The girls had their Christmas music program at pre-school today and Santa Claus made a surprise appearance! Since they've never liked Santa before, I wasn't expecting anything different but I guess seeing all their classmates cozy up to the big guy made them rethink their opinion of him. When their name was called, they could hardly wait to scramble up onto his lap and tell him their heart's greatest desire (roller skates).
Afterward, they each got a little gift bag and Gwen quickly ripped into hers and loudly (but politely) explained what she saw to be the obvious problem:
".... 'cuse me, Santa. This is a puzzle. It's not roller skates in here!"
I hurried over to her and whispered in her ear about Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve with a big sack of presents over his shoulder and she nodded, then threw Santa a little wink, and said "Never mind!"
Yes, my 4 year old actually winked at Santa! He laughed and I couldn't help but notice that his belly really shook like a bowl full of jelly!
At the top of my Wish List this year was a family photo. Something even more important since it's likely to be our last (for a while) to include Michael because he's planning to move 600 miles south in just a few months.
We took more than 400 photos with the usual 5% to 10% "keeper" rate. These were my favorite five. As always, click any of them to see a larger view.
Aunt Laura sent a package for Gwen and Maddy and they were pretty thrilled to see the wrapped present and didn't even insist on opening them. Just look at those beautiful faces! (above)
Here's a goofy fun casual family photo. Really, this best reflects our family because there's always some degree of goofy fun taking place!
Here's Michael and his girlfriend, Kelsey. She's a real sweetheart and they're such a cute couple!
Back in November of last year, Maddy discovered scissors and the simple joy of performing her own precision haircut. It was her first exposure to scissors so we understood the attraction/motivation and we were sure we'd be able to effectively communicate to her the perils of cutting her own hair and keep it from happening again. Nearly 13 months (and 4 corrective haircuts) later, we're revisiting this particular chapter of her life and trying to figure out where the heck we failed.
(click image for larger view)
Fortunately, she's got a spectacularly lovely face so having a half shaved head only enhances that. When I asked her what happened, her little Elfin face scrunched up and big round tears poured down her cheeks. She obviously knew that she wasn't supposed to cut her own hair but I guess she hoped she'd done a good enough job of it to not draw criticism. When the praise fell through, she was completely devastated and just sobbed into my shoulder for several minutes.
I 'fixed' her hair by selecting a section of long hair behind her original bangs and combing it forward then trimming it off to bang length. It's not perfect but it makes a huge difference! I know someday we're going to laugh about all of this so we're starting early and laughing about it now!
As luck would have it, Gwen woke up this morning (Dec 11) and is hive free! The only evidence that she had hives yesterday is the minor skin damage she created when she was doing all that crazy scratching! Thanks so much to everyone who commented with ideas about what might have caused this or how we can help her find relief from the itching. I do think it had something to do with a cold/bug/virus we've all been passing around lately. Hopefully it's gone for good!
Gwen woke up this morning with one small raised welt on her upper thigh and, within an hour, the welts spread all over her torso. I took her to the Doctor and they confirmed that she has hives but we're at a complete loss over what caused them. She's not been on any medication and her diet has been dreadfully consistent (as always). No food allergy. Also, no new soap, laundry detergent or shampoo. What could possibly be causing this? Has anyone dealt with it before and, if so, what helps to ease the itching? We've been on Benadryl all day and it's not helping!
The girls started showing signs that they were ready to abandon naps completely when they were three. But skipping a nap usually meant that they'd fall asleep somewhere or sometime very inconvenient and that almost always screwed up their bedtime and put us into a vicious cycle of grumpy kids, missed naps, unscheduled naps, and ruined bedtime rituals. Then the next morning they were exhausted and the cycle would start all over again.
We fixed this by pushing their nap time out by an hour or two to help ensure they were good and tired when their head finally hit the pillow and we never - ever - let them sleep past their scheduled nap time (even if they just fell asleep 10 minutes earlier). But, as the video below shows, even a perfect plan doesn't always work perfectly. By the way, she fell asleep five minutes after this video so she still got a nice nap in spite of the crazy Jingle Bells that were madly playing in her cute little head!
For anyone who cares, here's the sleep schedule that has worked perfectly for us since Gwen and Maddy turned 3:
Morning Wake Up: 7:15 AM
Nap: 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Bedtime: 8:45 PM
Prior to age 3, we had a similar schedule but nap time started one or two hours earlier.
We can't force them to sleep during these times but we can (and do) insist that they stay in their room and have quiet time during these hours. They're free to play with any toys we put in there but they can't leave the room. And we keep a portable potty chair in there too (so they can't constantly demand to be let out to go potty). For all our tenacity and consistency, we have two little girls who know when it's time for bed and happily march in there and climb in bed and blow us kisses as we close their door. And they stay put. They just don't know any other reality because nothing else has ever been allowed. We never have nighttime drama or visits from little sleepy people who want to snuggle at 3:00 AM. We do all our snuggling at 7:15 each morning when the whole family meets in Mommy and Daddy's bed. Not even the cat dares to break the routine and join us before then.
Since they're older, we do sometimes fudge on their nap start time (if we're traveling, for example) but we always make sure they get a nap. We know we'll need to continue to tweak the schedule a bit here and there because the girls obviously have different sleep requirements as they get older but we know they still need their nap now. Most experts agree that kids under age five absolutely need a nap and most never get the 12 to 14 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period that their body requires. The fact that kids will fall asleep in the middle of their dinner (face down in the mashed potatoes!) is proof!