(As always, Troy is in italics, Tricia in regular type.)
It is incredible to think that Christmas has already come and gone! The last week was a whirlwind of activity for us, and it was truly a blessing to experience Christmas as a parent for the first time.
Everything started on Tuesday evening last week when we took Madelyn to my Grandma's house. Madelyn enjoyed spinning in the big white chair that I used to spend hours in when I was little (with a book, of course). The true hit of the evening, however, was the Christmas cookies - my Grandma set a large plate of shortbread cookies on the table and Madelyn assumed that the entire plate was for her. She told Troy "no!" when he tried to take one - I think we have a new favorite dessert! (She also was smart enough to do the trick where she would take a bite out of each cookie so that no one else would want it). We lost count of how many cookies she ate before cutting off the sugar fest.
On Thursday evening, we took Madelyn to the mall to help us ring the Salvation Army bell. This has been a long-time tradition in my family - something I have done with my Grandpa since I was Madelyn's age. Madelyn donned an apron and a bell and rang her heart out…for about 15 minutes. Then she and Troy went for escalator rides in the Kohls department store to burn off some energy after standing still for so long. I think we had the most donations during that 15 minutes - who can resist such a cute little bell ringer??
Friday morning began with making Christmas cookies. Madelyn enjoyed using the cookie cutters, really enjoyed putting sprinkles on (we went through an entire bottle of red sugar on maybe 2 cookies), and REALLY enjoyed eating the finished product. I think the pictures of this tell the whole story pretty well. Later, that night, when we were laying a few of the cookies out on the table for Santa, she wasn't as interested in why we were putting them on the table as much as she just wanted to eat them :)
On Christmas Eve, we had our Olson Family Christmas at Troy's parents' house. We had to take a little "protein" (i.e. cheese and turkey) break in between gift opening to give Madelyn enough energy to finish up. Her favorite gift of the evening was a wooden food set that included a carton of milk. She traveled around the room pouring milk into everyone's coffee cups. (We resorted to caffeine during Madelyn's protein break). While we sat visiting after gift opening, Madelyn gathered her stuffed animals, laid them out on the kitchen floor, then laid down with them and told us all "Night Night." Needless to say, she went right to sleep that night!
On Christmas morning, Troy and I could hardly contain our excitement. Madelyn didn't appreciate the fact that we woke her up, however, so it took a few books and hugs to restore her good mood. The first thing we showed her when we came downstairs was the plate of cookies we had left for Santa, along with the carrot for the reindeer. It probably shouldn't have surprised us that Madelyn assumed the leftover cookies were for her - so after a few tears and non-persuasive reasoning on our part, we consented to include cookies in her breakfast. It was Christmas after all! After breakfast, it took us about two hours to help Madelyn open her gifts. There weren't necessarily a lot of gifts, she just liked to play with each one as she opened. Her favorites were an old Sesame Street Elmo (previously owned by me) and a Fisher Price horse on wheels that I received on my first birthday. Should have known that the best gifts were the free ones! She wasn't too sure about the new doll we gave her, but she is starting to warm up to it now after a few days. And she LOVED the wooden train set we got for her.
Another favorite gift -- the stickers and oranges in her stocking. She enjoyed putting stickers on each of them. So we could have probably spent $10 on Christmas presents and had a very happy girl :P As for the doll, she actually seemed to like the stroller we got for her doll much more than the doll itself. After she opened that, she was off to play, putting various stuffed animals in it and giving them rides around the house, during which time Tricia and I had enough time to open our gifts for each other.
After nap on Christmas, it was off to my grandparents' house. Madelyn sampled almost everything we had for Christmas dinner - her favorites were the mashed potatoes and corn casserole. Next, Madelyn enjoyed playing Christmas carols on the piano with Uncle Kelly and playing chase with Auntie Shelley and Nana. She also spotted the dessert and appetizer table but, to our surprise, she grabbed handfuls of cherry tomatoes instead of the cookies! Her love of vegetables trumps dessert! (Bread and rolls are still the favorites, though, hands down.)
During the gift exchange, the best moment was when Madelyn received a bracelet from my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins. Upon first glance, Madelyn must have thought it was a necklace. When Troy tried to put it on her wrist, she started shaking her head and pointing to her neck. Troy explained that it was a bracelet, not a necklace, and again tried to put it on her wrist. This time, Madelyn burst into tears and wailed, "Daaaaddddy!" That is the first time she has ever pulled such a move with Troy and, my goodness, did he ever react! Panicking, he started asking if anyone in the room had a necklace he could borrow. Several were offered, but were not necessary as a later gift contained a necklace and matching tiara! Madelyn proudly wore ALL of the bling. (She also received a Sing-A-Ma-Jig - if you have never experienced one of these - check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-R4759-The-Sing-A-Ma-Jigs-Pink/dp/B00388J386 - it provided plenty of entertainment for everyone else in the room.)
Sadly for me, that "Daaaaaddddy" thing wasn't an isolated incident and she has been using it quite a bit lately. I'm doomed.
On Monday, it was off to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas one more time! The first gift that Madelyn received was a table and chair set from Ikea. No other gifts were necessary as she happily planted herself in a chair for the rest of the morning! She has since done just about all of her playing at that table - her favorite is setting her puzzles out on the table. She also likes to set her Cookie Monster in the chair opposite her and talks to him while she plays. When I asked what she was doing, I'm pretty sure she told me she was "playin!" Madelyn also received some pretty cute outfits as Christmas gifts, so you will see her latest fashion in upcoming blog posts. We also received a steamer, dumpling press, and Chinese recipe book from Tiffany and Drew, so we are set to start our new traditions for Chinese New Year in February!
To end the night, we put in the DVD of The Snowman and Madelyn sat there quietly engrossed (it's become one of her favorites -- she really loves the music and when the little boy and the snowman fly through the air) sitting in our laps for the entirety of the movie. A nice and quiet ending to a extremely fun and eventful weekend.
2010 has been a momentous year for our family. It is hard to imagine life before becoming parents - it was honestly the best gift we could have ever received. Madelyn is a blessing in our lives and it is also a blessing to experience all of the love showered upon her by everyone else among our family and friends. We are looking forward to our adventures in parenting in 2011 and are 100% confident that Madelyn will have plenty to teach us!