Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Grandma's

Christmas wrapped up at my Mom's or Onermark Gram's house as Alyce likes to say it.  The family went out earlier to do the immediate family Christmas while the extended family would show up for Christmas later.

Before we opened presents Alyce found Grandma's dancing singing snowman, set it up, and started it up.  Before long both she and Jack started dancing to "Jingle Bells" as sung by a snowman and his trusty dog.  After a while even Grandma joined in on the fun.  Kids, unlike adults, never seem to get tired of hearing the same song over and over again and this was no exception.  Alyce and Jack played and danced to the song at a minimum 10 times before we intervened as our ears were starting to bleed.  We redirected their excitement to presents!

There were two big presents for Alyce and her cousin Jack that they wanted to open first.  The kids must have learned somewhere that the biggest presents were the best and didn't want to waste time with the small stuff.  We told Alyce that she needed to wait and that we were going to open the big one last.  Alyce, not very happy about that, threw herself on the ground, started crying, and tossed her other still wrapped presents away from her.  Not knowing where that came from (lack of nap being the culprit) we decided to redirect her by having her help me open one of my presents.  That seemed to do the trick because after helping me with one she was back to unwrapping her own.  When it was time to unwrap the biggest presents Alyce and Jack were not disappointed.  Alyce and Jack both got their own Cozy Coupe!

This is when things get a bit hairy.  Jack immediately wanted Tom to open the box and assemble the coupe however, they were going to send this gift back home UPS and an assembled car is a lot more expensive to ship than an unassembled one.  I offered up Alyce's car for assembly and we could "call it" Jack's to smooth things over.  Tom and I took the coupe parts downstairs for assembly soon to be joined by our cousin Jared.  All three of us got to experience a rite of passage, the assembly of Christmas toys that were not ours.  We poured over instructions and set to work.  Even before we had the wheels on the car both Jack and Alyce were trying sit in the empty shell.  We spent just as much time keeping them away from construction and from pushing each other as we did assembling the car.  When the car was finished Tom and Jared went upstairs and I was left to be the referee of the coupe.  I made Jack and Alyce take turns riding in the coupe while I pushed them in a lap around basement.  After they had 3 turns each I had enough "kid" time and wanted some adult conversation.  I declared that the car was tired, needed to rest, and that it was time to go up.  Surprisingly I didn't have a single complaint.

Christmas dinner was a blur and none of the 7 children ages 3 and under ate much dinner.  It was amusing seeing all my cousins trying to shovel food into their children at the kids table while the grandparents were at the big kid table having calm conversation.  We managed to get a few bites into Alyce and then she was off to play with one of her other cousins who managed to sneak away from the dinner table.  Mom and I decided not to push the point and let her enjoy Christmas how she wanted and we took the opportunity to eat at our own pace.  Alyce, always the good child, didn't get into any trouble while out of our site even though we continued to check on her.

Following dinner (around 7:00) is when things started to get rough.  The youngest of the kids were starting to hit their bedtimes and crankiness was starting to set in.  Alyce's Strawberry Shortcake toy was the hit of party for 2 - 3 year old boys.  Rex and Jack both wanted to play with Alyce's toy and sometimes Alyce didn't want to part with it.  Naturally this led to a lot of tears and all parents saying to their children "you need to share".  This scene played out over and over again with different toys so much that the theme of this Christmas could have been You Need to Share.  Once the White Elephant Gift Exchange started the kids seemed to find an equilibrium and there wasn't much fighting over the toys while it was going on.

Once the gift exchange was over the spell was broken and all the kids in attendance had given up on controlling their emotions.  This was the sign for the parents in attendance that it was time to leave and get the kids off to bed.  We corralled all toys and presents into a big pile and loaded up the car the best we could.  We took our kids already in the pajammas, loaded them up into the car, and set off for home.  They were both fast asleep before we hit the interstate.  Alyce found one more use for her pig, a pillow.  In her overtired state she whined for her pig while in the carseat.  After we handed it to her Alyce wrapped her hands around it in a big hug, laid her head down on it, and was out.

Christmas: Grams and Papa

When we reached Grams and Papa's it was just about time for breakfast but before we sat down to eat Gram's let Alyce open up one present, and it was a doozy.  I've yet to see it for the proper title but Alyce refers to it the "Mouse Book".  I believe it is a book that comes with a toy mouse and the subject matter is the adventures of the mouse going through the house.  Alyce was such a huge fan of the book she barely ate any breakfast because she wanted to leave the table to go back to it.

