Monday, December 30, 2013

Advent Week 4 and Christmas

Christmas, as usual, was incredibly busy. In all the best ways, of course. We barely took any pictures, even on our phones. Whirlwind. Needless to say, the house is again covered in all things pink/purple/glitter. Daddy did get some manly tools, a dreamy toaster oven, mountains of flavored coffee, and Purdue apparel. It evened things out for him, hopefully.

Before Christmas we had a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house. While the girls loved it, it was kind of a disaster on the sleep side of things for everyone. Oh well.
Felicity, at 8 months old, loved ripping and inhaling paper this Christmas more than the contents of the gifts.
Santa and the reindeer got quite the loot at our house, including an entire gingerbread house. That Vivian is one generous girl.
Tim's sister, Kim, and her three kids were in town for the holidays. Our girls LOVED playing with them and we were so sad to see them go.
Aunt Sue decked the halls this year in princess themed garb.
It was a magical Christmas for Miriam and Vivian who now have a huge tub of dress up clothes for every sparkly need.
Hope your Christmases were just as fun!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent: Weeks 2 and 3

Two weeks of fun coming right up - try to keep it quick. We've been doing a few more Christmas-y crafts, saying some Advent-appropriate prayers, got the Christmas cards mostly out, went to Aunt Maria's Christmas Concert (she can sing!), shopping is DONE, and gifts are wrapped! 
 Bonus: LOTS OF SNOW!!! Daddy and Miriam made snow ice cream for everyone.
 Tasty stuff.
We're really getting into the season now! And the tree. Oh the tree. Especially the tree. It's up...but it's pre-lit, ten years old, and MANY branches aren't lighting up this year. Daddy is so busy with work that we threw on a strand of lights to fill in the "bald" spots and moved on. Perhaps a new tree is in our future.
BIG news! The girls went to their first movie! We saw Frozen, even Felicity who did surprisingly well. She just looked around and sucked her thumb for the first two-thirds of the movie. Then Mommy and Felicity went to that little entrance hallway where Mommy could still see the movie and Felicity could "walk-pace" holding onto Mommy's fingers. We've recapped the entire movie scene by scene at lunch, in the car, at supper, in the bathtub, etc. every single day since. Watched everything on YouTube about it. Colored pictures of the sister princesses. Greeting each other as Oaken: "Whoo-ooo, Vivian, whooo-ooo." Getting borderline obsessed. Wonder what the Easter Bunny will bring them...
We also celebrated Grandpa's birthday. He needed lots of help blowing out his candles...
And Christmas cookies! We made and decorated several kinds last week to give to the neighbors. Vivian ate iced the cookies.
 Miriam was the master sprinkle technician.
Daddy took over quality control. Cookies were approved for shipment around the block.
And not related to Christmas: Felicity found a blueberry on the floor this week one morning. Somehow it had gotten out of Vivian's oatmeal. Baby was thrilled and hummed to herself while shoveling it into her mouth before Mommy caught her. Blueberry on her face and hands, the floor, her clothes. There MUST have been more than one down there.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yes. No. Not maybe.

In October, Mommy was in Staples with all three girls at the Copy and Print and Staple and Laminate and Send Center Command Counter Area. Or whatever the official name is. We were trying to send a package out of the country via UPS. It wasn't going well. A kind lady, we'll call her Jean, in line behind us began helping Mommy entertain the older two girls during the "stalled computer" wait. She had several grandchildren and chatted with Mommy while showing the girls the pretty Christmas card samples. Vivian got a little over eager with one card, pretty common in her jumping-bean-life. Jean, very calmly but firmly, said, "Oh no no. We have to be gentle with these. Be careful."

And then, embarrassed, Jean apologized to Vivian and Mommy because she had "no business telling you what to do."
Oh yes, yes, you do. And Mommy immediately told Jean this and made it clear to Vivian that it was important to obey Jean and be careful. Vivian didn't really care about more than one word of the entire exchange. She was right back at checking out the sparkly options in the binder.

