Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry and Bright

Christmas was a delight.

We started our weekend with a visit to the Carousel Santa on Friday night.  It was our first official Santa visit!  When Santa asked Madelyn what she wanted for Christmas, she was very confident in her answer: "Cookies!"

DSC00951

Afterward, Madelyn used one of the tokens she received as a Christmas gift from one of my co-workers and took a ride on the carousel.  Her favorite horse, Razzle Dazzle, was claimed by another little girl before Madelyn could get to him.  We were worried that we would need to ask to sit the ride out and wait until Razzle Dazzle was available (there have been tears over this fact before), but Madelyn surprised us and declared that she would ride "Larry" instead.  Larry, the Circus Pony.  The tiniest horse on the carousel.  But his rider had the cutest smile on the whole ride.

DSC00954

After the carousel, we ran (there is no walking with Madelyn) to see the Christmas tree at the other end of the park.  It was a magical evening for all three of us.

DSC00975DSC00981

We ended the evening with Madelyn's request of Santa - cookies.

DSC00994

Never mind what I said about sprinkle-control in our last post.  There was a lot of vacuuming afterward.  And a bath for a little girl who was covered in green sugar sparkles after taste testing her handiwork.

DSC01001

We celebrated our Christmas together on Christmas Eve morning.  Our gift to Madelyn was an awesome Craigslist find: a playhouse!  It has been sitting in our backyard for a few weeks now and Troy and I have been beside ourselves in excitement waiting for the big unveil, which went like this:

At first we were a little disappointed by the tame response from Madelyn.  But about 15 to 30 minutes after checking out the playhouse inside and out, opening and closing the windows and doors, it was as if a lightbulb went on in her mind and she started jumping up and down shouting, "I got a playhouse, I got a playhouse!"  It was adorable.  She started serving us pretend coffee and cookies through the window.  Well, the coffee was only for Daddy.  She told me I wasn't old enough.  Heh.  I can't wait for the spring and summer months when we can spend more time in the playhouse without puffy jackets!

DSC01104DSC01100DSC01098

We spent the rest of Christmas Eve morning relaxing, playing with our Christmas presents, and watching A Muppet Christmas Carol (a family favorite now).  It has actually provided a few good talks with Madelyn about sharing happiness with others.  It is such a joy to spend time like that as a family - something I will always treasure.

DSC01056

Christmas Eve evening was at Grandpa and Grandma's house.  Madelyn was so excited for the evening, that she could not take a nap that afternoon.  Daddy even tried taking her for a drive to help her calm down.  It was rare fail in terms of putting her to sleep.  She talked and talked and talked about Christmas as they drove around for 30 minutes.  When she got home and walked through the door, I think she felt compelled to explain why she didn't sleep, so she walked up to me, shrugged her shoulders, and (before I could say anything) said, "Cuz I TOO excited Mama.  I didn't sleep."

DSC01174DSC01194

Madelyn's favorite present of the evening was a plastic ice cream set which she promptly served to everyone.  The other hit of the evening was when Grandpa let Madelyn be the caller for our Bingo game!

DSC01218

On Christmas morning, we headed to Nana and Papa's house and Madelyn helped Nana make apple and cherry turnovers.  She took her job VERY seriously.  (The results were yummy!)

DSC01269DSC01271

Her favorite gift of the morning was a doctor outfit.  After making sure that she had helped everyone finish unwrapping their gifts, Madelyn spent the entire remainder of the morning giving everyone shots.  Not sure why that was her favorite, especially since it usually takes 4 people to force-administer a real-life shot to Madelyn!

DSC01327DSC01329DSC01336

After a much-needed nap in the car, we headed to Grandpa and Grandma Carlisle's house for the final Christmas celebration.  We sang Christmas carols (thanks Uncle Kelly!), ate lots of yummy food, and had our uber-competitive gift swap.  There are no holds barred in that game - some even tried to steal gifts from my Grandma!  Madelyn received a Toy Story Jessie doll and did not let go of her the. entire. evening.  Madelyn tells us she is now Jessie's "owner" (have to have watched Toy Story 2 to understand that one) - and a proud owner she is!