Following breakfast, presents were exchanged and opened with the last present being the one shipped from Chris's Aunt Julie and Uncle Doug.  Mom and I have had this present at our house for weeks before Christmas but decided to wait until the 25th to open it.  We knew it was big and it was squishy but we weren't prepared for what greeted us when we finally opened it; a giant pink pig!  The pig is a soft squishy pink ball with feet, nose, and ears.  It could be used as a pillow, beanbag, or stuffed animal.  Alyce has already used it for all three.


After all the presents were exchanged and the snow stopped falling we packed up the kids, some presents, Strawberry Shortcake, the pig, and proceeded to Grandma's House.  Grams and Papa were going to catch up with us later at the big family Christmas party.


Christmas has come and gone and only now I have caught my breath to write about it.  Christmas festivities for our family consisted of three locations: our house, Grams and Papa's, and Grandma's.  With some good planning and a lot of luck, naps worked out perfectly to keep everyone happy.

The day started at our house and it was like any other day.  Alyce woke up like she always does by coming into our room.  Mom and I told that Santa might have come and there might be some presents for her.  I think she was still asleep because she didn't race down to go check them out.  Upon seeing the presents she knew that something special had happened as she asked the question "for me?".  Alyce tore into her presents unwrapping each one without any help from us.  Naturally she focused on the toys she received and glossed over the princess sheets for her bed.  Whenever a toy was opened she wanted us to open it up so she could play with it.  Maybe we should have just gotten her one gift?  The present Alyce was most excited about and the subject of an earlier post was Strawberry Shortcake.  Strawberry Shortcake, her tricycle, and dog were going to be a big hit for the rest of the day.  After the presents were opened we zoomed out of the house to Grams and PaPa's for more presents and breakfast.

Alyce's Painting

For Christmas Alyce received some Crayola Color Wonder Paints from Grandma. And I think they are wonderful! The paint is like gel and it's clear until you put it on special paper. Which means paint doesn't get everywhere. It's great!

Here are a couple pictures of her painting.

And her first final project:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Firsts

This year has had a lot of firsts for Alyce but it has also had a lot of firsts for Mom and I.  This year is the first year that we had to play the Santa game.  We had to watch what we say around Alyce when we were talking about what to get her.  We had to wrap her presents in secret so she wouldn't see what she was getting.  When wrapping family gifts in front of her we had to make sure to keep some rolls of wrapping paper out of sight and out of use so that she couldn't but it together that Santa uses the same paper we use.

Another nice Christmas first was that we put out some Christmas cookies and milk for Santa before Alyce went to bed.  Alyce seemed to get a real kick out of this.  We had been out most of the day and she was falling apart.  Having her bring a plate full of cookies and milk put her wheels back on and allowed us to get her to bed without too many more tears.  All of this cookie business marks a special occasion for Mom and I.  It is the first year that we've gotten to eat the Santa cookies.  This feels like a real accomplishment.  Like I'm walking down the road that all parent's have walked before and I'm learning all the lesson's they've learned before.

The Christmas Season

Mom and I took Alyce to go see Santa earlier this week.  We weren't planning on doing it this year.  We had tried two years ago for fun and it ended with Alyce in tears.  This year Alyce hadn't mentioned wanting to see Santa so we were going to let it slide.  Well last weekend that changed as Alyce asked to see Santa.  We took her to the Mall on Tuesday to see Santa.   The trip was a great success!  Alyce waited in line patiently, sat in Santa's lap without tears, and smiled for a picture.  When she was done we asked her if she told Santa what she wanted, she said yes, and that she wanted "Strawberry Cake" for Christmas.  Strawberry Cake is her way of saying Strawberry Shortcake the toy/doll.

This new bit of information brought us to a scary realization; we hadn't gotten her anything Strawberry Shortcake.  Alyce had talked about getting something of that toy line but that was because of some toys she received in a Mc donald's Happy Meal.  We didn't think she was really serious when she would point to it on the advertisement and say "want that".  Also there are many small pieces that come with anything Strawberry Shortcake so we decided to pass.  Big mistake on our part.  Mom and I decided that we should get a least one small thing to reinforce that magic that Santa is out there and paying attention.  I picked up something that night from Toys R Us.  It will be interesting to see how she reacts tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hot Dog Dance

Last night we hung out at Josh and Tammy's house.  While we were sitting around talking the kids were playing with all of Gideon's toys.  Gideon was very gracious with his toys.  He would bring some toys over for Alyce to play with and once she started playing with them he would get jealous and take them back.

