So we have had the most amazing year, and I totally failed to capture it here. It has been so full! My cup truly does runneth over, but I only have time to share it all in bullet points:
– in February, Hailey turned 1!
– in March, we found out baby #2 (100 times Yay!) was on the way & then decided to sell our house & Hailey started walking!
– in April, we sold our house, decided to build our next house & move in with my parents until it was completed
– in May, Eric was promoted! Yay!
– in June, I sewed curtains & shopped
– in July, we closed & moved in
– in August, we settled in & Hailey started talking a mile a minute
– in September & October, we prepped for baby #2’s arrival (= more shopping)
– on November 8, Emma Anne Gardiner arrived
– we are loving life with our two girls & look forward to an amazing 2011! Happy New Year!
a.k.a. January in Review
Somehow these two birds have something to do with how I account for the month of January…
So, once we settled in after our holiday travels we found ourselves with additional days to rest up and relax at home. A tradition from early on in our marriage is to watch The Lord of the Rings series over the break for New Years and decided it was time to reinstitute the tradition. We just love these movies. I have often thought (and said, of course!), that Eric and I fell in love reading The Lord of the Rings. The Christmas before we started dating, which, in case, you do not really know us, was after years and years of being great friends, Eric got both of us a set of the books and we set out to finish up the books in time for the movies. We started dating in February (although everyone else swore we had been dating for months already) and enjoyed many great times together reading and discussing the books, and then going to see the movies. So, that is the background on our love of The Lord of the Rings. Again, in case you do not know us, we are indeed big dorks. And pretty much, we are ok with that.
And I have found myself repeatedly inspired and reminded of the eagles in the movie and how they appear when all else looks gravely lost. When you absolutely believe all hope is gone. When all possibilities are gone. When there is nothing to hold onto. When only the Sovereign Lord can move, and He moves in ways that are often unimaginable. The eagles have inspired my celebration of the New Year as we look forward to Hailey’s first birthday and transition into toddlerhood.
**(Editor/author note: I am sure that makes sense to no one…but I have tried to write this post for 2 weeks and keep getting stuck trying to write it differently…sorry, I am sure you already know grammar is not my thing, nor is clarity) [(and yes, I did teach logic and debate…)]
Finally, finally, finally, on January 22, Hailey’s first tooth arrived!!!! I cannot believe I did not get to posting this BIG news until now, but alas, even as I write this she is darting her fingers at the keyboard, which explains the delay in news from our home.
On January 28 we celebrated Eric’s 34th birthday! Hailey and I took him out to lunch and then out for dinner (truly a gift for Mommy too!). We also made him his first Coca Cola cake in honor of one of his true loves. It was yummy and full of Coke. Not sure how you measure cooked Coke caffeine, but I am sure it was as fully loaded as any venti cup of joe.
On the last day of January, we were all home enjoying a Sunday afternoon. Hailey had been getting into the blinds on the back door all week, so I asked Eric to unhook them (a Dadda task to me, for some reason). Hailey immediately moved to her newest favorite place in the house and started chatting to the backyard. Eric and I went to finish cleaning the kitchen, and suddenly heard a huge “BANG” against the back door. We turned to see an explosion of white feathers, and then a hawk stumble around the deck completely dazed, and then fly away. Indeed, a hawk had spotted Hailey and decided she was his for the taking. After a few moments of putting it all together, Eric forbid me to ever leave Hailey in the back yard alone…which was my latest plan for entertaining her at 11 months, I assure you. Needless to say, it did give us quite a scare, and made me rethink the eagles for a bit.
More to come…..
On December 29, we made our way back home. With all the air travel issues that occurred over the holidays, including the underwear fire guy, we were a little unsure of how our trip through O’Hare, much less home would go. And we had a very early flight, so Hailey got up at 5:30 am, which was quite an adjustment to her schedule. She sleeps until 8 or 8:30 normally, so she was not real excited by this early morning wake up call. And the temperature in Chicago was actually down to 10 degrees, with a wind chill factor of 0, so the dash to the car made sure she was wide awake for the trip in.
