Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ross Family’s Top Ten Holiday List.

Our household, now containing four pittery-pattery feet this holiday season is becoming more excited every day in anticipation of the arrival of Christmas, just like the static electricity that tends to build up in one’s hair and freshly washed socks exiting the dryer in these colder days. Busy as Santa’s elves, we’ve been funneling all this energy into fun holiday events to keep the kids from climbing the walls. From this comes our Top Ten Holiday List, or at least the things that bring this momma a smile.

1. We kicked off the season with a group Christmas card effort. From concept, to costume, to props, to art direction, photography and a little computer work, the girls were instrumental in pulling this one off. We gave them a few choices and this is what they came up with. We had a great time setting up and taking way more shots than were needed just because it was so much fun. We did struggle with natural smiles, as is typical of two and five year olds, so against my better judgement, I blurted “Poopy Pants!” right before I snapped THE photo...something I’m sure I will live to regret. Afterward, the girls didn’t want to stop the game so continued to play magic carpet ride in costume for the longest time.

2. On December 3rd, we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary. Typically, Pat and I have a grown up evening out, but since we had just returned from our Mexico trip, we decided to fore go the fantasy suite and just enjoy a family evening with dinner together - all four of us. I lit our unity candle (as we do every year) as our centerpiece, put on some of our wedding music and while daddy and I sipped champagne from our wedding toasting glasses, the girls joined in “chinging” their juice cups. We told them our wedding story and they giggled when we told them that daddy carried mom in her fluffy dress across the threshold. Daddy and I got up to dance to our annual “first dance” together in the dining room and before long the girls had gotten down off of their chairs and had joined us, wrapping their arms around our legs as we swayed to my Stevie Wonder favorite, With Each Beat Of My Heart, whose words seem even more fitting for the four of us now.

“You are my first breath

My first smile

And my morning cup of tea

Yours is the love

That I pray for

Before I go to sleep

From the time I saw your face

I knew no other could erase

My loving you with each beat of my heart

Until the day I heard you speak

I didn’t know that sound was sweet

Me hearing you in each beat of my heart”

3. One day we were singing Christmas Caroles in the car and Devi stopped us asking, “Instead of Rudolph, mom, why didn’t Santa just carry a flashlight?” It is in those thoughtful moments that I love being a mom best, I think. On her own she reasoned that Santa’s batteries must have died.

4. Treya’s mastery of “Rudolph” shines through as one of her more prouder moments. The girl really can’t carry a tune, but she can BELT IT OUT! Nothing brings a smile quicker than hearing “DO-DOLL dah ed ozed ANN DARE....add a darey high knee OZE!” None of the words are right, but the sentiment is hard to miss. She knows “Twinkle, Twinkle” too and it is sung just as robustly :).

5. Dev can be a bit anal. We like to say she is detail oriented. One afternoon she was playing with her Playmobil nativity set and from the kitchen I could see that she kept darting from the family room to the foyer. Not once or twice, but to the point where my mom antenna went up, concerned that something was a miss. I caught her in mid dash and found that she was consulting the position of each of the pieces of my “do not touch” Lenex nativity in one room and setting hers up to match EXACTLY in the other room, wanting to get it just right! She was so proud of her display.

6. Good night night behavior is a collective effort because the girls share a room. It requires that Treya be quiet in bed and Devi stay in bed all night and that they work together to help each other accomplish this task. After the Mexico trip, the sleep schedule got a bit messed up, but using team work they earned a Gingerbread House Kit, which we spent one Sunday afternoon decorating. After a few arguments about who got to do what, we worked it out and they did a great job gluing candy (mom’s secret plot to rid the house of left over Halloween candy) all over the gingerbread house. I was really surprised how excited they got about planning the best use of the candy. I, on the other hand sounded like a broken record telling them don't eat it, stating we have no idea when it was manufactured and what was put into to it to keep it "fresh". Hansel and Gretel would be so jealous!

