Friday, December 30, 2011

Santa on the Fire Truck

My favorite day of the year is Christmas Eve.  I love the anticipation that it holds!  Here at our house we have dinner and then, with whomever drops in that year, we wait impatiently for the first sound of the firetruck slowly going up and down the neighborhood streets with Santa sitting high on top waving to everyone below.  This year we had my mother in law, my younger daughter, Keri, and her roommate and her roommate's little girl, my older daughter, Kris, very sick little granddaughter, Natalie and MomMom in addition to my sons, my husband and I.  Full house!  Around 7pm we heard the first strains of the siren and if we stood at the front door and looked across the neighborhood we could just see Santa about 4 streets over, slowly gliding by on the top of his truck.  Squeals were heard all around (from some much older than 4 and 7 lol).  We passed the time and then heard him again.  Back to the door!  More squeals!  Finely, around 9pm, we heard him loud and clear.  Everyone grabbed coats and shoes and out the door we went!  Most of them piled into the back of our truck, waving and laughing.  And once again, for our eighteenth year, we watched as the fire truck crested the hill and there he was, adorned in his red and white fluffy suit, waving just for us.  The looks in the eyes of my youngest son was priceless and our friend's little girl was beside herself with excitement.  Everyone waves, no matter the age, and as they get to us the firefighters hand out candy canes and smile and chat and then Santa is upon us and he's looking down from way up high, surrounded in bright lights and he seems to be looking right at YOU and waving and saying Ho! Ho! Ho!.  Before you know it the truck is rounding the corner and everyone scurries to the side yard yelling for Santa and waving one last time.  It is absolutely, positively the very best ten minutes of the year :-)   Afterwards, company leaves and my children put on their new Pjs and gather on the sofa for Twas The Night Before Christmas.  My granddaughter was feeling well enough then to join us and I sat with a son on either side and a granddaughter trying to eat the pages while my daughter snapped pictures.  I read from the same book every year and I remember all the years when my two daughters and oldest son were small and then when the youngest came along.  We would all pile onto that sofa, squeezing together, and here that story.  Then it's bedtime for all "children" so the adults can do their thing.  For the past fifteen years my oldest has had a sleepover with her brother.  A few years ago they allowed their little brother to join.  This year, because the baby was sick and because my daughter had a husband to go home to, it was just the two boys and they slept in the oldest's bed, listening to Christmas carols on the radio and talking about whatever brothers talk about.  Whispering so maybe, just maybe, you might hear Santa when he comes to put all your presents under the tree.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Year's End

December was a crazy month.  I am like everyone else, trying to squeeze it all in and never quite living up to my own expectations.  Dakota was on overdrive and I had a hard time dealing with that.  He was quite literally vibrating with excitement and just couldn't think of anything else.  Then, before Christmas ever arrived, he would burst into tears because he was going to miss Christmas when it was over!  It was a crazy couple of weeks.  In the middle of it all our baby granddaughter got sick.  Thursday, December 22nd she just wasn't acting right and by the time her mommy came to get her she was feverish and glassy eyed.  They took her to the emergency room that night when they couldn't get her fever down and she was diagnosed with RSV, a virus that attacks the lungs of very small children.  It can be spread to anyone, but those over two or three usually just have a cough and cold.  Natalie got very sick very quickly.  Christmas Eve my daughter brought her here to be with us (we were all already exposed anyway) and to see Santa on the firetruck.  She was such a sad little thing, with a harsh cough, fever and labored breathing.  It was very difficult to watch, but our pediatrician and my daughter's pediatric nurse friend kept telling her to just keep the baby home and ride it out.  By Christmas Natalie was worse and the day after things were getting extremely serious.  Early on the 27th we got her back over to the emergency room.  Watching her try to breath and almost lose conciousness for the effort it took was one of the scariest things I have ever seen.  I was terrified that she would just shut down and stop trying.  She was admitted and the first 36 hours were tough, but she began a slow improvement right away.  By Thursday she had her IV and oxygen removed and by that night she was playing with toys.  Today, although bored and more than ready to get out of that room, she was doing very well.  She needs to tolerate her breathing treatments every four hours instead of every two and we are hoping that she will be home with us tomorrow to welcome in the new year.  My daughter has made me so proud, caring for the baby despite being very sick herself.  She is patient and calm and she handled herself like a pro.  She is a great mommy, just like I knew she would be. 

