Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Day and the Day After

We wake up on Christmas Day and head over to Ge and Pops.  We have a yummy breakfast of grits, orange rolls, bacon, sausage, and eggs.  Then, we gather around the tree and open gifts.  Hudson and Clara received an art easel, art supplies, Ipad games, painted coat hooks for their rooms, and an elephant popper.  They had a blast!

After lunch, we head to Alex City to see my family.  We had dinner at Maw Maw and Paw Paw's house and exchange gifts with my sister, brother, and their kiddos.  Hudson received a big wheel, Mr. Potato Head, a remote control truck, and a VTech globe.  Clara received a wheelie toy, books, clothes, and a few other little things.

Afterwards, we visit my other sister and her family!  I forgot to snap a picture of that time.

The day after Christmas we have a reunion with my entire mom's side of the family.  It is lots of people in one house!  We play dirty Santa, and it is tons of fun!

So very grateful we are loved by our family, and more importantly, we are loved by our Savior.  The Word became flesh.  It was a very Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve.

Our kiddos woke up on Christmas EVE morning with full stockings and wrapped presents in the the middle of our floor.  We opened stockings, made pancakes, and then opened the gifts.

Hudson's favorite part was the stockings. The kid loves candy. Hudson received a doctor kit and lab coat, bike helmet, book, and Melissa and Doug pattern blocks.  Clara received a ball popper, hair clips, crayon holders, and a book.  We also got them a book to share. Will and I also have stockings, but our gift to each other this year was a night out downtown.

We spent the day hanging out.  We made cupcakes for Jesus and played with our toys.  Then, we went to our church's candlelight service.

Afterwards, we went to Ge and Pop's house for our annual Christmas Eve dinner.  I love this dinner.  We all have place settings, name cards, and poppers.  Will's brother, Reed, made fillets, saute vegetables, kale salad, twice baked potatoes, and yummy bread.  It was so yummy.

It was a fun day!

Our Advent Traditions

I love traditions.  Sometimes so much that I overwhelm my husband.  The Advent season always brings with it several traditions.

Our reason for starting these now with such an early family is not so that our kids understand what we are doing each day.  I am ok with the fact that they don't comprehend most of it.  They will understand one day, and we will already have the practice of doing it each year.

Advent wreath:
In years past, we lit this every night.  We would add a new candle each Sunday, and light it during our Advent reading. This year, we decided to just light it on Sundays.  Each Sunday, we would talk about what that weeks candle symbolized.

Advent Devotional:
This year we used Ann Voskamp's devotional.  I read the entire thing each morning, but Will just read the corresponding verse to us at dinner.  There were ornaments to go with them, but we didn't do those.

Jesse Tree:
This year we made a Jesus Storybook Bible Jesse tree.  Each ornament corresponded with a story we read each morning of Advent.  Then, we would color the picture and hang it on the tree.  At least that was the plan, but I didn't get much cooperation this year.

Advent Calendar:
I made a list of fun stuff for us to do all month.  I wrote them out on a large chalkboard in the playroom. We have a wooden Advent calendar with doors that I will eventually use, but for now, Hudson will just destroy it.

Activities included salt dough ornaments, hot chocolate, indoor snow, Christmas lights, St. Nicholas Day, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, waffle cone trees, a trip to the Galleria, Christmas stories at the library, etc..

My favorite activity from this was our St. Nicholas Day treats.  We spent the day learning about the true St. Nicholas and then we made treats for our friends.  These treats symbolized what St. Nicholas left for children in poverty years ago.  We left oranges, gold chocolate coins, nuts, Christmas tree ornament and candy canes.  We also left a poem explaining each treat as well as a print out of the story of St. Nicholas.

Salt dough ornaments

Gingerbread men with Maw Maw.

Sugar cookies. Notice he has a gun holstered in his apron.

Waffle cone trees at Dawson's house.

Lunch at the Galleria. 

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer at the library.
Gingerbread house.

Advent book:

We use a children's book titled, "The ADVENTure of Christmas." Most of our crafts and stories come from this book.  I have learned so much about our traditions and where they originated from reading this.


We are taking the giving slowly.  We desire that our family give more than we receive.  It is counter cultural for sure, and if I am honest, we totally get more than we give.

We decided to support a child from Compassion International.  We will be giving towards this all year, but we started it during the Advent season in the spirit of giving.

Hudson did an Operation Christmas child box. Next year, Clara will do one too.

We chose something from Samaritan's Purse to give towards.  This year we helped supported a cleft palate surgery in honor of Will's brother.

There are several more ideas that we have done in the past, but for one reason or another, we did not do it this year.  Last year, Will served dinner in a prison, and we supplied a goat to a family in Africa.  I would like to do something like that again next year.

Letter from Paulo in Brazil.


We do the four gift rule: Something you want, need, wear, and read.  I also started the tradition of each child giving the other child something preferably homemade.