7. One night, just after I said, “Amen!” at the end of our night night prayer, Devi said, “Oh! and God, just one more thing. Please help all the orphan kids in India know that their forever familes are coming for them. Amen” Tear up? OH YES! I was a mess. For whatever reason, Devi has been obsessed asking if random people are/were orphans and playing Ayah - reenacting our union with Treya. Devi is the Ayah, we are the parents and Treya plays herself.

8. Treya’s daycare class made hot cocoa as a gift for their parents this year. They sent it home early so we could enjoy it through the holidays. Together, for our night time snack, we made four cups of simmering chocolaty goodness. She was so so proud of this gift. With a brown frothy mustache, she clung to her white mug and kept saying, “Mmmmm, ott toe-co, mommy! Ott toe-co!” It is really delicious...the best home-made mix I’ve ever had. Not that I am biased!

9. Last weekend we bundled the kids up, put them in the stroller and headed out to see Zoolights at our local zoo just three blocks away. I popped corn with cranberries and cashews, which Dev called “fancy festive”. Treya was so mesmerized that she barely ate hers; a first for her to give up food! The weather was crisp as we sang our way there and back, enjoying all the bright lights. The highlight at the end of the evening was riding the big carousel. Treya astride her “neigh-neigh” named Precious and Devi mounted on Destiny; two appropriately named ponies.

10. Our last lazy Sunday afternoon was spent making a big 3 foot by 4 foot green felt Christmas tree and a dozen felt ornaments, decorated with remnants of trim, rick-rack and lace. (I secretly gloated over this, as it justifies my pack rat tendencies to my husband - the reason why I hold onto even 3 inches of something :) The next couple of hours (yes, hours) the girls spent taking turns decorating and redecorating that felt tree. Treya would say, “Close eye” when it was her turn so we would be surprised with her result. We had a Christmas movie playing in the background and a fire in the fireplace. It just does not get much better than that!

There have been so many more magical moments in this first year all together, but for now I will stop at ten as there is still wrapping to be done and kids to corral. To all those who still blog stalk, Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Smitten By Santa

With swaying fancy dresses on hangers filling the back seat windows, I sped from work to pick up the girls and meet Pat for our annual trip to visit Santa. I don’t know who would be more nervous - the girls or myself. For the past few weeks we’ve been trying to explain the big picture to Treya. Even Devi has been trying to help. I caught her one morning filling a holiday pillow case she had just received from one of our generous neighbors with her toys. With Treya totally engrossed, toddling behind, Dev unpacking her sack and neatly arranging the toys under our Christmas tree, all the while explaining to Treya that this is what Santa does for good boys and girls. Later DeeDee did the same, as she set up her play nativity, explaining where all the major players go and what their role was in His glorious birth. The Christmas story, the many nativities that adorn our house, the decorated hearth, Santa and his reindeer, shopping for a needy family, the lights, Advent calendars - the list goes on and on. For a newly transplanted two year old, it is a lot to grasp. All the while, Treya has been carrying the past framed photos of Devi and Santa around, fascinated by the pictures and trying so desperately to figure it all out. One day she brought a frame to me, pointed her finger to Devi’s spot on the jolly ole guys lap and exclaimed, “Me, me!” the signal that she was ready to take the next step.

Quickly changing clothes in the back of the van and primping their slightly disheveled nap time hair, the four of us were off to join the “good girl” line. A near disaster occurred when daddy threw Devi up on his hip to safely cross the parking lot of anxious shoppers behind the wheel. Devi’s shoe hit the bag of cookies especially chosen for Santa in daddy’s coat pocket. The word mutilation comes to mind as we all stared down at the bag of crumbs that once formed a pinwheel and gingerbread sweet treat. What followed was a teary small meltdown, as Devi was crushed (no pun intended) with disappointment. Quick thinking, I said, “No worries, Santa can’t have cookies while on duty anyway because his white gloves would get all dirty.”

Excitement mounted as we edged ever closer to the big green stuffed chair, recognized by Devi right off as the spot where the jolly guy sits. I kept a keen eye on Treya, who goes along with things pretty well, until her uncertainty gets the better of her and she retreats (refer to pig post when we visited the Puyallup fair). She was doing great, meeting other kids in line, twirling in her pretty dress and making her bouncy pony tails bounce. Devi was glued to the TV monitor set up to keep the kids in check, watching scenes of Christmas movies flash by and yelling out the characters she recognized.

Finally, with just one family ahead of us, it was game on for Dev, who stepped up to the edge of Santa’s carpet, smoothed her dress, pushed back the dainty wispy ringlets that have always naturally formed right at her temples and readied her list for a prompt, yet accurate display. Treya on the other hand was beginning to get that deer-in-the-headlights look - the look that is all too reminiscent of when she first came home and would hide under the furniture. Slowly, she began to inch back behind daddy’s legs to hide. About that time, Santa’s helper motioned for Devi to come forward. Dev proudly marched up and started making pleasantries with Santa. In a panic and fearing that Treya may bolt down the mall corridor to flee the situation, I reached my finger down for her to hold for security.

In that split second, Treya peered around daddy’s leg, saw that Devi was in mid-conversation with the large bearded man. Taking a deep breath of confidence or feeling suddenly extremely competitive, I don’t know which, she chicken winged her elbow around daddy’s knee to push him behind her, making way for a clear path toward that jolly old elf. Grabbing her own list from my hand she muscled her way, roller derby style, up to Santa, just in time to hear, “You princesses look so beautiful!” That is all it took. Treya was smitten. Her bravery brought tears to my eyes, such a change in her we’ve seen in eleven short months.

Both girls made the best of impressions, politely explaining their list and delivering their good behavior resumes. Expressed with superb articulation, Devi asked for a razor scooter and books...educational books that is. I thought it was kind of cute that she specified the educational part all on her own; our studious one. With a bit of translation required of me, Treya asked for an elephant. A live elephant. When we made the lists days earlier, we explained that we have no suitable enclosure for such a large pet and hygiene would be a major issue. Who would scoop the?...well you know. Mostly, however, Santa does not deliver live animals, as it is unsafe for them to make a journey like that in a sleigh. Thankfully, Santa’s rules did not change as he expressed his same concerns. Treya also asked for coffee...for her momma. Our sweet and thoughtful girl.

Sealing the deal, Santa gingerly granted each girl a Merry Christmas with a candy cane sucker. Turning to go, Treya put her tiny hand in his monstrous gloved one to say thank you. Her beautiful brown skin contrasting with his lilly white glove making her newly formed fingers that much more apparent. To this Santa gently kissed them and waved bye bye. Both girls blew kisses back which Santa caught on his rosy cheek with a grin.

As I escorted the girls away, Devi said, “He is so nice, momma.” and Treya confirmed that thought with “dood mah, momma...dood mah!” which means, “Good man, momma, good man!” Adorned with paper antlers that Treya would not take off until she landed in bed, we all heaved another sigh - Pat and I so relieved that this years Santa experience was so positive and showed so much growth in both our girls. For our sugarplums, dreamy sleep came easily, knowing that their wish list was finally safely in the hands of Kris Kringle himself.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another One Under Our Belt

The Ross Family - first family vacation 2011

A Thanksgiving trip to Mexico, that is. Our first family trip as a family of four, plus a dozen or so other close friends and family members! We did it. Sigh. I am happy to report that both girls are excellent travelers. Airports and planes don't phase them in the slightest. This comes as a huge relief, as Treya sort of freaked out a bit when she saw the suitcases come up from the basement in preparation. Because Treya still has limited language, much of our time is spent trying to decipher what she is trying to convey. Through evaluation, we discovered this time that she was concerned that we were going away and leaving her. A perfectly reasonable deduction when you consider there was a mommy suitcase, a daddy suitcase and a Devi suitcase. Hold everything! Off we went to Target to get a Treya suitcase (which matches Devi’s, of course) which made Treya’s world round again. Phew!

