Holiday Traditions

When I was a child, my family had quite a few Christmas traditions. When we lived in Maryland, there was a house we would drive by every year because the homeowners had a HUGE tree that they decorated.

After we moved to Tennessee, we started going to our church’s musical Christmas eve service, which is one of my favorites. We also had an Advent calendar, and my brothers and I would take turns hanging decorations on it every day leading up to Christmas.

We also have traditional meals that my parents still make. On Christmas eve, my parents make a huge pot of Chow Mein and a fruit salad and, after eating, we move into the living room where my late grandfather would read the Christmas story before we all opened presents (yes, we open our presents on Christmas eve). On Christmas day, we have the same meal we have for Thanksgiving – vegetarian turkey slices and stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn casserole, etc – and I look forward to that meal all year!

Now that I have my own little family and that Lucy is old enough to really understand things like traditions, we’re starting to figure out what we want to do with her. I’m lucky enough that, even though Joe is Jewish, he is very hands-on and participates in all our Christmas activities with us. I hope he knows how much that means to me.

Here are some traditions that we do/are doing:

24 Nights of Christmas Books

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I saw another blogger post about this and thought it was such a fun idea that I wanted to do it with Lucy. I bought 24 Christmas books, and every night she opens one. She LOVES it. She will ask numerous times a day if it’s time to open her book. It’s so much fun to see how excited she gets. I hope her love for reading deepens.

Family Ornament

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This is a tradition that Joe and I started our first year as a married couple. Every year, we get an ornament that symbolizes our family or something big that happened to us over the year. The first year, we got a frame ornament with the date and put our wedding picture in it. The next year, we got a house to symbolize buying our first house. In 2009, we purchased an ornament to represent Lucy, the newest addition to our family. It’s so much fun to do this every year and to explain the meaning behind each of the ornaments to Lucy as we decorate our tree.

Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
Last year, we cut down our own Christmas tree for the first time at a local tree farm. It was much easier than we expected, and the trees they grow are Leyland Cypress – trees that don’t shed. That along with the fun we had picking out a tree and having Joe cut it down sold us on the idea of doing this every year. It’s so much more fun than heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get a tree.

Advent Calendar
I love Advent calendars, and from the beginning, this was one thing I wanted to do every year. We have one that we hang on our wall to mark each night before Christmas, and last year I got Lucy one with which she would open a door every night and get a piece of chocolate. It’s such a fun way to count down to Christmas.

Giving Gifts to Children in Need/Adopting a Child

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When I was in elementary school, my family would adopt a family every year and provide them with Christmas gifts. It’s one thing that has always stood out in my mind and something that I enjoyed even as a child. And, it’s something I want to do with Lucy to remind her that it’s better to give than to receive. We were initially going to buy a gift and donate it to the United Way but tonight at our Kiwanis Club Christmas Party, we saw a tree filled with angels representing children who need someone to adopt them for Christmas. So, we picked one for this year. I am SO excited to shop for him and to help make this a Merry Christmas for another child.

Visiting the Santa House

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Did you know that Santa actually lives in Georgia?? Well, he does, and his house isn’t far from here, so we took Lucy last year. He and Mrs. Claus have put up thousands of lights on their property, and it’s fun to go see them all. While we’re there, we visit with Mrs. Claus and see Santa (three years into this parenting thing and my kid STILL doesn’t like Santa). The best thing is, it’s all free. It’s such a fun thing to do, and it’s something we look forward to doing every year.

Other things we have done or would like to do include driving around to look at Christmas lights, riding the Santa train in Blue Ridge and watching Christmas movies.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

I’m linking up with Growing up Geeky.

Family Pictures

We had family pictures taken today. My hubby does photography on the side, and I always pick out poses that I like, so we hit up a park today and has some fun. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our DSLR camera because we need to order a new piece for it, but I think they turned out pretty well considering we just had my point-and-shoot.

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A Bouncing Birthday

Having a child whose birthday is in November makes birthday party planning difficult. You never know what the weather will be like so you end up having a party indoors somewhere since you have to book a place relatively early.

That’s how it was this year with Lucy’s party. The weather on the day of her party was fairly nice, and I told Joe we totally could have gotten away with a park party. But, we booked a party at a local bouncy place, and I am SO GLAD we did. I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except show up with the cakes and party favors.

We had a little over an hour in the bouncy rooms. There were two parties going on at the time, and we split the time between the two rooms so our party was completely private the whole time. I loved it. What I also loved was that adults could bounce too. EVERYONE had a blast. Even Lucy’s grandparents were bouncing and sliding!

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Lucy’s party happened to be on my Dad’s birthday, so we had a cake for him, too! He was a good sport and let us get him a Diego cake to go along with Lucy’s Dora theme.

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Lucy had a pretty fantastic party. One of her friends said it was the best party in the world! I don’t know HOW I’ll top that next year!

Lucy’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Birthday

My sweet girl turned 3 yesterday (seriously, WHERE does the time go??), and we had an awesome day planned. After she played for a while in the Power Wheel we got her, we were going to grab donuts for breakfast (our tradition), and head up to Dalton to watch trains and let her take pictures with her new camera.

After Lucy went to bed on Tuesday night, we set to work wrapping presents and putting her car together. I set up a pretty nice display with which to surprise her the next morning and headed to bed.

