Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Day

Better late than never, right?  We've been so beautifully busy doing fun family things, so this is the first chance I've had to update the blog on all of our holiday events.  Unfortunately, I'll have to post a few things out of order.  Mainly, I'll just have to post about Christmas Eve on another day, thanks to technical difficulties with my camera.  Oh well!  On to Christmas day!

But first...a peek at late Christmas Eve night:

My Santa job was pretty!!

Sylvain's Santa job was not done.  And it was complicated and noisy.

Santa's elves were NOT helpful, and Margot's car was NOT wrapped in time.  Papa tried to finish it in the morning, but it included a lot of banging, which required her immediate attention, so there was no big "TA DA" moment when she saw her big gift.  In fact, it was the first thing she saw and she waited patiently for him to finish, then she spent the rest of the morning sitting in her car, ignoring every other wrapped present under the tree! 

Sylvia was the first to wake up at an amazing 7:45 AM!!  We slept IN on Christmas morning!  Sweet baby Jesus, it was wonderful.  So we were all in a really good mood.  I snapped a few pics of Sylvia before Margot woke up, then the present-fest commenced! (I know I should put most of these pics in a cute collage or something, but I'm short on time, so just scroll and enjoy - sorry!)

She slept with her new unicorn, which I fear may replace her beloved dou dou bunnies.

New Ninja Turtle, Michelangelo, meets old Ninja Turtle, Leonardo.

One good gift before she saw the car.

Bathtub letters!  Hooray!

The Ninja Turtle truck.  It's called "The Shellraiser."  *sigh*

Beep Beep!

Coming through!

Sophia dress!  She wore it all morning.

Margot left her car when she saw the wooden stir fry vegetables.

She force fed Papa some shrimp.

Opening our gifts from France!

A set of games for Sylvain and Sylvia.

Some new books for Margot.

Assembling the Turtle Wagon after breakfast.

Our morning was delightful and everyone was very happy with their gifts.  After a little play time, we packed up and headed to my Dad's house for another Christmas!  What a lucky bunch we are!

Lala Loopsy everything from Santa at Grandpa's house!

She was just happy to eat snacks all day!

My Dad built Margot this awesome board with gadgets and locks and knobs and a door to hide things!  She LOVES it!
Mamie Brigitte met us for lunch at Dad's house and showered the girls with MORE gifts.  She is SUPER smart and gave Sylvia a set of Cinderella dresses to go with the dolls she already has, but she also gave her a ballerina Barbie and some tutus to go with it.  We're in Barbie doll heaven at our house!  Margot received more great French books (can't have too many!) and we've been reading them constantly. 

After lunch, we hightailed it to my Mom's house with enough time to squeeze in some naps, thank goodness!  We opened gifts, had more great food, and by 7:00 my girls were SPENT (and so was I).  

I only got one good present opening picture, because Margot was a fussy, crying MESS, poor baby!
Just as the real party was getting started (folks from all sides of the family eventually end their day at Mom's house for games and beverages and merriment), the Fasciotto party had to make an exit.  There's only so much excitement that two little girls can take before they start to act like demons.  We made it home at a reasonable time and both girls practically put themselves to bed without a fight! 

I had time to survey the damage of three rounds of Christmas in one day, and in order to stay as organized as possible, I put all of their gifts back under the tree for them to rediscover in the morning.  I was also hoping that seeing everything at once would help them decide what to play with!

So, Christmas was a wonderful whirlwind of a day and I was constantly reminded of how blessed and loved we are by our family and friends.  I've always loved Christmas and I used to think it was the most magical day of the year, but I was wrong.  When you have two tiny kids, the day AFTER Christmas is the most magical.  We had no where to be and there was only one rule: put your toys back under the tree before you start playing with something else!  We stayed in our pajamas and we played played played played PLAYED all day long.  I didn't open my computer or stare at my phone.  Sylvain and I spent most of our day on the floor, building things or playing games, or pretending to do whatever the heck they wanted to do.  We ate leftovers all day, took GIGANTIC naps, sang every Christmas song we was remarkable.   I hope we are always so lucky as to have this special extra family day!

Up next: Christmas Eve and/or our seventh wedding anniversary trip to Gatlingburg WITH children, for the first time ever.  Super fun.  Lots to post!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mary, Mother of God

It is impossible for me to celebrate Christmas without carrying a large space in my heart for Mary.  I've always loved that lady, but since I've been blessed with children, I really LOVE that lady!  I mean, could you imagine?!  I gave birth twice, to normal, every day miracles.  Could you imagine going through that and then sitting there, jaws on the floor, looking at baby GOD?  Yikes!

