7 Quick Takes: Aria’s Birthday & Christmas

Aria's Bday & Cmas 2013 ~ Plumfield DreamsEach week I post seven “quick takes” of things on my mind. Topics are typically related to our family happenings or things I’m into right now.

  1. Mom, Sister, and I took the kids to Holiday Pops last weekend. Noah was fascinated. He alternately watched closely and napped – a pretty good way to approach the thing, I thought. Aria enjoyed it, but didn’t stay interested consistently. I didn’t expect her to, though. That would be a bit much for a not-quite-two-year-old.
  2. Speaking of which, she’s two now. We had a lovely little birthday party for her with our immediate family on the day (Christmas Eve). She thoroughly enjoyed herself, and is loving her presents. It was a good celebration of her, and we welcomed her third year of life (I got that right, family) by praying over her. That evening we had one of her current favorite meals, pot roast, then opened our Christmas Eve box – a new Christmas movie, a Christmas book, and PJs for both kids. We dressed in our PJs and settled in for the movie (which Aria would typically have been interested in, but she’d had cake, so…) and then the book before bed.
  3. Christmas morning we spent at home. Aria awoke to a kitchen playset by the tree, and she played with it a bit while Andy and I finished up breakfast prep. We had a beautiful breakfast of gluten-free, dairy-free banana pancakes; turkey and egg muffins; and fancy potato bites. We ate to candlelight, and it was quite lovely. Then we opened presents, got everything cleaned up, and went to my parents’ house for the remainder of the day. It was a wonderful day with my family. A couple of the men went out in the afternoon to commemorate the troops’ Christmas in Bastogne with a ceremonial shoot. The rest of us stayed home and played this game, one of my Christmas presents.
  4. I already have most of our decorations down. I don’t typically remove them this quickly, but this year I’m anxious to get the house cleaned up, and to be in a position to trade rooms with Aria. Also, our Christmas tree is rapidly dying, and I’d rather it were out of the house before it gets to the Charlie-Brown-tree point.
  5. I recently purchased an ebook bundle that included a several-month subscription to a meal planning site called Plan to Eat. We’re finding it quite useful thus far, and will likely continue our subscription once the preview time is up. It doesn’t yet have an app version, unfortunately, but it still works well on the iPad (within the browser).
  6. I had the stitches in my face removed early on the 26th. It was a quick and painless process. I’m glad to have them gone. The doctor wants a couple of follow-ups to make sure it’s healing properly, but so far, so good. Apparently it will take a few weeks for the swelling and redness to reduce. It was nice to go to the appointment by myself. I even got a few minutes to read.
  7. We have more Christmas celebrations yet to come. We were supposed to get together with my aunt and uncle this weekend, but sadly they are both sick. Hopefully we can reschedule soon. We’re “having Christmas” with Andy’s family on New Year’s Day. The plan is to have brunch and presents. We’ll probably spend most of the day together. I’m looking forward to it.

Celebrating Christmas with Children

Celebrating Christmas with Children ~ Plumfield DreamsLast year I wrote a post about the Christmas traditions we have, or plan to adopt. I tend to be an all-in person, and being a parent is teaching me limits in a whole new way. One of those limits I’ve learned is that I can’t throw myself in and make everything I ever want to see happen start at once. For one, I will make everyone, starting with myself, miserable. And two, some things I want to do eventually the kids just aren’t ready for yet. This is my second Christmas as a parent (well, third, technically, but that first one I had only been a parent 12 hours, so it doesn’t count). Thus far I’ve determined:

  • Consistency is key. Kids will remember anything we call a tradition with fondness, as long as we do it consistently and lovingly.

And to that end…

  • I would rather do simple things and enjoy them thoroughly with my family, then check all the boxes on the Best Christmas Ever checklist.

