Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I literally have a ton of holiday books (yep, the ex-reading teacher strikes again) and I read just about every single one of them in the past month. Molly's really liked the Velveteen Rabbit, Santa's Sleigh and Reindeer Games, but her all time favorite, without a doubt, was The Night Before Christmas.
How do I know this? Because I read it sooooo many times that I can recite the entire thing from memory. Every single word. Even the part about the dry leaves in the hurricane meeting with an obstacle and mounting to the sky. Yea, every single word.

In all honesty, I think Molly really liked the illustrations in the James Marshall version of The Night Before Christmas more so than the words. We've looked at, talked about and acted out each illustration more times than I can count. According to Molly, our little family was even represented in the book. She named the bulldogs (who appear on almost every page) Mommy, Daddy and Molly.

Anyhoo,when it came time to pick a book to read under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, of course you know the selection. This was perfectly fine with me. I love the classics. Gee, I might actually get a Norman Rockwell moment after all!

After the story, it was time to put the cookies out for Santa. Ahhh, the cookies. Still gets my blood pressure up a little bit when I think about the decorating experience (see previous post). But despite the memories, the cookies were plated up and ready for Santa.

Molly kept telling me all week, "Santa loves cookies and I love cookies." Apparently she feels a certain bond with Santa over this shared taste for treats.

And we can't forget the milk.....

Once everything was set, Molly sat down at the fireplace. She just sat there. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied, "Waiting for Santa, Mommy."
I thought that we had covered this about a billion times: YOU HAVE TO BE ASLEEP BEFORE SANTA WILL COME!
Ah well, you can't blame a girl for trying! Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

If you are coming to the blog looking for pictures of Molly opening gifts on Christmas morning, hang in there. They're coming soon, I promise!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Not-So-Norman Rockwell Sort Of Christmas

Now that Molly is old enough to understand and be excited about Christmas, I really wanted to start some traditions that we can carry on through the years. You know, Norman Rockwell kind of moments.
What better tradition that to bake cookies to leave for Santa on Christmas Eve? So on December 23rd we started the process (Hey, at least I am smart enough to start a day early).
It all started out innocently enough. First thing in the morning, we pulled out the recipe book and the ingredients and got cooking. Note the cute little gingerbread person pictured in the cookbook. That was our goal. Should be easy enough. k
Molly loves to help me cook and is so proud of herself every time she completes a step. So far, so good. Things are still feeling Norman Rockwell-ish, right? k
For the most part, cookie mixing went off without too many problems.
Well, there was the unfortunate incident where I accidentally set the mixer to high instead of low, but we both had a good laugh over that:
The gingerbread dough had to chill for several hours, so we left the baking portion of the cookie making until after dinner. We both got a little dirty:
Acted a little silly:

And ate a lot of cookie dough, but we were still candidates for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Because of the late hour I decided that we would have to leave cookie decorating for Christmas Eve morning. Seemed like smart planning. Even I know not to start an activity too close to bedtime.
The next morning we woke, ate breakfast and then pulled out all of the cookie decorating paraphernalia. Molly started out great. She put little buttons and eyes on the each little gingerbread man, while I manned the icing bag.
Then things slowly started to head south. First, Molly started sampling the icing. No problem. I was sampling it, too.

Then Molly tried a few of the M&M buttons. Still no problem. I was way ahead of her in the M&M consumption. Eat up darling.

The real problem started after the sugar buzz set in...both hers and mine. Molly started eat candy decorations hand over fist. I pleasantly reminded her not to eat too many, or she would get a tummy ache (yes, that it the way I chose to remember it).

This was met by defiant handfuls of candy being shoved into her mouth. Then a devilish grin that just begged to say, "Hey lady, just try and stop me from eating candy . I dare you."

Time out #1 soon followed.

Upon returning to the table, Molly glared at me and then began to dump handfuls of sprinkles onto the floor.

Don't mess with me whist I am on a sugar high, my dear sweet child. Time out #2 for you.

I won't go into vivid description of the events that followed, but let's just say that my angel managed to suck every bit of enjoyment out of the whole decorating experience. Mr. Rockwell must have been rolling over in his grave.

In the end, some of the cookies did get decorated:
Molly was even allowed to eat some of her handiwork:

Amazingly enough, she even offered to share a cookie with her Grinch-mother:
And Santa ended up with a nice assortment of cookies:
Hmmm, maybe we'll get that Norman Rockwell memory next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have Yourself a Merry Christmas!