DSC01399

It was Merry.  It was Bright.  It was Joyful.  We are so thankful for our family.  We are so thankful for the love of our Lord and Savior.  It was a wonderful ending to 2011 - see you all in the New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tis the Season . . .

by Troy and Tricia

(Troy in italics, Tricia in regular font)

DSC00818

… For Princesses

This is what it is all about in our house - not tiaras, necessarily.  Rather, Princess Madelyn.  She is very much in charge of everything these days and Troy and I can't quite but help being her faithful, loyal servants (and advisors when her royal highness needs a little assistance working through tantrums or tears).

I’d like to think of us as the King and Queen, in full control of our kingdom…but yeah, that’s probably just delusional isn’t it.  Thankfully, Madelyn is a benevolent ruler :)

DSC00831

One of my co-workers found this tiara and immediately knew it needed to come home to Madelyn in time for Christmas.  She was quite right.  Madelyn was SO excited when she opened it, "Its a CROWN!"  Princess Madelyn decided she should wear her crown while eating chili for dinner.

DSC00695

… For Making Cookies

Making cookies seems to be one of Madelyn's favorite traditions.

DSC00698

Her creative messiness as a baker as decreased somewhat compared to last Christmas, but it is still a pretty good idea to have the vacuum handy if sprinkles are involved.

Madelyn’s increased sprinkle control is also nice because now we don’t have the choice of only eating a cookie that is all sprinkles or, since the sprinkles were usually gone after about 2 cookies, one that had no sprinkles at all.

DSC00877

Making cookies with Madelyn is not only fun in our house - my aunt, uncle, and cousins have established their own "cookies with Madelyn" Christmas tradition that we had the privilege of attending and tasting for the second year in a row!

DSC00669

… For Christmas Lights

We attended Willamette University's Star Tree lighting again this year and enjoyed the caroling and time with family who attended with us.

I’m still disappointed that the giant lever above doesn’t really turn the Christmas lights on and off.

DSC00727

Note the Bearcat t-shirt that came in the mail for Madelyn.  Willamette is apparently recruiting the under-3 crowd now - Hello Kitty sealed the deal for Madelyn, so I guess she already has her college decision made!

Someone should notify other schools so they can up the ante -- I do kind of need a new car…

DSC00798

We tried to establish a new tradition of driving around to look at Christmas lights, but not many people in our neighborhood put any or much effort into this tradition (after staring at a bunch of dark houses, Madelyn declared, "I go home - my fun all done now.") 

Perhaps Tricia and I are just looking through a nostalgic fog, but there really were a lot more houses that did Christmas lights back when we were kids, right?  I’m particularly thinking of lights in Keizer where each street had a theme to it.  No one does that anymore, do they?

To bring a little more fun into it, we tried the Zoo Lights at the Portland Zoo.  It did not disappoint!

DSC00752DSC00796DSC00805DSC00768

Madelyn was able to tour the Zoo with her buddy Owen.  Funny, their favorite feature (judged by the amount of time they spent at the exhibit) was a dark cave that did not have any Christmas lights but allowed them to run in circles and squeal loudly enough that other people started poking their heads in to see if they were missing a featured attraction. 

“Cave” is probably making it sound even more exciting than it really was.  It was pretty much just an informational booth about tigers that didn’t have any lights in it.

If you ask Madelyn what her favorite part was about the Zoo Lights (and you SHOULD ask her because she has a fantastic memory and loves to tell a good story), she will tell you it was "the worm."  It was a display that lit up to show a worm running away from a bird.  Madelyn tried chasing the worm with a little help from Daddy - she is determined that she will catch the worm next year.

This was my favorite thing thus far this Christmas season.  Madelyn was sooo determined to catch that worm, but I have a suspicion that she had tons more fun in the chase than if we had ever found a way to truly get it :)

DSC00834DSC00833

… For Celebrating

We had another wonderful annual Christmas party at our house with our friends and are so thankful for the opportunity to spend time with so many wonderful friends and family.

We opened our email yesterday to find a Christmas greeting from Madelyn's orphanage in China using a photo that we sent them earlier this year.  It is hard to believe that it has only been about a year and a half since we were in China!  It has been a time of tremendous blessing for our little family.

DSC07154_副本

Merry Christmas!