Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Wonder of Christmas 2008

Ross Family - Christmas 2008

Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle! That is the sound of the needles falling from our beautiful Christmas tree. Staying true to it's name, a noble fir, it stood glorious and tall up until the climatic Christmas celebration passed. Now a fire hazard in our living room we are trying to hold to our New Year's tradition and leave it standing until January for good luck in the new year. At the rate we are going we will be tossing out a bare trunk with sticks for branches and scooping the bed of needles with broom and dust pan from below. Even now as we sit, hugging a fire extinguisher (just kidding!) and enjoy the glowing lights, one can hear the occasional branch failure and the toppling of an ornament or two, to which we all exclaim, "uh-oh" and which even causes the dog to open one eye and give a glance from her sleeping spot beneath it's lower branches anticipating the need to take cover. Some are eager to put their houses back in order, but we are a family who wallows in the wonder, surprise and hearty celebration of this wonderful season. Pass me another chocolate please!!

An early riser, Devi had us up at 6am and although she had a very good grasp of the sequence of events leading up to Christmas morning, her reaction was best described as a deer-in-the-headlights. While heading downstairs, we discussed the possibility that Santa had come down our chimney and filled our stockings during the night, having to pause and sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus at the nativity that graces our hall along the way. I didn't ever think we would catch our girl at a loss for words, but as we rounded the corner revealing the proof of Santa's arrival, she drew in her breath and was awestruck. This is one of those memories, as a parent, that you would love to hold onto forever. And with the sweet innocence of a two year old her first comment was that Santa had even filled the stocking of our dog Cayenne, leaving her not one, but two bones!

Deer-in-the-headlights Devi

The three of us enjoyed our morning opening gifts, having breakfast and sipping Mimosa's and apple juice and then hosted my extended family for our annual gift exchange and dinner. This was always my mom's favorite part of Christmas; to be surrounded by her family and serve them a traditional Holiday meal around one table. As my dad says after losing her, the torch has been passed, and this year marked our third year to host. I consider myself a decent cook, although having been vegetarian for many many years, meat is not my forte. I am more of a side dish girl. This year, however, things went off without a hitch...I've simply learned after one raw turkey, an over done prime rib and a bloody tenderloin, to put others in charge of preparing the main course, while I confidently whip the heck out of the mashed potatoes :) Thanks Dave and Gail!

It was a lovely couple of days of celebration, recalling the nostalgia of Christmas' past, experiencing the newness for youngster as she actively participated in the Christmas present, and bringing wonder to all of us as to whether our family will grow in our Christmas future.

Devi was dying to try on her princess panties.
I don't know who was more thrilled with them.

A stocking as big as her! Filled with Indian dolls

Pots and pans and stove top were the hit of Christmas

On our way to church on Christmas eve.
Devi kept the congregation in stitches by cheering "YAY" after every hymn!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Tradition is Born

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas 2007

With two somewhat successful trips to sit on Santa's lap complete, a new tradition for the Ross family is born. Now we wait and see if that last effort to let Santa know how good we've been all year will pay off :) (For full Santa picture story see previous post)

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas!

Who could have guessed it? A white Christmas is virtually unheard of in Seattle. In a non-stop flurry since last Thursday, we've watched each glorious flake neatly stack itself on the one before it; slowly, ever slowly, mounting to a snow pack of over a foot in our neighborhood. It is beautiful and has provided us a reason to shift into a slower pace to enjoy the wonder of winter time we so rarely see. Our fridge is full, our gifts are wrapped, the tree is slowly drying out from the heat of our fireplace and our warm clothing is stacked high on the dryer awaiting another snowy outing. PERFECT!

While Pat and I were chomping at the bit to make our first foot prints in the pristine snow laden driveway, Devi was not so sure. After recognizing a few familiar neighbor faces under hats and scarves, however, she finally decided going outside to play could be fun. The zipping, velcroing, tying, snapping and buckling that ensued had Pat and I sweating long before ever leaving the house, but we knew that keeping our girl warm was key to the whole success of this or any future outside snow time. Wrapped like a package herself, her round little face and cute pink button nose were the only distinguishable body parts revealed on our little Indian princess experiencing snow for the first time.

