Sunday, December 30, 2007

Worth a million dollars

He's the only one I'll ever have and he's all mine, so I'm allowed to think he's the greatest thing going.

I'm not quite sure which is cuter ...

Trace kicking it in his new flannel, bucking bronco pajamas Santa delivered


Trace pushing around his little bulldozer, also compliments of Santa.

Whichever way you vote, I'm thinking he's worth a million dollars.

They were rooting to the end

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their regular season today against the Ravens, and the Steeler crew in our house saw them through to the end.

Four of the five were sporting their new Steeler gear and the little Pixie, yes, she experiences the terrible twos from time to time, refused to be a part of the season wrap-up photo.

On the other hand, kudos to the Pixie for overcoming her fear of our inflatable touchdown Steeler man. At the start of the season she would walk in a four-foot circle to avoid him, and today she gave him hugs.

Our "great" Uncle Doug

Great Uncle Doug has a knack for picking out just what little kids like. There has been a little china tea set for Alivia's birthday that she loved, Halloween snow globes and those liquid filled "worms" that mom and dad remember from the 80s.

Christmas proved to be another success for Uncle Doug in the gift buying arena when he produced an electronic keyboard that brings our children running (and crawling) like little moths to a flame. Granted, our neighbors will most likely log a complaint call to the local police department for the noise disturbance the four manage to create with it, but they love it!

He did it, he did it

Finally, here's the Christmas report everyone (well, at least one person) has been waiting for ... Santa delivered on the fancy guitar and Taylor Swift dress requested by Alena, and she was more than pleased with his efforts.

Jason and I had taken bets as to whether she'd go straight for the tall box standing toward the back of her haul or not. The first gift she opened was a Candyland game. Definitely not a fancy guitar, and she made no bones about it. Dad encouraged her to open another gift and see what else Santa might have brought. Looking at her stack, she eyed the tall box in the box and said, "maybe that's it."

After we had dug it out, she opened it and immediately exclaimed, "He did it. He did it." I suppose she had had her doubts as to how close Santa would come to the coveted Taylor Swift guitar, and perhaps, more importantly, if she had been good enough to deserve her top wish. Several boxes later and she stumbled upon one which produced the black dress, a surprise black headband and gloves, also just like the ones Taylor Swift wears.

And maybe even funnier than her "he did it, he did it" response to the guitar was her reaction after opening a pair of black cowboy boots that she "didn't order." It took her a minute or two to grasp the concept that they were hers even though she hadn't included them in her list of what her dad has dubbed the Taylor Swift starter stalker kit.

She eventually made her way through all of her gifts, but the guitar and black dress are definitely her favorites. I suppose she knows a little too well what she wants.

Alivia approached her pile of loot in the complete opposite fashion than Alena's whirlwind tearing frenzy, you would have thought each was her last. Little Liv would open one, then proceed to play with or check it out, then survey what everyone around her had opened. She needed a bit of prodding to continue on with the unwrapping, or we might still be watching her.

In the Pixie's world, whatever she wants to play with is "hers" at that given point in time, so she spent the Christmas season as interested in what each of her siblings had received as she was in her own gifts.

Alysse wasn't quite sure what to make of the flying paper and ripping boxes. She moved throughout the mess just trying to figure it all out. If she managed to come upon something of interest that wasn't immediately taken out of her sight, she'd spend a little time checking it out.

Trace on the other hand was the Grinch when Christmas morning arrived. Having woken up too early and not feeling well, he wanted nothing to do with any of it. And after much crying by him and cuddling by mom, he conked out before half the gifts were opened.

All in all, everyone was pleased with Santa's visit. We've got toys, games and books galore to keep us busy for the next several months as we wait for warm weather and outdoor fun.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dear Santa:

So finally, after much deliberation, Mr. Claus, I've got my list together. While I realize you can't grant each and every wish on my list, if you could sweet talk the elves into helping deliver just a couple, I'll be a happy girl.

First, I'd like health for our little ones during the coming year. After all, isn't that at the top of each mom's list? Yeah, I'll deal with a puker here and there, or an ear infection from time to time, but if you could wrap up no major illnesses or incidents, I'd really appreciate it.

Next, four little smiles. They each have a beautiful one, if you could just find a gift bag to hold more smiles than frowns, the world will be a better place. One smiling solo lights up a room, get them all doing it simultaneously, and you'll be able to find our house without Rudolph's help.

I'd also like the strength, patience and endurance to teach my own little elves life's true priorities. That a dad that works hard to take care of them is worth his weight in gold. That family and friends who love, support and care for them is priceless. And that memories of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" before naptime trumps a trip to see the Disney princesses skate any day.

Laughter. Alena and Alivia have giggles that I wouldn't trade for a winning lottery ticket. Alysse laughs like a machine gun which in turn makes you laugh, and Trace has a belly laugh so hearty you'd swear it wouldn't fit in his tiny body. Please, just let me have a listen of each one every day and I'll owe you.

And finally, I'm asking for kisses, or rather the chance to plant them. Kisses to start and end each day. Kisses on banged knees, pinched fingers and stubbed toes. Kisses when they're sad or when they've done something wonderful. Kisses just because.