Here at home we have various coughs and colds going on, but everyone is doing okay.  We are looking forward to hanging out together tomorrow to close out 2011, having a family game night and enjoying each other's company.  The best gift of all, however, will be if we can celebrate with the baby nearby or know that she is sleeping comfortably in her crib at her home down the street.  I am extremely thankful that she has gotten well and should have no ill effects. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It must be love!

From the moment my then six year old son laid eyes on his brand new baby niece it has been love at first sight.  He was able to come into the delivery room within minutes of her birth and see her on the warming table and kiss her head as his big sister held her daughter for the first time.  He cried as he left the room, so moved by the emotions that he was feeling.
That evening, when we went back to the hospital after going home to change, Dakota got to hold Natalie for the first time and that tiny little girl opened up her eyes and gazed at her uncle and he was hooked, right there, forever.  From that day forward she has been his focus.  It was hard on him when, for the first two months of her life, she lived in North Carolina, but from the day she moved home in late July 2011, she has been his princess and he has been her brave and fearless knight.  He has held her, rocked her and sang to her.  He has fed her and whispered sweet nothings in her ear.  He never tires of making her smile and laugh and he is like a proud father every time she does something new and hits a new milestone.  He tells me about all the things he is going to do with her as she gets bigger and all the things he is going to teach her.  I honestly thought that the infatuation would wear off, especially with us watching her ten hours a day, five days a week, but she still lights up when she sees him and he still makes her the focus of his day whenever she is here. 

 Today, six and a half months later, we went to a Christmas party together and Natalie has learned to "kiss", opening her mouth wide, drooling happily, and pulling the recipient close with both hands.  I don't think I will ever forget the picture I have of them locked together, nose to nose, closer than close.  She loves him and he loves her.  It should be a wonderful life watching the two of them grow up together, side by side.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Working for the Weekend

This week we are doing some schoolwork, but it's been laid back, starting at 10:30, taking an hour for lunch and finishing up by 2:00.  Daddy is working nights so he sleeps til noon, but then he's here in the afternoon so Dakota wants to have his attention.  We are talking about the constitution, Ben Franklin and Paul Revere in History so that we can start in on the War of 1812 and the Civil War after the holiday.  We haven't been doing any science/health at all because I just have no desire to start a new unit at this point.  We have been reading another Magic Tree House, Christmas In Camelot, but doing painting and projects with it instead of written work.  Workbooks for Language Arts.  Regular studies for math and spelling.  Crafts and Christmas music for art and music.   Wrestling for PE.  This Friday will be our last day for the year.  I am hoping to start 2012 off with lots of prepared lessons and some great ideas to make our winter months fun. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Tree Cutting Adventure

Yesterday we made our second trip in about four years to Chesapeake Beach to cut down our Christmas tree.  In years past we had always just gone to the local tree stand and bought one, but about three or four years ago we decided we wanted to cut down our own.  This year we went a little earlier than we normally get our tree, but it was a free afternoon and evening so we jumped on it.  My husband, two sons and my older son's best friend hopped in the truck around 3:00 and headed out.  We plugged in my teenager's Ipod and all sand loudly to a variety of songs as we headed south on a clear, chilly day.  We arrived at the farm around 4:00 and headed out to find the perfect tree.  We had only been walking a few minutes when the perfect one jumped right out and called my name!  There it was, perfectly shaped and ready to be taken home!  We cut it down, wrapped it up and piled it into the back of the truck.  We rode around the area for a bit looking at Christmas decorations and then, when the sun had started to set, we went down to the beach, where the Christmas lights were up and the little town was decorated in full force.  

