I've been reminiscing about our Christmas holiday...we're finally on "vacation", somewhat relaxing at Charles' Mom's house in New Jersey ("relaxing" is always subjective with two kids...) and feeling the need to get caught up on a little writing. Christmas this year was, in some ways, the best it has ever been. Christian is old enough to comprehend Christmas, an idea of Santa and an appreciation of gifts. It was pretty magical to see his reactions to it all! For me, the holidays have become more vibrant, more fun and more meaningful since becoming a Mother. It's not just about me and what gifts I give and get anymore. It's about helping to create traditions and painting a picture of what Holiday means. Although I can never do the holidays the way I see it in my minds eye: decorations up seconds after Thanksgiving, Holiday cards completed and mailed early enough for people to actually enjoy, cookies baked (with the help of my son- who wouldn't melt down or insist that the cookies be eaten BEFORE baking...), and all gifts perfectly selected and purchased well in advance (including those for teachers and therapists). No. It did not happen like that. Honestly, it may never happen like that. I seem to have misplaced my team of personal assistants and holiday elves...oh well, guess we'll have to keep doing it imperfect-style. However, the house DID get decorated...and some fun was had while doing it; the holiday cards were completed (with only a couple of addresses misplaced)- and I truly had the best time putting our card together this year; gifts for the most important people were bought and shared (hopefully it's the thought that counts actually COUNTS to those teachers and therapists I thought of, but never actually got around to buying anything for...); and we managed to share some amazing meals with close friends and families on the days that were special to us.
Christmas Eve- Looks like Santa made it. Guess we all made the Nice list:
(My favorite touch was the hand colored gift tags- designed by Christian)
(My boys in their matching PJs, Christian is showing Elijah how his gift from Santa works)
The day after Christmas we gathered up our giant one bag to be checked at the airport and our small individual carry ons: Charles with his computer, Me with a small bag with one change of clothes for me and each of the boys, diapers, wipes, and the arsenal of STUFF necessary for traveling with kids, and Christian with his new bear from Santa tucked into his backpack. All were ready to get on the big, exciting airplane to go back east to see Grandma!
(Christian's new bear from Santa, named Seuss. This was the very first time he chose a name for an animal that wasn't the very obvious, "Bear" or "Dog" or "Cat". I didn't even suggest it, I just asked, "What is the bear's name?" and he replied, "Seuss." And so it is.)
We managed to get out the door at the semi-appropriate time, got checked in to the airport and should have pressed further when the guy standing at the counter next to us said, "My flight to Philly has been canceled." Gulp. That's where we are going. The ticket agent assured us that, no, our flight (with a stop-over in Vegas) was scheduled to depart on time, with no cancellation. Hm-mm.
When we arrived in Vegas, we found our transfer gate and were immediately greeted at the gate with an announcement: "Due to extreme weather on the east coast, this flight has been delayed until further notice. We will know more by 9:00pm tonight." (It was 1pm.) Then, mere minutes later, an announcement stated, "This flight has been canceled." Charles got in line to get us re-booked on the next flight out, while I called a few old friends in Vegas. It has been awhile since I've seen any of them, and although I feel that we've remained in decent contact as a result of facebook, I haven't actually seen any of them in an embarrassingly long time. My messages must have sounded like this: "Hi! It's been ages! How are you??! So, listen...I happen to be in the Vegas airport with my two kids and hubby and it looks like we'll be here for quite some time. Any chance you're around and can get together?" Ugh. Luckily, my friends also have kids and have resorted to "keeping in touch" as a quick comment or status update on facebook too. Both called me back, and both were willing to get together and rescue us if at all possible. My friend, JP, lived the closest and happened to have access to two car seats! Without a moments hesitation, she said, "I'm there for you, friend." and picked us up on her way home from work. I shudder to think what our night would have been like had she not come through for us. Instead, we hung out, drank wine, ordered in pizza and let the kids run around terrorizing each other. It felt like home. JP and I realized that it has been just over 5 years since we've actually seen each other. Yet, she looked exactly the same. Sadly, I don't think the same is true for me. I feel like the last two years have done a number on me. More bags, more wrinkles, more body fat (but I'm gonna blame the young baby and BFing for this one)...Oh my! We got a good night's sleep and headed out the next morning (after the red eye flight was canceled too). We heard news that the storms had stopped where we were going and were hopeful that the day would go smoothly. Then, we arrived at the gate. Our 9am flight turned into a 1pm flight. Considering how long