Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best Christmas!

The day I got engaged was "the best day of my life".  Then my wedding day became "the best day of my life".  Then the day Eric and I were both home safe from Iraq became "the best day of my life".  The day we found out we were pregnant soon took over, followed by the day Maddie was born.  Isn't it funny how that works?  Well, Christmas 2009 is going to be REALLY hard to top as the best Christmas ever! 

The fun stuff began on Christmas Eve when we started a new family tradition.  We started buying an ornament for each of us to open on Christmas Eve.  I picked out "Mommy's Artist" for Maddie,

a travel bag, or carry-on for Eric (symbolizing his 100,000+ miles he's flown since April this year)  Eric, please comment with your total, I know it was over 100,000!

and a Mommy and Baby bear having storytime for myself.  (Yes, I picked out my took the pressure off Eric and I was sure to get one I liked)  :)

We also picked out a special ornament for my mom since she was here, but she took it home so I don't have a picture...
Here's Maddie with her ornament.

And touching Grandma's ornament.

Then on to Christmas morning...Maddie kind of understood the concept of Santa, in her own little 18 month old mind.  She knew that Santa brought her presents, but she never asked to see him or asked "go?" (as in, where did he go?).  (A week after Christmas she's still saying Santa when she plays with her kitchen and some of her toys).  She was such a joy to watch on Christmas morning.  The first toy she opened was her "favorite". 

She played with it a while before moving on to open another present.  In fact, I think we had to actually MAKE her leave the first toy alone so she could open more.  She probably would've been fine with just one present.  But...we couldn't stop with one :)  So we got her to open more...

Mommy and Daddy had to help with a few just to keep her moving at a pace that would get us through all the presents in one day (ok, that made it sound like there were a lot more presents than there were...)

Then Daddy helped her open this book from Aunt Laura.  It's a potty book and she is SO into it!  Eric read it to her once right away, then we read it to her a couple more times Christmas day and finally I had to HIDE it from her so I could get a break from it :)  Plus, it's paper pages and she's not quite ready for those books all by herself yet...

Then Maddie got a really sweet handmade "Old World" costume from Auntie Nancy.  Eric just couldn't resist trying on the hat...(it's elastic in the back, that's how it fit over his big head :))

Then we moved on to the playroom.  What could possibly be under this big blanket?!?!  :)

It was a last minute gift that we found for a SUPER deal and just couldn't resist...

The first thing she had to do was wash her hands.  She's been obsessed with washing her hands since she saw this kitchen.  It's good to know I'm setting a good example :)
One more pose with the kitchen...


Potica is a special holiday tradition in Eric's family.  I had never heard of it until the first time I met his family at Christmas 2003.  Eric really enjoys it and looks forward to it when we go to visit his family so I wanted to attempt to make it for him for Christmas this year since we weren't visiting with his family...and this way it is becoming a tradition we'll pass down to our children.  I was a little nervous before I attempted making this bread since I have a history of having really bad luck when it comes to rolling any type of usually sticks to everything and I end up scraping it in the trash.  Well, luckily the Potica turned out.  Here are some pictures of the process:

This is the walnut, butter, vanilla, egg white filling

Here's the dough all ready to roll out

The dough rolled out, I probably could've made it bigger and more even, but I know for next time!

The filling spread out over the dough

 I just realized I didn't take a picture of it rolled up :(

The FOUR loaves of Potica, in the oven starting to bake

Mmmmm....all done.  Apparently it's a good thing when it splits on the side like this, I thought I messed up!

The sliced Potica on Christmas morning

A close up.  Yummy!

Maddie is an official Slovenian!  She really enjoyed the Potica, although she called it "cake".  :)

We all enjoyed the Potica!  We finished one whole loaf in about 3 days, I sent a loaf home with my mom to share with other family members, and we have two loaves in the freezer.  Maybe I'll get one out to have with Maddie for New Year's!

Oh, What a Year!

