Christmas 2017

It has been several years since we have traveled for Christmas, but this year we made the trip to Wisconsin, where I grew up and where my mom still lives, to spend Christmas with my mom, my dad, and my brother David (Daniel was out east with his wife Sharon and her family).

It was probably a good thing that we were heading north instead of hosting people here. Traveling for FangFang’s latest surgery and then continuing to help her recover once home, plus trying to get in a bit of schooling with the big kids, and just live life (feed everyone at least 3 meals a day, make sure everyone has clean underwear, and keep everyone alive) was pretty much all I could handle the couple weeks before we left. This was the extent of my Christmas decorating.

And you know why that was up? It’s because my mom made it with Miranda last year while I was in China, and Miranda didn’t want to take it down, so it stayed up all year. And ripped. And I just left it there. We did no Christmas tree at home, no Christmas crafts. We did watch some Christmas movies 🙂 Matt did some Advent stuff with the kids. And I started reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan with them…and then failed to finish it. But this year’s holiday season was one of realizing that we could not do it all and that we needed to prioritize what was most important, focus on that, and not sweat the rest. We talked about Christmas being a celebration of Jesus’s birth and what that meant. We listened to Christmas music. And we looked forward to heading to Wisconsin to be with family 🙂

The big girls were very excited and told many people that while everyone staying here was probably going to have a green Christmas in Missouri, we would be enjoying a white Christmas in Wisconsin. They were rather disappointed when we arrived to only small patches of snow on the ground. David and I took all the kids for a walk a couple days after we got to Wisconsin, and they collected all the snow they could find in this stroller and then brought it home and dumped it outside the window of my old room, where the big girls were sleeping, so they could look out at it to enjoy a white Christmas!

Unfortunately, it was really cold, so that was pretty much our only outdoor outing for the whole trip. We did have a lot of indoor entertainment, though 🙂 Madeleine CaiQun’s siblings got her a paleontology excavation kit for Christmas, and she chipped away at it (sometimes with a bit of help from Miranda) until she had uncovered every single bone and put together her dinosaur model!

Miranda has been interested in learning more about how to sew, so she dove into this sewing kit project as soon as she received it!

We’ve learned, over the years, that our kids do better with a “Christmas season,” as opposed to one giant, overwhelming morning of a million presents and no time to enjoy any of them, so we started letting them open presents, one or two at a time, several days before Christmas.

Even so, Christmas morning was a big deal 🙂

I love these photos of my kiddos spending time with family and enjoying their gifts <3

We made our traditional Christmas cut-out cookies and frosted them the evening of Christmas Day. Somehow the frosting turned out super runny this year, which made things more difficult than usual, but we managed to enjoy the evening and make some nice cookies 🙂

The time in Wisconsin was, overall, very relaxing. We didn’t go out much – it was freezing cold, and Matt had a sinus infection that sent him to urgent care (and then back to bed) early on in our trip, so we ended up spending a lot of time just relaxing at my mom’s. That wasn’t all bad, though. Matt made a lot of small artworks. I read some books. The kids played and had space to really enjoy their time with extended family. Miranda played more games of Yahtzee with my dad than I could count. We received several more cooperative games for Christmas gifts, and we all enjoyed playing those together. There was time to play with Playmobil and puzzles and, of course, dinosaurs. Some of us adults frequently played cards after kids were in bed…and Atticus woke up a couple times and sat with me while we finished our games 😉

And we did get out a bit. In addition to our Chicagoland trips, I finished reading Wonder out loud to the big girls, so the two of them and my mom and David and I went and saw the movie one evening. And after Matt started recovering, we were able to go out and connect with a few friends in the area. Miranda found a fellow climber in my cousin’s daughter, which was so fun to see!

Overall, it was one of the most relaxing Wisconsin trips we’ve had. I think we often pack them full of things to do and people to see, and while I love getting out and enjoying other places away from home and connecting with friends and family, our last few weeks leading up to Christmas were intense that it was probably perfect timing for us to have some pretty low key time with family. It was a good Christmas celebration!

A Week (and a Day)

Our little Atticus is 8 days old today, and what a sweet 8 days they have been!

We spent 2 nights in the hospital after he was born, and by Monday morning we were so ready to come home and continue to snuggle our little guy in the comforts of our own home and be all together as a family.

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We continue to think Atticus is one of the most adorable, precious little babies ever – along with his sisters, of course 🙂

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We’re getting to know him more and more each day. He has these awesome facial expressions that make us wonder if he is going to grow up into the inquisitive, observant, and thoughtful person that he seems to be.

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We’re learning more about all of his likes and dislikes, as well. Current loves are snuggling, nursing, and watching his sisters 🙂

He is really a pretty laid back baby, which is fortunate, because he is a third child, and the world cannot revolve around him even if we wanted to make it so! Now that we’re third-time parents, though, I think we’re also more laid back. We’ve been there, done that, and so we don’t get nervous about things like snorty breathing, nursing in public, or his routines being disrupted when we leave the house.

Little Atticus and I have been able to work together to get into a good groove with nursing. We saw his pediatrician on Wednesday, and he had already surpassed his birth weight, so we were thrilled! I’ve started burping him more frequently, which has successfully decreased the frequency of his “spit-upping,” as the girls call it. And I get to enjoy this view multiple times throughout each day 🙂

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What a little sweetie! And look at those ears! Matt and I think they look like elf ears and very much hope they retain their shape into the future 🙂

Sleep is also going much, much better than it did for our first few nights, and we are all so relieved. I spent 4 or 5 nights with no more than 4 hours of sleep a night (sometimes considerably less), and Matt wasn’t faring much better. I was starting to feel like a zombie. The last few nights have been so, so, so much better, though, and while we’re still tired, we’re able to function reasonably well and enjoy our days.

We even made it to church this morning, our first outing as a family of five! It was nice to get out of the house and introduce our little guy to some of our church family and worship together and participate in the celebration of Advent.

As well as the past week has gone, this upcoming week might be more of a challenge. Last week we were fortunate that Matt was able to spend more time than usual at home with us, and my mom was also able to be here until Saturday morning.

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This week one of Matt’s sisters will be here for a few days, but the kiddos and I will also have a few days on our own, and, to be honest, I’m a little nervous about it. The girls really do love baby Atticus a lot…

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…but they’re also still very young, and their routines and their lives have just been dramatically altered. They’re more on edge than normal, and I obviously have more going on now that I am also taking care of a baby, and my post-partum hormones have kicked in. That combination could make for some hard days.

Some friends have offered to help out with the girls, but I think it might really be best for them to try to return to as much normalcy as possible. I actually think I may try to do some school with them this week. I’d thought that we would probably take all of December off from school work, but I think the structure and routines of school might be really helpful for them. My primary hope is that I can be patient and kind with them through the days, regardless of how well or how crazily they might behave. I’m sure we’ll survive the week, but I’d like to do better than that and actually parent all 3 of my kiddos well! As I’ve been reminding them all week, they are each so precious to me!

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