Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas 2009

Ok, so these were uploaded out of order, so you'll have to forgive the confusion. This photo was taken on Sunday, December 27th. We are going to try to take a family photo on Christmas each year. She was dressed up for church earlier in the day, but she went out to play in the snow, so we put her in jeans and sweatshirt. Anyway, this was the best of the bunch...cheesy smile and all.
We have a great picture from last year. Last year on Christmas, it was so cold the driveway iced over. We took the kids out and pulled them on sleds. We have this great picture of Daddy holding Grace. She is so bundled up you can only see her eyes. This year, I made sure we got a picture of me holding Grace in the snow as well. it was a great day, and Grace said "Having fun" while she was out playing. She had a blast!

Daddy holding Grace.

Grace was running through the snow and telling me she was having fun. She loves playing in the snow. The only thing that could have topped this is if the snow were good enough to make a snowman!

On Saturday, December 26 we went to my mom's house to celebrate Christmas. I loved that Christmas was on a Friday this year. Usually my husband has to work the day after Christmas, so this year was really nice because we got to spend the whole day with my mom instead of just an hour or so. We had a lot of fun-and argued about Cabbage Patch Kids!

Grace doesn't know Uncle Ray (my brother) that well, so I was really surprised when she let him hold her and read a book to her. Her cousin Raymond looks too!

Raymond and Grace. Since we don't see my brother and his family a lot, she doesn't know them very well. They'll just have to come up this way more often to see us!

Nanna reading a book to Grace.

Her little Christmas light necklace. The necklace lights up. You can't see it on the picture, though, because the flash cancels out the lights. She loved the necklace, though.

This was on Friday, Christmas Day. Her Aunt Sarah gave her Cinderella slippers for Christmas. I could never keep slippers on her feet, which is important because we have wood floors and down in the basement it's cold in the winter. This solved the problem! She loves her slippers!

Nana bought her a "My First Piggy Bank". The bank has coins that the pig counts as you put them in. It also sings. All weekend, all Grace could talk about was "my pig". Unfortunately, we had to put the pig (and all her other gifts) away because one of her cousins tends to hide things that she likes, and she took Grace's pig away first thing. Grace had a second Christmas when we got home and started unpacking everything!

Grace posing with her cousins. From left to right: Monique (8), Kiyana (7), Sarina (5 weeks) (all sisters) and Grace (2)

Grace loves to hold Sarina. I don't know how I got this, but little Sarina smiled for a split second, and I was able to capture it.

On Thursday, December 24, we celebrated Christmas at home so we didn't have to take all her gifts with us to Indiana. Here she is opening her stocking. She received some tights, a coloring book, and some sweets.

A few months ago, I found this Little People barn at a second-hand sale. I paid $3.50 for the big barn and two smaller barns-with two chickens a a few accessories like people. I called Fisher Price and ordered extra animals. I kept this all hidden until Christmas. It's her favorite gift. She is always playing with it and has already told me there is a "mommy goat, mommy horse, daddy horse, and baby horse".

Standing in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Not all the gifts were hers; most went to Indiana. We took it easy this year-taking advantage of the fact that she's too young to understand. We also knew she'd be getting things from grandparents and such.

My father in England sent us some money to buy gifts for her. She has the Tag Jr. reader. We bought her some books to go along with it. We bought an Elmo book, and a Curious George book.

My friend Natasha in England sent her a book and this Jack-In-The-Box. Grace loves it!