And let's not pretend like that stable was a peaceful, serene and holy place to be.  I know darn well that the hours leading up to birth are SCARY and FRANTIC and I don't care how holy you are or how many angels you've seen.  I'm willing to bet that Mary was PISSED that she wound up in a stable.  In the middle of both of my labors, I cried out, "This is stupid!  I don't want to do this anymore!"  I bet Mary was all, "Are you KIDDING ME, JOSEPH?  Was this the BEST YOU COULD DO?!  I'm not doing this here!  This is stupid!  I don't want to do this anymore!"  It probably smelled in there.  I would hate to give birth next to a cow.  In fact, I would refuse to, but I'm not the Mother of God.

I've also been thinking lately that maybe there were other people there.  Bethlehem was packed.  I bet there were poor people who couldn't afford to stay in the inns, also some latecomers who procrastinated (I'm looking at YOU Joseph, you need a travel agent!) and probably some backpacking college kids who think they can just show up in a town and find a place to stay.  Dummies.  Poor Mary.  What a way to start motherhood.

All of this is to say, I lean very heavily on Miss Mary when times get tough.  When my children are shrieking and clawing at my face and using cuss words and acting like total pills.  Also, I lean on Her when things are peaceful.  I look at my babies' sleeping faces and tiny toes.  I swipe hair out of their eyes and watch the corners of their mouths turn upward.  I kneel in awe at the altar of parenthood and think about Mary.  What must it have been like to raise a three year old baby Jesus?  What did he say to her?  Was he well behaved or was he a total pill sometimes?  Did she count down the minutes to bedtime so she could have a glass of wine in peace?  I know the girl loved wine because she's the one who made Jesus spike the water at Cana.  I think she was a regular mom with a regular kid, except every once in a while she probably had those kneeling at the altar moments, just like I do.  She probably watched Jesus sleeping and suddenly remembered, "Oh my gosh.  My child is God.  I am so blessed!"

Or maybe not.  Maybe the Nativity was as serene and holy and perfect as we make it out to be.  Maybe Jesus was always a perfect child and she was always a perfect Mom.  Maybe he never gave her any trouble and maybe they cherished every moment they had together, like a perfect Norman Rockwell painting.  But I really don't think so.  I like my story better. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday Happenings

I have another scrapbook post for ya!  Just a bunch of pictures of all the things I don't want to forget.  Seems to be the norm lately, but what can ya do?!  Enjoy!

It's been a wonderful Christmas season so far at our house.  Sylvain is working nights now, so the girls and I are having fun snuggling in our jammies every night and reading Christmas books.  Instead of going crazy with Elf of the Shelf, we're doing the same advent calendar we started last year.  When the girls are in the bath tub (or otherwise occupied) the Elf slips a piece of paper into our advent calendar to tell them where the night's Christmas book is hidden.  Sylvia is LOVING the little game, but the Elf is having a hard time sneaking around and getting the books all set up before bedtime!  So far she hasn't caught a glimpse of him, but she sure does TRY! 

December has delivered lots of COLD COLD snowy days!  We managed to get out and enjoy the snow exactly once and for exactly twenty minutes before we almost froze to death and came inside for hot chocolate.  I did get some cute pictures, though!

Humbert profile!

Critter tracks in the backyard!  Sylvia was delighted!

Walking to the neighbor's hill.

On the first weekend of December, Mom and Jay invited us to join them in Lebanon for the old time-y Christmas parade.  With the terrible weather, the parade wasn't as long or as amazing as it usually was, because a lot of the usual giant teams of horses couldn't come.  We had great seats right across from the Golden Lamb Bed and Breakfast, but unfortunately, their Christmas lights weren't working!  So, what should have been some beautiful pictures turned out to be just okay pictures.  But the girls didn't know what they were missing and they LOVED all the horses!

Cruising the streets before the parade.  We're getting a lot of use out of her snowsuit!

Dancing with the elves.

Next came St. Nick day!  I love that Sylvia's preschool is teaching her about the feast of St. Nick so she knows that St. Nick isn't exactly the same as Santa Claus.  This year, St. Nick day fell on a Friday and it also happened to be a SNOW DAY!  Woohoo!  We got to take our time opening our stockings and playing with all of our tiny toys.  I didn't get any pictures of Margot because she sat in my lap the entire time, but I got some good ones of Sylvia.

Ballerina ornament!

Ninja Turtle stamp set!

And her favorite: the Leonardo action figure.  It makes noise, people.  So I kind of hate it to death.

For our last super fun Christmas-y event, we loaded up the girls in the car to look at Christmas lights!  Last year we started a neighborhood touring tradition that I absolutely love!  We put the girls in their jammies and covered them with warm blankets in the car.  We filled their sippy cups with hot (warm) chocolate and handed them a bowl of mini marshmallows.  I'm sure Margot couldn't see a thing from her rear facing seat, but she loved the hot chocolate and the Christmas music! 

