Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

Wow, Christmas week was busy for us this year! Despite all my best efforts to be overly prepared. Kids just make it chaotic. I love Christmas though. Chaos and all. It is a beautiful time of year. I prepared early this year and tried not to be so uptight about the little things. I'm learning to let go. It is hard, but worth it. So very worth it.

In the last days of school for the girls I got to volunteer in Sofie's classroom for their Christmas party. It was a lot of fun and I think Sofie really enjoyed having me. I was in charge of the gingerbread man station so I did have the best table :) I stopped in on Livi's party when Sofie's was done and she was having a blast. I had helped in her Halloween party so I'm trying my best to keep it fair!

Our first Christmas was with Jon's immediate family. It was a delicious ham dinner and presents under the Christmas tree. It was Evelyn's first Christmas celebration which made it extra special. I had hoped she would have come out by Christmas last year but at least she was out by the new year!

Checking out the tree with Gramma.

Crazy grandkids!

Reading with Uncle Jeremy.

I think I have started a new Christmas eve tradition, via Pinterest. I put together a gift bag filled with matching pajama's, hot chocolate, popcorn and a movie that they got to open on Christmas Eve afternoon. Plans changed a bit though and the older two put on their matching pj's and we headed out to the big theatre to see Sofie's first big theatre movie. We had gone to the little theatre a few months ago but I thought she was ready for the big one this time. She did amazing by the way. about half way through she spent about 15 minutes facing me on my lap but then she was recharged and finished the film in her own seat! I was so proud of her!

After a much to late church service, Livi was very careful to leave out cookies and milk for Santa and not forget apples and carrots for the reindeer.

The girls were all so engaged and excited on Christmas morning. Sofie understood that Santa had brought some presents and Evie was happy through most of it too. 9 am is her nap time and Sofie didn't wake up until after 8 so she was pushed a little bit.

I was so proud of my big girls. They did not immediately look for and ask for their presents. They first made sure that Evie got to open her present before them. They enjoyed helping her of course. The amazing thing is that it was completely Livi's idea. We had not mentioned anything about letting other's go first. She wanted to make sure Evie opened the first gift all on her own. She makes me proud every day. 

I loved seeing Sofie so engaged in Christmas this year. 

Ready for her nap!

Adoring sister.

My matching Christmas angels. I love being that mom that gets them matching pjs!

Our final Christmas celebration was this past weekend. Every two years Jon's extended family has a big three day get together somewhere. It is a lot of family all at once but it works… usually. This year was the hardest year for us by far. Three kids between 1 and 5 years old don't make anything easy, generally. There were 43 people in two great rooms together most of the weekend. The two great rooms in the lodge where bright and echoey. It was a sensory nightmare for me, let alone Sofie. I nearly crumpled the second day watching Sofie's entire body nearly collapse from sensory overload… and no one understood or "got it". Evie had a cold. Livi was fighting it. Evie has also never slept in another bed other than at home except for once when she was 6 months old. The family was also not used to little kids running around. Cords and electronics where left in their reach numerous times and unsuitable activities were planned at times that were NOT at all kid and nap time friendly. 

Although we did leave one night early, spending time with a family like this is priceless. My extended family would never do something like this. It makes for some amazing memories and relationships that would not form otherwise. 

Us grandkids also got to be educated on some of the family business this year. We were also given the opportunity to decide where to give a large some of money for charitable donations. This was a pretty amazing experience for me. From 25 people we had about 20 suggestions of where to give them money. Lots of great recommendations, all of which had a special meaning to the person suggesting it. We each had less than a minute to let the group know about our charity and why they should get them money before we cast some votes to see which charities could be eliminated. I was one of the last to make my suggestion. Mine was a little different since no tax receipt would be included for the company. I didn't suggest a registered charity but instead a person for her adoption of a little boy with DS from Bulgaria. She is also going in to this with no kids of her own yet and no partner. 

(A little back story on this soon to be mom, Heather. She is the oldest daughter of the Keno family. The Keno's are the family that introduced Jon to people with special needs and have adopted 5 children with  special needs themselves. 4 from the Ministry, 3 with Down Syndrome, and 1 of those with DS was an international adoption from Bulgaria just before us. They prepared Jon for my world and influenced our decision and ability to adopt greatly! Now Heather is on the same journey and we get to be a part of it!)

I was SO humbled by what happened next. With only my short explanation of why I thought Heather should get some money, it was unanimous that she would be getting some of it! I LOVED watching all Jon's cousins cast their votes. The only question was how much. We unanimously agreed in a short 30ish minutes that Heather would be getting 50% of our donation and the other 50% was divided between 5 other charities, some very big well known ones and some smaller ones that the cousins have personally volunteered at. I had tears in my eyes. I was so honoured to have been able to let them know about this adoption and see them all jump on board whole heartedly to support something that is so dear to my heart. It was VERY cool to see and be a part of. Something I'll never forget. 

All in all this was a fabulous Christmas! I look forward to it being a little easier next year and learning to let more go in future years. It is happening and I'm loving it. I'm so much more relaxed! Merry Christmas to all and we hope you have a beautiful, joy filled, imperfect new year. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Clause Is Coming To Town

We are in the full swing of Christmas preparations. Our halls are decked. The girls had fun decorating the tree, although Evie slept through most of it. Livi put the angel on top. All of my Christmas and White Elephant presents have been bought and everything but the ones from Santa are wrapped. I do have more cookies to bake and cards to hand out but that will get done soon.

I got the opportunity to help out with a special Santa event for kids with Sensory Processing Disorders. My friends NPO organized with the local mall Santa to have appointments with Santa before mall hours, when their aren't crowds or long waits in line ups, and with scent free staff. He also did not hand out candy canes, with sugar and red dye, but stickers and goody bags filled with sensory toys. This made it a lot easier for some kids to actually visit and get a picture with Santa! It was pretty cool. When I told Livi that I was going to help Santa she didn't believe me and demanded a picture as proof… Here you go Livi! Sorry, phone picture turned out blurry :)

We also got to enjoy the girls Kindergarten Christmas concert. They did AMAZING! I was so proud. Livi was excited and confident. She knew all her songs and action though she did miss a few cues because her eyes were wandering through the audience. Sofie brought tears too my eyes. She was bored in the first song but new all the actions and cues for the other three songs she sang. She didn't miss a beat. I was so impressed… I was a little nervous as to how she would do in front of an audience.   The girls where both so proud of themselves. They had worked so hard and it showed!

Christmas is just two weeks away! Enjoy your holidays and don't get too stressed out with all the prep! I'll try my best not too either :)