Here she is in front of "her" tree. It's a little tree that I decorated "Russian" style. A friend of ours are missionaries in Russia (well, were...they had to come home because of VISA issues). She told us that Russians usually decorate their trees with white, silver and royal blue decorations. So, that's what I did. I also went to some Russian web sites and ordered a few Russian ornaments. On Jan. 7 (which is Orthodox Christmas), we will let her open her gifts from Father Frost and the Snowmaiden (I purchased some little Russian dolls off the internet). I think I'll make this a tradition each year. Each year she will get another ornamtent to hang on her tree, and a Russian gift or two.
All in all, I think we had a great Christmas. There were a few arguements, but that's probably normal. We are happy to be home, however, and we look forward to the start of 2010. Grace has come a long way since last year. Even in the last few weeks her language has exploded. She has been using sentences, telling me her feelings, and communicating a lot more. Since the last time I posted, she's learned to recognize more of her letters. Today I went up in the attic and brought down a bunch of toys. I used to be a nanny, and for the little girl I used to watch I bought a whole bunch of educational stuff. Her mother didn't exactly demand that all her toys be educational, but she did push education a lot. I had to care for J in my home for a few months while their house was being worked on, so we needed toys to play with. Anyway, I went to the attic and there was a jackpot of things that I can use with Grace. Since she's learning the alphabet, I thought I'd teach her the sounds. She has the refrigerator magnets from Leap Frog, so she's learning the sounds from there. Melissa and Doug also make a puzzle set. One side has the letter and the other side has a picture representing the sound the letter makes. For example, H has a picture of a horse. It showes the capital letter and the lowercase letter-which is what I like. There was also a three-letter Leap Frog refrigerator magnet that helps children learn how to make words. Since Grace loves letters, I'd figure I'd let her play with it. I know she's too young to understand how to make words, but for right now, she'll just like to put the letters in. There's more which I won't bore you with the details, but I think that instead of going shopping for her birthday, I'll just go back up into the attic and bring some things down from there. There's stuff I bought Grace for Christmas only to realize that I already had it up in the attic-obviously forgotten!
I hope everyone has a great New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Helping mommy make cookies. This was the first time I had let her "help" me with cooking something, and she did a really good job! I was really impressed with my patience and with her enthusiasm!
This year I gave her her own tree. I decorated it with white, silver, and royal blue ornaments (I was told that's how trees are decorated in Russia). I also let her decorate it with handmade ornaments (also a Russian tradition) and I purchased a couple Russian Christmas ornaments from a Russian store online. Here she is putting the "Snowmaiden" ornament on the tree. The Snowmaiden travels with Father Christmas to distribute gifts.

She's getting in the Christmas spirit. She recognizes pictures of St. Nick. We are talking about St. Nick rather than Santa. She will recieve one gift from St. Nick, and next year we'll start talking about the story of St. Nick. We are also teaching her about Jesus' birthday. We've heard "Happy Birthday, Jesus" on the Moody radio station, and I try to sing it every once in a while.

The Christmas tree at the Brookfield zoo during Holiday Lights

Frosty gets a hug at Brookfield Zoo.
Well, it's been a while. I think I need to post more often! Grace has changed so fast! Since she started Playschool in the fall, she's learned all her colors. She's actually very good at it. I've also started letting her watch "Super Why" on channel 11. She actually loves watching it, and I've noticed that she can recognize about 20 of the letters. A,B,C,D,E,F,G,I,L,M,N,O,P,Q,S,T,U,V,W. Ok, so about 19. We actually aren't trying to teach her the letters. We have the refrigerator magnets with the Leapfrog thing she uses while I'm in the kitchen. She is also starting to get an interest in shapes and numbers. She knows circle, heart, and triangle-and she will point out the number two and say "number two". Her vocabulary is growing-but her speech and pronunciation are just a tad behind. We're not worried, however, because she is doing an amazing job catching up.
This year we will celebrate Christmas twice. We will celebrate on Dec. 25 with all our family and all. Also, on January 7 is when Russians celebrate Christmas. We will have a small celebration here at home. After Dec. 25, I will change the table linens to reflect Russian traditions. White table cloth to represent Jesus' swaddling clothes, a white candle to represent that Jesus is the Light of the World, some hay (although it won't be real) to represent the manger, and on Jan 7 bread to show that Jesus is the Bread of Life. Grace has her little tree in the family room that is decorated with Russian Christmas colors, and with a couple Russian ornaments I bought from an on-line Russian store (each year I'll add to the collection). She will have a couple gifts (not many) that she will open. I bought her two collector's dolls from the Russian store. One is a doll of the Snowmaiden and one is a doll in traditional Russian dress. Nothing really fancy-just a small celebration.
We are so looking forward to Christmas this year. She's going to be a lot more interested in opening gifts, and she's going to love being with our families. Also, since Christmas is over a weekend, we have a lot more time to spend with our families and won't be so rushed and crazy.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Everyone! I'll post pictures of Grace on Christmas later!