2009 has been one insane year!  This was our first full year as a family of three :)  This was the year that Maddie experienced so many of her "firsts".  She crawled in 2009, she pulled up, she cruised, she learned to walk.  She has learned so much!  She's already learning her ABC's, she's counting to 13 (maybe not in the right order...), she knows her colors at about a 90% accuracy and her imagination has blossomed in 2009!  Just the other day she was crawling around and growling and said she was a lion.  The sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "ABC's", and "Jingle Bells", some parts to E-I-E-I-O and "Itsy Bitsy Spider".  She also sings in her lion voice!  It's so adorable!!!  During 2009 Maddie also learned to go down a slide all by herself!  She's started climbing up in the kitchen chairs (later than most kids, but I'm not complaining about that!!)  She has already used the potty in 2009...but maybe 2010 will bring the end of diapers, no rush on that so we'll see.  On a physical note, Maddie has gained 9 pounds and 6.25 inches through 2009.  Her hair is growing like crazy (FINALLY!) and she's just your average active toddler.  Maddie has started to "tease".  When I tell her to come to me (to get her jacket on, change her diaper, get dressed, etc.) she looks at me, laughs and runs away.  I REFUSE to chase her, that will only make a bigger game out of it.  She has just really gotten the most fun sense of humor in her young age.  She laughs if we sing the wrong words to one of "her" songs, she's just too smart!  One of the nicest things about Maddie that has come about in 2009 is her ability to entertain herself in her crib!  Like right now, for instance, she's been awake for about 30 minutes but I've been messing around in the kitchen and blogging so she's just sitting up there singing and playing in her crib.  She's so pleasant in the mornings!  She'll only cry if she's woken up suddenly (like a loud noise from outside) or if her diaper is about to explode.  She still loves her Snuggly...we now carry Snuggly with us everywhere we go.  Maybe this is a bad thing, maybe it's not.  We'll never really know for sure.  Some people might judge me for it, but this is her security and her best friend so I'm going to let her have it until she feels she's ready to be without it.  Yesterday morning she lost her Snuggly just before 5am in her crib.  I watched her in the video monitor as she was moving her blanket around trying to find it.  She fussed for about 10 minutes, didn't find it and went back to sleep without her Snuggly or her thumb!!!  When I went up to get her around 7, Snuggly was on the floor.  I was proud of her for being about to go back to sleep without it :)

During 2009 I've learned so much.  I've learned to seriously pick my battles.  I'm learning to be more carefree and think about what's REALLY important.  I have a very happy, friendly, unselfish baby girl to enjoy every day...if that means the laundry sits in the dryer overnight then I'm ok with that :)  I'm realizing that she's not going to be my little girl forever.  She's already grown and changed so much, I can only imagine what she's going to be like next December...  I'm also learning that it's ok if things don't go my way :)  But it's also ok if things don't go Maddie's way.  I guess that's a typical "mother of a toddler" skill you have to learn...COMPROMISE.  I'm enjoying it, though.  My biggest lesson this year has been patience...although I'm sure that lesson will continue throughout my life!  I'm learning to be patient with Maddie when she wants to be silly and I want to be serious.  I'm learning patience when she wants to "help" and it's actually creating more work for me.  I'm learning to be patient while she learns to "use her words" instead of screaming in frustration.  My biggest struggle in the patience department comes when I'm trying to cook a meal and Maddie wants to eat "NOW".  She tells me "hurry" now...nice, huh?  :)

2009 has been an overall struggle for our family, even with the many blessings we've had.  In April Eric took a job overseas.  He works for 8 weeks, then comes home for 3 weeks.  It's a blessing in that we're financially secure now.  We don't have to worry QUITE as much as we did when Eric was working in Houston.  But the job is also really hard because Eric is missing out on watching his baby girl grow up, and the two of us are missing out on being together.  (In our 5 years, almost 10 months of being married we've only lived together in the same house for 1 year, 9 months).  2010 will bring this same schedule, pending any major changes to his contract, so we're just trying to get used to it as much as possible.  But every time Eric leaves, it gets harder and harder.  He just left this past Monday and Tuesday morning Maddie was already crying asking for Daddy.  It will only get harder as she starts to get an understanding of time...8 weeks is FOREVER to a toddler! 

Tonight Maddie and I will ring in the New Year 6 hours after fancy plans, I just plan on putting her to bed at her usual 7pm-ish and I will go to be around my usual 10:30 and pray Maddie sleeps through the fireworks!  If she doesn't, I guess we'll ring in 2010 in our rocking chair in Maddie's room...there could be MUCH worse ways to celebrate a new year!

