Sunday, December 26, 2010

Decking the Halls

If you're the youngest child in your family like I am, then you may remember how boring Christmas became once your were about 10 or 11 years old. No more toys and no more Santa Claus. Just sweaters and socks and fighting with older siblings who are home from college and don't want to watch A Christmas Story with you for 24 hours straight.
But then someone gets married and has a child . . . and then another . . . and then another, and WOO HOO! The magic is back!!

But the fun really began when I had my own.
We loved all the Christmas cartoons and the Santa photo sessions (one with Mimi crying and the other with her running away). Mimi learned how to sing Jingle Bells (which she added several extra "heys" to at the end) and Frosty the Snowman (who, according to Mimi, has a "cerncob pipe"). She knows all about Santa, his "reindeers," and elves. She knows about Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, and the animals in the manger. And she even knows about the presents.
So I set some pretty high expectations for myself with Christmas this year, which I so didn't meet. I started back to work December 1, and things have been completely nuts. My days have been much longer than expected with all this crazy traffic, and I am completely zapped when I get home. Trying to shop for presents on the weekend just didn't happen since every store was completely packed in the city. Although I may have asked some of you for updated addresses, there were no Christmas cards because there was no time.
I'm finally becoming okay with these things. I let it go and decided to set my priorities straight -- what was it that was most important as far as the festivities were concerned? We could order gifts on-line, we could still get a tree, and I could stop by a Toys R Us in a small town during my lunch break. No stress.
And my favorite part of the big, fat tree that took up way too much room in the den was the new Mississippi ornament I bought in my hometown over Thanksgiving.
Although I slacked on the cards this year (I promise it won't happen again!), I LOVED displaying the ones we received.
Even RuRu needed a festive outfit for this chilly time of year. I thought she would hate it and throw all kinds of fits, but I was mistaken. Girlfriend strutted around in this sweater like she was Best in Show. I feel bad that I have neglected her of hand-knit wool all her life.
And of course the entire month leading up to Christmas was beautiful and white.
We never get tired of this.

Lord, Have Mercy . . .

. . . Baby's got her bluejeans on.
So I did something I didn't think I would ever do . . . I bought jeans for Mimi before she turns four-years-old. I know this seems silly, but I have never been crazy about jeans on little ones. But just look at how much she loves them . . .I like for toddlers to look like toddlers in comfy knit outfits and pretty smocked dresses -- they have the rest of their lives to wear adult clothes -- but that kind of stuff isn't cutting it in Chicago. Mimi has a closet full of pretty dresses and outfits that will not get worn this winter because I had no idea we wouldn't be in a place with 50 degree winters when I bought them. Thin little smocked dresses are for the birds when it's only 15 degrees outside. And I don't have time to put 3 different layers of tights and knit pants on every day, so a fun pair of warm jeans was the best option.
And I have to say that I'm really, really excited about them (as is Mimi). This has opened a whole new door of opportunity for her attire. I think she's starting to look like a really cool little kid. On my first trip to Gap Kids, I picked up the skinny jeans, but when I put them on her she looked like a first grader. I just couldn't do it. So the "Playdate Straight" won. I love them.

Throughout December Mimi has come across some of my favorite Holiday things -- one of them being The Polar Express.
I bought the book for her first Christmas, and she found it on the shelf a few weeks ago. I read it to her a couple of times, and then she attempted to read it back to me. Her version is usually much more fun than mine. The best part is when she goes through about three or four pages asking, "Where da elves? I don't see da elves? Oh, dere dey are! And Santa Claus! And a jingle bell!" We watched the movie with her one night, which was a little frightening at times, but she didn't want us to turn it off.
Her biggest obsession on TV throughout the holiday season has been the Frosty the Snowman cartoon. She knows all the words to the song and woke up most mornings begging to watch it. It's such a strange little cartoon, too, with a terrible magician who chases Frosty to get back his magical hat. But, whatever, it made Mimi happy.

Before our sweet nanny Lacy flew home for Christmas, she gave Mimi one of her best Christmas presents ever, Play-doh. How awesome. And she's so great at playing with it. She doesn't stick it up her nose or throw it at the dog or anything nuts like that.
And little Macky-poo is continuing to get bigger and bigger . . . and steal my heart more and more each day. He's actually "playing" with things now and is the best laugher I've ever met. He's has a fun little tickle spot under his chin that makes him laugh so hard he loses his breath. How can I keep him four months old a little longer?

Mmm-mwah! I can't kiss these cheeks enough!

Oh, and how hilarious is this? I know a lot of little ones who are mad about their paci or their thumbs, but my babies are a little different . . . they prefer their left two middle fingers. How did this happen? Did Mimi teach Mack? Whatever calms them is just fine with me.
I think "Calm" should have been Mack's middle name. This little guy rarely gets worked up about much at all -- unless he's laughing hysterically. He's put himself on a schedule -- eat, play for about an hour, and then he wants to go to sleep. He wakes up at about 6:45 and finally goes to sleep for the night around 10:00. No complaints here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, Look, Mommy! Snow!!!