Mercifully, our travel home went fairly smoothly. We got in the huge line for security and were escorted over to a short line by security. The plane we were supposed to be on had some sort of mechanical issue, but our new plane was at the gate and we were in the air within an hour of our originally flight time. This, for us and our travelling issues, was all quite minor compared to our normal flying fiascos.
So we got back in town around 1 and my family arrived for our family Christmas around 4. Jeff and Nikki drove in from Dallas, my folks, Todd and Isabelle headed in from Bastrop and we had a good, old fashion family Christmas. Thanks to my Mom and Nikki we had a fabulous dinner and then enjoyed opening presents together. We had a great time and Hailey really enjoyed opening presents with her cousin Isabelle, who instructed her on how to be the center of attention during gift giving time.
After gifts, and desserts a plenty, we visited for a bit, and then everyone headed home. Jeff and Nikki even turned around and drove back to Dallas.
After a full, full day for Hailey, she crashed. Even with all the excitement of the day, she proved she is, indeed, the best baby ever as she laughed and played with everyone and everything moving with the chaotic flow of the day. And obviously she was feeling like herself again after her nasty bout with the croup. That night, Eric and I crawled in our bed with our new bedding from his parents and crashed as well. What a great three Christmases we celebrated this year with our daughter! It truly has been our best Christmas ever!
The snow in Chicago was just beautiful. We thought we would give Hailey a real introduction to snow, but she was not so thrilled. Eric and I did enjoy getting out in it a bit, and Eric really enjoyed getting suited up for helping his dad snow blow the driveway multiple times a day.
Hailey enjoyed playing with the presents around the tree and sitting with the best Santa ever….GranPaPa!!!
On Christmas Eve, Eric prepared his traditional sausage cheese balls for Christmas morning. He just cannot resist having “all eyes on him” when he whips something up in the kitchen.
We went to the Christmas Eve Service at GranMaMa & GranPaPa’s church and Hailey had a special dress for the occasion. We spent most of our time in the cry room, but Hailey enjoyed the evening…although she was getting a little fussy. Uh oh.
And then Christmas morning we woke up to a very sick baby. We went into her room, heard her breath for about a second and decided we were headed to the Emergency Room. Thankfully, the ER was just around the corner and Hailey was there only patient at the moment, so we received immediate attention and great care. Hailey had come down with the croup. She had a breathing treatment and then they sent us home.
After a long winters nap, Santa arrived in the late afternoon and we finally opened Christmas presents.
Hailey received tons of super fun toys and books and beautiful clothes. She got her first chair, an adorable, oversized bunny chair and her first American Girl doll. She enjoyed the presents, but overall was very cuddly and a bit fussy and still not feeling very well.
So, we had many steam baths…
And mohawks. Eric just could not help himself.
The last few days of our trip consisted of Eric and I taking trips to the doctor with sinus infections and such fun and lots and lots and lots of laying on the couch, watching movies and napping by all.
We also had a great time with Uncle Chris and Aunt Alli. Uncle Chris took some fabulous family pictures and once they are ready we will share those as well.
The next part of our holiday festivities took us to Eric’s parent’s house in the Chicago area. Summary: delay, delay, delay, bad Santa, pedophiles, and pictures.
On Tuesday, we began our trek to Chicago. As is par for our air travel experiences, our flight was 3 hours delayed, including a 1 1/2 hour wait, then board, then sit at the gate for 45 minutes telling us we may leave, or get to deboard the plane, then head out to the run way, then wait another 30 minutes, and then finally fly out…and circle over Lake Michigan over and over again.
We finally arrived in the Winter Wonderland and were picked up in our modern day sled driven by GranPaPa. We arrived at GranPaPa and GranMaMa’s house just in time for the holiday party they were hosting for some dear friends of theirs. That evening people inquired as to our plans for the next day and we mentioned that we would be heading out to visit Santa somewhere. I meant to get Hailey’s picture done with Santa before we left (see previous blog posts for my rant on the commerical Christmas). I even had someone give me details of a great neighborhood Santa that did posed for pictures for free on his front porch, but because Hailey had a runny nose for a few days and it was a little chilly out, we decided to wait until we got to Chicago for the picture. Plus it seemed like a fun event to include grandparents and aunts and uncles in.
