In an effort to make sure I actually document Declan's first Christmas, here's a quick photo-filled post about the holidays!
One of our favorite holiday traditions is checking out at least one spectacular neighborhood of lights, so one evening we took up Jenn and Justin on their offer to host dinner and then take a walk over to lights in their new neighborhood. I'm so glad we joined them, because the decorations were spectacular, and super close to the house. We bundled up and headed out to check out a rather impressive display, including a digital snowman-photo thing, a huge water fountain light display synced up to music, and a Santa!
Marshall, especially, was in awe.
We cooked some hearty homemade meals, which is becoming more the norm as we emerge from the newborn haze.
Marshall made an ornament at school and proudly displayed it on our tree.
One day Marshall needed a little extra help keeping entertained, so I set him up on his kitchen tower with some ice and water in a bowl, plus measuring cups and a funnel. The kitchen ended up pretty soaked, but it was just water, and he enjoyed the activity for at least 30 minutes!
On Christmas Eve, we assembled a plate of carrots, celery, and cookies for Santa and his reindeer.
Marshall helped me bake these cookies! Mostly he loved rolling out and playing with the dough, but he participated (and so did Terry!).
Then, it was Christmas morning! With a two-month-old, we did find ourselves a little distracted, and the timing was a bit more interrupted than previous years, but we all enjoyed the day. Santa came and brought his usual note to Marshall and Declan; we opened stockings by the fire; we put Declan down for a nap; we opened some gifts; we had our breakfast casserole. Here are some highlights:
Marshall LOVED his snow gear! We thought he might need it in D.C. when we went in January, but it turned out to be pretty warm, so now we feel motivated to drive to the snow one weekend so he can get some use out of it!
Or, we could just walk around our LA neighborhood and look like suuuuuuper overprotective parents...
This little bundle was happy as a clam all day, an extra special gift this year.
One of my favorite gifts this year was from Marshall. Terry and I thought it would be fun to try to help Marshall understand the idea of choosing and giving a gift, so we each spent a bit of time with him at Target to help him choose a gift for the other parent. With me, he decided he wanted to give Terry these tiny Dalmation figurines (a "daddy" and two puppies, which was actually fitting) as well as "blue tongs," which turned out to be an adventure but are quite useful!. With Terry, Marshall apparently knew exactly what he wanted to get me--a book--and when they got to the book section he chose this one. It is actually hilarious and super sweet. It really is how I feel when Marshall isn't with me!
The day moved quickly into a tamale lunch (we buy them from our local farmer's market) and naptime before spending Christmas dinner and night at Terry's parents' house. Then we were back home to pack and turn around the next day to get to my parents' house! Talk about a whirlwind holiday season, right?
<3 My boys
Marshall got a construction dress-up set from my brother and Ashley. My brother is a project manager for a construction company, so they dressed up together!
Probably my favorite photo from this holiday season <3
Chris always does some crazy wrapping prank on Terry; this year it was a HUGE box, inside which Terry found multiple other boxes and finally a nice bottle of scotch.
We arrived home after an exhausting NINE-hour drive (should take five)
(Santa brought our family a Kindle Fire to get us through long car rides and plane trips--this was Marshall's first time playing with a tablet and we should have helped him learn how to use it more before the drive!)
And we spent about 20 hours unpacking, cleaning, and attempting to organize the chaos in the house before heading to Jenn and Justin's for a New Year's Eve party! We didn't last too long; we were beat and our toddler was quite drained from all the travel. But it was fun! We put the kids to bed, took a nap on the couch, rang in the new year, and went to bed.
And then it was 2017...
Do you have any resolutions this year? Mine are to use my cookbooks more and read a little every day. Nothing too crazy, since having a toddler and infant and starting a new job are all challenging enough.
I also made some sweet potato brownies, and it was a wise choice that I shall make again soon!
Our big gift to Marshall and Declan this year was annual passes to the Long Beach Aquarium, which are super affordable because the kids are actually free with Terry and me. So on our last day of break we headed down to Long Beach to buy our passes and enjoy our first day. The timing was perfect because Marshall has been REALLY into "underwater" things lately--books, toys, Finding Dory (a gift from Santa), puzzles, etc.
The aquarium was a total blast! We were there for two hours, which was perfect for all of us, and we made it home for lunch and naps.
(Well, maybe Declan would have been happy to leave earlier...)
The holidays brought TONS of joy around here, even if we did feel a bit overwhelmed at times. We are so thankful for our families and friends and that these boys have so much love surrounding them.
While he was born in October, I still feel the best gift was having Declan here for his first Christmas, having our foursome complete as we celebrated the season. He is such a treat!
As January nears its end, I have faith that 2017 will be an unforgettable year. Now that I am a mom with two little boys, I am overjoyed and a little tearful at the thought of all that will happen this year: Marshall will turn THREE somehow and will start preschool (same school, new classroom); he will inexplicably learn even more phrases and adult-sounding sentences (this week, he said, "Mommy, I'm offering you a seat here," as though he is thirty-seven years old); he will likely move to a real bed and lose more of that baby chub I already miss. Declan will grow from infant to toddler and become a one-year-old before we are quite ready; he will eat solid foods and perhaps say a word or take a step before 2018; he will continue to break my heart with that killer smile and giggle madly at his big brother; and he will begin his journey in day care in a place we love with teachers we know we will love too. Our family will face challenges with two working parents and two young children; I will settle into my new job and Terry will continue to thrive in his; we will (hopefully) travel to New York and Boston if the stars align; we will learn what it means to be a family of four. We will celebrate the births of many, many babies, including but not limited to our niece and nephew this spring, and we are absolutely bursting with excitement. We will cherish times with family and friends, wish we saw some people more, ache for those we have lost, and--inevitably--face the challenge of more loss. But with love and compassion we can celebrate the joy and look ahead to the good that this year will bring, faithful that any obstacles cannot keep us down. Yes, 2017 promises to be a memorable one indeed.