The Darbys finally experienced our first snow in Chicago. We have been thinking about this day for some time with all of our shopping for the proper coats and boots and scarves and spending way too much time at REI. The night of the first snow I had gone to bed early and was so happy when Clint woke me up to make me look out the window. I felt like a kid again.

We couldn't wait to show it to Mimi the next morning so we could see this:

I even set Mack in front of the window so he could watch for a while.
But he chewed on his hand instead.
I've learned that getting out of the house is going to take a bit more preparation than in the past. Just for a normal outing our regular clothes and a puffy coat will do, but for playtime . . . that's a different story.Last weekend Mimi got to meet Rudolph when several stores on Roscoe hosted fun activities for children. We even have a sweet little dance studio that just opened called Baby Take a Bow. Yes, Mimi will be starting ballet in January, and I'm so excited about the tutus. Or "toot toots" as she calls them.
It has been such a hassle to take the camera with me when we play in the snow, but I finally grabbed it one afternoon. Since we still have several months of this, I'm hoping the photos get a little better.It is absolutely freezing and windy as all get out, so what in the world do we do? This I am still trying to figure out, so any suggestions are welcome. Yesterday morning our sweet neighbors had us over for banana bread and lattes, and I love that we can see some fun tacky Christmas lights from their windows. We have watched Toy Story and Charlie Brown's Christmas and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (can you believe my neighbor AND my nanny have never seen this?!). Put my poor neighbor is from South Africa, and they don't even have a Santa Claus -- they call him Father Christmas. How awful is that? (Sorry, Wade.)

And this is what Mimi does while we watch Saturday morning cartoons. Seriously? And when I try to pull her finger out of her nose, she yells, "No, Mommy! They're my boogers!"
We have had dance parties -- Mack's really starting to like this -- and order take-out so we don't have to leave the house. We organized the coat closet, I updated my address list, and cut out some fabric to make new clothes for the kids. But I'm hoping we still find things to do throughout the winter.

Clint asked me last night if everything Mack wears is supposed to fit so tightly, or if he is just really fat. He he.
The snow is gorgeous. There is something so quiet and serene about taking Ruthie on a walk in the snow early on a weekend morning. And as long as the wind isn't blowing like crazy the cold is a bit refreshing. I like the hats and scarves and my fun new Wellies with thick fleece socks. And there is nothing better than sitting at my bar right now while everyone, including the dog, is taking a nap and see the snow falling outside the window behind the Christmas tree.

As many of you know, I started back to work on December 1. I went into this with mixed emotions. Should I not want to stay home with my children? But then I realized how frustrated I am not being able to get out of the house by myself, AND not to mention how bored I feel like Mimi is with me all day. I want both her and Mack to spend time with others, but there is no Mother's Day Out type of option in Chicago. I finally found out this has something to do with a city ordinance or codes or some sort of strict requirements that make it too difficult for churches to sponsor such a thing.

So after the first couple of days I began to feel better about my decision. I was excited to see the guys who trained me on our new product and to ride with someone else in Chicago last week. The first day out on my own was nuts because I was trying to find towns and villages I had never heard of in my life. And the traffic -- wowzers, it's a bit ridiculous. But I know work will get easier each day. Most importantly, I feel completely comfortable with the nanny, and Mimi loves her. If she leaves before Mimi wakes up from a late afternoon nap, then Mimi asks about her all night. Mimi tells me if they did something fun, and she also tells me if she gets in trouble, which I have to turn my head to laugh about. Mack loves pretty much everyone, so I don't have to worry about him. At the end of each day I can't wait to get home to play with my sweet babies, and they are just as excited to see me. If Clint has to stay late for work, it doesn't bother me much anymore. That means I get more time with the kiddos by myself. I suddenly feel more organized at home and I only spend my time doing things that need to be done. On Saturdays and Sundays we completely relax and try to do everything together as a family. When I stayed home I definitely had a big quantity of time with my babies, but now it's more about quality.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Birthday-Giving!

Let me start by saying how thankful I am that my children and my husband are fantastic travelers. Chicago is about 9 hours away from Memphis and the thought of making the drive again at Christmas isn't quite so frightening considering how easy the last few have been.

It was wonderful to catch up with friends and family while we were in Memphis. Thank you Kyle and Libby for the fantastic morning at the park and margaritas at Molly's for lunch. It's times like that when I really, really miss our Memphis buddies, but I feel weekly margaritas at lunch might not be a normal routine if I still lived in Memphis. Who am I kidding? Yes, it would be. But I forgot the camera, so I have no cute photos of Mimi playing with Banks and Hadley or of babies Mack and Ellis hanging out together. I MUST remember to bring the camera at Christmas. Maybe we can repeat the margarita luncheon, also.

