Friday, December 23, 2016

let your heart be light.

I was so annoyed with myself last night.

I was annoyed because I was annoyed (and depressed, and cranky, and grumpy) for no good reason. NO GOOD REASON. Christmas is in a couple days, and we're just about ready for it. My siblings and I are planning to spend New Year's Eve together, and I'm so psyched about that. My three part-time jobs (consulting, writing for a local journal, and my Etsy shop) are all on welcome hiatus for a few weeks. Hell, I even HAVE jobs, which was my primary source of anxiety this time last year. And not only do I have JOBS, I have a warm, happy home, full of fresh food and clean water and the people I love, including a sweet little babe percolating in my belly (sixteen weeks along now!).

Right, so no good reason to feel crummy. But I did. And I was shouty with Rowan and short with J.J. and just...exhausted. So then I fell asleep on the couch around 8:30 and had to summon all my will to drag myself up to bed later that night. Because first-world problems.

I woke up this morning fully expecting to continue feeling Grinchy all day. I still have a thousand last-minute Christmas tasks to attend to, not to mention that I need to start catching up on all the household chores that I've been neglecting since I started feeling so sick back in September. J.J. and Rowan had plans to go out to breakfast together and then sledding and shopping, so I ended up with the house to myself for the morning.

And instead of shopping and wrapping and cleaning and baking, you know what I did? Freaking NOTHING. I laid in bed and checked Facebook on my phone. I read a book for awhile. I watched some Netflix and ate a lot of Christmas cookies and accidentally took a nap and made a delicious (vegetarian) Rueben sandwich. And then I did actually get some wrapping and cleaning done, before settling back onto the couch with my book and some more cookies. 

At some point, J.J. sent me an adorable video of Rowan sledding, and I realized I'd officially snapped out my funk. I saved the video to my phone and started looking through old pictures, and I realized that I wanted to remember all of the things that have made this season really, really wonderful so far (last night excluded). Of course, they're pretty much all centered around Rowan, because she is my best thing.

So here's what I want to remember most about this year's Christmas season:

:: Rowan was so excited to decorate our Christmas tree, which we did a week after Thanksgiving. We're still going strong with our fake tree, even though I really do miss the scent of a fresh one. She insisted on wearing her Santa jammies and a too-big Santa hat for the big tree lighting event.

And, naturally, she wasn't above judging our twinkle-light placement.

:: I love Rowan's love of Christmas cookies, and how excited she gets to help us make them. Here's her genuine looks of cookie ecstasy, first when I showed her all the sprinkles she was going to get to use, and then when she was frosting her first cookie of the season:

She also made cookies with Gramma (multiple times, including special Grinch cookies because Rowan loves the Grinch so much). They made gingerbread people one day, and Rowan made our family: a daddy cookie, a Rowie cookie, and a mommy cookie with a baby cookie in her belly. (And those are the mommy cookie's eyes, NOT her nipples. Despite evidence to the contrary.)

:: I love her Christmas list this year. It's such a kid Christmas list. For her first and second Christmases, she was too little (three months and fifteen months) to get the concept, and last year, she only asked for one weird, random thing: a train track toy, which we found on eBay (after figuring out what a "train track toy" actually was). This year? She gets it. She gets the idea of Santa, and she has actual toys that she pines after. Granted, they're pretty much all toys that she's seen on the wretched YouTube channel I let her watch while I do her hair for ten minutes every morning...but they're real toys. (The YouTube channel is Come Play With Me, and it's basically two little girls playing with their Anna and Elsa dolls, along with other assorted Disney princesses and Barbie characters. Whatever.) Anyway - her list consisted of four main items: the toddler Ariel doll (as opposed to the grown-up Ariel Barbie); a toy car big enough for her grown-up and kid Anna and Elsa dolls; a grocery cart that her kid Anna and Elsa dolls could sit in, but small enough that her grown-up Anna and Elsa dolls could push; and a Shopkins ice cream truck. It turns out the ice cream truck is no longer being manufactured, and it took me plus an army of my friends scouring the Internet to finally track one down that was being sold for a very reasonable $15, as opposed to literally $150omfg. Miraculously, that means that Santa found all of the toys she asked for...just in time for her to proclaim two days ago that she changed her mind and all she wants is a pogo stick. And thus Rowan learned the important Christmas lesson that Santa doesn't take orders past December 18. #sorrynotsorry

:: Speaking of Santa, it was such a joy to take Rowan to see him this year. Our mall hosts a couple of sensory-friendly Santa times, and we always go with my nephews during one of those times. One of my nephews has cerebral palsy, and it's so much better for him to attend during a time when we don't have to wait in line for an hour and there aren't dozens of screaming children swarming his wheelchair. Rowan was super pumped to see Santa, but I wasn't sure how she'd actually handle the big moment. Turns out that the girl who still sometimes gets weepy when I drop her off to the same gymnastics teacher every single week had no problem hopping up on a strange dude's lap and asking for toys.

