December 17, 2015

Christmas Time With Toddler Twins!

I am so looking forward to Christmas with two 17 month olds. It's going to be insane and it's obviously so different from how we used to do things, but it's also so much fun!

We went to my Dad's this weekend to help decorate his tree. The girls helped a bit when we did ours at home but I gave them bead necklaces to hang while I completed our "toddler tree". All ornaments of any sentimental value go on the top 3rd, paper and cloth go in the middle and the bottom is bare, since the beads they put up were pulled down in like ten seconds. They had a blast doing it and instead of barricading the tree all the time I let them play with it when they want to. They tend to leave it alone most of the time or just stare at it (except for when I want to take a picture of them in front of it, of course)!

This was not the case at my Dad's. My saint of a niece (who is 4) was having so much fun decorating and the girls got a kick out of following her around taking them all down. J was being so patient and I was trying to help, giving them their own ornaments to hang or look at, but hooks and glass balls and toddlers do not mix very well. Thankfully they got distracted after a bit by the cats and pictures and books and had their own fun exploring and we were able to finish the tree.

One big difference between life before the twins and after is how I decorate. I used to go all out for Halloween and Christmas. Now, Halloween was some paper jack o'lanterns and painted pumpkins and our Christmas decor consists of the toddler tree, some kid-safe decorations they can play with and explore placed at their level and a few figurines smushed together on a table that are out of reach most of the time until I can sit with them and let them explore.

At least I'm OK with the minimalist yet cluttered look at this point. They love playing with the Santa nesting dolls I got from my grandmother and the ancient Styrofoam snow girl that my mother may or may not have knit clothes for 25 years ago (I seriously don't know who made it but we had it in my house growing up and I just can't get rid of her). 

I've also put together some fun Chrstimassy activities for them to enjoy. So far the favorite was the Christmas sensory bin filled with bead necklaces, jingle bells, pom-poms, pine branches and cones, ornaments and Christmas tree shapes.

They also love their Christmas tree discovery bottles (spice bottles filled with pine branches, cones and jingle bells - they can open the top and smell them without getting needles everywhere!) We have a ton of Christmas books that I kept hidden until now, including four copies of The Night Before Christmas - my favorite holiday story (and not just because the author, Clement C. Moore, wrote it in my hometown of Troy, NY).

They can really participate in activities now so we've had fun painting with Christmas colors and they loved the gingerbread play-dough we made last week.

I've started clearing out our playroom in preparation for Christmas and since the girls dropped down to one nap last week (completely without issue or major disruption to anyone's sleep, I have to add) I don't really have a lot of time to get things done without them in tow. I'm using it to my advantage though and having them test toys before deciding if they stay or go. They still love their cups and caps but they are also really into baby dolls, dressing up with hats and scarves and carrying around bags or backpacks. They are loving their stacking blocks and tool box too.

I packed up four boxes of toys that they just don't use and so far they haven't missed them. I'm hoping to clean them up and donate them to a local family on one of my swap groups. Someone did that for me last year when I was looking for toys for the girls (not for Christmas but just to have) but I didn't have much money to spend. She showed up here with the toys and wouldn't take payment for them. In coming years I would love for that to be a part of our holiday tradition so I'm starting it now. We're far from where we'd like to be financially (really, we're technically poor and getting more in debt every day, just keepin' it real) but it is so important to me that they know the true meaning of giving to others, especially at Christmas. If there is one thing about this whole time of year that I want to stick with them it's that we give, to show love and because we want to.

Speaking of of giving, did you send a card to Sa'fyre Terry this year? We did! This precious girl is local to us (only 15 minutes away) and as soon as I heard her story I had to make sure we created some homemade cards for her.  We used a golf ball or fingers to paint over Christmas shapes, I cut them out and we glued them onto cards and wrote messages to her. I used the extra to make the ornaments above. I know with receiving 195,000 cards a day it's likely Sa'fyre won't even see them but I'm so glad we could be part of something so amazing!

As for the girls, I am sticking with my theme for gifts that I did for their birthday and last Christmas only I've added a category this time. For any gift giving holiday they each get a maximum of 4-5 gifts from us - something they need, want, to read, to wear and, new this Christmas, something to do. So far we've budgeted $100 each but it varies based on what we buy, and it's not always all included in presents - their outfits for their birthdays were their "wear" gift, for example.

This year we got them each two pairs of leggings, two of Gerda Muller's Seasons books, a magnet puzzle from Melissa and Doug, a winter coat and a small wooden block set. We've spent just under $60 each as most were on sale and some were bought with gift cards. I am not doing stockings until next year since CJ and I never really did them before and when I was a kid Santa did the stockings anyway!

Speaking of Santa, I'm so thankful I don't have to deal with the headache of figuring him out until at least next year. I had two blogs going all about my feelings on Santa and his elf buddies (and baby Jesus too for that matter) but I haven't even figured out what I want to say or do yet, let alone how it goes over, so I don't feel right writing about it yet. That said, many other people have so check them out if you want an idea of why I am actually having a moral fit over introducing Santa to my kids. Also, CJ thinks I'm a grinch for not going all-in, just so you know.

I did take them to have breakfast with Santa. Aside from them freaking out when we got up to see him and them being called boys not once, not twice, but three times, it went great. I loved that no one had to sat on his lap, they had a chair for the kids to sit in front of him. It was fun and part of the tradition of experiencing what our community has to offer this time of year.

Last weekend we went to the Victorian Stroll in my hometown of Troy, NY, which again is the very place where Clement C. Moore wrote The Night Before Christmas (can you tell I'm proud of that fact?). We stayed for the Christmas tree lighting and heard my high school choir sing (still directed by the amazing Mrs. Mack, one of my favorite teachers ever). It was so awesome having the girls there to see that - I can't wait until next year.

The absolute best part of Christmas this year: I'm happy.

I can vividly recall so so many Christmases (far too many really) that I was miserable, sad and desperate to feel the way I did when I was a kid. Years of being alone during the holidays, always missing someone or not feeling comfortable with my own people took a toll on me and at times I dreaded the holidays. Not anymore. I'm finding it's near impossible to feel lonely, worried or sad when you've got two 16 month olds to keep you laughing.

Their wonder and joy at all the sights, sounds and music of this time of year is enough to keep me happy. They are in love with Pentatonix's Christmas album and we listen to it all day long. Add to that the fact that they are the MOST fun ever right now, the memories we're making and the start of new traditions, I am almost scaring myself with how wonderful I feel. Clearly good enough to never have time to blog, but it was time for an update, so I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into Christmas with the #beaulieutwins.

I hope you and yours have a happy, healthy and joy-filled holiday season!


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