Owen's arrival has meant the holiday season passed in a chaotic, messy, beautiful blur.
October is typically my favorite month, and I had a hard time not enjoying it the way I typically do. Things aren't easy with a new baby, with recovery and exhaustion and adjustment. But we were able to have a pleasant October nevertheless. When Owen was almost 2 weeks old we headed to a tiny little pumpkin patch and u-pick flower field. We were experiencing a warm spell, and it was a beautiful evening. We picked pumpkins in shorts and as many free flowers as we'd like. We enjoyed fall foliage, Halloween pajamas, and festive activities at school and preschool. And we even managed to carve a pumpkin.
The kids costumes were fun this year. I had started asking them in September what they wanted to be, as I expected Owen to come mid-October. Carly had a hard time coming up with anything, which surprised me. She finally fessed up, and it turns out she wanted to be a black cat. That is just about the easiest costume ever, so I was down with that, and she looked adorable. She wore her ears and tail for a long time before Halloween actually arrived and it cracked me up to see her tail bouncing behind her.
Quinn, meanwhile, had no reservations: "A ballerina fairy with a fancy sparkly dress--dark pink, not light pink--and wings and a wand and a sparkly crown." Those requests sum Quinn up pretty well. Luckily, we already had it all except the dress, which I found on Amazon among flower girl and pageant dresses, and which she wore every day for about 3 weeks straight and still wears regularly. She was the pinkest thing you've ever seen, and she couldn't have been happier about it.
John also had a hard time choosing. But while Carly had a hard time because there were so many things to choose from, John had a hard time because he just didn't care that much. He was totally apathetic about the whole thing. Finally we went to the store and I told him he had to pick something. He found a red light saber, and really wanted it, and that is how we ended up with Darth Vader. He was a pretty awesome Darth Vader, though, and in the months since he has become a full-blown Star Wars nut like his father before him.
Sweetest Owen was a bunny. Because 1) bunnies are yummy, and 2) he is yummy. I had bought the hat over the summer, and found a little cotton tale and play carrot to go with it. He was the cutest thing on his first Halloween.
The main event brought a Halloween party at Carly's school, a ward trunk or treat and Fall carnival, and the big night itself. It was a blustery, crazy rainstorm the night of Halloween, but that couldn't stop these kids from candy. Chris took them and they were out for over 2 hours. It was some serious dedication, as they all came home soaked. Meanwhile, Owen and I hung out at home and watched Call of the Midwife, and the kids gave me all their Almond Joys. Everyone wins.
A blurry November later, and Thanksgiving week arrived. Grandma came to town and we had so much fun with her. The hardest thing about leaving Michigan is just how far grandma and papa are now. When you have your two sets of grandparents on opposite sides of the country, you're always too far from someone. We had a fun week with her. The day before Thanksgiving we went swimming. Thanksgiving day Grandma did most of the cooking. We went on a walk and played at the park and papa arrived just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. The next few days were filled with Chris and Papa doing lots of projects around the house and building the girls' new bunk bed.
Mimi and Grandpa joined the party on Friday night. We were awfully spoiled to have all four grandparents at our house at once. Pullman isn't exactly teeming with exciting things to do (or even places to eat), so we ended up going bowling. But, as it turns out, bowling is actually quite fun with the right crowd and we had a really good time.
Sunday was a special day, as Owen was blessed by his daddy in a circle of priesthood holders that included both of his grandfathers and my uncle. It was a freezing day, and the world was coated in white ice; perfect for a blessing day. We are so grateful our parents could be there. We are so grateful Owen is in our family. What a sweet way to finish Thanksgiving weekend, because we really do have so much to be thankful for.
Our company left, and the Christmas season began. Its so easy to feel overwhelmed by everything Christmas brings, and I felt more than once that I wasn't doing good enough, that I was barely holding it together. My wonderful husband gave me more than one pep talk, and I finally "came to terms" with our sweet and simple Christmas. But now that it is behind us, I have to say it has been really really wonderful,
We went ice skating with Chris's department, and the kids loved it. They were a little confused why it was so hard, as we had watched Olympic figure skaters the night before in preparation, and they make it look so easy.
Pullman has been getting a so much snow. I think we got exactly one snowfall last year, so I've been rather impressed. I didn't know Pullman had it in her. It is fun that the kids are old enough to bundle up and send out into the yard. Chris has been home during the break, and helped them make a most impressive snowman. I think he's over shoveling the driveway, though. Owen went out into his first snowfall. He though it was a bit too cold and a bit too bright, but he was delicious in his bear suit.
The season did bring a Christmas tree with ornaments and lights and presents underneath. The kids loved looking at the tags and finding their names. The tree was such a tender mercy. Lately Owen has been either sleeping through the night or going the extreme opposite and being awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night. When you have a lighted tree in your living room, those middle of the night waking periods are just a little more pleasant. Christmas break arrived and it was been so nice to have Carly home. We made cookies, wrapped presents, sent out a few Christmas cards, and snuggled on chilly mornings.
Christmas Eve came entirely too quickly for my taste, but the kids would disagree. On Christmas Eve morning Carly asked "How many more minutes until this day is over?" Haha! We did our traditional breakfast out, and enjoyed going to our friends' house in the evening. The night brought new pajamas, The Polar Express and Luke 2, cookies for Santa, and falling asleep in the glow of Christmas lights.
Christmas morning was a success. We had a desire to keep things a bit more low key and simple this year. The kids got so much last year that they didn't/couldn't really appreciate it. This year I think we got it just right. A lot of fun things, but some useful and out-of-the-box things too. Carly got a white board from Santa, and she totally loves it. Every day since she is writing, drawing, doing math, and making mazes. Quinn got a whole lot of pink, fancy, sparkly things, including some new outfits to wear to dance. John got a chainsaw, a light saber, and a crossbow (among other things). He is man's man. Owen got a whole bunch of stuff I really wanted to get him but would never justify buying any other time. Tiny babies are fun to buy for ;).
On Christmas Day we opened presents and then spent the entire day in our pajamas playing with our gifts. It really was a perfect day. We are now enjoying the remainder of Christmas break. I love that Chris's career will always allow him to spend a great deal of Christmas break at home. We decided not to travel this year, and our snowy Christmas staycation has been just want the doctor ordered. Together with my people in my home is the best place to be.
What a whirlwind of a holiday season. There were many days I had to take deep breaths and remind myself it would be easier next year. But I'm grateful I was able to find enough peace to enjoy this year. Because 6, 3, and newborn are some really wonderful ages to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.