May you all have a blessed Christmas.
I know what I am getting for Christmas this year and every year for the rest of my life...and I couldn't be happier!
For the past 15 years or so, I have done a non-traditional Christmas letter to send along with my Christmas cards. Each year it gets harder and harder to come up with an original idea and I swear that it will be my last year for letter writing. But somehow at the last minute, after much stress and anxiety, I think of something. Here is a copy of this year's letter. And ya know, I think this will be the last one I write :o)

Sometimes life with a two year old feels less like parenting and more like being a member of a reality show.
Here’s just a sampling of what it is like to be a castaway on

Episode One: The Birthday Party
The season premiere starts innocently enough. Our three castaways, Tony, Teri and Molly, are unwittingly marooned on a desert island during Molly’s second birthday party. Everything seems jovial enough. Decorations abound, gifts are exchanged, cake is consumed. Festive. But soon after, the castaways are divided into two tribes. Tony and Teri become members of the Parental Tribe, while Molly seeks membership into the Toddler Tribe. This seems like an unfair advantage; the Parentals have two members, while the Toddlers have only one. However, things are not always as they first appear.

Episode Two: Toddler Tribe Treks into the Terrible Twos
This episode starts with the Parental Tribe’s attempt to form an alliance with the Toddler tribe. The effort is rebuffed. It is two weeks after Molly’s second birthday and she feels empowered. “I am toddler, hear me roar!” And roar she does. For about six months. Throughout this and subsequent episodes, Molly can be heard snarling the phrase, “NO, IIIIIIIIIIIII DO IT!” and various other tribal chants. These utterances are often accompanied by ceremonial dances that involve rolling around the campsite with hands and feet thrashing violently. At the Tribal Council, both Teri and Tony attempt to vote themselves off the island. The judges catch wind of this escapade and deem that both must stay for the duration. Joy.

Episode Three: Surviving Sturgis
At the start of this episode Tony reveals that he has won an Immunity Challenge and gets to leave the Tropic of Toddlerhood to perform engineering duties in Sturgis, Michigan. Funny how this coincides perfectly with the terrible twos time frame. Hmmmm, lucky break—or is it? Tony discovers that he must remain in Sturgis for much of the six month time period, with only occasional weekend excursions back to the island to visit his wife and child. Fortunately for him the Toddler Tribe and the better half of the Parental Tribe take pity on him and make several trips off the island to visit him. Because Molly is always told that she is going to see Daddy at work in Sturgis, she erroneously believes that her father works at the Holiday Inn Express. Humorous to hear her say, but kind of sad in reality. Maybe he’s the hotel’s Cabana Boy?

Episode Four: Myrtle Beach Vacation
After Tony’s six month stint off the Island, it is decided that members from both tribes should take a vacation to relax, reconnect and rekindle their relationships. A Myrtle Beach holiday is planned. The Parental Tribe, knowing the Toddler’s strengths and weaknesses, decides to begin this 14 hour driving adventure at 4 a.m. The Toddler should sleep through much of the journey. Right. Molly stays up for the entire 14 hour drive. She’s a trooper and doesn’t even cry once. It is soon discovered though that she is storing all of her emotions for the next day. Wow, not a fun day. Tony and Teri immediately plead their case to be voted off the show to the Tribal Council. Luckily the vacation gets progressively better. Molly thoroughly enjoys the pool, the beach and going way out in the “monster waves” with her Daddy. Mommy sits on the shore and tries not to watch as Tony holds Molly, who was giddy with laughter, above his head as each wave swallows him up.

Episode Five: Molly’s Porcelain Lagoon
As this season of Survivor draws to a close, the Parental Tribe decides that it is time for the Toddler Tribe to be potty trained. They spend the next several weeks paying homage to the porcelain throne with their own chants and dances as Molly learns how to live without diapers. Although the mission is a success, Teri misses diapers very much. She is now forced to find a bathroom with three seconds notice any time Molly deems it is necessary. She has been seen toting a toddler as she sprints through shopping centers, restaurants and parks. Oh, the joys of this Survivor Game.

Episode Six: Season Finale
Tony, Teri and Molly return to camp to reminisce about their adventures on this season of Survivor: Tropic of Toddlerhood. Despite the challenges, good times did abound. Everyone feels extremely blessed to be cast members of this unique reality show which serves to strengthen their bonds with one another. They are also overheard wishing friends and family everywhere a Joyous Christmas and Jubilant New Year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nibble, Nibble Like a Mouse, Who is Nibbling at My House?