Mommy has been pondering it ever since. Why wouldn't Jean be allowed to correct our girls? Admittedly, it's not always easy to listen to our girls being corrected. At the library this week, one of the librarians made it clear to Miriam that she couldn't cut in front of Vivian in the line to get stickers. Ouch...our child did something wrong and someone else noticed. Bleh. Yuck. Grimace and groan. On vacation this summer, one of Sarah's sisters asked if it was okay if she and the other siblings correct our girls.
Oh yes, yes, it is. Because otherwise doesn't our parenting look like an ugly power struggle to impose our adult wills onto our helpless children? We're barking orders for no reason than our own glorification. Obey me. Now. But that's not what parenting is about. For us, it's about trying to raise children who are kind and curious, who can think and use their common sense, who have manners and behave at least decently in public. If you've eaten a meal with us recently, you know it's a process; on a scale of perfect to disaster, we're at an okay.

In any case, other adults reenforcing our expectations for good behavior is WELCOME. Frankly, we don't get why it wouldn't be. The whole world wants these children to treat others with courtesy, to be patient, to be understanding, to be respectful. Not just their meany-pants parents. Please, please, Humans of the World, don't be afraid to help us teach these lessons...let's just do it in a kind and firm way. Jean will forever be the example.

And while we're having this little monologue, let's address the word no. All you "no" saying parents, we affirm you. Yeah, we're not parenting experts. Nobody's calling to publish our advice and we don't have extra letters to emphasize extended education at the end of our names. But it's a blog, so we get to offer unsolicited advice.
Oh yes, yes, we say no. It is the right thing to do for your child. Confession (prepare yourselves): We say no to FELICITY. Yup. When she's going after her Mommy's makeup bag, trying to eat the paper hanging off the easel, or power crawling toward the plastic bags as we unload groceries, we say no. To a baby. It is never too early to begin discipline or self-control. (Self-control. That's a subject for another blog post.)

So thanks to everyone who helps us raise these girls. To the family and the strangers alike who correct them, hug them, and help them grow into good women. And thanks to the other parents who are raising their peers to be respectful, charitable people.  Maybe Hillary was right when she wrote, "It takes a village to raise a child."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

8 Months

Felicity turned 8 months old last week and we haven't taken that "8 month picture" yet. So instead...enjoy:
She moves by crawling and cruising along the furniture, plays with toys, shovels everything in sight into her mouth, loves bath time, still sucks her thumb, does pretty well sitting through storytime or at a restaurant, naps are getting better/longer! Really only good news for Felicity this month. She's still fussy around suppertime and is beginning to have some Mommy-attachment/separation anxiety.
She loves food and it beginning to feed herself. It's messy but it makes her less demanding during meals.
Raspberries are delicious!
Mostly she's busy and knows her mind. Mommy and Daddy know now this is the kind of baby they produce. With parents like these, it seems about impossible to have a child who is laid back, who wants to be along for the ride. Remember how we said we're trying to train her to cuddle?? That was mostly a joke. However, one morning last week, Daddy left early for work, the older girls were still sleeping, and Felicity woke up. She and Mommy sat together on the couch for about 15 minutes. Felicity just laid still and sucked her thumb all cozy in Mommy's arms. Mommy soaked it in...
Sweet as sugar.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent: Week 1

