Monday, December 28, 2009

The aftermath

I love the wind-down period after Christmas. Lazy days hanging out at home, letting the kids play with their toys and taking showers late in the morning. It's taken me awhile to come down from the Christmas stress plateau. I blame that characteristic on my Mother. There's just lots for a Mom/wife to do for the holidays. I'm not saying that the Dad/husbands don't prepare for the holidays but for the most part the baking/shopping/wrapping/shipping/photo taking/organizing/planning falls on my shoulders. On one hand I love it all and that's why I do it but on the other hand it's tough to accomplish with two little kiddos. Thank goodness Justin made me more than a few mugs of hot cocoa this year and forced me to sit down and watch our Christmas movies in the evenings!

The best part of the aftermath is watching Addie and Bella with their news toys! So much fun.
Bella with her new lovie (I am hoping she falls in love with it so I have to order another*fingers crossed*)Me and the girls with pink tutus on Princess birthday partyCinderella edition of Pretty Pretty PrincessOne seriously cool Dad who plays this girlie game with his daughter (he said he felt like Elton John and sang us "Tiny Dancer"

Christmas swim

I'm over the fact that it's not cold during Christmas here in Manila. In fact, I love that I am still wearing shorts and tank tops in December. The day after Christmas we took a swim! The non-traditional moments make the best memories. I mean, come on, swimming the day after Christmas! Crazy fun. Bella loves the water and gives us hope that our up-coming beach trip may be a pleasant experience for her (and me).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas here in Manila. Megan has made it an extra special holiday just by being here with us. Justin and I were so excited for Addie to wake up on Christmas morning. When she jumped into bed with us we didn't suggest she fall back asleep like we normally do, instead we encouraged her to get up and go see if Santa came. To our surprise she didn't want to. Even when we told her to go check her stocking on her her door she said "no". We finally realized that while we convinced her that Santa Claus was coming on Christmas Eve to bring her gifts under the tree, we failed to mention that he would leave the gifts and then move on to other kids homes. He wouldn't hang out at our house. She didn't want to go into the living room for fear that Santa might still be sitting there eating his cookies and waiting for her! We had to laugh once we realized what her hesitation was from. We quickly explained that Santa wasn't in the house. She got over her fear quickly when she saw that her stocking was full of little gifts and that Santa had left her a huge haul of gifts under the tree. Bella Bean woke up about 40 minutes later and the fun of the day began. Unwrapping gift after gift for the girls while we talked on Skype with all the grandparents. I made my traditional homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting (a serious Christmas morning treat). Addie changed outfits over and over depending on what tutu, princess gown, or pajamas she opened from a gift. Arabella sucked on lots of curling ribbon and quickly had a stash of new toys surrounding her. She loved her new Radio Flyer push wagon. Megan helped me get the turkey in the oven then watched the girls as Justin set the table and we put the finishing touches on our Christmas dinner. Mid glass of wine I decided it would be best for me to get Bella to sleep first then eat my meal I had worked so hard on. Both girls were in bed early then I could enjoy my meal. We popped in "It's a Wonderful Life" and cut a slice of pumpkin pie. We quickly whipped up a second pie ('cause that's what my sisters and I have been taught to do best: cook). The first pie was nasty as we forgot the sugar. The second pie at 10 PM with homemade whip cream was awesome. The day was crazy and chaotic and exhausting and wonderfully happy. Addie was thrilled with her Christmas. She wrapped her arms around Justin and I and said "Merry Christmas Mommy", "Merry Christmas Daddy", "I love you" and that made it all totally worth it. Thank you to all our family and friends who sent beautiful gifts for the girls.Pez at 6AMFrog PrincessPink Rose PrincessMegan got Lucy new ballsAunt Megan made Addie a Fairy GardenBella is crawling all over the place now. She's on the go!Justin said he knows he's getting old because his new coffee maker makes him as excited as he once got about receiving a Nintendo DS. He can't stop playing with this coffee maker!Lucy passed out in a princess dressAwesome Christmas dinner