Around midnight, Joe woke me screaming that Lucy was having trouble breathing. He gave her to me and called 911. Apparently, she had been pointing at her mouth and nodded when Joe asked if she had swallowed something though, of course, we had no idea what it might have been. We were scared to death. I seriously have never been that scared in my entire life.

Lucy calmed down a bit when she saw her gifts, so we rushed her to the car and sped to the hospital. When we got there, they didn’t seem to think there was anything seriously wrong with her (um, HELLO, my daughter said she swallowed something and was still having some trouble breathing), and we ended up waiting for more than an hour in the waiting room. Once we were taken back, we waited another 30 minutes or so for her nurse to come in. Joe had to actually go out twice to ask if our daughter was going to be seen.

When the nurse walked in, she saw Lucy walking around and said, “Oh, she’s fine.” Let me tell you, this momma was LIVID. She listened to Lucy’s heart and lungs, and then left. I was pretty P.O.’d by then and told Joe in no uncertain terms that we were never going to our local hospital again. We’ve never had a good experience there, and this just sealed the deal.

So, we waited. And, we waited. And, we waited. I went out and asked WHEN the doctor was going to come in and was told that Lucy was on the list to be seen. Obviously. However, a time frame would be awesome.

We waited another 20 minutes, and when Joe went back out to the desk, he was told it would be another 30-60 minutes before Lucy would be seen. So, we decided to leave and go to one of the hospitals in Rome.

Once we arrived, the girl at the front desk took one look at Lucy and called back, telling them there was a croupy child they needed to come get. Now, I know there wasn’t anyone else waiting, but I was impressed with their staff from the get-go.

When we got to our room, we had three nurses taking care of Lucy, and the doctor came in about 10 minutes later. She had an xray taken (and, apparently, Lucy had to be strapped to a chair with her arms held up because she wouldn’t stand still — definitely nothing that would hurt her but she was pretty traumatized by it) and diagnosed Lucy with croup. She gave her a steroid shot (traumatizing event No. 2) and a prescription for an antibiotic, and sent us on our way.

We got home around 6 a.m. and, after we let Lucy sit in her car and open her presents, we crashed for a few hours.

When we woke up, we tried to salvage Lucy’s day and took her to breakfast at Waffle House (her request). Afterward, we ran a few errands (and picked up a new toy for her) and then came home to nap. Then, we took her to Chili’s for dinner where the staff sang to her and gave her a brownie sundae. She was thrilled!

So, I think we made up for how her birthday began. We ended up having a really nice day celebrating our little girl.

The Rocking Chair

Last night, I rocked my daughter.

That may not sound like a big deal, but in our house, it is. You see, ever since Lucy was a baby, it was her Daddy who rocked her. I was lucky in that every time she woke up (which was usually once a night), Joe would get up with her and let me sleep. I was grateful because, unlike other new mothers, I was well-rested. But, as Lucy grew older, I realized it had its drawbacks.

At bedtime, it’s Daddy who Lucy wants to rub her back or to rock her. She never wants Mommy and, if I even dare to try to take Daddy’s place, she cries for him. When she wakes up at night or in the morning, it’s Daddy she calls for.

So, every night for the last  three years, it’s been Joe who has rocked our daughter before bed.

Until last night. Sure, it took some coaxing from Daddy who was required to sit on the floor by Lucy’s bed. But it’s OK. Because last night I rocked my daughter.

Let Me See That Tootsie Roll

We had a fabulous Halloween, and my little Tootsie Roll stole the show at every event. As I mentioned before, she won second place at this year’s Kiddie Day Parade, which she was SUPER excited about.

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Then, there was the costume contest at our favorite Mexican place. There were 5-6 kids in the contest, and before the judging began, Lucy won over the audience by dancing along to the karaoke singers. So, it was no surprise that she won the contest by an overwhelming vote. It wasn’t close and, really, it wasn’t fair to the other kids. I mean, just look at the cuteness! Apparently, one of the older girls wasn’t happy that Lucy won, as you can see in the third photo. I didn’t realize that until now. Oh well. That’s what happens when you compete against an adorable toddler!

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On Halloween, Joe left work early, and we took Lucy downtown for the annual Trick or Treat event. This may have been the last year for it so, even though I was only two days past surgery, I made a point to be there.

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After downtown Trick or Treat, we stopped by Publix (where they always give out candy and have a little “haunted house”; unfortunately, they were working on the “haunted house” when we arrived so Lucy just got some candy) and then went to Chili’s for dinner to take advantage of our Kids Eat Free coupon. We normally go through the entire Publix strip mall, but I just wasn’t feeling up to it this year.

By the end of dinner, I was feeling pretty awful, so I went home to rest. Since we don’t live in a neighborhood with many houses for Trick or Treating, Joe took Lucy to a Trunk or Treat event at a local church and said that she had a blast.

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When Lucy got home, she had to check out her loot.

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She hasn’t eaten any of it. She doesn’t want to. She just wants to sit and look at it. She’s weird. And, of course, her attitude toward it doesn’t make it fun for us to eat for her. I did eat a mini bag of M&Ms, and she flipped out when she saw the bag I forgot to throw out. She still brings it to me and gives me her sad eyes. Nothing like a little Mom guilt.

Now, I can’t wait until next year. I’m already thinking about what Lucy will be. Maybe Strawberry Shortcake!