Monday, December 21, 2009


Advent is all about anticipation. It's about waiting for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I remember so vividly counting down the days to Christmas as a child. We would make green and red rings of paper to tear off as we got closer to Christmas. Each night, opening a new door on the Advent calendar, excited for that special prize behind.

We have only a few years, before our children start to buy into the materialism of the season, to instill in them the joy and anticipation that is Christmas. What better way than to incorporate our own Advent activities, spending time each day celebrating the coming of Christ, thinking of others, reading God's Word, and praying together?!

Here are a few of our ADVENTures from the past month:

Hot Cocoa while decorating the tree

Decorating cookies to share with our neighbors and friends

Look what I made!

Decorating a gingerbread house

pancake breakfast
(the girl likes to eat her blueberry pancakes deconstructed)

somebody else loves pancakes!

Somebody swiped the icing spoon!
Red food coloring lips and tongue!

Enjoying a candy cane after opening day 20!

Decorating cookies (again!)

the finished packages, all ready to go!

We also packed up our old toys and baby supplies to take to children less fortunate at Tiburcio Vasquez, Mama's previous employer! A whole carload of toys, clothes and infant items were given away, helping out young moms and families at Christmas time!

When we dropped off the toys, Maddie handed out cookies to everyone in the office with a "Merry Christmas!"

And thanks to Rita, we have started a Christmas Jar filled with our loose change to donate to homeless men and women.

Little did Rita know when she gave us these jars last Wednesday the conversation
Maddie and I had on Monday. After traveling to Hayward to deliver our toys and cookies,
we stopped at Trader Joe's in Castro Valley so Maddie could use the bathroom. We shopped around for a bit and a homeless man passed by, shopping for groceries. Maddie scrunched up her nose and asked why the man was so stinky. I told her that some people don't have homes and so don't have their own showers to get clean. We talked about how our own bodies can get stinky between baths, about the blessing of Daddy having a job, about our ability to pay for things that a lot of people cannot.

The conversation about this homeless man lasted most of the way home, about twenty minutes in length. Maddie came to her own conclusion about how to help the man. First, she wanted to share her red hair bow with him, to "help him feel better." Then, she decided, he could come to our home and take a shower in our bathroom and wear some of Daddy's clothes. "Daddy would share his clothes with the stinky man, right Mama?" "And he could have my hair bow. That would help. Then he could sleep in our bed and he would have a place to sleep. Then he won't be stinky anymore, right Mama?" My heart was so touched and I couldn't help but shed a few tears at her tenderness and the way she had come around from being afraid of the homeless man to figuring out how she could help him out. On Thursday, we opened Rita's present for our Advent activity and this morning Maddie emptied her piggy bank change into the jar. When it is full, her plan is to give it to "people who don't have homes."

I am so grateful to God for a home, a husband who works hard to provide for us, the ability to pay for the simplest things that make our lives comfortable, a daughter whose heart has an even greater capacity for love than I could imagine, fun activities to help anticipate Christmas, and most of all, for a baby born over 2000 years ago.

Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift.

a preschool party

Our little preschooler had her Christmas Party last week.

First, free play, where most kids decorated the tables
with pictures. Maddie also showed us around the room and pointed
out her favorite things.

Next was Circle Time. How amazing to see twelve two and three
year-olds sitting quietly, singing songs, following directions,
and working together!

Here, they sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while using
pointer fingers to wave their star back and forth.
The kiddos also sang Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday to Jesus,
God is With Us Everywhere, and 1, 2, 3 Jesus Loves Me.

Every child was assigned a "part" in the Christmas Story.
Maddie was the angel, and here she put her character in the stable.

A few minutes later, while her Bible teacher was telling the story,
Maddie blurted out "You're wearing Christmas earrings, Mrs. Fairchild!"
(Always noticing accessories--that's my girl!)

After an exciting and dramatic retelling of the story, everyone went to the
table for snack time. For the first time since we arrived, every child was quiet as they
enjoyed a special cookie in honor of Christmas!

Last, the children handed out presents to their parents, wrapped
in homemade wrapping paper and tied with a bow. We received the
most wonderful photo albums with pictures of our kids
playing at school over the past few months! The children
were so excited for their parents to see what they made.

After I opened the present, Maddie threw her arms around my neck
and said, "I love you, Mommy!" Such an amazing girl, such an amazing school.
We love CPP!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flashback Friday (to steal from Mel!)

Found the little guy engaged in an enthusiastic kleenex retrieval activity this morning:

And it took me back to this:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Maddie: 35 Months (almost 3! yikes!)

Dear Madeleine Noelle,

My sweet girl, how can you be nearly 3? I know that you've been a big girl for such a long time, but two can technically still pass for baby. Three is not baby. Boo hoo.

Okay, enough of that! You are my BIG girl, and you are so much fun! You are smart and kind and helpful and full of energy. Your favorite activities these days involve dress-up, projects (or art), dance, playing outside, and doing anything besides staying at home. One of your catch phrases is "What are we gonna DO today Mama? Where are we gonna GO?" I've learned by now that I better have an answer because you do not like a day without plans.

You love to run in when your brother wakes up from a nap, climb onto the side of his crib, and let him know how happy you are to see him. You are always so helpful with Sam, helping feed him, getting diapers and wipes, giving him toys, stopping him from getting into trouble, inviting him into your play. I get such joy from watching you be a big sister, because you are the best!

We've definitely entered the "Why?" stage. I try to be as patient as possible and remind myself that you are curious and interested in knowing anything and everything. But at times the "whys" are truly endless. My fail safe has always been "because God made it that way!" Last week we were talking about some little decoration from Target and I said, "That's just the way Target made it," and you retorted, "No Mama, GOOOOAWWWD made it!"

