Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Wrap-Up

Warning: This post is long. It's the end of Christmas day, and while I should be in bed sleeping beside my warm and cozy bear (that's Jeff), I'm full of warm sentiments and far too much sugar from Aunt Dorothy's baking. These pictures and thoughts simply must be shared! And who needs sleep, really? Tomorrow will be spent in comfy pjs on the floor with tea mug perpetually in hand, helping Kaiya enjoy the fifty or so new toys she just got. And a nap will surely be part of the agenda.

So indulge me, dear readers!

The highlights of Christmas 2010:

Christmas Eve

Morning at home:
Baked Blueberry-Pecan French Toast. Yum.

Afternoon/Evening at Sis':
Dave getting snuggly with Kaiya's hippo family. (Let's remember that teddy is the "daddy.")

Me and mom and dad enjoying the apps in Dagmar and Dave's swanky new living room/kitchen.

Okay, so I know it looks like I'm in pain here, but I'm actually just busting a gut telling this story about how I realized Gizmo, Dagmar's severely anti-social and neurotic dog, was hiding in the bathtub from all of us loud, obnoxious people, when I heard strange lip-smacking sounds coming from behind the shower curtain while "taking care of business." It was funny; trust me. (And slightly disturbing all at the same time!)

Kaiya and her new doll, with their matching sweaters. Seriously, how cute is this?!

Me and dad. I love this picture. It's so natural. But I also love it because it captures the ambiance in Dagmar and Dave's renovated digs. I think we all felt a little like movie stars that night. Well, I did anyway...

The highlight of our two days of festivities was probably this: Scott giving Kaiya a totally age-inappropriate gift... a Nerf gun (for ages 6+). It came with three darts. Within minutes she had learned how to cock it, and of course, pull the trigger. Then, for the rest of the evening, we were all at the mercy of trigger-happy Kaiya. She ran around like a drunk banshee, wildly waving around her weapon while the rest of us all braced ourselves and ducked. She took great delight in carefully choosing her victims. "I'm gonna get......... UNCLE DAVE!!!!" And then she'd excitedly run after her victim, sometimes firing off the gun while still flailing her little arm around, accidentally shooting someone behind her instead.

You can understand our terror, I'm sure.

But the best part was her crazy squeal/scream every time she got one of us. It had us in stitches. Here you can see our reaction just after she shot Babi:
Muaaaahahahaha... We are crazy people, yes we are.

Uncle Dave learned the hard way what happens if you try to play Kaiya's game on Kaiya. He stole her gun and sneaked in a quick shot on her butt, and he was promptly rewarded with a loud, angry "NO!! I don't like that!" and a swift smack on the arm with said gun. Thatta girl! You show him... Don't mess with Kaiya Jade!

And finally, the upholding of a long-standing family tradition. Every year, since they were wee little ones, Candice, Jasmine, and Dustin have gone to sit on Santa's lap together. Alas, being in their twenties and holding down jobs has made this tradition trickier. Weren't we lucky that Santa decided to make a special guest appearance in the middle of his busy Christmas Eve. I just want to know... why didn't any of them sit on his lap?

Christmas Day

Getting to spend time with a baby I have just NOT seen nearly enough of! I was lucky enough to hold her all through brunch before she was stolen away from me.

Jeff being Jeff.

Friends, reuniting again. Everyone's looking at the puppet that Nathan was madly waving around in an attempt to get some smiles from the girls.

Cousins opening gifts at Grandma's house.

Kaiya, in one of her rare sweet, angelic moments, enjoying a new book.

The handsome Epp boys. Let me just say right now how ridiculously rare and precious this photo is. The boys are at their best when they're all bantering together in the kitchen, telling ridiculously rude jokes while getting everything ready for a delicious turkey dinner.

Grandma and Hailey... two seconds before Hailey squirmed her way off of Grandma's lap.

Brian, most definitely being Brian. He seemed to feel a certain kinship with the turkey.

Dancing, whirling, twirling girls. Click on this one. It's worth it.