Hudson making crayon molds for Clara.

Christmas Eve:

We are busy during Christmas.  So, we try to make Christmas Eve special for just us.  We exchange gifts on Christmas morning and also do a Happy Birthday Jesus Party!  We make cupcakes and ice cream.  This year, we did not make ice cream because we are learning Hudsons's system can not handle much sugar.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Clara-15 Months

My sweet baby is 15 months old.  Hard to believe!

She is finally walking more.  She is still unsteady and prefers to be held, but she is getting there!

She is jabbering away.  She says mama, dada, bye, baby, what is that, and who is that.

She can feed herself with a spoon.

She loves to do exactly what Hudson is doing.

She plays with toys!  Kind of new experience for us.  She loves to vroom cars, build blocks, etc..

She cries a whole lot.  Mostly because she wants me to hold her, but also when she can't express what she wants.

She will finally stay in the church nursery.  She cries when we leave her though. She cries a whole lot.  Did I mention that?

She loves Barney, Curious George, and The Wheels on the Bus.

She loves to climb.  Seriously, I guess Hudson was not a climber because I am amazed at what she tries to climb each day.

She loves to hide in our cabinets.

Love our sweet girl and look forward to continuing to watch her grow.

Hudson-My Quirky Son

This time last year was a tough time for Hudson.  He was transitioning out of a crib, potty training, starting a new school, and had a new sister.  He did not handle the change well.  He went through a very fearful stage. He cried every time we left him.  He never wanted to go to school.  He would not stay in the church nursery.  He even cried when people talked to him, even people we knew.  He was really mean to Clara, and I could not leave him alone with her for a second.

He also went deep into a few obsessions.  One of those that worried us the most was his obsessions with doors.  He would choose to open and close a door over playing with his friends.  He would choose it over the Chick-fil-a playground.  I would have to prep him before every door we encountered.  He would throw a fit if he could not keep opening and shutting it.  He was also obsessed with keys and even light switches.

I was worried.  His teachers were worried.  We had him tested for behavior/ learning disorders at Will's school, per suggestion from his teachers.

Results were inconclusive, as they often are for 2 1/2 year olds. He showed some indicators of learning issues, including autism, but nothing to be alarmed with yet.  He actually qualified for early intervention during the testing, but when they did our in home interview, they decided he did not qualify. This confused me.  I worried and cried and finally came to a place of trust and peace in God's will. Yet, I continued to pray that autism would not be the road we walked.

A year later, my sweet boy is doing great. He loves his friends.  He talks to strangers.  He plays with toys and watches movies.  He loves to go to the church nursery and stay over at his friend's house.  He jokes and laughs.  He still finds an interest in doors/ keys and other random things.  Yet, it is not an obsession.  He would rather run and play tag with children than open a door.

I am not writing this to say my son came out of autism. No, I have no walked that road like so many brave moms. My son just went through a tough time, and this world seems to be on a witch hunt for a diagnosis when someone is not conforming, including this mommy.   My son is still a quirky boy. He  is unlike any boy I have ever met, but it is the quirky ones who often impact the world the most. I have learned and am continuing to learn to embrace his differences and to celebrate him. I sadly spent the past year trying to make him conform. I tried to push him to act like his peers. As I relinquished that and stopped worrying and obsessing for him, I began to see the beauty in how God made him.

My son will still choose to carry around a glue stick rather than a toy car. He would rather hang belts on hooks rather than play with a train set. He gets super excited over candles and people's wallets.  Right now he is sleeping beside a few of his treasures. These rotate between keys, a calculator, a coin bank, a wallet, a blood sugar checker with accessories, and most recently, glue sticks and a pill bottle full of beans. This is just part of him though. He loves cars, real ones not fake ones. He is a fan of Curious George. He loves to play with his Daddy's tools and pretend with his tool set. He loves to help me cook and pretend in his kitchen. He loves to play doctor. He loves tag and hide and seek.  His memory is insane.  He can recall things that happened a year ago.  He is a whiz at his Bible memory verses!

Anyway, I decided not to put him in a MDO this year. I am in no way saying MDO is not a good thing.  It just wasn't a good thing for us and for him.  Not now anyway. I am fine with the fact that he is not ready to sit still and learn.   He is learning the way he needs to learn at this stage of his life.  He actually knows most of his letters, colors, shapes, and numbers through "on the go" learning.  We don't sit still and learn, but that doesn't mean he is not taking things in to his brain and processing them just the same.  Through all this, I have decided to let him lead his "learning" time.  The main thing is that I want to enjoy this time with him.  I want to play and imagine and have fun.  I want to him to feel loved and safe and not weird.

Sadly, I think I have made him feel weird over the past year. Weird because I felt the pressure for him to be like everyone else.  I am sorry for that, and I am done with that.

So grateful for my little boy and all of his quirks.