You continue to entertain us with an arsenal of funny faces, clever ideas, amusing quips and crazy antics. One story I've told multiple times in the past week is your idea of creating a "boogie sculpture," a masterpiece of saved boogies. I don't know where you got the notion that we should save such things but you were quite proud of yourself and your idea to use them as decorations.

Today we went to school for your Christmas party. We watched with pride as you helped tell the Christmas story, sat in circle time, sang songs, played instruments and worked with your friends. With all those parents in the room, some kids were more shy than normal, clinging to their parents' legs and shedding tears. You were in your element, the room was your stage, and it was amusing to hear your running commentary ("He's wearing a sweater vest!" "Mrs. Fairchild, you have Christmas earrings!") Always the fancy girl, you are quick to notice cute clothes and accessories.

You are my sweet, sweet girl. I am totally and completely in love with you, with who you are and who God is creating you to be. Thank you for teaching me how to throw myself into something, to love and act and laugh and scream without abandon. You are such a delight, my daughter.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

joyfully you'll draw up buckets of water from the WELLS of salvation

project 320: check it out

two years ago my father-in-law went with a missions team to ethiopia to build a well. when he returned with photos of the well, my eyes teared up at the images of women, children and animals in rogi village congregated around a bucket of clear, clean, overflowing water. no more walking all day to nourish their families. no more carting around heavy buckets. no more danger of being out on the open road. life-giving water.

so project 320 hits a familiar chord. the season always makes me one part joyful and one part cranky--gift-buying can make me a little frustrated, but gift-giving is always enjoyable, especially when giving life to someone who needs it. that is why each year we give simple gifts to our families and friends and donate to worthy causes. consider helping build a well this year. give water.

all next week you have the opportunity to give and to receive...visit project 320

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nine Fine Months: Samuel edition

Dear Samuel,

Well, another month, another milestone. We are nearing one and the advances you make each day are so exciting and fun and amazing to behold. You are changing into a little boy, an adventurer and daredevil, curious about everything the world has to offer. What a joy to watch you grow and change!

Like your sister, you just couldn't be happier than when you are outside. The swings at the park are your absolute favorite, and you will squeal with joy while soaring alongside your sister, higher and higher as you hold on tight, fingertips and knuckles white with excitement. The cold doesn't stop you from enjoying the outdoors. Just yesterday we went for a long walk in the wagon and you laughed and giggled and squealed as your cheeks and nose grew rosier and rosier.

You love to get down on the floor and wreak havoc. You can always be found pulling up on furniture, reaching for Maddie's hair (and giving it a yank!), stealing ornaments from the tree, splashing in the dog's bowl, eating the dog's food (on Dada's watch), putting random objects in your mouth, reaching for the toilet, unrolling toilet paper, crawling in the dishwasher, watching the dryer go round and round, just to name a few of your favorite daily activities.

This month you started climbing the stairs, standing alone momentarily, drinking from a straw (and a bottle, finally! Thank goodness!), waving goodbye, and giving kisses. You enjoy all kinds of foods, but especially carbs. Once again, like your sister in that respect. Your feet always seem to be going, swinging away if you're sitting in a chair or shopping cart, slapping the floor as you lay on your tummy. You are perpetually moving and perpetually happy.

That is, except when I leave you in your crib to sleep. For some reason, you don't like to sleep on your own. The babysitter informed me you talked for less than a minute last night when she put you down, but that's not quite the case when you're with me. I believe the term for that is mommy-training, and you're an professional, apparently.

In some respects, the months preceding and after you were born have been some of the hardest for me personally. I've been sick, exhausted, or sore for most of your life, in utero and out. It's been a long eighteen months and this most recent bout of mastitis has severely rocked my stalwart commitment to breastfeeding you until one year of age. It is an emotional and physical rollercoaster right now, and I want you to know that if I could, I would continue as long as possible for you to get the best advantage. But it is becoming clear that our time is drawing to a close. I've enjoyed (most) every minute of our sweet, intimate moments in the rocking chair, you twirling my hair and kicking your feet. Those will be the memories I work to imprint in my mind rather than the difficult, toe-curling, painful times we've had. I will never forget your busy little hands and feet and how you throw your arm above your head as you get close to finishing your meal.

Nine months is one of those stages where you wish you could just pause time because it is so fun in the life of a baby. This week your sister got you a balloon at the grocery store and it made you scream with delight so loud that nearly every person in the store had turned to look in your direction. Your arms flailed, almost blurry with movement, as you bounced that balloon in front of your face, your voice in an octave only Mariah could match. I beamed with pride, laughing to myself that I have the kind of baby who makes such loud, happy noise rather than mad.

You have this one upper tooth that wants so badly to break through your gums but every day that blister just forms and then goes away, leaving you at times cranky and frustrated and needy. I have to admit that it's nice to have a baby who needs to snuggle and wants the physical affection in times of distress. You are a great snuggler.

I am absolutely in love with you. You are full of love and laughter and joy and you make my heart so happy, little bud.



attack of the overdressed undersized people

o Christmas tree, o Christmas tree

We got our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, knowing
the relative busyness that lay ahead in December.

As always, Home Depot provides a memorable experience for all.

Maddie's not so sure about the complex tree-choosing method
employed by her parents (ahem, Dada)

But they're both pretty patient and content to follow along

We found it! Hooray!

Mama is just about as excited as anyone

Mr. Undecorator

Enjoying a post-decorating cup of hot cocoa
(she kept going after Ben's cup to steal fingerfuls of whipping cream)

How lovely are the branches of our tree, adorned
by Maddie, demolished by Sam, sniffed by Hanalei,
undecorated as high as little arms can reach.

feed the birds

Cue Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" theme music...

Throw in the sweetest girl you've ever seen

some fun and zany family members

and this happy little munchkin

and it's just too cute to be scary