This December Aria is turning two, and Noah is 5 months. We’re sticking to these simple and fun things:

  1. We listen to Christmas music. There are a lot of albums I enjoy, but I try to mostly keep it to a few favorites. Part of the nostalgia the kids will feel when they look back will be over those specific artists they heard over and over. We’re choosy about who they are. (These are our non-negotiables, and here’s another list of good options.)
  2. We decorate the house only with things we love. That includes a real Christmas tree, and some other simple decorations. I love Christmas decos, but I can’t get too carried away because I purposefully keep very few surfaces in my house. (I hate clutter, and I hate to dust.)
  3. We read a different Christmas picture book every evening before Aria’s bedtime. She gets to choose the book from a festive box full. She loves it! Actually, it’s made her more receptive to the idea of bedtime, because she looks forward to choosing and hearing a book. On Christmas Day we’ll read Luke 2.
  4. We attend Christmas music concerts. This year the kids went to the performance of the kids’ choir I direct. We also plan to attend our area orchestra’s Holiday Pops concert.
  5. We open a Christmas Eve box. This will be our first year to do this. I’m sure it will change over time, but this year it will include new pajamas for each of the kids, a new Christmas book (the last one we’ll read before Christmas), and the new Veggie Tales Christmas DVD. I like the idea of including a snack, as well, but I haven’t decided what that might be, because we’re working on making our diet cleaner.

There are a few other things we’ll work in if they feel doable. I read this great idea to get the kids all ready for bed one night, then before they really go to bed surprise them with hot chocolate, bundle them up, and take them to drive around and see Christmas lights. That’s easy, and so fun, and the kids would love it. Another idea I like is to draw a bubble bath by candlelight for each kid, and then sit with them and read (or not – whatever works). Aria is at the age to love baths, and she’s never had a bubble bath, so I definitely intend to do this one. The original idea I saw was to do it on Christmas Eve, but that’s already a packed day for us, so I think we’ll do it on the 23rd this year.

That’s about it. None of these are big things, really. They’re simple to do, and most don’t take much time. Perfect, eh?

I’m linking up to List It Tuesday over at Many Little Blessings.

7 Quick Takes: The One with a Yummy Paleo Recipe

Christmas Decorations 2013 ~ Plumfield Dreams

  1. Our Christmas decorations are up, and they are gorgeous. We put lights on the entire tree, but decorations only on the top half, out of Aria’s reach.
  2. It’s December 6th. Thus far this month, I’ve had a potluck at church, a Christmas dinner with the ladies from church, the last rehearsal before the Christmas concert for the middle school choir I direct, and two rehearsals for Holiday Pops. This weekend we have our visit to Santa at the fire department and the homeschool choir Christmas concert. And the real madness doesn’t even start until Sunday. I’m living a day or two at a time right now, so I can enjoy the moments and not freak out. December is going by far too quickly already. Well, honestly, time consistently goes by too quickly these days. I’m thankful that reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift is helping me savor the season, even as it seems to fly by.
  3. Aria and I are having a great time with our advent Christmas reading. I put our Christmas picture books in a festive box, and we set it in Aria’s room the day after Thanksgiving. She spotted it immediately, and asked, “This?”. I told her it was a surprise for before bed, and at bedtime she remembered and asked “supwise?”, pointing at the box. I got down at her level and told her, “This box is full of Christmas books, and every day between now and Christmas you get to pick out a book and we’ll read it!” She was really excited, and chose one readily (she’s typically very decisive). Every day thereafter she’s asked for “Box! Book?” I am absolutely thrilled at how quickly she understood and took to it. We read a lot anyway, but somehow this month something has clicked, so she is engaged with the reading most times, instead of just wanting to turn the pages constantly. She’s growing up. <tear>
  4. I’ve gotten back in the reading groove. I recently read Lauren Graham’s debut novel, Someday, Someday, Maybe. I thought it was delightful, and intelligent. I’ve seen Lauren Graham on late night television, and I’ll be honest – I wasn’t sure she was more than a ditzy actress. I was wrong. In addition to Ann’s book, I am also currently reading Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series. The series has gotten better with each book. I’m pleased with the way things are coming together in this last installment. It’s deeper and better-written than most YA fiction.
  5. I got my stitches removed this morning. It was unpleasant, what I would describe as highly uncomfortable. After more than a week dealing with them, I’m glad to have them out.
  6. I just rediscovered Old Navy. They have the most adorable clothes for little kids. And I got myself these lovely leggings for lounging.

    Aren’t they cute? They make me happy.

  7. This is my current favorite recipe. It’s flavorful, and healthy, and basically an entire meal in a sweet potato. Seriously, y’all. It’s SO GOOD.
    Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

    Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes