Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Christmas to remember

Well, Christmas is over for another year and I'm back at work after having six days off! I'm currently trying to kick-start my brain with copious amounts of caffeine. To make the transition a little easier, I thought I'd recount our joyous holiday festivities!

We hosted Christmas for my family this year - the first time I've hosted and the first time we've spent Christmas day in big blue. My folks came over on Christmas eve and stayed the night so that we could spend Christmas morning together.

I had thought that my siblings would also join us for breakfast and morning presents (as we all live within ten minutes of each other) but that was not to be. It seems that sometime between when I left home and now, they have both decided they like quiet Christmas mornings at home with only their immediate family unit. I guess because Adam and I lived in Ottawa and came home every Christmas (therefore always spending Christmas morning at one parent's house) we never adopted this quiet Christmas idea. Needless to say I was more than a little disappointed when I heard that my sister wanted to come over after Gage had napped and my brother thought he'd come around lunch time.

Despite the difference in ideas on what Christmas morning should be, it turned out to be magical. The whole city was blanketed in a fresh coat of snow, the sun was shining and inside my big blue house, it was warm and cosy and full of love.

It was actually our dog, not Hayden, who woke us up at 7:30. My mum and I took Hayden downstairs and turned on the lights and music before letting him see the bounty that Santa had left under the tree (just like my folks used to). He was awestruck and quite eager to begin the gift-opening - starting with the biggest shiniest box in the room (which happened to be for mum)! As mum and I brewed tea, we let Hayden unwrap the presents in his stocking to keep him entertained. After stockings were opened, we crept back upstairs to wake up daddy and poppa.

Hayden was just an amazing child on Christmas morning. Quite unlike the whirlwind of paper and impatience I expected, he acted as Santa's helper and delivered presents to everyone, helping them open one gift in turn. He oooed and ahhed appropriately whether it was a jar of pickled onions or a pretty necklace! After we had opened our presents, we set about making Christmas breakfast: scrambled eggs, back bacon (or Canadian bacon as some of you know it), sauteed mushrooms and toast. We were just finishing up our vittles when Ang, Dan and Gage arrived.

We went through another round of presents with the boys before Ang and Dan headed home to let Gage nap and Ben and Lisa arrived with baby Ella. We had hors d'oeuvres for lunch and mum and I kept a close eye on the turkey. Soon after, Hayden and poppa went down for a nap and we had some quiet time in the afternoon, putting together presents, drinking wine and chatting.

The big feast was scheduled to be served around 6:00. Mum and I worked together to bring it all to the table on time and steaming hot! It was delicious and I was amazed at how flawlessly mum and I manged to juggle the various dishes. The boys (meaning the husbands) all got into the wine at dinner and kept us all entertained through the meal and dishes with their antics.

I know that initially, Adam was worried that it wouldn't feel like Christmas without the chaos that his family brings to the occasion. Lucky for him, our house was just as crazy and lively as any Goddard celebration. With this third generation of family now brilliantly aware of the holiday, the magic of Christmas really touched our house this year. I was swept up all day in love and laughter, fun and togetherness. Though I didn't sit down for more than 15 minutes all day, I didn't feel tired or rushed. It just really felt the way Christmas should: a beautiful, exhuberent celebration of family and affection.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa arrives early

I got my Christmas present early this year. I had just walked in the door with an armload of groceries when Adam thrust a gift bag at me.

“It’s your Christmas present. You HAVE to open it today.”

Now I don’t like opening presents early and when Adam told me it was my main Christmas present, I refused even more veheminently. Adam is not someone who can wait when he has a surprise – I’m pretty sure that every one of my girlfriends saw my engagement ring before he presented it to me (it was the only way he wouldn’t blow his proposal plan early). I've now learned to overlook my love of delayed gratification for his love of sharing instant happiness .

Eventually, he managed to convince me. When I peeled back the tissue, I think I may have actually squealed. Adam chipped in with my parents and his parents to buy me a Digital SLR Rebel camera – the camera I’ve been coveting for over a year! It had just been shipped that day and Adam simply couldn’t wait another six days till Christmas! lol

We’ve both spent the last week shooting anything and everything to test out the features and settings. And I have to say, I am totally in love with it. Already, we’ve captured some tender moments (like that photo of Hayden with his grandpa) and some gorgeous portrait shots.I know it’s going to be a gift that keeps giving and that it’ll be used extensively over Christmas! Thank you Adam, mum, dad, Art, and Dawn! I just love it!

To all of you, my very dear readers (yes, all five of you), I wish you a very merry Christmas. (I'd wish you happy hanukah, a joyous kwanza and a super solstace, but I know none of you celebrate these other festivities.) I hope that your holiday is filled with the love of family and friends, and that you remember to slow down and enjoy the togetherness this time of year brings.

Whatever Santa has under the tree for you, I hope that it's complimented by peace and joy, laughter and magic. Much love!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Christmas is all about

This is Hayden hugging his Great Grandfather at the "G" family Christmas party.

Makes my heart warm to know that he will have a relationship not just with both sets of grandparents, but also two sets of great grandparents! He is one lucky little love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A star is born!

My little heartsong is growing up right before my eyes. Last week it was bravely sitting on Santa’s knee. This week, Hayden performed in his first ever live concert. His school put on an amazing Christmas concert – with all the actors under 5 years-old! They must be either crazy or absolute saints! I was blown away by how organized it was and how well the whole show turned out. There were a few tears on stage, but every child appeared in the performance (something that the owner of the schools said has never happened)!

Hayden’s class was fourth to perform. We had been prompting him the week before, singing various Christmas songs to try and find out what song he was singing. But he held firm on his resolve to keep it a secret. When the curtains opened and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree came on, he was in his element. Holding hands and facing his cutie-pie girlfriend, Emily, they bounced and jived to the music while most of the other children stared shell-shocked at the large crowd watching them. Hayden soon caught on that all eyes were on him and started scanning the audience for us. He caught sight of his dad and called out to him as the performance ended.

As they were led off the stage, Hayden broke free and ran over to us. He came and jumped on my lap and gave me a huge hug, pronouncing proudly, “I dance mama!” I hugged him back with my heart swelling for his newfound confidence. I gave him a kiss and then told him to go back and join his class. AND HE DID! He ran right back over to his teachers (another first for the school apparently)!

He breezed through another number, playing a cardboard guitar and swaying to the beat (though a little dude named Carl stole the show with his funky moves). I’ve never laughed so hard! They were all so darn cute!

Hayden is the little guy in the red, just left of centre. (Sorry for the cruddy resolution, but this was taken on my phone!)

Sometimes I’m blown away at how much he’s grown and developed. It seems in the past month that he’s gone from being a shy, unsure toddler to a self-assured, confident pre-schooler. I’m just so darn proud of him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas magic

I've been talking a lot about Christmas to Hayden lately. We talk about baby Jesus, Santa, and about sharing good will with our neighbours and friends. I've been trying to round out his understanding of Christmas so it's not just about getting gifts. I want him to look forward to the magic of Christmas, the chance to be with family, the joy of giving to others. He seems to be taking it all in stride and often references baby Jesus and Santa together - like he imagines them living together in the North Pole.

Last year, when he came face to face with the man in red, Hayden freaked. He wanted nothing to do with Santa, nor the gift he offered. When I heard that Santa would be visiting my work for the children's party last Sunday, I was tentative to say the least.

I don't want to push Santa on Hayden - I know that for many he represents the commercialism of Christmas. But to me, Santa is a symbol of Christmas that children can understand. He represents giving and sharing, the magic of Christmas and all that is good in the world.

Aware that the day might just end in tears, we packed ourselves into the car and headed to the Christmas party. I warned Hayden that Santa would be coming and told him how he would arrive using flying reindeers. By the time Santa showed up (appearing on the top floor as if he had landed on the roof), Hayden was actually giddy with excitement.

"In da sky mama! Santa in da sky!"

We casually moved closer to Santa as he reached the main level, far enough away that Hayden could watch the other kids mill about the jolly old elf without getting involved. Santa eventually took his place amongst the presents. The kids settled on the floor in a horseshoe and Santa began calling each child by name to sit on his knee.

When he called Hayden's name, I held my breath, not knowing how he would react. Hayden is not someone who is warm to strangers. Even his grandparents are met with suspicion if more than a week goes by between visits.

Well, didn't he just blow us all away by confidently walking BY HIMSELF through the throngs of children to sit on Santa's lap. He wouldn't talk to Santa and didn't make much eye contact, but he did it! He made me so proud. It was all he could talk about that night - so I know he was pleased with himself too.

With his fear of Santa now conquered, Hayden is on to even bigger things: this morning he asked if he can go and see baby Jesus!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Brothers by love

Last night my nephew, Gage, melted my heart. He and Hayden have been best buddies since we moved to the area last spring. They act more like brothers than cousins.

They've been together in daycare since they were a year old. Recently, Gage was moved up to the preschool room while Hayden stayed behind in the toddler class. It didn't seem to affect either of them too much. Or so I thought until they saw each other in the hall last night....

Hayden: Gaje! Hi Gaje! How you doin?

Big, long hugs ensue and Hayden puts his arm around Gage as they walk to his cubby.

Gage: Hi Haynen. *pause* Haynen, I weally miss you. No one hugs me any more.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not just hearing

To keep my sanity and actually get anything done, I often continue cooking dinner or reading blogs while Hayden waxes eloquently in the background. But my bright little boy has realized that mummy is not always very good at multi-tasking. He recognizes now when I'm concentrating on my other task and not on his important news. Now, when he feels that he's not being given his due attention, he holds my cheeks in his little hands and turns me to face him.

"Yook at me mama."

He stares intently at me through long lashes, his face a picture of seriousness.

It's only after he's sure that I'm focused solely on him that he will continue, usually talking very slowly to make sure that I understand every important word that passes his lips.

With this small act, this purposeful touch and look he reminds me how fleeting life is. It won't be long before I have to drag the words from him. Before I'm met with the grunts and shrugs that epitomize the teenage years.
My sweet heartsong, I promise that from now on, I wont just hear you, but I'll listen to you. Every precious word you care to share.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Vomit comets and wishing stars

Why do sickness and Christmas preparations seem to go hand in hand? It seems that whenever I'm ready to inject a little holiday cheer into our family, someone gets sick.

This time it's my heartsong. He emptied the contents of his stomach twice this weekend. As we strung Christmas lights and picked our beautiful fir tree from the local tree farm, poor Hayden was fighting a stomach bug. We didn't get to decorate the tree, finish the cards or do any baking as priority turned to cuddling on the couch. At least we managed to achieve a twinkling porch and get the gorgeous scent of pine permeating the house before the vomit comet arrived.

I completely fail the mother test when it comes to kids throwing up. I was fine when Hayden was an infant and only had milk to regurgitate. But now that there are solids present, I fall apart. I can deal with any bodily fluid except vomit. When I'm faced with that mess, it takes everything in me not to add to the pile. Yesterday was one of those days. Thankfully Adam was here to take care of the floors while I stripped down the sickie.

Today he seemed in fine spirits and with no fever, so I dropped him off at school, hoping the worst was behind us. I'd been at work for maybe half an hour when I got the call from my husband. Daycare had called him (I guess they tried me while I was in the underground parking lot). Hayden had exploded from the other end. Could I please come and get him?

In true toddler style, I showed up and my little man was dancing around the classroom, oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to be sick. I'm home with him now, trying to balance work, play, fluids and chores. Being at home during the week always makes me long to be a stay-at-home mum. Monday is definitely more fun with Hayden around. Even if there is a vomit threat. Wish us luck.