Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Christmas 2012

*I started writing this post ages ago and haven't had time to finish it until now! Like me, you're probably over all the holiday hoopla but I have to get the recap and photos into the records... Please just try to imagine that it's only several days after Christmas, instead of almost February =)

I was hoping to celebrate Christmas snuggled up with a newborn but alas, this baby is one stubborn little goat. I was disappointed that I didn't get to put up Baby Sister's stocking. Since it would give away her name, we didn't want it to put it up until she was born and we'd officially announced her moniker!

We had a lovely holiday, especially Alice. Santa brought more big-ticket items than he normally would have for a two-year-old at our house, but we had an understanding this year that we didn't want a new baby to overshadow Alice or Christmas. Plus, we wanted Alice to have plenty of new, engaging activities that would keep her busy with lots of solo, imaginative play whenever we might be otherwise occupied with an infant.

This was the first year that Alice really understood any of the hype surrounding the holiday. Although she was too shy to actually talk to Santa, she at least knows who he is this year. We watched Rudolph for the first time and she's been really into the reindeer. We've checked out TONS of Christmas books from the library and she's loved reading about all kinds of different "Christmas friends" and stories. She loves looking at the Christmas decorations throughout the neighborhood and at any store we visit and tells me that all her bath toys and anything sparkly is a "Christmas decoration."

My mom came down early to help with Alice and any pre-baby prep. She took care of some really important business, like cooking and baking all manner of cookies and treats. We didn't do any proper cookie icing but Alice had a great time helping Grandma mix ingredients and roll cookies into balls. We caught her sniffing the cookies, holding them directly to her nostrils. Don't worry, though. Baking takes care of those germs...
Grandpa had a great time helping, too!
On Christmas Eve, Alice made a cookie plate for Santa - complete with carrots for the reindeer - and one for herself, and we poured a glass of milk to go with each. 
Since Alice goes to bed at 5pm and the rest of us hadn't yet had dinner, Alice enjoyed her cookie plate alone. We let her cozy up to the fire, with carols on the radio, and we all pulled up front seats to the cuteness. 
After she finished her cookies, she got to enjoy one of my favorite Christmas traditions and opened a special Christmas Eve present....
...Christmas jammies! And then she finished up the last of her cookies in milk. In retrospect, she really should have opened the jammies before her cookies and milk. Much cuter photos that way!
Once she was fast asleep in bed, Christmas prep began in earnest. This was the first year we really had anything to prep (and we had A LOT) and we were super thankful that Alice sleeps through anything and everything and we didn't have to worry about keeping the noise down. 

My family was staying in some cute little furnished studio apartments a few minutes away, so we decided that we'd let Alice see what Santa brought and then open presents when everyone else arrived at 8:30. Alice slept unusually late on Christmas morning, so we took our time eating breakfast and stalling. She didn't seem to remember that Santa had visited overnight and didn't seem to notice that I was stretching out our morning routine by like 300%. We were able to completely hold her off until the whole family arrived, and after reading The Polar Express, we headed out to the living room to see if Santa had stopped by and brought anything for the good little girl at our house. Lo and behold, he HAD!

Alice found a dollhouse and a kitchen set...
...a balance bike...
..and a desk of her very own...

Soon, I'll share some more details about how Santa made some fabulous elements of these presents, and how much Alice is loving playing with them all!

Alice had a great time opening presents with everyone and playing with her fun new toys when she wasn't ripping off ribbons and wrapping paper.

She got an especially fun unicorn on a stick from her uncle and his girlfriend, and she loved this handmade ornament featuring my parents' kitties. She always demands to see each of them whenever we have a video chat with my parents. This is just the kind of crazy I expect from my family, and I love it!

We'd been searching for a pocket-sized broom for my dad that he could keep on him at all times for when the need to sweep strikes away from home (and it does, frequently). Jon had the brilliant idea to get an umpire's broom and it was just the ticket...
Alice's great-grandma made sure that Alice had a baby of her very own to take care of. Here she is practicing how to be a big sister/mama.

We got her a fun new backpack and as soon as she put it on, she had to ride her bike. She hopped on and went all the way around the house. I think she associates backpack-wearing with bike-riding because Jon wears a backpack when they take the bike out to do errands or go to their classes. Too cute.
Two days after Christmas, we headed to the zoo for some fresh air. I was hoping that all the walking, and the hills, would help encourage Baby Sister. We visited all of our favorite friends and they rewarded us with a banner day at the zoo. We saw the frisky young tigers jumping and chasing each other; we saw the giraffes run around their enclosure, excited about the visiting tour coming to feed them; and the snow leopard was AWAKE and in FULL VIEW! That never happens! Alice is always fascinated by the Gray's Monitor lizards, and for some reason I am always compelled to take a photo of her communing with them through the glass.
The whole family took a spin on the carousel, minus Jon who gets plenty of carousel action. Alice has always loved the carousel but lately, she's cried the whole ride even though she begged to go on. She had a great time when we were last at Disneyland, so we were hopeful that she'd enjoy herself this time. She had her heart set on riding the tiger, so we actually waited for a fresh turn so we could be first in line and let her have her pick.

Once the carousel started moving, she looked a bit anxious but excited...
...until the horse started going down and then her expression was about 10% thrill and 90% terror.
She got used to it after a few ups and downs and was all smiles for the rest of the ride.

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