Treya HATES the beach!

Devi LOVES the beach!

Both girls love the pool and swimming!

Palace Resorts welcomed us with open arms for our 6th annual Mexico trip. With a group of 18, they did a good job of trying to accommodate our request to sit together or at least close to each other at meals. Although the weather was overcast and windy, it was still warm and there is just something rejuvenating about the warmth of the sun. Perfect timing to refuel before the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately, I caught a cold which I brought with me and which decided to enjoy the whole trip with me too. There is something completely wrong about wearing a bikini and carrying a kleenex, but I tried to not have it slow us down much. I did learn, however, that cold medicine and an adult beverage do not mix.

Dionna, Shawn & Kasey - friends from the YMCA

Papa and Gail

Roly & Chris - friends we met on a barefoot cruise years ago.

Uncle David & Aunt Obie

Kasey, Dev and Cousin Jordan hanging out.

Treya keeps her feet off the sand with the help of cousin Olivia

Devi was completely in her element. What a difference a year makes. Old enough to play with cousins and friends somewhat unsupervised, it was fun to watch as they disappeared into their imaginations. Mermaid island was born and the girls lived so many adventures as baby mermaids, or caring for their make believe dolphin and seal friends. Sand castles and tide pools became the kitchen for their wild life friends - cooking up all kinds of seaweed concoctions. Chasing birds, making footprints in the sand and discovering that she finally likes the spicy bubbles of a Shirley Temple and could order a Strawberry Daiquiri (with no adult part) all by herself were the highlights for Dev. Such the life, mom and dad even allow Froot Loops while on vacation - a morning ritual for both girls.

Such the polar opposite of Dev sometimes, Treya hates the sand, the ocean, seaweed, anything that sticks to her and anything that has to do with the beach, but she loves the pool and applying sunscreen to anyone who would hold still long enough to apply it. Though shivering most of the time she was wet, she never tired of the slide and other fun pool attractions in the kiddy pool and tried to keep up with the older girls. Treya is a salsa girl, and even with tears streaming down her face from the spice, would continue to spoon it in, facilitated by a bip (chip). This trip was an introduction to so many firsts for her including extended family and friends. Naturally, she glommed onto the men as her true charm continues to develop. Treya slept in the jacuzzi tub, the only space large enough to accommodate her corrective shoes and wallowed in her royal crib until experiencing a real bed at nap time. Looks like the new year may be bringing new sleeping arrangements at our house too.

Ladies spa day

Mens golf day.

The adults each enjoyed a day of indulgence. For me, it was a day at the spa with the other traveling ladies. Nothing says pampering like a fluffy robe, sipping rejuvenating teas and receiving a wonderful aromatherapy massage. Pat joined the other boys for a round of golf on an awarding winning Jack Nicklaus course, complete with moving hazards in the form of crocodiles! A huge golfing fan, I could see the glow of satisfaction on his face at the end of the day. Pat and I also enjoyed a romantic lobster dinner for two one night, thanks to the babysitting services of the other very capable 9 adults, plus Oma being instrumental in ensuring our grown up time while away. Minus my near need of the Heimlich, it was a wonderful meal spent hearing the crashing of waves and staring into the eyes of my loved one chatting....about the girls :)

Olivia, Jordan & Dev show how vacationing is done

All Rosses! Olivia, Oma, Aunt Shannon, Me, Uncle George
Devi, Treya and Jordan

Best buddies!

The lengths that Treya will go to so she does not have to touch the sand

As always it seems our plane just lands and it is time to go. We did have a chance to catch up with old friends, and reconnect with family that we had not seen in a long time. All in all, a true week of thankfulness as we begin to dream of next years trip only 12 short months away. For me that dream includes thoughts of sunshine, real creamery ice cream, the best darned guacamole I’ve ever had, and watching our girls grow up before our very eyes.