Thursday, January 2, 2014

Comfort & Joy

Christmas traditions are seeming a little more important, now that Willow is an active participant. What do I want her to know about Christmas and how will we start filling her memory bank this year? Noah isn't far behind in this train of thought either.

Being in China, away from family can be hard during the holidays. But we still enjoy our own little traditions (such as opening gifts on Christmas Eve and eating tacos). We are still tempted to over-program our time. Like last year, it got a little out of control, and we ended up going to 12 Christmas parties. 

Christmas Eve we spent our time with just the four of us together. We watched a Veggie Tales Christmas movie with Willow, ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate and wore new pajamas. We ate mexican food for dinner and opened presents soon after. Opening presents was more like Willow opening everything. Actually, she had the most presents anyway, so it was no big deal to let her open the few others that were not intended for Willow.

Away from the major commercialism of Christmas (which is felt not as significantly here, though definitely still around), I'm tempted to start a new tradition of only buying each child one gift each. As it was, we bought Willow 4 gifts (and Noah none…poor dude…though he doesn't care). I felt a little guilty for even that much! I found a cute little tea set for Willow, some play dough toys we had been saving to give to her since the summer when we were in America, puzzles, and legos.

But after all the presents were opened, she had quite a bit more! That's probably because we received several boxes from our loving family members in America who sent many thoughtful gifts. And Willow definitely won the award for quantity of gifts! The pile of toys, clothes, books, art supplies, and candy was pretty impressive afterwards. Since our apartment is so small, we had to do a toy purge in order to find places for all the new additions.

I can at least rest in the fact that everything she received is very developmental and educational by nature. She will be practicing skills with all her imaginative and creative toys for months to come and it has been keeping her very entertained of the last week. She loves her new dress up clothes, backpack, and play-dough. She's been painting, drawing with magic markers, building lego towers, and giving tea parties. Not to mention all the lip gloss and chap stick she received….that has been a huge hit around here.

I think in a few years, when the kids are able to understand the principle behind the matter a little more, we might limit gifts to 1 per child from us. At least for this year, there were no major melt downs since Willow was completely entranced by the wonder of it all. The only time she grew upset was when it was time to go to bed and she couldn't play with her new toys any longer.

Willow helped me to make sugar cookies for our Tuesday group to decorate before Christmas. She was really into the whole process and managed to eat quite a lot of cookie dough (as in, I kept missing unbaked cookies off of the baking pans every time I turned my back).

We even made a W cookie--since Willow is currently obsessed with the letter W.


Christmas morning was spent with friends. Eating a delicious pot luck breakfast together and then exchanging stocking stuffers. Willow was once again excited about all the little treats she received.
Noah thought the event to be rather lackluster and opted for a nap instead.

When we were decorating the house for Christmas, we realized that we could not find our Christmas lights. I thought that they must have burned out last year and so we were unable to decorate our tree after we set it up. Several days later, I was able to get to a market and ended up on a very 'mafan' shopping trip in which I had all sorts of inconvenient experiences (the definition of mafan, basically) transpire. At the end of which, I finally was able to purchase new twinkle lights and return home. Only to discover, almost as soon as I entered the house (without even looking for them) our bag of old twinkle lights. Oh the horrors!

Since we couldn't decorate our tree for a few days, Willow got to work hanging ornaments in other locations. I kid you not, she did this on her own volition and I am pretty proud of her creativity.

I was so happy to have our lights and ornaments up! One thing I do appreciate about all the tacky Christmas decor that is sold in China is that all ornaments are VERY cheap looking. They're all plastic or styrofoam which means that they are virtually indestructible--or at least not capable of harming a destructive 2-year-old.

We also spent Christmas afternoon sky ping family in America, and Christmas evening with more friends over a delicious pot luck dinner. As you can see, Willow loves owls. 

She also loves her stuffed cat/puppet named Poppy (named after a friend's cat that Willow likes). Willow sleeps with Poppy at nap time and throughout the night. My hand is often sweating because Willow insists I wear Poppy for hours on end so that she can pretend that Poppy is real. She also likes to pretend that she is pregnant with Poppy. So weird.

This particular day, Willow tied one of Adam's neckties around her waist as well and asked for her picture to be taken. She insisted on standing side ways, because that's what one does when taking maternity shots, apparently.
Later, she added some cardboard tubes in her shirt so that Poppy would have some toys to play with. The mind of a toddler is fascinating.

Willow also drinks coffee. She has for awhile, but not by an encouragement from me. Adam actually hates that I allow this. But, in all seriousness, if I leave a cup of coffee unattended it will be bone dry by the time I turn around. She slurps up every last drop of it. So I've started giving her either chocolate milk as a substitute (which does not fool her), or watered down coffee. If she's going to insist on a morning cup of joe, I would prefer it to be watered down and not the last few ounces of what is in my own mug.

Willow's hair is also growing longer! Still very short on the sides. Still baby-fine and very wispy. Still curly and wavy. But at least we can get some variety of styles now. These are not all legitimate hair styles. Most of these are Willow goofing around and telling me she looks like a beautiful princess named Rapunzel. I guess if you remember being virtually bald for most of your life, a little hair on your head is an exciting prospect. The poor girl has already experienced a receding hair line as she lost her newborn hair, baldness, a mohawk, and now is living through various stages of mullet-ness.

It's a party in the back, everyone.

So, this has been a very random Christmas/Willow update. I feel like I should write something about Adam or Noah now.

I am so thankful that God sent His Son, in bodily form--as a helpless baby--to grow and mature in wisdom and grace, that he would minister to the lost and save us all from the consequences of our sin. I cannot conceive of such a love, as God's sacrifice for us, that while we were still sinners, He gave us His only Son to die on the cross, so that we could be with Him forever. I cannot wait to fully understand the mystery that He has revealed to the nations. To have faith in Jesus is to know saving grace, to be assured of hope, to be redeemed for eternity.

Merry Christmas, friends!