(Sorry so blurry, had to zoom in and crop my illegal phone pic)

I guess he's not really a stranger; he's Santa. Still! Maybe give your sweet gymnastics coach a break, eh, Rowan?

:: This isn't exactly relevant to Christmas, but Rowan's excitement about our baby is possibly the number-one thing I'll remember about the holidays this year. She is CONSTANTLY hugging my belly, kissing it, and talking to her baby. She asks all the time what she can do to be a big helper when the baby comes, and she'll randomly say things like, "I'm so excited that we get to have a baby in our family," and "I can't wait to meet our baby!" I'll tell you more about all of this soon, because there are a million examples, and each one makes me feel a kind of joy and peace I didn't even know was possible.

Snuggling her baby.

:: And, of course, Big Rudolph is back in our lives. You might remember him as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tool of Bribery, the toy Rowan chose as a consolation prize after giving up her pacifiers last year. Well, he's back, and Rowan enjoys reading him "his" story on the couch...

...making him a sleigh to pull out of paper and yarn (totally her idea and execution - I was pretty impressed)...

...and tucking him into her vacant crib every night:

That's not creepy at all. Especially when you
walk past the nursery at three in the morning
and see his big eyes staring at you.

:: And "Rudolph" is just one of the dozens of Christmas songs that she's memorized and sings on an endless loop. They make her happy in a way I've never really seen before. Oh, except when she did the donut train shimmy this fall - this is a similar kind of happy. In fact, she even does a Christmas song shimmy:

Her favorite Christmas songs are "Rudolph" (obviously), "Frosty the Snowman", "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas", "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch", and the "Welcome Christmas" song that the Whos sing in the Grinch movie. Like, that song is mostly gibberish ("Fa-hoo-for-aze, da-hoo-dor-aze"), and she's got the whole thing down pat. She mostly practices her songs in her bed at night (she is literally belting out "Jingle Bell Rock" at the top of her lungs through the baby monitor as I type this), but every once in a while, I catch a snippet on video:

:: We've been lucky enough in southeastern Michigan to have a solid snow cover for the last couple weeks, and Rowan has been taking full advantage of it. 

She adores the snow, and she's fearless when sledding, even taking on hills that give me pause. As a GROWN-UP. I haven't been able to sled with her this year (I don't worry too much about doing different activities when pregnant, but I kinda draw the line at sledding, especially with a toddler in my lap and unpredictable lumps of icy snow under my ass), but she and J.J. have been out pretty much any day that it's been over ten degrees outside. This is the video he sent me earlier today that made me realize I'd snapped out of my funk - she's sledding down one of the biggest hills in Ann Arbor:

:: As for favorite indoor activities lately - I wish I had a video of this where you could actually make out the words, but she loves to make "tall, tall forts" and bring in a small lantern and her copy of  the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" book, which she recites from memory after hearing it on J.J.'s phone in his car over and over.

:: We've been watching my favorite classic Christmas movies with Rowan - at least, the ones that are appropriate for a three-year-old. So, basically, "Rudolph", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and "Frosty the Snowman". Here she is feeding popcorn to THE BABY (NOT me, mind you; I am but an inconvenient conduit):

:: And, last but not least, she and J.J. have been super into reading comic books together every night at bedtime, and J.J. is teaching her how to use the Force. One night, long after bedtime, she called me up to her room, crying that she had hurt her finger because she was "using the Force too hard." #jediproblems

She'll also use the Force on you if you try to take a cute
picture of her, so good luck with that.

So in the event that you've been feeling Grinchy lately, I hope you can find something - a morning with the house to yourself; a walk in the snow; a cute preschooler singing Christmas carols at the top of her lungs - that helps your heart feel light.

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