we had to wait in an airport, I thought everyone did pretty well. I faced a bit of a dilemma, that I think with be an on-going theme: When and how much to tell people about Elijah. We sat talking to a nice, elderly guy named Jim, when he asked, "At what age do babies start talking (he doesn't have any kids of his own)?" It's a strange thing to grapple with. Elijah is much more than just his diagnosis, so I don't want to blurt it out before it's even necessary or important. In this case, I said, "Well, Christian started speaking some words around 8 months of age. Elijah has Down syndrome, and so he will have some developmental delays, most likely in the area of speech, so we're not really sure when he'll first say things. For now, he's a really vocal little guy and we have fun interpreting his sounds." Because I felt fairly comfortable with what I was saying, Jim seemed comfortable too. I hope that I was able to communicate how I feel, which is that Elijah has a diagnosis that will cause developmental delays, but he's much more than his diagnosis to us. It becomes trickier when it's a fly-by-night comment: I noticed a woman with a toddler and a young baby looking at Elijah. She said, "I'm trying to figure out how old he is." I said, "He's 8 months, but he's a tiny guy." She said, "8 months?? Wow. my guys is only 5 months and he's already bigger than that." I said, "Yeah, he's a little guy." Then went back to my sandwich. I know that I have and will get some looks, like Does she know there might be something wrong with her baby? But, I kinda don't care. Not every situation requires an explanation. I don't have to explain Elijah to anyone. The interesting thing is that this isn't bothering me too much. I guess because Elijah is such a joy to us- I don't feel a need to explain him, make excuses for him, or chalk him up to his diagnosis. He's just ELIJAH.
Once we finally got on the airplane and took off for Philadelphia, we breathed a sigh of relief until I tried to play a DVD for Christian on my laptop. Apparently, I've never used my DVD player and never downloaded the appropriate programs to make it run. Crap. Charles and I both started to panic. Then I thought: Wait a minute. People have done this before. They have actually gone on airplanes with 3 years olds and NOT shown them a DVD. We'll just do it old-school style. It was completely fine. And I got to see a really beautiful thing: the way that Christian and Charles interact over those "guy-things". Airplanes, trains and cars is kinda their "thing". Charles takes Christian to see cool bomber airplanes, takes him by the local Metro station just to watch a train go by, and describes the "cool factors" of all of Charles' favorite cars. That "thing" kicked in on that airplane. Christian wasn't as happy to share it with me. Instead, he'd excitedly shout, "Daddy! Daddy! What's that? Look!", as he pointed out the window. Charles would explain it in terms that only a rocket scientist could understand, but Christian seemed content with that. A slight nod of his head, as though, Yeah...that makes sense...
We arrived in Philly just after 8pm to find that our ONE checked bag (that we paid $25 for) never made it with us. Put a fork in, and Charles was D.O.N.E. We waited for the luggage claim center, we waited for ground transport, we waited....and waited... The order of best to worst traveller went something like this:
Eventually we got to Charles' Mom's house and breathed a sigh of relief. Christian was thrilled to see his Grandma! He had much to tell her and called her by name frequently. It was like music to all of our ears. In past visits, Grandma has come, inevitably, when Christian was going through some sort of "Terrible Two's phase" or an "Even more Terrible Three's phase". I kept insisting, "No, really. My child is not a complete jerk. He's just going through a phase." Finally, Grandma believes me. He has been a ball of energy and excitement, but the minute his head hit that pillow that night, he was OUT. We woke up the next morning to take in the sight of what the storm had done. It was a breathtaking sight. So, we suited up and got outside!
There has been sledding, snow angel making, snowman building, igloo construction, and walks in the snow. Both boys seem to love the snow. Elijah's snowsuit was packed in our missing luggage, so we've only just put him into it- he's been baring the elements in bundles of sweaters, hats, mittens, and blankets. Tonight, he donned the snowsuit. I will post a picture soon. It is too much. Prepare to be blown away by the Cute. He's so tiny being stuffed into it, that when you take him out, he's like a tiny Russian nesting doll after you've removed the outer doll to reveal the smaller doll within. Seriously.
We have just a little over one day left here, and will celebrate New year's Eve with our good friends Ken, Susan, and Isabel in Philadelphia. (We keep in touch on facebook...) :) Then, back to LA LA land. Our trip back can't possibly top the one coming here....Right???!!!
Now that I've had a little down time for just enjoying the ups and downs of my family, I'm ready to start focusing on the New Year. I think some resolutions are in order. Maybe if I write them in my blog, I'll feel a little more accountable to make them happen... We'll see...
Hope you all are enjoying the perfectly imperfect holidays with the people that mean the most to you!