In return, just let me know if there's anything I can do for you. I'd be willing to sacrifice nearly anything for any one of these gifts granted. With any luck you'll make your rounds successfully this Christmas Eve and enjoy all that's to come from giving.


P.S. While Trace and Alysse have been sporting shirts that say all I want for Christmas is a silent night, I really wouldn't know what to do with one if you gave it to me, so please just stick with the list outlined above.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The view from down there

We took bets before the Christmas tree went up as to who would be the one to bring it down. All bets were all Alysse (sorry, Lysse).

Two babies crawling, who are curious about everything, I thought for sure the tree didn't stand a chance. While decorating, instructions were laid out that glass ornaments were to be hung up higher, leaving the less "dangerous" ones for the twin zone.

To their credit, Trace and Alysse didn't give the tree a second glance when it initially made its appearance. Even a couple weeks into its living room stance, it remained pretty much untouched by either baby. Honestly, I silently wondered what was wrong.

And then, in the past week, it's all changed. As if the tree had just magically appeared there one day, Trace took notice. At first he was content to sit at the tree's base and look up.

I have to wonder how the view is from down there. I can sit and look up alongside him and yes, it's a whole new tree from down there looking up. But even with the new perspective for me, the tree doesn't pose the drastic difference in proportion for me that he sees. The seven and a half foot tree must seem to him like a 12 story building does to me.

After his initial interest in looking only, he's moved on to taking a feel. Sitting close enough to bat at the ornaments was sufficient for his opening act, but now he's discovered he can stand close enough to the sofa and reach out to grab ornaments originally out of reach while sitting on the floor.

While he's managed to knock a couple free, I think his interest in the tree has remained because it creates a game with each encounter. He touches, and then hears a "no, no Trace." Back comes the hand and seconds later, he can't resist doing it again. "No, no Trace," and the hand is again quietly withdrawn. And so it goes a dozen times.

In his tree game, I've seen some orneriness emerging. Something I'll confess Alysse has had the monopoly on up until this point. He gets a sparkle in his eye and a mischievous grin takes its place on his little face. He knows he's being naughty, but enjoys it too much to stop.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Let the countdown begin

The countdown has begun around our house. Today finds us at 22 and counting. Counting down to Santa and the goods, that is.

Alena and Alivia are now old enough that they understand Santa, they understand he's going to bring presents and THEY CAN'T WAIT. Prior to the start of our advent countdown on Saturday, they would ask each day if Santa was coming that night. Once advent calendars came out and we started the practice of opening a number each day, they can now see how many days are left in our waiting game.

Saturday, the first day of December, found us in line for a visit with Santa. Anticipating differing levels of gladness in seeing Santa, everyone was prepared during our drive to the mall that no one had to sit on Santa's lap if they didn't want to and no one had to have their picture taken with Santa.

Alena was quick to make friends with the jolly old man, while Alivia choose not to sit on his lap, but a seat next to him was okay for a quick couple of pictures. Trace and Alysse weren't quite sure what to make of the whole ordeal, but tolerated a quick sit on his lap for a photo documenting their first official Santa visit.

Both Alena and Alivia told Santa what they were hoping for on Christmas morning. Alena stuck with her fancy Taylor Swift guitar request and Alivia put in a request for a horse (let's hope she's talking the stuffed variety here).

After their visit we hit the Starbucks kiosk adjacent to the Santa set up and the girls enjoyed a coffee (hot chocolate) with mom and dad. Dad introduced Alivia to hot chocolate last Thursday and let's just say she's a fan. His calling it coffee and her having her own little coffee-to-go cup adds to its appeal, I'm sure.

While Alivia finished her coffee, Alena opted to walk with mom as Trace and Alysse hinted they would rather ride in the stroller, taking in the sights, than sit at the small Starbucks table. With each lap we did around Santa's gazebo, Alena stopped to wave, check out what he was doing and most importantly, just make sure he was still there.

About three laps into our "walk," she was becoming a bit of a Santa stalker, having waved several times, given him "five" when he got up to throw away his Starbucks cup and completely sizing him up from head to toe. Truth be told, Santa was probably glad when Alena was waving good-bye for the final time that morning.

On the way home we had to field questions about Santa and his beard. According to Alena, Santa's beard looked different than it does in our "Santa's Rockin'" Wiggles DVD. I attempted to explain away the difference by saying that Santa has to trim his beard. My explanation, however, wasn't sufficient, as she continued to question the difference.

Jason went on to tell her the video is a few years old, so Santa looks a bit different on it than he does now. That seemed to work a bit better. Later that night, having some time to think about her beard concerns, I realized that the Wiggles' Santa wears a costume beard, whereas the Santa we visited had the real deal. Give the kid some kudos for her astute beard observations.

This Saturday the older girls are attending a breakfast with Santa at the YMCA where Alena goes to preschool, let's hope this weekend's Santa looks fairly close to the St. Nick we saw last weekend, otherwise we'll be forced to get really creative with our answers.