Once we convinced her that mittens were good, we all had a blast. Sledding down the driveway, pulling the sled, catching snowflakes on our tongues and building a snowman. Somehow an hour passed and Devi's lack of body fat was losing the battle to stay warm. It brought back memories of when I was a kid and would succumb to the reality that you must go inside, although you'd much rather make just one more snow angel.
Seizing an opportunity over the weekend, we did manage to convince Devi that she would like to take some cookies and her Christmas list to Santa. Staying warm as long as possible, we changed her into the black velvet and pink taffeta of her hand-me-down (thanks Sean and DeAnna) Christmas dress in the corridor of the shopping mall and took our place in the Santa picture line. With the blizzard outside, the line was relatively short and soon we found ourselves next in line. All that kept us from Santa was a velvet rope toggled at each end to silver poles. Devi was brimming with confidence, waving and shouting hellos to Santa before it was even her turn. (Mom, is secretly surprised that the week of counseling her on how "not" scary Santa is has paid off) The rope is pulled away and without hesitation, Devi rushed Santa and delivered her stash to the jolly St. Nick. They made eye contact and she was totally into him! They had a conversation about her behavior. Yeah!!! Then, he took his eyes away from her and fell silent to read the way-too-wordy letter that mommy wrote. That was all it took...the disconnect and silence opened the door for her fear to enter in and overcome her. (Dumb mom wrote too much!) I had hoped that they would snap the photo while she was wailing - for documentation sake - but they managed to catch her just before with a goofy/surprised look. Oh well. Like a typical woman, once presented with a candy cane she got her emotions in check and was yelling Merry Christmas, and blowing kisses to Santa as we exited. Can we say drama queen? Note to self...next year, short note :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Innocence of an Angel

Devi is changing so much lately, I find myself afraid to blink, for fear of missing something. Currently, she has developed all kinds of new facial expressions. Yesterday I noticed her first furrowed brow which daddy accuses me of teaching her. It is the look I apparently give when daddy is doing something that makes me feel like I am a single parent of two children :) In any case, it is quite cute and when coupled with hands on hips, I must admit, I do see a mini me with brown skin standing before me. (So that is what I look like? Yikes!) She also has started to give her dolls, and stuffed animals their own voices. A deep voice for her monkey, Alex, and a high pitched voice for her Kangaroo. Pretending to have her dollies cry is a reaccurring theme too. I'm not totally sure what this means, but she is quick to pick them up and rock them for soothing. Not a shy bone in her body, it is not uncommon to enter a restaurant, or any room full of people, and have her wave and announce, "Hi Ebbey body" and true to form they all get a wave and "Bye Ebbey body" when we leave. What can I say, but the girl makes me smile and warms my heart.

In an attempt to encapsulate these two year old moments so they won't be forgotten, here is my list of our angel's innocence at Christmas time.

1. Christmas Tree
The "elves" decorated the tree long after Devi had given up the day, so when she awoke in the morning, Pat stood her, still dressed in her footed piggy jammies, in front of the grand Nobal Fir which dwarfed her with it's enormous room-filling boughs. The family room, still darkened by the reluctant sun, barely revealed the tree's silhouette. At just the right moment, Pat lit the tree bringing the multitude of colored lights to life, splashing their jewel toned reflections all around the room. With her mouth drawn up forming the perfect "O" shape, Devi exclaimed, "Ooooooo, prrreeetttty!...Neat!"
2. Gingerbread man
The other day I was silently eavesdropping on Devi's conversation with her gingerbread man cookie she was taking an hour to eat. He was apparently shopping and she was bounce walking him along the table top as he shopped. She paused and slowly ate both the legs, all the while still chattering to herself and holding him, admiring his features. Suddenly, I heard an "Uh-oh" and looked up to capture her furrowed brow. Devi was staring at the gingerbread man and was looking very confused. How was he was going to walk and continue his shopping without his legs? The fine line between pretend and real life momentarily melded into one and became hilarious for me to witness.
3. Mistletoe
Gladly accepting a kiss anytime I can get one, we hang Mistletoe year round at our house. I love it when Devi runs under the door jam where it dangles and yells "Mistle Toad" waiting for one of us to jump up and give her a kiss. Who could resist? Sometimes she puckers up and when we get close to getting a smacker, she tricks us and pulls away saying the cutest "Nahoooooo"! loving that she has fooled us.
4. Happy Holidays
The other day I was cooking dinner and Devi rounded the corner into the kitchen, waved at me and said, "Happy Holidays, Momma!". I had no idea she knew the phrase, but she said it like such a grown up being politically correct it cracked me up. I also love her sweet mumbled "Melry Kissmos" too!
5. Blowing the Lights On
At dusk every night we have Devi stand at the window where our outdoor Christmas lights are in full view. We tell her to count to three and blow...miraculously the lights become illuminated with a single blow every time! Devi thinks she is performing pure magic and is thrilled with herself every time. We wish it were true, but sadly, we know it is really daddy pressing the "on" button on the remote, concealed behind his back.
6. I Spy
This is our favorite game at the moment."I Spy" on the Christmas tree!
7. Advent Calendar
After dinner Devi chants, " Number 4 treat!" This means it is time to open another box on our advent calendar revealing a new square of the Christmas scene we are creating, which also houses 3 Hershey kisses; one for each of us. I think it took her the first 4 days to understand what was going to happen and this is why she says "number four treat". I've tried to get her to say the appropriate number but so far she is quite content to have 24 number 4s. To a grown up, the foil on a Hershey kiss is a nuisance and just slows the gobbling process, but to her, learning to carefully peel the foil wrapper all by herself is almost as fun as eating the treat. One Hershey kiss, more than fills her tiny mouth, but somehow she manages to shove the whole thing in at once and asks for more.
8. Nativity
After passing by our Nativity about one hundred times, it suddenly has become of particular interest to our sweet one who likes to sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus and herself as she walks past. Although we know otherwise, she feels they were both born on the same day. She also has other legitimate concerns that she voices repeatedly. One, Devi has strong feelings that our off white china baby Jesus is not properly covered with a blanket. I've assured her that there is one on him, but she is still not convinced and can debate it with you until the subject has been beat into the ground. Two, she knows he has a mommy and daddy, but when we ask her to point to the ceramic piece representing them, she points to Pat and I. While it is kind of her to think this, we all know this is not possible. She does know Joseph, but gets confused with the name Mary, so always calls her mommy. As far as the kings go, she can point them out, but when we ask her to count she starts out, "one, two, three..." but ends somewhere between 7 and 11 kings, depending on the day. She loves all the animals, but does not think a camel can lay down, so the lying camel, according to her, is a puppy :)
9. Lights
Pointing out Christmas lights, followed by ooohs and aaahhhs is a favorite past time while riding in the car for all of us. Devi loves to be the first to point them out on every outing. "Right there, mommy...right there!" she squeals. She isn't quite able to decipher "Christmas" lights from any other neon light, so consequently we are ooohhhing and aaahhhing for every fast food sign, tail light or street sign we pass. It is still dear and she loves the hunt so we comply....ooohhh Burger King and aaahhhh Subway :)
10. Small Acts of Kindness
This is our favorite book right now. Devi requests the Andrew book all the time because it was a gift from the Welser family last year at Christmas. Inside is a note explaining that it was Andrew's favorite book when he was little and it was read often. That is all it takes to convince her...it will always be known as the Andrew book and she loves the story.
11. Babysitters
Last Saturday we hired sitters for Devi so we could attend a friend's holiday party for a little grown up time. The twin girls from two doors down arrived carrying bags of books and activities to keep Devi entertained. Usually, she cries for a few minutes when we leave, reaffirming our special parental bond and making Pat and I feel, with a slightly stuffed shirt, so very important in her world. Soon after we drive away she'll announce, "I go nigh nigh, right now!" and head for her bed room pouting. This time, however, once the girls arrived, it was all about play time and Pat and I simply faded from view. She looked up briefly to say "Bye, mommy" as if to help push me out the door. Wait, wait, I love that she had such a good time, but I don't know if this mommy was quiet ready to be dissed just yet :)
12. Santa Claus
Recently we attended a party with Santa Claus. It surprised me that Devi was frightened of him this year, as last year she would have gladly ditched Pat and I and followed him home to the North Pole. After the wailing and with coaxing, she warmed up to jolly old St. Nick as she took her turn describing her good deeds for the year. She happily concluded her “good girl” interview with a toy cookie monster tightly clutched in her arms. From the darkness of the back seat driving home from the party, came this tired little girl voice, “Thank you, Santa Claus. Santa is a good man!” It is these unexpected tender moments that continue to put a smile on my face. We still have two more opportunities to interact with Santa before he hopefully squeezes down our chimney ...I hope she still thinks he is a good man!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thanksgiving in Mexico...With a Cherry On Top

