Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Crisis

I've had a lot of wonderful Christmases in my life.  In fact, I can't really pinpoint one that wasn't great.  The closest I can come to a crappy one was one where I wasn't feeling that great by the end of the day and ended up puking that night.  In fact, I had a couple post-Christmas pukings, but never soon enough to ruin the day itself.  So, it wouldn't have taken much to have a "worst Christmas ever", but this one pretty much took the title, unfortunately.  Let's hope this is as bad as it ever gets.

The week leading up to Christmas was stressful.  I had so much to do and so little time.  I had a lot of late nights and early mornings, and a long list of stuff to do in between.  I did some great shopping trips and actually was probably as comfortable with gifts as I've ever been.  I got my last ones on Sunday and did pretty well with getting everything wrapped and ready to go.  However, I didn't get as much advance packing done as I wanted to, and I didn't get to bake my second batch of gluten-free cookies.  I had to be ready to go by Sunday night, so Santa could come overnight and we could have our Christmas on Monday before leaving for Buffalo.  Everything was set up late at night and we were ready to go...

In the morning we let Jacob open one gift before we left for daycare (he had off school and we had to work).  As is becoming tradition (as it was in my house growing up), he had to have a picture at the top of the stairs first.  Carter will join him next year when he can sit better on his own and/or Jacob will actually touch him.

One of the first things he saw was one unwrapped gift--a shovel!  He's been wanting to help us shovel but one shovel is too heavy and the other is the one I need to use, so he was out of luck.  Now he has his own!

I was outvoted and he opened his big gift, a big Playmobil soccer field.  We actually wanted to get it for him last year, but couldn't find it in stock anywhere.  Craig ordered it last February and it's been hanging out waiting for Christmas ever since.  He was very excited!

The boys took a few minutes to get right to getting it up and running before we all left for the day.
It has felt turf, four players that kick, two goalies that can dive, dasherboards, a couple soccer balls, and the ability to fold up and carry it. 
I left work a little early so I could take Carter to the doctor.  After his fever last week, he was doing better but still seemed a little extra uncomfortable.  I wanted to take him in before three days out of town, just in case he was getting an ear infection.  They didn't find anything, so we basically just have to wait it out and hope he's better soon.  When we came back home in the evening, we opened the rest of the gifts.  Here's Carter and me sitting next to his two big gifts...

And here's Craig showing off Jacob's gift to us, Jacob's head on an angel body...

As I expected, Carter liked wrapping paper.  We had a pretty good technique where he would hold a piece of the paper and I would move the gift around so the paper would pull off. 

And here he is wrapped in the paper of his big gift, a lion walker!

His other big gift was a basketball hoop.  I am hoping that Jacob will want to play basketball with Carter down the road.  I could have gotten one with lots of lights and sounds, but I actually liked this scaled down version.  It's cute--there are three holes above the blue, green, and yellow things.  The balls will sit on those holes until you press or slide the shape below it.  The one above the green button will go into the hoop, and the other two will drop down through the shaft down to the ramps at the bottom. 
Carter mostly likes eating the balls so far, but he did make a basket last night!
Jacob really likes his soccer field, and ended up being rather unimpressed with the rest of his gifts...even though he liked them.  He got some lacrosse socks, a couple shirts, a pair of shorts, three books, some candy, a little Lego Christmas train, and a couple DVDs (one of which came from Santa at daycare that morning.  Carter also got an Oball car rattle and a book (from Santa at daycare).  Officially Jacob's only gift from Santa was the soccer game, but we didn't really make a big deal of it.

We ate a quick dinner and finished packing up before heading out much later than we were hoping.  In addition, we had to take two cars because Craig had to work early on Thursday and I wanted to stay in town a little longer than that.  It was a long drive to Buffalo that late, but the kids slept and the transition into Craig's parents' house wasn't too bad.  It was still a late night for all of us, but at least we were there.  That always gives me a little peace of mind and generally helps me start to get into the Christmas spirit. 

Christmas Eve was pretty low key early in the day.  We happily woke up to a fresh coating of snow after rains over the weekend melted most of the plentiful snow we'd gotten a week or two earlier.  It was looking like we'd have a green Christmas, but we got our white one after all!  We hung out around the house and I took a nap when Carter napped.  Around lunch time we started to get moving so we could visit Craig's Nana, who was finally out of the hospital and into a rehab facility.  We stopped to buy her some flowers, which took far longer than we'd hoped, and we only had a little time to spend with her before heading off to church.

Unfortunately, while we were there, Carter lurched out of my grasp and nearly smashed his head into the linoleum.  He hit the car seat on the way down and just grazed the floor as I desperately held on to his legs.  He got a little brushburn and scared himself (and us).  It took a while to calm him down, but aside from a pink mark down his face, he seemed no worse for wear.  We were still worried, though, but off to church we went.  There are two services at the same time so parking is always difficult and we were later than we wanted to be.  We finally found a spot but ended up in the gym service, not the church one where Craig's mom was singing.  A bit of a bummer, but I was just happy to be in church on Christmas Eve.  Jacob was a little trying (as he had been most of the day), but we made it through. 