Dinner at one of the two tables. Looks cozy, huh? We always have to set up two tables to fit everyone.


This wraps it up for me. Memories, and more memories, all made more special with the knowledge of how fleeting it all is, and how different it all may be next year. I'm going up to snuggle up with my bear now. Do you think he'll appreciate my cold toes? :)

I don't know about you, but my favourite time of the holidays begins NOW. After the Christmas buzz and hype. When I get to just cocoon with my two favourite people, playing with new toys, drinking hot tea, eating tasty leftovers, and storing up all the good parts of the past two days. We'll take some walks, drink some cocoa, but mostly just be together in our snug little house.

Sending warm wishes your way.

Good night, folks.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Our Home to Yours

It's our "Christmas Eve" tonight. With two days of family celebrations coming, starting tomorrow, we're definitely getting into the swing of things. The gifts are wrapped, under the tree, the Christmas tunes are playing, the lights are lit, and final food preparations are taking place, together with some spontaneous dancing and stolen kisses.

A friend gave me a gift today, which I prematurely opened. It was Kaiya's fault, really. She had taken the box excitedly from Jeff and started bashing it up a bit. I had to intervene. ;) The gift was small and simple, but as I placed it around my neck, its meaning hit me in a funny place, and I found myself getting weepy at the silliest of things. Good gifts get you like that, I think. They go beyond the material to reach into your soft spots and make you realize that you're loved, and that it's all okay. And as I begin to pack up this year of events, and unfortunate non-events, I am reminded that yes, it's okay.

Kaiya has been so excited to have both of us home. She simply can't get enough of us, especially Jeff. Tonight, he ran out to the LCBO downtown to get the much needed bottle of red, and she screamed, yes, screamed, when we told her she couldn't go with him. I held her while she screamed, trying to be patient with her toddler rage, but I finally said (yelled?), "If you don't stop screaming, you'll need to go up to your room." She said, "No! I don't want to!" I said, "You need to calm down. Screaming is not okay." And she replied, "But screaming is part of my crying!!" (sniff, sniff)

I could eat her up.

We're having our special "just us" Christmas morning tomorrow. It's the start of some of our carefully chosen Christmas traditions. For the first time, I'm going to make a special Christmas breakfast (baked blueberry and pecan French toast), and then we're going to open our gifts together. I'm really excited. After that, we'll go to my sister's for celebrations with my side of the family, and then we'll continue with Jeff's side on the 25th.

We decided to let her open one of her gifts tonight. She chose the blue and gold star papered box, and promptly placed it in my lap. I said, "Honey, it's your gift. You go ahead and open it." And she looked a bit upset and said, "But I don't know how to open gifts yet!"

This strangely brought a flood of tears to my eyes. It must have been all the fuzzy feelings stirred by that gift hanging around my neck. We quickly had to explain to Kaiya that people have happy tears sometimes, too. All while she was patting my arm saying, "Aw, mom, cheer up. Cheer up."

After some prompting and guidance, she tore into the wrapping paper. I was a little nervous. I had gone out on a limb with this one. See, she has a ton of "stuffies," and somehow, she has managed to have two (or more) of almost everything. In Kaiya's world, everything is about "mommies and daddies and babies." So when she has a bigger stuffie, it's usually the mommy, and a smaller stuffie is the baby.

Her favourite lately has been her hippo. But poor little hippo is an orphan. No mommy, no daddy. So I took it upon myself to find this hippo a mommy. An ever-so-slightly larger version. But would she like it? Or was part of the reason she loved hippo so much the fact that he was all alone?

I think it's safe to say this momma's instinct was spot on.

It was love at first sight. She cried, "Momma! Momma!" Then she grabbed baby hippo and put them together in a warm embrace.

And then we had to take a picture with all of her favourite stuffies, of course. Don't worry. Little hippo is there, tucked in behind his momma. Somehow the white bear became "daddy." Whatever. We're all for inter-species relationships:

There's much more I could blabber on about. Musings on this time of year, on the joy and hope I feel tonight in the midst of all the other feelings. But I'll leave it at that.

