Monday, December 31, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Season

The plethora of photos and videos are to make up for my lack of actual words written lately. But we are finally digging ourselves out from under the pile of Christmas presents, cookies, and decorations, so here we go!

Christmas seemed to come so fast this year. Shawn and I made a pact to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday season. I try to get the majority of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, so I do not have to face the mall, traffic, or the hordes of people in December. I am proud to say that goal was accomplished at least. But there are still always the zillion last-minute runs to Target and the grocery store. And, after bemoaning the fact that Walgreens was actually advertising it would be open on Christmas Day (my words: "Isn't Christmas sacred anymore? Who needs to be at Walgreens on Christmas Day. The tin foil can wait."), I had to eat my words with a run to Walgreens on, yes, Christmas Day for the batteries and baby food that Santa forgot to bring.

This year, I had to remind myself over and over to SIMPLIFY. That was my Christmas theme. And we did. We cut back on the amount of gift exchanges we were involved in. We went to one less Christmas party. We decided not to put out all the Christmas decorations this year, but just a select few. Shawn and I even instituted a 2-gift rule for each other. I admit that at times I was still overwhelmed by everything that needed to get done before Christmas (or I felt needed to get done) and had a couple of Christmas panics. But, on the whole, I feel like we did very well in keeping the chaos to a minimum, the consumerism at bay, and the true meaning of Christmas in abundance. Several nights, we packed the kids in the car after dinner and drove around admiring Christmas lights. I baked more cookies this year than I ever have. And not by buying the mix at the store that you add water and an egg to, which I did last year in a feeble attempt to make some cookies. Everything was from scratch - lemon squares, M&M cookies, special Christmas brownies, sugar cookies, you name it. We faithfully lit the candles of our Advent wreath every night, reading Bible passages and singing songs as we prepared ourselves for the birth of Jesus. Jamie and Clare did extra good deeds throughout Advent, and we wrote them down nightly on little slips of paper to put them in a special Jesus stocking we hung on the tree. They then bought baby Jesus a birthday present (this year he received a stuffed pony), which was carefully wrapped. Both the stocking and present were left under the tree on Christmas Eve. This was the first year Jamie started singing Christmas carols and learned "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" by heart. Instead of her normal "hi," Clare greeted everyone with "ho ho ho." Simon was the only child who was all smiles sitting on Santa's lap. Now we are counting down the twelve days of Christmas until January 6, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Feast of the Three Kings, when the wisemen came to pay homage to Jesus. (Which also happens to be Shawn's birthday!) That will be when our Christmas season truly ends.

I want my children to remember the traditions we have in our family surrounding Christmas. They may not remember that this was the year that Santa brought Jamie the ninja turtle van or Clare her baby doll stroller or Simon his train, but I hope they remember the joy, fun, laughter, and wonder we had getting ready for Christmas. I know I will.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and holy Christmas this year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cookies


It brought a smile to my face, so sharing some Christmas joy and music with you.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Experiences in a Waiting Room

I had to bring Simon to the pediatrician’s yesterday for his flu shot booster. While I was there, I popped into Clare’s cardiology office to see if they would do a blood pressure check for me (the luxury of having Clare’s specialists right next door to the pediatrician). We have been monitoring Clare’s blood pressure at home, but Shawn’s machine is out on loan right now. It has been ten days since we have been able to check her blood pressure. The last time we checked, her top number was still 130, so I wanted to alleviate that concern. Thankfully, it was down to 109. The increased dose must have finally kicked in!