On our way to Craig's Aunt Marie's for his extended family celebration, we stopped at a house just down the road from the church that I had seen video of a few weeks back.  It's a house with a fully programmed light show, complete with a face made out of lights that animates and sings to the music, which you tune to on the radio.  I will try to post the videos one of these days when I get them loaded to YouTube.  But here's a picture to give you an idea of what it looked like...
Notice the face in green in the upper middle of the house.  There were lots of trees and other lights on the lawn, too.
We waited in a bit of a line to even see the house, but it was a great show!  We headed to Aunt Marie's and spent some time there.  Present giving was a little lower key than in the past, and we just had some food and enjoyed each other's company.  Carter discovered a love of ham, which he gladly downed a few small pieces of.

After that visit we headed back to Craig's brother's house for our exchange with his family.  We already knew that Jacob's main gifts (baseball equipment) were still stuck somewhere with FedEx or the post office, but the boys still got plenty.  Jacob got Legos and a soccer ball, among other things.  Carter got a Little People pirate ship, a corn popper, and a See-and-Say.  We all got some Syracuse-themed gifts, too. 
Everyone checking out the pirate ship...I think Jacob was more interested in it than Carter at that point!

We ate snacks and Jacob enjoyed some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies courtesy of Ciocia (Aunt) Andrea.  We had a good time until the kids had to go to bed so Santa could come.  We headed back to Craig's parents' and it ended up being a pretty early night, at least relative to most of my nights over the previous week!

We headed out in the late morning to go to my parents' house for Christmas Day.  We had a lovely meal with my two uncles and aunt.  Carter downed more ham and a little bread.  My mom did a good job on making most of the meal gluten-free, especially the desserts.  Jacob enjoyed a special peppermint one in particular.  After we ate we exchanged gifts with my parents.  Craig got this cool Norman Rockwell puzzle-turned-framed picture...

I got some clothes, some Platters chocolate (local favorite), a necklace, and my traditional angel ornament.  Jacob got some coloring pages he's been wanting for ages, which he was very excited about.  His big gift, however, was a super cool Greek soccer uniform, direct from my parents' Mediterranean cruise!  We were all amused that no one could pronounce the name on the back!

Carter got some clothes and four cool cars, and was obviously a happy camper!

Well, that is, until he took another unfortunate header...which really put a damper on the entire day.  He'd been so clingy to me since the weekend, not really letting me out of his sight or letting anyone else hold him.  I think my arms are getting tired and maybe just having to hold him all the time makes it hard to be 100% on all the while I was holding him, I guess I wasn't holding him in a way that protected him against another lurch like he'd done the day before.  Well, he did it again, and this time he slammed headfirst into the coffee table.  The noise was absolutely awful and I was beyond scared of what I'd see when I brought him back upright.  He cried right away, which is always a good sign.  Craig was visibly upset with me for letting it happen a second time in two days, and obviously I felt guilty beyond words for not preventing Carter from really hurting himself.  It got a little ugly for a little while in the chaos of trying to check him over and get him iced.  He had some visible bruising and swelling pretty quickly, but it didn't get much worse.  I called the pediatrician nurse line to double check the things to look out for, and we let him rest. 

We headed off to the celebration with my extended family on my dad's side, which is always chaotic and boisterous.  I was a little concerned, but I suppose it went as well as could be expected.  He seemed relatively normal but still very clingy, and he had moments of misery in the middle of it.  However, it was hard to tell if the misery was a headache, teething (he's been chewing on everything again), or belly pain since he's always a little constipated.  He had a hard time letting me pass him off, but my one aunt and uncle in particular took it upon themselves to suck it up and push through.  He did pretty well for a couple spells, and it was nice to have a break. 

We exchanged gifts in Secret Santa form, and we all did well.  Craig got a Dick's gift card, and I got a picture frame, banana saver (the thing that clips on the end of a half-eaten banana to keep it fresh, and a page-a-day calendar.  Carter got two electronic toys--a cute laptop toy and a dinosaur with alphabet buttons along his back.  Jacob got two shirts and a hoodie, per his request to get plain shirts.  He also got two boxes of Skittles!

At the end of the night we did our traditional picture of the youngest generation on the stairs--my cousin Nicki's two girls, my cousin Todd's kids, and my now two kids!  Missing are John's two kids and my cousin Chris' little girl. 

The night ended much better than the rest of the day, but I did sort of end the day discouraged.  It had been a rough few days--ungrateful moments and difficult behavior from Jacob, concerns over Carter's health, issues with the boys' dietary restrictions, tensions between Craig and me for a couple reasons, and just a general exhaustion from lack of sleep and too much running around. 

Craig left bright and early the next morning because he had to work.  The boys and I hung out with my parents for the day.  My friend Heather and her husband Peter came to visit, and otherwise we just hung out.  We got home around dinnertime and had movie night with a last minute but much wanted gift for Craig--Hotel Transylvania.  Today it's been a tough balance with just me and the boys, but I need to find some time to get through my to do list this week because it is LONG and I will lose my mind if I can't cross at least a few things off. 

I'll admit, this Christmas was very difficult for me, for a lot of reasons.  Still, I know we are very blessed with awesome families and fantastic presents.  We have so much, but there are definitely some things that are causing me some angst on a daily basis and it kills me that so much of that had to seep into our Christmas celebrations.  This may have been the first Christmas that I have understood why people get even more depressed among the usual joys of Christmas than they are at any other time.  There's a certain degree of frustration and guilt that comes with not feeling joy during the happiest season of the year, and that just compounds the sadness of anything else that's going on.  My mood has brightened a bit, though, and I'm hoping this week off of work will be somewhat restorative.  That would be the best Christmas gift I could ask for.

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