#1 Tree/home decorations
The name of the game when decorating for the holidays with a toddler running around is shatterproof. Meaning...shatterproof ornaments! Best find ever...both kinds that we found look great but can be thrown and if thrown, will survive. Of course instead of just allowing daily games of ornament chucking, we spent a few days teaching Jack to touch them with one finger (only!) and not pull/tug/rip them off the tree, so we actually haven't seen too many ornament grenades flying around here, but it does give us so much comfort knowing that our family Christmas tree isn't a total safety hazard (aside from the lights...and the branches...and the fact that it could topple down on him....yikes). We introduced the tree really slowly because I thought we might also be introducing Jack to a new sibling very soon, so I didn't want to overwhelm him. First it was just the tree. Then the lit tree. Then the lit tree with...dun dun dun...ornaments. Ornaments are great and beautiful and totally necessary but of course really complicated when one of your son's favorite words is "BALL!!!!" and his favorite thing to do with balls (naturally) is throw them. Anyway, introducing the tree elements slowly worked really well for us (we didn't even have to put it up on a pedestal 5 feet off the ground, or surround it with baby gates...both things we considered). As far as other home decorations, except for the awesome Fischer Price Nativity set from Nana (still "Gnana" in Jack-speak), everything is up and out of reach (on the mantle...on the dinner table...on a high sofa table but not end tables, etc.).
|Such a great advent gift - Jack is having so much fun (every day!) playing with this Nativity Set.|
I love purchasing gifts (I've always loved shopping!) but have a hard time spending money as we try to live within our means. Budget is not my favorite word...but sale/coupon/deal...now those are words I like! Since I had some time of my hands, and enough energy to drive/walk around as many stores as needed, I definitely found & used some great sales/coupons/deals, and that felt great. After I purchased all of the gifts, I tried to fight my goal-oriented nature, and instead of wrapping them all immediately (I love to finish a job!) I stored them in the guest room closet and then wrapped them all one morning when I had time (while drinking coffee & watching The Today Show...I will be honest and say that maternity leave hasn't been torture thus far.) When I finally did wrap them, I cut myself slack there as well. Yes, I used Christmas wrapping paper, but no, I did not waste time/energy/money attaching a Pinterest worthy bow and handmade card to each one. I used a sharpie and wrote out "to" & "from" in about 12 seconds flat. It was awesome.
In other gift "learnings" I realized that although we got Jack a few things (one large present & two smaller items), and we know he will really love them (I can't wait to see his face!), people aren't lying when they say kids are more excited about the box. I mean really, he loves boxes. At least one of the gifts came in a big box so he'll be a happy kid, right? :)
#3 Family Photos
I still have no idea how we will capture a family Christmas photo with a newborn (at this rate, the kid could be just a few days old!) and a toddler, so we practiced a bit today with just Jack. He is such a cutie, and loves to smile (although when he does his eyes are often closed like mama's) but is so easily distracted. Fortunately John just snaps continually on the iPhone and after about 30 shots we normally get one or two. Today we tried to give Jack something to play with (the aforementioned shatterproof ornament) which was neither win nor lose. It didn't help much (he kept looking down at it, instead of holding in festively as I imagined, in most shots) but we did get one good picture! Generally I think what I've learned now that I am a mama in charge of family photos are these three things: 1) A few deep breaths help. Like most things in life, the more patience you have, the happier everyone will be. 2) You might get "dressed up" five times before you actually get a decent photo. 3) Sometimes it is okay to just give up after five minutes and say, "let's do this another time" instead of forcing yourself, your husband, and your kid to carry on for the sake of a "holiday" photo. There are a LOT of holidays and nobody's ever told me that I needed to capture every single one to be a good mom.
|The "festive" version - with my large pregnant body not blocking the cute wreath, and Jack holding an ornament. Such a goofy smile on that adorable kid.|
|Me and my handsome boy - I wonder if this will be one of the last pictures we'll take before baby #2 arrives?!|
(40 weeks + 3 days pregnant at this point!)