Upon exiting the doctor’s office, I was busy bundling the kids back up in their jackets, hats, mittens, in the waiting room. I had noticed two women sitting in the chairs – one in her 50's, the other probably around 30. Clare was walking around making friends with a little boy on the other side when the older of the two women suddenly asked me, “Does your daughter have Williams syndrome?” Shocked, I replied, “Yes, she does!” That is when the younger woman piped up, “I have Williams syndrome, too!” I took a closer look at this well-groomed, beautifully-coiffed (what a great word!), beaming woman. And sure enough, behind her glasses, I could see the puffy eyes. I saw the button nose. She had a wide smile with gorgeous teeth. She instantly started cooing over Clare and Simon. I had tons upon tons of questions flashing through my brain (Do you live with your mother? Are you here to see the cardiologist? Did you have your teeth done?) but clamped down on the urge to let them spill out, not wanting to be rude and nosy. Instead, we exchanged small talk as I continued to gear up Simon and Clare. The mother stated that she could tell instantly from the moment we walked into the waiting room that Clare had Williams syndrome. The daughter told me that Clare looked just like she did at that age, with the same curly hair. I did not get any answers to the burning questions in my mind, but, strangely enough, I did receive some peace in my heart. A little glimpse into what the future would be like – me bringing Clare to the cardiologist’s, even when she was 30 years old. And it wasn’t so bad.

On another note, Clare has made the transition out of the crib. One of our goals upon leaving Louisville was to transfer Clare into the toddler bed. When we arrived home, Shawn set up the bed in Jamie and Clare’s bedroom. Our plan was to leave both the bed and crib in there for about a month, and then slowly have Clare start transitioning into the bed. (This is how we transitioned Jamie out of the crib.) That night, however, Clare refused to go in the crib. “No, no, no,” she yelled. Shawn asked her where she wanted to sleep. She emphatically pointed to the toddler bed. And that was that – her crib days were over. Shawn snapped this photo a couple nights after Clare stopped sleeping in the crib. It is a bittersweet milestone to watch your once baby girl sleeping in her big girl bed. Or at least near it. (And, yes, the mess is Clare’s post-bedtime mess that she likes to make before falling asleep on the floor at night. And the big lump of pillows, blankets, and animals on the left is Jamie somewhere.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007


In searching my photos for a good one of Clare to submit to the Williams Syndrome Association for their annual Valentine Fund, I came across this one. My friend Jamie (who is an amazing photographer) captured it during apple picking in October. It is so gorgeous and my baby is so gorgeous, it just brought me so much joy. I wanted to share it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Heart Huckabee!

S~Living in NH at this time it is hard to not get involved in Politics...
Here is a picture of me asking Mike Huckabee about his Healthcare plan.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Quest for a Perfect Christmas Photo

I love sending photo cards of the children at Christmas. So I am constantly on the look-out for a great photo. Being in WV this Thanksgiving, the kids were all dressed to match and my grandmother's house is beautiful. Perfect!

Almost passable except for the semi-smile from Clare, the fake smile from Jamie, and Simon slowly slipping away from his brother.

Take Two: Now the boys look happy, but what is with that face from Clare??

So photo-taking at my grandmother's house was a bust. No need to fear. While we were staying with my sister and her husband in New Jersey on the way home, we visited the spectacular Longwood Gardens. These gardens were incredible and there were a plethora of possible photo sites. Here we go...

I loved this Christmas tree display. However, I was not crazy about the fact that the kids were wearing their outerwear. Plus the whole standing idea did not work.

Let's try sitting down. Nope, Clare just wanted to stand. Jamie did a great job holding Simon, but Simon was too distracted by the flowers and lights.

We finally find a display that is not only gorgeous, but located right at a bench (no standing, no sitting on the floor). We are inside the warm conservatory of gardens and the kids actually match (and not on purpose).
By this time, we have been touring the gardens for close to three hours. The kids are exhausted and are on Day Nine of our road trip. Jamie was definitely done with the day, Clare is trying to catch shadows, and Simon, I am not sure what's going on in his little head.
After promises that this is the absolutely last photo stop, cajoling for smiles, and lots of aunties saying "Jamie," "Clare," "Simon," we finally get smiles from all three. Too bad Clare has Simon in a choke hold.
And then poking his eyes. And now I am done and calling it a night. The quest continues...