We really enjoyed our time at the Darbys, but Mimi's favorite part was the time she was able to spend with her cousins Olivia and JR. Olivia is such a big helper with watching the little ones, and JR and Mimi have the funniest little conversations and play so well together. As soon as JR arrived at the park, Mimi immediately stopped what she was doing and ran down the hill at full speed screaming, "JR!!!! I see JR!! JR, come swing and slide with me!! Wa-hoo!!"
Shug tried to teach Mimi how to play Red Light, Green Light that night after dinner, and while she wasn't very good at stopping when Shug yelled Red Light, she still had so much fun.
When we left Chicago it was about 20 degrees that morning, but when we arrived in Memphis, it was about 65. I know that was unseasonably warm for Memphis, but I thought I was going to burn up. Maybe my blood is already "thickening" as people seem to say, but Memphis felt crazy-hot. Short sleeves were fine for Thanksgiving. And so was playing outside . . . with a chain saw. What a funny kid.

Maybe it was the two birthdays we celebrate around Thanksgiving in my family -- my sister's and my dad's -- but we couldn't get Mimi to say, "Happy Thanksgiving!" It kept turning out to be, "Happy Birthday-Giving!" So maybe that's the Nixon family's version of Christmakuh. It's Thanksgiving with cake. Good stuff.

Sweetness. Dad calls Mack his "Fat Little Buddy." He he.
It's no secret that Nick is Mimi's favorite in my family. We've all learned to accept this and let her have plenty of Nick time. They snuggled and watched lots of Spongebob and Phineas and Ferb.
Since Mimi likes Nick so much, CoCo has decided that Mack will love her. And so far, she is right.
Such a happy little monkey.

And I never could get Mack to stop watching TV and look at the camera.
I think I just finished unpacking from Thanksgiving, and the suitcases are still out. What's the point? I should have left them packed since we'll be heading home again in about a week!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Happy Friday

When I was five-years-old, I attended First Presbyterian Dayschool, which I will always think of as one of the happiest years of my life. My kindergarten teacher was Miss Audrey, and she wore hippie vests and wooden bead necklaces and played "You Can't Get to Heaven on Roller Skates" for us on her guitar. She taught me how to tell time on a clock, how to properly tie my shoes, and how to read a little. She gave us all silly nicknames. Mine was "Smiley" because I rarely stopped smiling that year.

Fridays were only half-days, and my mom and I would treat ourselves to McDonald's on most of these afternoons. I always ordered the same thing: a hamburger Happy Meal with an orange drink. I remember telling my mother that I wish the whole world smelled like McDonald's and that when I grow up I'll eat a Happy Meal every day.

This was always such a nice little lunch date for us. I got to eat greasy fries that came in a fun little box with a plastic toy, and my mom was able to spend just a little more alone time with me before her youngest of four started public elementary school the following year.

The Friday before Thanksgiving I was trying to do just that -- squeeze in a little more time with Mimi and Mack before I started back to work. I put all laundry and packing for our trip home aside and spent most of the morning reading We're Going on a Bearhunt and watching Yo Gabba Gabba. We stayed at the park until my arms were about to fall off from pushing Mimi in the swing. When I told her we needed to go home to get lunch, she looked up at me and said, "Hey Mommy. I got an idea. Let's eat Fwench Fwies!"

Oh my, she did have a great idea. Since we were leaving town the next day our kitchen was completely empty of food, so grabbing some McDonald's was a great option.

Oh, I can see some of you granola-head mommies shaking your heads at my joy of feeding my two-year-old fast food. Shake all you want, but you should see how stinking excited she gets over this little red box.

While I was a hamburger girl, Mimi adores the "chicky nuggets." Other than bacon, this is some of the only meat she will eat. Bacon and chicken nuggets . . . yum yum. She's also a really big fan of the "choc-o-lit" milk.

And just what do you do to recycle that fun little box when you're finished eating? Why turn it into a fun house for your Little People. Just see how happy Noah and Mr. Policeman are. And if Mimi gets a fun box, then I guess I should get one, too! We had dinner with a couple in Chicago several weeks ago, and the girl hesitantly told me she worked for the McDonald's corporate office. I told her to not be ashamed because I am a BIG fan of the Big Mac. She tried to tell me about the new Big Mac wrap, and I told her no way. I must have the sesame seed bun.
So as you can tell, I'm a little behind on posts and will try to update you on my crazy life over this weekend. We went home for Thanksgiving -- I have cute photos, don't you worry -- have gotten our first snow, and I started back to work. Things are nuts (but in a good way), and I'll let you in on it all soon.