So from our home to yours: Merry Christmas!! I hope you can take the time to really look around you this year and be thankful for the gazillion big and small things you have been given. He's a good God.

Love and peace,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A dad in his glory

It's no secret that Jeff and Kaiya have a strong bond.

But they took their love to a whole new level the day Kaiya decided to adorn Jeff with her hairclips.

It went something like this...
You can see it was a very serious endeavor at times.

I'm not sure what's going on here. Is she telling him off? Knowing Kaiya's personality, that's certainly a possibility. ;) Dad! Stop moving your head!

That's a mirror she is holding in her hand. She's clearly pretty excited about him seeing the final product.

And of course, a picture had to be taken. Perhaps following in daddy's footsteps after all?

Monday, December 13, 2010

This is what happens...

...when you try to do a cool snowman craft with a 2-year old:

Meet "Scary Monster Snowman."

This is what happened.

I got a neat-o idea: let's make some fun winter/Christmas crafts with Kaiya. I looked online, chose a few favourites, bought the supplies, took a deep breath and dove in.

Step 1 involved painting the balls white and rolling them in glitter. I thought Kaiya would LOVE this. She loves painting and usually begs me to do so as soon as she sees the little foam brushes.

She lasted one styrofoam ball. So as she ran around the house, acting up and demanding my attention in various other ways, I was left to hurriedly paint and glitter the snowmen.

After letting them dry (and taking a nap), it was time for Step 2: decorate the snowmen. Kaiya glued on the eyes and nose, but then lost interest. I thought we were done for again, until she found the toothpicks I had used to stick the snowmen together. A mom of an almost-3-year old will take her 5 minutes of peace and quiet however she can get them, and that, my friends, is how we ended up with "Scary Monster Snowman."

But she really loves him. She even added his third arm, or, um, leg?

Here's my much more subdued and boring version of Mr. Snowman:

And here they are, united at last, having a little Snowman dance party:

Peace and blessings to you this season, however they may come your way!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Toast to Right Here and Now

Someone who has gotten to know Jeff and I quite well this past year presented Jeff with the following today:

Ah, yes... I wonder what possibly could have inspired this purchase? ;)

There are two things that I particularly like about this wine. The first is that it is simply labelled "red wine." Is it a Cab? A Shiraz? A Merlot? Who knows, who cares. It's RED WINE. Consume sufficient quantities and desired buzz will soon follow. What else matters?

The second thing I like about this bottle is the quote on the back:
The Procrastinator is named to celebrate Wits End's patriarch, John Harvey, and his ability not to finish one task before something else more interesting arises.
I love the positive spin. It rocks. "...his ability not to finish..." It's an ability, huh? I'll have to keep that in mind next time I want to wring Jeff's neck. Clearly I need to further refine my appreciation of this keen ability. Ha!

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Favourite Thing

The best thing. The very best thing is when the weekend comes, if Jeff gives in to the tiredness that seems to be his constant companion these days, he sometimes decides to lay down the defenses, and nap with Kaiya.

And if I time it right, maybe cleaning up some lunch dishes first, I climb the stairs just to find them snug as can be, huddled in together under the softness of the blankets, fast asleep. Their bodies have already warmed the sheets, and I quietly slip in, careful not to disturb, and snuggle in close to enjoy the comfort, the quiet, the warmth.

We heal together, we three. As we sleep, our hearts are healed of the insecurities we have struggled with and the pains we have faced in the big world out there. All that matters is that we are together, we are safe. And that makes mamma bear truly happy.

A couple of weekends ago, Jeff was unable to put his work down, but I was suffering from a cold, so I gladly curled up with my Kaiya. I figure that even if I napped with her every day until she's fifteen (unlikely?), it will not be enough. There is something about her love and snuggles and hugs and kisses that fill me to overflowing.

We're holding hands here. This is heaven on earth.