We had a lovely first week of Advent. Our tree isn't up. Our cards aren't sent. Our lights are still in the attic. Not a present is wrapped and most still live on store shelves. But we've been having fun getting ready for Christmas! The girls made their own paper Advent wreaths.
 Each week of Advent, they get to "light" another candle.
The older girls also worked together to write an Advent prayer that we say after dinner each evening. It's simple and childlike, but we love it.
Dear Jesus, dear baby Jesus, I love you baby Jesus. Please help us get ready for your birthday, Christmas. Teach us to walk like you and follow you. Help us get to heaven. Amen.
Another bit of important Christmas writing: Letters to Santa. The red ink is their attempt to write their names.
These letters always make us smile and cringe because Santa probably didn't know they wanted those things and needs to get to work in his toyshop! St. Nicholas stopped by Friday in the very early hours. He seemed to know about what little girls liked...
Paint books, fruit ropes...
 Sophie the Giraffe...
 and a little tree of their own to decorate (over. and over. and over. and over. and over.)
 St. Nick thought Mommy and Daddy were very good this year, too.
We tried to explain that the real spirit of St. Nicholas is generosity. St. Nicholas is the patron of children and gave away all his wealth to take care of others. Friday we went to the store to pick out books to give to the United Way's book drive in our county to let the girls experience "giving".
Saturday we got to see St. Nicholas! Felicity didn't slip off his lap. Her sisters kept her wedged in there pretty tightly.
Vivian loves talking with St. Nicholas and Santa. She is never afraid to approach them, touch their beards, ask about their bells or crosses. She's just the friendliest child. This is probably to confuse Jolly Old St. Nick who has seen her behavior through the year...this sweet little girl can't be the same wild Vivian he's seen all this time!
After seeing St. Nicholas, we went to Grandma's house and made too many Christmas cookies with Aunt Maria.
Felicity did most of the work. Hope you're having as much fun as we are getting ready for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks

We know you're dying for this...Thanksgiving. The best holiday of the whole year! Beware, this is actually a couple of weeks of fun so you could be here for a bit. How we celebrated:
We made a little fruit turkey during Turkey Week. Stabbing grapes is so much more fun than Mommy imagined it would be. (No humans were injured in the creating of this turkey.) MANY minutes of occupation. And a fruit platter all ready for dinner!
And we got a big box from Amazon. That's unrelated to Thanksgiving. However. Had to share her royal cuteness.
And we made our annual Thanksgiving Tree. Nothing too unusual written on the leaves. Several mentions of Santa. Magnets, Steps, Dora, and Boats also made the list. It's good to be grateful.
The girls got to go to the Christmas parade in Auburn, and Light Night and the Gingerbread Festival in Fort Wayne. Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, we went bowling with Sarah's family. Felicity spent most of her time eating. And eating. And eating. The baby is growing!
Bowling with little girls made us smile. They were bouncing all over the place. Eating pizza. Checking out the arcade room. Torturing their aunts and uncles. Rolling the ball down the lane. Watching other people bowl. Making friends ten lanes away (Vivian).
 They played two whole games with bumpers. Seems like a decent attention span!
Miriam developed her own technique. 
  1. Fingers in holes of the ball. 
  2. Carry to bowling lane. 
  3. Swing arm a couple times. 
  4. Set ball down and push it down the lane.
The four pound ball always made it to the pins, so apparently the technique works.
 Thursday we were with Sarah's family-where all the cool kids wear coral.
So many days of partying meant very tired girls. (But we're only half way there!!) Daddy carried both of the big girls in one trip to bed and Vivian slept through the whole process. Wiped out.
Friday was with Tim's family to celebrate Mema's 90th birthday! She is a kind, classy lady - we're truly blessed to be able to live near her and share some cake and ice cream in honor of how lovely she is.
Saturday we had Tim's family over for dinner. Aunt Michelle got to put Felicity to bed. The smile says it for us.
Sunday back to Sarah's family. Uncle Michael and Stella are heading overseas for a year courtesy of the Navy. Sarah drew Michael's name for the Christmas exchange on Thursday. Instead of paying for shipping to the other side of the world, Sarah spent every free second sewing over the weekend. Couple of Bears pillowcases in super soft fabric.
And a comfy Bears robe (that may be a bit short). Sarah suggested adding a ruffle on the bottom for more length. He only laughed. Offer still stands.
Praying you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. And that your children weren't as tired as ours - seems like they are still recovering! Our house has about three Christmas decorations up. We like to ease into the season. (That's the excuse we'll use.)