My hopes for 2010...I hope to get more "me" time.  I REALLY need to get better about setting my alarm so I can have my peace and quiet before Maddie gets up.  I need a really good devotional so I can have my alone time to pray and mentally prepare for the day (and a much-needed cup of coffee) before Maddie even starts to stir in her crib.  I'm going to work on that...if I can manage to get that to last through January, then I'll work on another resolution for February :)

What are your "resolutions" or hopes for the new year?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

God Bless You!

Today Maddie was playing upstairs while I was putting away her laundry.  She found some shoes that are too small for her and brought one to me.  I said, "that's a blue shoe".  Maddie responded by saying "ahhh...ahhh...ahhh-choo".  Silly girl :)  She always finds a way to make me laugh!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Amazing Baby Girl

My sweet Madeline is 18 months old today.  I know people say it all the time but...where has the time gone?!?!  I just can't believe I am just 6 months away from having a 2 year old.  Amazing!  This baby girl continues to amaze me on a daily basis.  Here are some of my favorite things...

1.  She's such a happy girl.  Maddie doesn't just get angry or grumpy for no reason.  When she's playing alone, she's happy.  When she's eating, she's happy.  When she's doing pretty much ANYTHING, she's happy.  She just sings and plays and goes off into her own little world in her imagination :)  She's so sweet.

2.  She has the most incredible imagination!  When Maddie was born I was thinking how much fun it was going to be when she started playing with dolls and stuffed animals, or just REALLY started to interact with her toys.  I thought she'd be at least 2, maybe even close to 3.  Never did I imagine she would basically be playing "mommy" by 18 months old!  She feeds her animals and dolls, puts them to bed (complete with a "snuggly"), covers them up, pats them and says "shhh shhh", and sings her naptime song to them (Nap-t, Nap-t, close eyes, close eyes)  :) 

3.  She remembers things I have forgotten!  Let's just say I'll never be able to tell Maddie "we'll go to the park tomorrow" and think I can get away without taking her...even at this young of an age she remembers things from over a month ago that we haven't done since then.  If we take a few weeks off from the library or The Little Gym, she still doesn't forget.  When I ask her if she wants to go to the library for story time she says "bear", "toys".  When I tell her we're going to The Little Gym tomorrow she says "beam", "Patty", "ball", "yellow", "kick", "bells", "roll", "hands", "stamps".  :)  She's so cool!

4.  I love that she randomly breaks out in song.  Her favorites are Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs, Naptime (Yo Gabba Gabba song), and Ring Around the Rosey. 

5.  She LOVES animals!  Maddie has no fear of animals.  She loves dogs especially.  Last weekend we encountered a questionable Pit Bull and Maddie cried when I wouldn't let her pet it.  Now, before you judge me...let me explain.  I'm a firm believer in judging a dog by its owner, not its breed.  I'm not worried about letting Maddie touch a Pit Bull any more than her touching a Poodle.  However, this dog had JUST attacked another dog thereby proving it was unpredictable!  Back to Maddie's love of animals...she has two little stuffed dogs that she has named Patches and Murphy (yes, after our dog).  She wants to play with these dogs all day!  She holds them up to the window to show them what's going on outside, she feeds them, changes their diapers (I know...), puts them to sleep, and has them sleep with her in her crib for naps and at bedtime (except tonight she wanted them to sleep in the chair...).

Ok, there is a lot more that I love about Maddie but I need to get off of this computer and get downstairs to clean up the kitchen from dinner.  BLAH.  I like putting it off, but that just makes me get to bed way too late!

I'll leave you with two pictures we got in the snow yesterday!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The "man" in Red

Maddie got to see Santa today!!!  One of the moms in our playgroup has a Santa costume so she dressed up to have some photos taken with the kids today.  It was pretty insane, to say the least.  I'm pretty sure all of the toddlers cried at Santa.  What a mess!  Maddie is already shy around new people so this "guy" really freaked her out.  Here are some pictures of the madness...

The first glimpse of Santa coming into the room.

Santa was talking to the kids

Who is this person and I why can't I see "his" face?

Hiding around the corner

One of the more decent shots of her with Santa...blurry but at least I got this one.

Uh oh!  I thought Santa was gone!