The Ross Family - Thanksgiving 2008

No turkey, no stuffing, no green bean casserole, but oh what a sunset! We opted to spend our Thanksgiving in sunny Puerto Vallarta this year. We ALL have a love of the sun and beach and this week of rest and relaxation was a perfect way to prepare for the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday.

With a deter-
mination ten times greater than her tiny frame, Devi mastered "swimming all by myself" on this trip. Just a mere six months ago, while at this same resort, she was content to jump from the ledge a couple of times and then head back to her beach chair. Not so this time. I swear the girl knows every inch of that pool by heart now. Once one of her toes touched the water she coaxed us..."let go mommy, let go!" Of course we would and she would sink to the bottom, dubbing her the Indian brick. Grasping her arm and pulling her skyward, as she sank past, Devi, once breaking the waters surface, spit and spattered for a gulp of air. Then as soon as her voice returned would start the routine over again, "Let go, mommy, let go!" At times, it seemed her little
heart would pound right out of her chest, but she persevered and on the day before we left, she swam (FOR REAL). She was so proud of her accomplishment.
Marking our third trip to the same resort, it was nice to be recognized by some of the hotel staff this time. Devi brought smiles with her somewhat butchered pronunciation of Spanish words. She did get Hola and Adios down and used them ALOT! Eduardo, who managed the pool side bar introduced Devi to a maraschino cherry. I'm not sure if she enjoyed the taste of the cherry or not (I think they are nasty, so therefore everyone should!) but because it was from a boy, she LOVED them and required several throughout the day. She is such a flirt! One afternoon she climbed right up into the lap of a "grandpa" looking man who became known as Grandpa Bob for the rest of our stay. He was very kind and a really good sport!

A Maraschino Cherry from Eduardo!

We met up with our friends Jan & Cindi and their daughter Karli and friend Nick this trip. We all loved the extra playmates and we appreciated the extra sets of eyes to watch over our very precocious girl. Children notice everything: the sound of the birds and waterfalls, the insects, the clouds, the color of the food, the chatter of other guests, the plants, the feel of the sand, the music, the moon, tiny specs of things on the beach AND go to investigate these things!! Exploring our surroundings through the eyes of a two year old at our knee height, brought a fresh new dynamic to our trip.

Daddy and Devi can't get enough of the beach.
Beaching walking and sand castles were their after breakfast ritual.

Sadly, several days into our trip, we heard of the terrorist activity in Mumbai, India. It was staggering news, made ever so more poignant by our own circumstances. The three of us, celebrating life in such a luxurious way as a family, only to realize that in the our child's birth country something so hayness and cruel could be occurring, where regard for human life was so insignificant. Making this world news that much more touching, is knowing that these acts of violence are now associated with the place that most likely will be a temporary home to our future baby.

A rare moment when sunglasses actually stay in place!

Escaping the drizzle and wind, one full week of fun in the sun did wonders for our climate controlled morale. Sadly, our tans have all ready started to fade *sniff* but under our sweaters and coats, we secretly still know they are there! It was a fun and easy trip, even the flying. Devi had her own seat this time and slept a good portion of the way going and coming...waiting to fall asleep until the credits rolled on Elmo in Grouchland on the mini dvd player. Just yesterday Devi announced, "I go swimming today?" Guess that means it is time to book another trip! :)

Apple juice...in a big girl cup with a straw...all by myself!

Love the hotel pampering. Towels in the shape of a swan today!

The whole gang minus our sleeping beauty.
Nick, Karli, Cindi, Jan, Me and Pat.