she would go see her grandparents and uncles. Then, at bedtime, after all those hugs and kisses, we had the same thing. She just couldn't shut down. 

As I enjoyed company I couldn't help think of those who were lonely this Christmas. My grandmother was spending her first Christmas alone. Others couldn't even find reason to celebrate. I was reminded to treasure every moment with my loved ones. Even when the conversation lulls or when misanderstandings occur. 

Family memories in the making. And more to come. More hugs. More laughs. More delicious corn. 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

I Told You!

We have somewhat of a schedule. Part of that includes devoted daddy and his daughter walking the dogs first thing in the morning while mommy prepares breakfast and gets herself ready for work. The other day, daddy had to leave early and so, even though mommy had a busy scedule, it was my turn to give the dogs their morning walk.

My big to-do list was running through my head. Even though I was calculatingly watching the clock, this was a welcomed distraction because we all really enjoy being outside. The dogs were overwhelmed with anticipation, as I personally have rarely taken them, except in the truck, since my jaw surgery nine weeks ago. 

I bundled us up (the humans, that is) and sat my warm cutie in her sleigh. I stuffed the leashes under the cover of the sleigh where my daughter sticks her feet. She immediately protested. Usually daddy carries them around his neck and so I thought she didn't want the leashes there. While she cried I told her they would be okay there and hurriedly got us outside. Once we started she smiled. 

I pulled the sleigh through the fresh snow with the two dogs galloping around us and nipping at each other in excitement. Damp snowflakes glistened on our hats and slippery ice threatened from below the blanket of snow on the ground. My daughter sat quietly. Almost pensively.  Then, a block from home she softly called out. 


I stopped walking, as I could barely hear her through my knit hat and the hood of my jacket. "Yes, dear?"

She pulled her legs from under the cover and stuck her feet out from inside her snow pants. Cautiously, she stated, "I need boots". Snow fell and stuck to her socked feet. 

I threw my head back and laughed. I'd put her shoes on the wrong feet many times. I've lost a half a pair a few times on outings. But I have never forgot them all together. Especially when she was trying to tell me. 

I could argue that she was fussing and hard to understand. But it was more likely a case of not listening than it was a case of not communicating her point. I thought she wanted the leashes off her feet. And so that is what I heard. She actually wanted, no, needed, boots on her feet. 

We turned around, much to the dogs' confusion as this looked like the shortest walk ever. We retrieved her boots and were therefore ready to go back, this time all the way to the end of the road to play in the snow. The dogs were ecstatic that we were trying again.

I would probable say one of my biggest pet peeves is feeling unheard. And I know, just like when I misunderstood my daughter, the lack of attention is usually not intentional. People filter words through their busy minds and automatically misfile comments. Potential conversations flutter into the air without any follow through. 

So often, something I don't feel too passionately about is taken too seriously, or something I want to concentrate on is pushed aside. The everyday casualties of living in this busy world with too many distractions for imperfect people. 

I try thoroughly to listen to my daughter. Of course, at two years old I often have to play a guessing game. Sometimes I get a bullseye. Many times I have no clue. But in the end, I hope she'll know I genuinely tried and that I care. 

The boots incident was a reminder that failing to listen is quite easy to do. Even when the other person is raising their voice. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


After work, I picked up my daughter and we spent the frosty, dark evening driving around in an impromptu search for Christmas lights. She stared intently forward, waiting for the next twinkling roof line or brightly wrapped terrace or a glimpse of a bedecked tree shining out of a cozy living room. As we approached each display she would point and happily call out, "I see Christmas!"

At an extravagantly lit corner house we got out of the truck to face the biting cold for a closer look. "Wow!" As she analyzed the busy display, she declared there were zebras on the lawn. She wanted to go on the snow for an even better inspection and I told her we couldn't because it was not ours. She adamantly pointed at the driveway and said, "THIS way Mom, THAT'S ours."

What I love about toddlers is their appreciation of all levels. Across the street were three plainly lit trees. Even though she had just seen a bright display of numerous reindeer and sleighs, Santa and wreaths, snowmen and the nativity, she still asked to go see the trees. 

As we continued to drive down the road, I thought she couldn't get any more excited each time she yelled out, "I see another one!" But then she saw a large, lit up star. What an amazing site to see! She squealed with glee. After the star we rounded a corner and there was an oversize, blown up snowman. She insisted she had to get out to give him a high five. Give him a hug. Give him a kiss. Anything! She begged to stop as I slowly continued to drive. When I told her that we unfortunately could not touch it because it wasn't ours, she responded, "Well, I want to buy him!"

This girl learns fast.

At one point, there were lights at a few different houses on both sides of the road. She counted the houses. She pointed out the colors. She decided that icicle lights were raindrops. 

We definitely have a joyous Christmas tradition in the making. Lastly, we looked at our own lights. And then she ended our twinkle search by pointing to the sky and bringing our attention to the awe inspiring display of stars. Albeit a small display through the spatter of clouds.   

I can't imagine what she'll do if daddy puts lights blinking to music like he wants.