However, this decision, apparently, was the worst decision I made over the holidays…which is saying a lot, because I definitely made some bad decisions (candy, cookie, pumpkin bread, cupcake, etc., etc.). Anyways, I digress. Back to the tale at hand…
So, we were informed that the best Santa in the area was at the Bass Pro Shop and they let you take your own pictures, however many you wanted, for free. Yes, for free. So the next afternoon we headed out in the midst of much snow to the Bass Pro Shop. GranMaMa called ahead to be sure Santa was indeed still at the Bass Pro Shop and not back in his toy shop finishing up all his gifts for the good little boys and girls. And indeed, Santa was still around. Apparently Santa plans much better than we did, as we spent some time that morning finishing up our shopping, which meant the driveway had to be snowplowed. But wow, was all the snow beautiful. This is one of my favorite things about Christmas in Chicago, the beauty of the snow falling and the piles of snow all about.
And again, I digress. So we loaded everyone up and unloaded again in the midst of said snow, only to find that Santa was taking a mandatory lunch break. Apparently even Santa has to follow the U. S. Workforce and Labor guidelines. But his lunch break was going to be 1 1/2 hours long, which would put us in line at 5:00 pm on December 23. This seemed a bit much for all of us, so we decided to simply go find the mall Santa, pay whatever it cost for pictures, get the pictures made and go home.
We headed on into the mall, which on the afternoon of December 23 was quite a scary endeavor. We got in line, read the brochure and the sign, which all noted that you cannot take your own pictures due to copyright protection of Santa…not sure why Santa feels the need to use all the laws and guideline of the United States to protect himself, he is Santa afterall. That should be enough said. He has the power of the naughty and nice list, why, oh why, does there have to be so many rules about this? Anyways, it was our turn. The elves were not so jolly or helpful in leading us to Santa, but eventually we stumbled up to his throne. Santa pointed to his left arm, I assumed this meant put your precious little girl into my arms right here. Santa looked at the camera and the elves started taking pictures. Eric and I tried to gather Hailey’s attention, but she was pretty curious about this whole Santa thing. Let me clearly note at this point in the story that Santa was not speaking to us or our daughter at all. No “Ho Ho Ho” or “What is your name?” or “Isn’t she a sweet one?”…nothing.
All the sudden, a camera flashed from outside of the Santa line. I looked over, saw a family facing the Santa booth and thought, that it was odd that they would take a picture, but I guess they just wanted a picture of Santa without paying for it. Santa turned to me and said, “do you know that man?” I said, “no”. And then all heck broke loose. Santa jumped up, practically threw Hailey at Eric, and then marched over to the line. He was talking very aggressively, but I could not see who he was talking to. I turned to the other side of the Santa station and saw my mother in law and sister in law, and then turned back around to see that Santa was gripping out my father in law. One of the elves told us they cannot have people taking pictures at just any time because it messes up their flash. The other elf walked over to Santa, and then hollered, “I am out of here” and marched off in the direction of mall security. My sister in law decided she needed to make sure GranPaPa was around for Christmas and not in jail, so she grabbed him and headed out the door. Meanwhile, Eric and I are standing there in fear and trepidation thinking GranPaPa was going to jail for copyright infringement.
Then Santa came back, and finished taking pictures without speaking to our daughter once. Hailey, needless to say, was done with the photo session. As Santa returned our daughter to us for the second time, he walked over to my mother in law and said they had to be leery of pedophiles taking pictures of children. My mother in law mentioned that GranPaPa was just trying to take a picture of his granddaughter and the elf told him he could as long as we bought a picture package, which we were indeed doing. Santa apologized and said he would apologize to GranPaPa. GranMaMa mentioned the mortal embarrassment of the moment for GranPaPa and Santa decided to give us the pictures for free, yes, even the USB port for free.