One toy that garnered a lot of attention was Gideon's step stool. This wasn't a normal step stool, this was a Mickey Mouse step stool!  It had stickers of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy on it.  Once Alyce saw this stool she had to get on it and dance and sing the Hot Dog Dance.  The Hot Dog Dance is a song and dance that plays at the end of every episode of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club House.  Tammy was quick on the draw and took a video of Alyce and sent it on to me to share with the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tree Farm

A few weeks we joined Mom's parents and their neighbor's Trent, Lisa, and Shelby on a trip to get a Christmas Tree.  Shelby's friend Claire also tagged along.  Starting last year we got a fake tree due to size constraints in our living room.  We still like to make the trip to help us get into the Christmas spirit.

The weather this year unlike some previous years cooperated.  It was really cold but as long as it isn't raining and the ground isn't wet we can manage.  Alyce was pretty fired up about going to the tree farm.  One of the reasons for her excitement was that she got to ride to the farm in T&L's van with all the other ladies.  While waiting for the tractor to come around Alyce rode on a mini train that was being pulled around the farm. Shelby and Clair were there to watch her so I didn't even have to cram on board.

The tractor ride to the field was pretty intense.  This year the field on top of a hill above the store was open.  This requires a five minute ride on a trailer where you would fall out that back if you weren't holding on.  Alyce was enjoying every minute of it by looking all around and especially at the tractor.

Stalking the trees didn't take very long this year.  The intense cold had something to do with speed up T&L's decision.  Alyce didn't hang that close to us while strolling around.  Pushing Luke in his stroller around a field isn't easy or quick and Shelby was moving quite a bit faster.  Alyce was very well behaved.  She didn't run off and didn't complain once about the cold.  There might have been a few gripes when her mitten fell off or needed to blow her nose but nothing major.  I think Alyce was taking a lot of ques from Shelby and modeling her behavior on hers.  After the tree was felled we took a few pictures and headed back to the warmth.

Back in the store we were finally able to unbundle, get warm, and take some more pictures.  We couldn't hang around too long though; the place was closing and we needed to head out to Onermark Grams' house.  We let Alyce ride the train one last time, packed up the kids in the car, and headed out.  Both kids fell asleep on the hour long trip and I think they needed it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer


Artwork courtesy of Alyce. Take note of her proper placement of the magnets. Who knew Rudolf had a brother with a blue nose?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reading a book.

Last week, maybe even two weeks ago Alyce did something that left me speechless.  Speechless both from surprise and because I didn't need to say anything.  Alyce read a book to me.  Well she really didn't read the book.  She had heard it so many times she knew all the words to it and recited it from memory.  The book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  The "Brown Bear" book as Alyce likes to call it is one of our favorites.  Mom and I like it because it is short and we can get her to bed quicker than if we have to read something difficult like Dr. Seuss books.  Fox in Sox is its own form of torture if you attempt to read it quickly.  The book comes with a warning.

As I laid next to her and opened up the book Alyce just starts saying "brown bear brown bear what do you see?" and then continues "I see a ....".  This is when I have to turn to the next page to show her the next animal.  The page after the bear has a red bird.  Once she sees the red bird she finishes the sentence by saying "red bird looking at me".  She recites the rest of the book correctly identifying the yellow duck, blue horse, green frog, purple cat, white dog, black sheep, and goldfish.  You could tell by the look in her eyes and the tone in her voice that she was proud of her accomplishments.  Me gushing with praise probably helped.

That's Culvers

Last week the family was out and about doing some Christmas shopping.  As we were going down the highway we passed a restaurant we frequent, Culver's.  Alyce was looking out the window at the time and said "that's Culver's"!  After we confirmed her statement she went on to say "I get hots dog and ice cream there".  We then asked her what her favorite ice cream was.  Cookie dough was her response.  She has good taste.  Hot dogs and cookie dough.

Friday, December 11, 2009

School Pictures


Last week we received Alyce's school pictures.  The group picture is of all of Alyce's classmates.  The lucky or unlucky boy considering who you ask is Owen and the blonde with the white sweater is Aleana.  From the reports I get from Mom when she drops off Alyce at school Alyce is Aleana's friend as she can't keep talking about Alyce to her mother.  Alyce, however, barely makes mention of her so I can't say if the friendship is reciprocal.  I do hear that they play together at the playground so I would guess that Alyce considers her a friend as well.  Ms. Maria is their teacher. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Lights

This year Alyce is celebrating her first Christmas.  This year Alyce is getting the Christmas excitement.  She doesn't understand the real meaning of Christmas yet but she has the idea that something special is going on.  The most visible aspect of Alyce's interest in Christmas is Christmas lights.