Thursday, December 24, 2009

pretty excited

We've been prepping Addie for weeks now about Christmas and Santa and the birth of baby Jesus so she completely "gets it" this year and is beyond excited. My favorite thing she does is perform made-up songs for us. Sometimes she'll make up songs for a good 45 minutes, she always insists that we applaud her. The lyrics are about everything from Santa Claus, Nemo, her sister Bella, you name it: she sings about it. Here she's singing her rendition of "O' Christmas tree". Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas Eve

We had a very busy Christmas Eve. Our lovely friends invited us over for a potluck dinner. Addie, Stella, and Emma sang Christmas carols in front of the tree. Then the bouncing started and didn't stop until Addie passed out from excitement at bedtime. Before passing out she helped us get a plate of cookies ready for Santa as well as a bowl of water for the reindeer. We are all ready for Santa Claus to come! Justin made hot chocolate for Megan and I and now we are watching his favorite; "A Christmas Story".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas at Sunny Brook

We left early this morning for Cavite, Cora's village and where we planned to give out gifts to the children. It took about an hour and a half to arrive. The air turned from smoggy to clean and crisp, the scenery went from concrete jungle to real jungle full of mango and papaya trees. Amazing that we live in the tropics but never see much other than the dirty streets and buildings of Manila. The children were already starting to arrive at Cora's humble abode when we pulled up. She had a list of 35-40 kids prepared ahead of time that would receive the special bags of gifts we had prepared. Any other kids that showed up would get a little toy from the box of toys we had as extras. Thank goodness we had that box. The word went out that "the Americans were here with toys" and every child in the village came running. It was so nice to meet Cora's good friends and their children. The children who received bags from us were so thankful and had big smiles of joy. Cora's God daughter received the special baby doll I had saved for a sweet little girl. Her name is Hazel May and she stole my heart with her beautiful smile. There were just SO many children that came. So many of them Cora didn't know and once the box of toys was gone we gave out peppermint candies. When that was gone, the kids still lingered waiting for something else. It was wonderful to give the children toys that they otherwise wouldn't receive on Christmas; but it also seemed to emphasize what these sweet children DIDN'T have. Some of them could have used a good pair of shoes, a tooth brush and tooth paste, or a bottle of chewable vitamins even more than the toys. But oh how grateful they were for the toys. It was hard to tell them we didn't have any more to give and watch them all wander back to their homes.Tears didn't seem right for the occasion, even though many times I pictured giving to the children and choked up thinking about it. When we were there in the moment, tears were the wrong emotion. These children and adults were bubbling with happiness, so happy to see us and just plain happy people. The experience made me recognize just how lucky and blessed we are for our beautiful healthy children, our warm safe house, a pantry full of food, and a steady income. The basic human needs we have are met without question. As a Mom I don't worry about my child's next meal. I can't help but dwell on just how simple some Filipinos are living. No frills, very few things, living day to day, making ends meet, praying for life to continue with their basic needs being met for themselves and their families. The experience ultimately confirmed something I have known theoretically: we are all human beings but we are all living immensely different existences on this earth. Unfathomable differences until you see it in person. When I got home that afternoon I gave my girls extra long hugs and extra kisses, thanking God that for some reason my girls have so much while the children we met to day have so little. The only difference between them comes down to chance. Tonight my prayers will include all the precious little ones we encountered today. Wishing them health and happiness for Christmas and always. Beautiful girlsThe little boy in blue melted our hearts too! Such a cutie.Yaya and I handing out bags. Just enjoying their new treatsCora's neighbors. The little girl is mentally handicapped and insisted on giving Meg and I kisses to say thank you.More beautiful childrenMy heart was mushy from these sweet faces.Cora, Megan, and IThese ladies are so beautiful with their children. They love our white skin and blonde hair but I'm not sure why. Just look at them!Little Hazel May. They call her May-May