And all I wanted was a stiff, stiff, stiff drink. Once we got back in the car and all compared the details from each of our own perspectives, we pieced together that because I said I did not know GranPaPa, Santa decided he was a pedophile and even though all the other children in line got to see Santa get upset and ugly, he thought he was doing the right thing…allbeit, a little aggressively. But he was also the kind of Santa that does not say “Ho Ho Ho” to the children, or even ask their names, or comment on how adorable my little girl is, and even the produce guy at the grocery store does that.
So, here are the pictures. You can see Hailey through all three phases of the ordeal…before, during and after. I am not sure that Hailey will remember any of this, in fact, I am pretty sure she won’t. But, I am also not sure that somewhere in her subconscious this event was not noted, and she will forever have an uncertainty of this whole Santa character. At least until she is 8 or 9. Then all truth will come to light for Santa.
Well, after several attempts to start to delve into the most joyous of Christmases we have ever celebrated, I am finally getting to it. And due to the fact that we had 3 family Christmases, Eric had 2 weeks off, we had 1 week in Chicago and 2 plane flights to fill you in on, I will be taking this Holiday Recap a bit at a time…so it may be March before I get it all out there. Apologies.
We had our first Christmas celebration at our home with just the four of us (including Jango) on Hailey’s 10 month birthday. We decided to celebrate a few days before we headed to Chicago so we could all play with Hailey’s new toys. And momma got a new sewing machine she was dying to get her hands on. So we woke up that morning as if it was Christmas morning. The kitchen smelled of yummy cinnamon rolls and sausage cheese balls. The stockings were too full to hang. And the fireplace was roaring with a beautiful fire.
And then the gift giving began. Santa was very good to Hailey and Jango this year, as expected. Although I do believe Hailey’s favorite part was unwrapping the presents. This provoked the most response from her. She would grab two handfuls of gift wrap and flap her arms and legs and let out a good, overjoyed holler. Which really, isn’t a good, overjoyed holler what we all want to do on Christmas morning?
Daddy and Hailey created quite a few things with her new legos (or lego per her Uncle Chris) and then enjoyed ripping them apart. And Daddy enjoyed figuring out all the latest ways to put batteries into toys. We had so much fun we did not even realize Jango was eating all of his Christmas doggie candy.
After showers and naps, we headed out to a fancy lunch at Red Lobster. Hailey loves their cheddar biscuits just as much as her Daddy does.
We spent the rest of the day on the floor with the baby and the doggy. It was a magical day, in the way that you are overwhelmed all day long by the goodness of the Lord in surrounding you with those you love most, as well as your desire for the day to never end.
Then we finished the day with a short photo session for Hailey’s 10 month birthday. She’s had so many of these photo sessions that she takes them in stride. Just look at that sweet girl!
As I sit in my warm, cozy house, all aglow from the Christmas tree lighting, enjoying my cup of gingerbread tea, and a few dozen, or a few, rather, Mint Hershey Kisses, I cannot help but think of the glory and joy that this time of year brings with all the new candy combos those very wealthy confectioners come up with for my sweet tooth’s delight. I mean, these Mint Hershey Kisses are wonderful! Creamy, smooth, with the cool mint rushing over the milk chocolateyness that is a Hershey Kiss. It is, well, another Christmas joy. And after watching The Charlie Brown Christmas Special last night, I was going to mention how moved I was by Charlie Brown’s fight against the commercial Christmas, but now see, that indeed, I may need Eric to bring home some modern day item that symbolizes the Charlie Brown Christmas tree to bring me back from the depths of the Christmas frenzy. And now that I think about it, I remember what I was going to mention about the commercial Christmas. And I finally have found a proper beginning to this post.