Alyce is a big fan of Christmas lights.  Whenever we are out and about at night she points out each and every house to us; saying things like "pretty lights", "Christmas lights", "ooh pretty ones", "look over there at that one".  Words can't describe the excitement in her voice.  Just yesterday Mom setup the lights inside the house as part of the Christmas decorations.  When Alyce came down from her nap she was all about the Christmas lights.  She was so distracted by them she barely ate any dinner and left the table early to look at them some more.

During all of this Alyce did learn a new feeling or at least a name for it, fear.  When the first lights were being put up after Thanksgiving we asked Alyce what she thought of them.  She said that they scared her in a scared voice.  She wouldn't elaborate as to why they were scary but after we told her that the light's were pretty and fun, and not scary she seemed to be ok with them then.  Well she is ok with most of them.  Whenever we go past a house or business with lots of blue light she says that she doesn't like those.  Who knows what goes through the mind of a three year old?

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Car Seat

A few weeks ago Alyce got a new car seat.  She didn't need a new car seat, Luke did.  Luke, now 8 months old has grown out of his 32lb pumpkin seat and is in need of a real car seat.  Alyce, luckily, is now within the height / weight range of booster seat.  So we decided to move Alyce onto a new seat and give Luke her hand me down.  Yes this is yet another hand me down Luke gets of Alyce's but at least he won't be able to wear any of her old clothing.

Alyce's new car seat is an EvenFlo "Big Kid" booster seat.  It has an removable / adjustable back, two drink cup holders, and flip up armrests.  The most important feature of this new seat is that Alyce gets to use big kids seat belts.  No longer do we have to attach the car seat to the car and then her to the car seat.  Now we can just plop Alyce on the booster and with a single click she is good to go.  Because it doesn't need to be mounted to the car we can switch her car seat to another car in about 30 seconds; a feature we've already used.  The whole point of a booster seat is to get a kids smaller body in the same position an adult would be to make full use of a 3 point seat belt hence why it doesn't need to be attached to the car.

Since the first time Alyce viewed her new seat she has been in love with it.  Every time she gets into the car she says out loud "I'm going to get into my new big kid car seat" or "that's my new car seat".  I think she likes the idea of using the adult seat belts rather than the car seat's 5 point harness.  It does provide her with some additional mobility that I think she enjoys.  Alyce is also a big fan of the arm rests.  There is one downside to this booster compared to her old car seat and that is there isn't a good way to sleep.  With her old seat it wrapped around her and she could lean into one side or the other, rest her head, and fall asleep.  With the new seat there isn't a lot for her head to rest on so she doesn't sleep much in the car or when she does she doesn't stay asleep for very long.  That being said with her now being three missing a nap isn't as big as a deal as it used to be and if she doesn't take a nap in the car she won't be ruined for the rest of the day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Daddy Those are Butterflies

Two nights ago after I gave Alyce her bath it was time to get her dressed.  She is old enough now to have an opinion on what she wants to wear and if we can accommodate without jumping through hoops we do.  Well Alyce wanted to wear her blue "Super Cozy" jamas.  A super cozy set of pajamas is a set of footy pjs made out of soft fleece material.  Sadly I had to tell her that the blue super cozy jamas were dirty and in the laundry. 

After after voicing her dismay she put on normal set of pink pjs with butterflies on them without any more complaining.  This pink set however didn't have any feet on them so I asked Alyce if she wanted some socks.  She responded with yes and that she wanted some pink socks to match her outfit.  As an aside she has been really big into pointing out things that match.  A few days ago she mentioned that my blue jeans matched the blue chair in the living room.  I told her to go pick out some socks from her drawer, she walks over, opens the drawer, and pulls out some pink socks.  I mention to her that she made a good choice and that they match the flowers on her jamas.  If you've been paying attention you would have noticed that I said flowers on her pjs where in fact it was butterflies.  Well Alyce didn't miss my characterization and said matter-of-factly "daddy those are butterflies on my jamas not flowers".  I corrected myself and said that yes those are butterflies not flowers.  After Alyce told me a second time that they were butterflies she was satisfied and moved on towards bedtime.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Alyce's Parenting Advice for Jake

A few weeks ago I was bringing Alyce upstairs for her bath and then bed.  Entering the kid's bathroom I saw that Jake had gotten into the trash and I said to no one in particular, "Jake Man!".  Alyce turned around, goes down the stairs until she could see Jake on the ottoman, and said "Jake's a bad boy".

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