I can't believe Christmas is only a few days away!  I have so much to DO but at least school is over and I can focus on my shopping/wrapping/baking/merriment.  With a 3 year old and 1 year old, this year is going to be the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Break! With lots of pics...

It may be true that I start listening to Christmas music exclusively on November 1st (and also for about a week in July), but I try not to go whole hog Christmas mode until after Thanksgiving.  This year was difficult, because Thanksgiving was so LATE and my Christmas break doesn't leave many free days before Christmas actually arrives, so we had to allow a little overlap.  Mainly, we had to go to The Festival of Lights good and early this year, which was a spectacular idea!

I was off on Wednesday, so I took the girls to Lexington to visit some friends, they napped all the way home (and then some), then we picked up Grammy and headed to the zoo in time for the fun to start at 5:00.  Last year, we went as a family of four for the first time.  It was freezing.  It was PACKED and we could barely walk.  I had to nurse Margot on a bench next to a heater and I swore I would never come to this stupid event again.  Then a year went by and I changed my tune.  Let me tell you - going before Thanksgiving and getting there early were GOOD MOVES!  It was still freezing, but we nearly had the place to ourselves!  We waltzed in to see Santa, hopped right on the train, had a lovely dinner INSIDE (in the new cafe which also includes - get this - a "nursing nest" which would have been very useful LAST YEAR!!!) saw the reindeer, and caught a surprise blacklight puppet show which Sylvia absolutely loved.  Here are the pictures - fun was had by all!

This lady was more magical than Santa!  Soft voice, nothing but love in her eyes, Sylvia was smitten.

Not a huge fan of Frosty, but she warmed up quickly.

The Main Man!

Margot wouldn't sit on his lap, but she did approach him long enough to steal a candy cane.

Cold train ride.

Warm snuggles.

We were well bundled!

"You look delicious!"

Sisters in the light tunnel bridge.  Good times!
Sidenote: I bought Margot's snowsuit from a neighbor at a garage sale in the middle of the summer.  Baby Gap.  Warm as can be.  Only worn once.  TWO DOLLARS!!  I don't visit many garage sales, but when I do, buddy, LOOK OUT!  It was a godsend that night.  She reminded me of the kid from "A Christmas Story," the one who shouts, "I can't put my arms down!"  But darn it, she was warm and she was cute!

Okay, on to Thanksgiving, the holiday that's supposed to come before Christmas, but whatever.  I do have a few pictures from our dinner at Dad's house.  It was delicious!

Don't be fooled, she's there for the cat.

A little after-dinner Bingo!  Sylvia won a bag of gummy bears!

Katie and Carrie.  Sylvia's BFF's.


Grandpa and his five kids.

These girls are awesome.  When they're around, I don't have to keep my girls busy.
We had another lovely dinner at Mom's house on Friday night, but alas, I forgot my camera.  Trust me, everyone had FUN! 

On Saturday, Sylvain and I had a date day (instead of a date night, because we're old and we have little wee ones).  We saw a MOVIE!  A real one!  In a theater!  It's been YEARS!!!  We had lunch at Morlein Lager House, which never disappoints, then we saw Ender's Game.  It was awesome and I loved it. 

Moving on!  Today was our big Thanksgiving Break finale with....lunch with Santa!!  Our church always does this on the first Sunday of advent and this year that fell on December FIRST!  Yikes!  We had not done it in years past, but Sylvia's pretty caught up in the Santa craze, so we thought it would be fun, and it's a fundraiser for our church, so I didn't mind buying tickets.  Lunch started at noon, so we went to the 11:00 mass, just like every other family with tickets, so it was a little crazy in there.  Father Jeff asked all the kids who were going to lunch with Santa to stand up at the end of mass.  I thought he was going to give them some words of wisdom about Jesus and "The Reason For the Season" or something, but instead he made the whole congregation clap for the kids because they were so good in church!  I love that guy to death.  Especially because Margot was louder than an ambulance siren for most of mass.  Surely he heard her, right?  Oh well, anyway....

Margot ate nothing but chips and cookies for lunch, which is probably why she puked after dinner.  Oops!

"You better not pout, I'm telling you why!"  She wasn't having it.

Waiting in line.  Apparently this much excitement warrants a head lock.

Good grief.  Poor baby!  Big sister's a pro, but Margot?  Not so much.  She'll learn!

All better!

Crafts with Papa!  Glitter happy gingerbread man was the THIRD craft she made.  So fun!
And here I sit on another Sunday night, with two girls in bed, wondering where the time has gone!  If I could freeze them both right now, I absolutely WOULD!  Three more weeks and I'm off for Christmas!  This year is going to be awesome!