So, on Thursday, Hailey and I ventured out to the mall to meet Hailey’s friend Miss L for lunch and some play time. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their time hanging on to cars and space ships while other children run wild, and their mommies tried not to cringe at every pass, turn or trample that occurs around them. This mommy also tried not to cringe at every moment Hailey opened her mouth and planted it on some other part of said cars and airplanes. But, the girls really did enjoy themselves. Hailey and Miss L have been friends since a week before their births (they are a week apart, which I how I met Miss L’s mommy). And this week, they were really talking to each other and Hailey even held Miss L’s hand!
Well, somehow this Christmas season, I have not actually had to shop at the mall. So, while we were there, the mommies began discussing the mall Santa and how we need to check out how long the line is since it was a weekday and before school was out. And then, my friend mentioned the cost…yes, as my father-in-law would rant, it is some sort of mob or mafia (or whoever they are…) outfit! It costs $23 for your lil’ precious babies to sit in Santa’s lap for a picture! Yes, she can sit on his lap for free, but really, she’s ten months old (almost), and all I want is the picture. And no, you cannot just take your own picture. And yes, I am sure you already knew that the mall Santa was the biggest scam in Christmas town, but this is my first time with this one, so let me vent it out! So, if any of you know of some great Santa pic opportunity that costs less and is not some sort of other sordid ordeal to put oneself through, please let me know. I am still considering buying a Santa suit…or maybe paying for the pic and hoping Santa brings me some sort of machine to make the Santa suit for next year….or maybe I can sew one in a month or so and we can pretend it’s still Christmas….hmmm, I will ponder that thought and keep you posted. But, there it is, my Charlie Brown Christmas Special moment of the year.
One of the great things about Hailey having a friend whose birthday is a week apart from hers is that the mommies get to compare notes on how things are going, what’s working, what’s not, etc. Well, Miss L is moving right along in the dining world, trying all sorts of new tastes and textures. And, well, Hailey, really Hailey’s mom has not really tried anything new in awhile…unless you count the gingerbread cookie Hailey stole a bit of over Thanksgiving, but I don’t think that’s on the recommended list from her pediatrician. So, I came home from our play date with all sorts of new things for Hailey to try.
And since I am not one to wait to start something, I left Hailey some ground turkey I had made the week before for dinner. I went on to my CrossFit class and Daddy served the newest item on the menu. And Hailey did not like it much, and then would not do anything but leave her tongue curled up out of her mouth with ground turkey sitting on it, and then she gagged, and then, well, yes, she puked. This was Daddy’s first puking experience with Hailey, and he did very well. I came home, there was no leftover vomit to clean up and both he and Hailey were still smiling.
So Friday, we tried a few more things, but different things. And she turned up her nose a bit, did a momentary fake gag kinda noise and then the day went on. Then Saturday, with all eyes on her, we started breakfast with banana pieces, and went for the first bite of pears and blueberries, and again, she puked. After verifying that she was not sick, we moved on. And then came lunch. And, oh my, be thankful there is no video or picture, because wow, that lil’ body can hold a lot of stuff. And wow, the force at which it can get things back up! Let me just leave it with Wow!
From there, we were not sure where to go. I tried to feed her some cereal while in the bathtub, thinking the worst case scenario would not be so bad if she was in the tub, but Eric quickly ruled this as another moment of insanity in my life. Eventually we decided the best move would be to feed her her favorite food. Now I know I am supposed to have this mother’s intuition thing, and I realize the next item I am going to mention will make you question my intuition, but you know, we are figuring it out. So we handed her some zesty tomato lil’ crunchies…which is basically a spicy cheeto. And she ate and ate and ate. Later, we went back to her normal dinner menu, and thus far, we seem to be all clear….but there is still some trepidation about the house come mealtime.
Hailey has also enjoyed her rides around the house on her little car, stealing whatever drink Mommy has in her hands, and waving, although she’s not really waving hi or bye, just waving, which is adorable and something her Mommy completely understands.
So, another great week/weekend at the Gardiners. And another life lesson learned: it really is all fun and games until someone pukes or charges $23 to get your picture taken while sitting on their lap.