Pretty much everyone in our family, that’s who! Luckily it is a gingerbread house that we are talking about.
A few weekends ago, Tony and I had to go out of town for a wedding. We left Molly in the capable hands of Grandmom, and what a good time they both had. Aunt Karen and Cousins Allison and Matthew stopped by to lend a hand, as well. Molly was the center of attention for the entire time, I am certain, and loved every minute of it.
Aunt Karen brought over gingerbread houses and the kids spent part of the day decorating them. I wasn’t there to witness the construction first hand, but I am quite sure that just as many decorations went in Molly’s mouth as on her house. That’s half the fun, isn’t it? Hey, if she was on a sugar high, she was someone else’s responsibility that day, so I say, “Eat up, gal!”
Here are a few pictures that my sister-in-law left on my camera…Thanks Karen!

Matthew squeezing frosting.

Allison nibbling candy.

Grandmom giving Molly some pointers.
Designing like an engineer? I hope not. One engineer in any family is quite sufficient.

More candy on the house now, means more candy to pick off later!

Everyone hard at work.

The finished products. Molly's house is the one on the right.

The current status of the gingerbread house~Yum!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Our adoption paperwork was logged in with the Chinese government on September 29, 2005. At that time, we could not even imagine the wait that was ahead for us. We spent not one, but three Christmases waiting. Three agonizing, painful Christmases where our hearts ached to hold our sweet Molly. To say that I cried a lot would be a gross understatement.
Maybe that is why I appreciate the holidays so much more now. Molly is with us. There is really no better gift than that. As we decorate the house, attend holiday parties and negotiate the crowds at the local mall, there is a specialness about the season. There is a reason to celebrate.
Honestly, my heart is full and whole. I have an amazing husband and a daughter that is beyond incredible. I have everything that I could ever want. And I can reach out and touch them, hug them, kiss them whenever I want. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is better than that. Who needs gifts to open on Christmas morning? Not me.

Sharing this Christmas with Molly has been wonderful. Last year was her first Christmas and although it was very special to us, she really wasn’t old enough to understand the magic. This year, at almost three years old, she gets it. Boy oh boy, does she get it.
Molly has a repertoire of Christmas carols memorized (Rudolph is her all time favorite), talks nonstop about Santa (although she won’t sit on his lap), and knows just what she would like to see under the tree on Christmas morning (a doll house). She loves the decorations, the Christmas cookies and treats, and the winter weather. She is all about Christmas this year, and that makes the season fun for the whole family.
One of Molly’s favorite events so far this holiday season has been her very first Christmas party. Molly is in a playgroup with other kids who have been adopted from China. She calls them her China friends. When I told her that her China friends were having a Christmas party, Molly ran to put on her fancy clothes and click-click shoes (shoes with heels).
There were friends to see:

Toys to play with (Hmmm, where did she learn to do this?):

And food to eat:


And eat:

And eat:

There was a book exchange where Molly received 2 Dr. Seuss books from Elizabeth:

And lots to Mamaratzi standing at the ready to take pictures:

And more pictures:

And even more pictures:
It was truly a magical time for Molly. And it was magical for me. I’m almost 45 years old and I get to experience Christmas like I was a child again. What a gift. Like I said before, life is good. Merry Christmas!
More holiday blogs to come….Up next: building gingerbread houses. Check back in a day or two!
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering why I am blogging while on vacation in Florida...well, I AIN'T in Florida! Tony was asked to postpone our vacation so that he could cover a project at work. Sooooo, we rescheduled our vacation. We'll be heading south in a few weeks.
I should be in Naples Florida toady. The wind chill here makes it -22 degrees. That's 22 degrees BELOW ZERO!!! The temperature in Naples is a balmy 78 degrees. 100 degrees difference, if you do the math.
I love my husband's job, I love my husband's job, I love my husband's job....trying desperately to convince myself :o)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tis the Season to be Busy

I've been a bad, bad blogger. I know that it is the season to be jolly, but truthfully I've been so busy I haven't had time to be jolly yet. I also haven't had time to blog. In fact, I still don't. Molly has about 5 minutes left on her nap, so I just have time to post a few pictures then it is back to being a mommy. So here you go...random shots of Molly.

Molly models a dress lovingly knitted by Miss Brooke Wheeling.

Signing Grandmom's birthday card.

Everyone needs a hug every once in a while. Pooh is one lucky bear.

Taking a picture of Mommy with her mini camera.

Molly suspending herself between the sofa and coffee table. She thinks she's all that and then some with this little trick.

Decorating the house for Christmas. This is about as close as she's gonna get to having her picture taken with Santa. She wants to sit in the Mall Santa's lap in the worst way, but after waiting in line eight different times, she just can't seal the deal.

Another new pose for Molly. She is so excited that she can sit with her legs crossed, "Just like a little lady." Someone needs to tell this little lady that she is giving the world an eyeful of what is under her dress. Thank goodness she has leggings on!
Taking a break with the Christmas critters.
More holiday pictures to come...please check back in a few days and I have a new post...I hope!