Christmas Recap 2015
I’m sitting here in our office just before 7 am (yes, crazy I know!) and it was 70* when we got up this morning. I know for most of you that’s not a big deal, but for us it’s a big change. I’m shivering :) But, I’m not complaining. It’s a very welcome change from high 90’s and lots of humidity.
This morning we were woken up by someone singing very loudly as they walked up a nearby hill/mountain, which mean it carried really well everywhere and we got to hear it in surround sound. Last night we were talking about how we’re adjusting and settling in and even getting used to the sounds here to the point that what sounded like a big change at first has become white noise, and we’re hearing other things in the community now. It’s still so much more quiet that what we were living in before. So much.
We had a great Christmas. It was our very first without other family here, or being with other family. We missed everyone a lot, but we also had a great time as a family of 4. It was very relaxed. And the kids were excited! This year, I think I was really struck with how excited our kids were for everything. I think it was because Alex, at the age of 4, was finally at a stage where he really understood everything. I remember last year he was still kind of wandering around in a daze not sure what to do and we had to keep telling him what to do next. This year? Nope. He was all in. And, because he was excited, I think it made Olivia more excited, so they fed off of each other. I couldn’t help but think of the fact that even with not doing Santa, our kids were over the moon excited.
We don’t do Santa with our kids, because it would be really hard to explain why Santa comes to their house, but not to any other house here. Right from the time that Olivia was little we’ve just told the kids that Santa isn’t real, but something fun that people do at Christmas, and why. We do stockings but our kids know that they’re extra gifts from Mom and Dad.
I knew that because of who Alex is, putting any gifts out ahead of time would just cause a lot of, “Alex, stay OUT of the presents!!!” moments, and because of moving and just feeling worn out, I didn’t stress about getting things wrapped and under the tree. On the night of the 23rd, after the kids were in bed, I stayed up and wrapped everything and got stuff sorted out. The next morning they woke up and came downstairs to see gifts under the tree, and it was all good. It was only one day of telling them to keep their little hands off of everything.
On Christmas Eve day we just lazed around. I did some stuff ahead of time to get things ready for our turkey dinner the next day, but there really wasn’t a lot to do since it would just be our family. Chris and I each took some time with the kids to wrap their gifts to each other, and their gifts to us. This was the first year where Alex was really part of this, and it was fun. As I was wrapping presents with him we talked about how giving a gift is supposed to be a surprise, so he shouldn’t tell anyone what he was wrapping up. We did our thing, and he took Chris’ gift down, then came back up to wrap Olivia’s. He’s been learning how to write his letters in school and I was a gushing Mommy when I spelled out Olivia’s name and he wrote it all out, as well as his own name, on the tag. Sigh. #mybabyisgrowingup
When he was done he went downstairs and put the gift under the tree, then went to play and Olivia came up to do the same. Five minutes after she was done and I was finished tidying up I came downstairs, and Alex blurts out, “Olivia is giving me blocks for Christmas!!!” Olivia was old hat at this Christmas thing, so I wasn’t expecting her to spill the beans. When I asked why on earth she would have told her brother what he was getting she said, “But Mom, he told me first so I had to tell!” Lol! I think this was even funnier because Alex had already opened the trunks where I was storing Christmas gifts within half an hour of them arriving at our house after friends brought them in for us. I had to padlock those suckers for the last three weeks to keep him out of them! He’d already been running around the house for the past three weeks talking about the truck he was going to get for Christmas. Needless to say, we had some conversations about how much more fun it is to not tell what you’re giving people so it’s a surprise, and to not peek either. :)
Something we did last year, that we all really enjoyed, was to make pizza on Christmas Even night and watch a movie. We love pizza, and we love watching movies, and it’s always a treat for the kids when we do pizza and a movie nights, so it’s a fun tradition that we’ve started. I like it because once the pizza is in the oven I can tidy up, then I just have to cut it and leave it out while we laze around a watch the show. People can get up and grab food when they want it, and we can enjoy just relaxing together.
One tradition that we’ve carried over from when I was a kid is new pj’s on Christmas Eve. Because we live in the tropics I actually end up shopping for these during the summer when we’re home so I can get summer pjs for the kids. They’re just starting to figure out that this is something that’s a tradition, and that it’ll happen each year. The other thing we added on to that back when Olivia was two, was a new book. We’ve been reading a story before bed since Olivia was about six months old, and it’s amazing how much our kids rely on this as part of their bed time routine. Alex can’t go to sleep well without it, and now that Olivia is older, after we read to her we’ll let her stay up and read for a while by herself. Chris and I read every night before going to sleep, so it makes my mama heart happy to see that it’s become a daily thing for our kids too. I always look forward to giving them new books at Christmas to add to our collection. Our books get used and loved hard, so it’s always nice to add fresh stuff to the mix. I found some great ones this summer and just stashed them away.
I have to share something else that was really funny on Christmas Eve, even if it’s just so I can remember it down the road. The kids were SO excited that mid-morning I actually heard Olivia say, “Alex, so if we go take a nap soon, and sleep for a while, then it will be closer to bed time and we can go to sleep and wake up and it’ll be Christmas morning!” :) Any other time of the year no one wants to take a nap, but if it means Christmas might come sooner…
Chris and I told the kids that we wanted them to come in a snuggle with us on Christmas morning, then we would all go downstairs as a family. Truth is, we didn’t trust them with the stockings without us there. They were all excited about this. What we didn’t anticipate was that they would come in to snuggle at 3:58 am. No joke. And they were wide awake. We tried to snuggle. That lasted about 5 minutes and there were elbows flying and squirming and loud voices, so we decided it was less torturous to just get up. We also decided on a new Rolling family rule – on Christmas morning in Haiti you’re not allowed out of your room until the sun starts to come up. Which is around 6 am. I can do that. 4? Not so much.
We went down, made coffee, opened stockings and then moved on to gifts, and everything was opened before 7 am. We had a lazy morning and day. Lots of reading and playing with toys and drinking coffee. I puttered with getting the turkey in, and because I’d done a bunch of stuff the day before, I didn’t have a lot to do Christmas day for dinner. I think I was in my pyjamas until after 1 pm. It was great! We ate turkey, we relaxed, we enjoyed each other.
Today we have friends coming over. Our first friend visit since we moved, so we’re excited. And, funny story, we’ve asked their kids to catch us a bunch of little lizards so we can release them in our house. Haiti has these little lizards, some of them are like small gekos, and they take up residence in nooks and crannies and behind pictures etc. They used to freak me out a bit, but now I welcome them because they eat bugs. All the bugs. The problem with our new house is that it’s closed up so well with screens and no spaces under the doors, that the lizards can’t get in on their own, so we have spiders and ants and we need to get rid of them. We like to call it natural pest control :) Their kids love catching stuff like this, so we knew it was a good favor to ask.
We’re loving our puppies, too. They’re starting to grow and get chubby little bellies on them, and their personalities are really coming out now. The runt, Elsa, is the Houdini of the lot, and every day finds some hole in the chainlink fence that she can squeeze through. Then she runs around the yard by herself until we put her back in. We’ve been trying to let the dogs out to run around for a bit every afternoon/evening so they start getting used to the yard. They’re still too small to leave out for longer periods because a) they’ll squeeze out under the main gate, and b) they don’t quite come to their names being called yet. You can imagine how fun that would be. They love to run and chase and attack each other, which is super funny to watch. Right now the weeds in the yard are taller than they are, so it’s this big adventure playground for them.
Well, my laundry is almost done and ready to hang, so I need to sign off. Hope you’re having a good start to the last week of 2015!