We stopped at a restaurant and had a great meal and the guys got to finish watching the Army/Navy game then we drove down to the beach and got out, walking the boardwalk and admiring the full moon reflecting off the water.  I love going places with my boys.  There is no place I would rather be than with the three of them.

We walked along the luminary trail to the old time candy shop and then browsed in a few small shops before getting ice cream and sitting in Adirondack chairs and laughing at the preteen girls that were giggling and flirting with the teenage boys and at Dakota, seven years old and full of all the swagger the older boys wished they could have.  The ride home was filled with more loud singing and lots of laughter and love.  Anyone can go and buy a tree and bring it home and put it up, but making a day of it is absolutely the very best way to go.  I love the tradition we are starting for our boys and any time I can spend a little time just savoring our family, I always do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Monday

Today we had a great homeschooling day.  Natalie arrived late so I had time to get my materials and ideas together.  Koda asked to do his new USA puzzle around 10 and I said yes.  When he finished, I gave him the large USA floor puzzle to do.  Then we layed out our "flashcards" of the states that I got at the dollar store and matched the capitals with them.  It was a simple idea that Dakota took to right away and he loved matching them up and learning ones we didn't know. 

Next up was reading and he went in on my bed and asked me to bring the baby in so he could read to her.  She happily played with her toys and her toes and he felt important being able to read aloud to her.  We moved out to the livingroom and got into the recliner with ...If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern (love anything by her).  We got through the first 32 pages and laughed together at the foods they ate, the things they had to do at school and the "medicines" they made.  Afterward we made some cornbread muffins, Dakota's only sure thing when it comes to eating colonial food. 

After lunch we read The Magic School Bus and the Five Senses and then watched the MSB video "Makes a Stink".  We talked about the sense of smell after that and read a few pages on about the nose and what it does.  Then we played the smell identification game where he wore a blindfold and I let him smell some very common things around here.  I was amused when he said a marshmallow was hot chocolate (close!) and amazed that he had no idea for syrup, which he eats almost every day of his life on pancakes or french toast sticks.  We finished off Science with a reading of Ferdinand the Bull.  I love that book!  We did two pages in our Language Arts book and Unit 11 bookwork for Spelling.  We made a foam manger craft complete with a small replica of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and sang "Away in a Manger" and discussed what it meant.  Last, but not least, we finished Unit 11 in Math.  It amazes me that regrouping came so easy for him.  He gets it easily and can do it in his head.  Sometimes math can be more confusing, though, when they make you go step by step and he can't just do it in his head and be done.  He's always done math in his head, even when he was counting and little.  I'm glad someone in this house has a math talent!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twas the First Day Of Christmas

Today is December 1st, the first day of the Christmas season in my mind.  I have vowed, as I always do, to try to do one Christmas based activity a day this month.  Today was very hectic for me.  I had work to do this morning and I spent too much time on the phone with my mom and my friend :-)  By the time we got around to schoolwork it was 1:00.  We finished our Thanksgiving on Thurday Magic Tree House book and watched the next segment of the Liberty's Kids series.  I got constantly interrupted by phone calls and the baby and decided that I just was going to let it go.  For our Christmas activity we got down all the Christmas decorations from the attic and, after dinner, made our first batch of chocolate chip cookies.  We have already been watching movies together lately and tonight we watched Mickey's Christmas Carol and part of Winnie the Pooh before interest was lost and I was left to myself.  Taking this opportunity for the gem that it was, I turned on Supernanny and took a minute to update here on my blog.  I am hoping against hope that tomorrow is the smoothest day of this hectic week, but I have to go in to work early, hit Kohls sometime to use my Kohls cash and make a return and still try to get in a decent school day.