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Thursday, January 3, 2013

All Things Christmas

Once again, I have fallen behind on blogging.  I had every intention of using my time off to post frequently - carefully detailing all of the fun things we were doing to get ready for / celebrate Christmas, but at the end of each day I ended up falling asleep before I could make it to the laptop.  In true Russell fashion, I got two weeks off from work and what happens - the twins got sick.  Both kids hadn't been able to shake the cough that has been lingering for weeks now.  After our Christmas night festivities at my mom's house we came home prepared for a long winter's nap, but Brooklyn was up every 30 minutes tossing, turning, and most of all coughing to the point she was throwing up.  She also was running a fever of 103 degrees.  The coughing and fever continued the next day and so we decided it was time to get her to the doctor.  They tested her for the flu and it was negative.  They then tested her for the dreaded RSV - and it was positive!!!  So, for the second time in her short life, sweet Brooklyn has battled this nasty virus.  She spent the next few days on the couch, sleeping for most of the day.  She would get up briefly to potty and attempt to play with her toys, and then end up back on the couch.  She would have a coughing fit and then start gasping for breath between each cough - very scary.  Her fever finally broke, but she still wasn't getting better because she was refusing to take her medicine.  We tried every trick in the book - I even dressed as a doctor with a mask and everything, and she wouldn't budge.  Tim, held her down and started squirting the medicine in her mouth, but she spit out every singe drop.  We settled with putting it in her sippy, but she never seems to finish them.  To top it all off, Tayden's cough has kicked in to high gear, so I am pretty sure he is having a milder case of RSV as well.  The doctor gave us some strong cough medicine, but it doesn't always seem to be working.  We ended up taking Brooklyn back to the doctor Monday and he gave her a strong shot and it did the trick!!  She was much better Tuesday and today.  She has been up and playing both days, and talking our ears off.  It is GREAT to have her back to her normal self.  We are continuing to pray that her cough will get better sooner.

On a happier note, we had a WONDERFUL Christmas!!!  We spent Christmas Eve at my mom's eating tamales, rice, beans, yummy dips, and delicious desserts.  We exchanged gifts with the family which was a great success.  Tayden got a guitar and a microphone with a stand and Brooklyn got a baby doll with all of the doctor tools.  She loves playing like she is the doctor taking care of the sick baby.  She also got two pairs of dress-up shoes with a purple tutu.  They both got red bean bag chairs and a double-sided easel with chalk and "magic" markers.  They love their gifts!!!  After opening gifts, the kids decorated sugar cookies for Santa.  We got home that night and prepared a plate of cookies for Santa, with milk and 9 carrots for the reindeer.  We read "T'was the Night Before Christmas," and put the kids down.  Santa then began the more than 5 hour process of assembling toys.  It was a very long night!!

On Christmas morning the kids woke up and ran to the living room to see what Santa had left for them.  They got a kitchen, a trampoline, and new books.  Brooklyn got a mixer for her kitchen and Tayden got a guitar.  They played with their new toys for a few minutes and dug through their stockings.  Next, it was time to open gifts from Mommy and Daddy.  They loved opening each new present - that was more exciting than the gift itself.  Brooklyn got a high chair and cradle for her dolls, food and pots and pans for her kitchen.  Tayden got a violin, a saxophone, and some food for the kitchen.  The kids kept themselves entertained with all of their new treasures, while I made a huge brunch.  My mom stopped by to see all of the presents and eat with us.  By then, it had started snowing!!  We had a true, white Christmas!  In the afternoon, it snowed quite a bit, and it actually stuck around for more than a day.  The twins wanted to go outside and play in it so bad, but we figured it wasn't a good idea with their coughs.  We did go back to my mom's that night for soup and cornbread and more family fun.  I cannot imagine Christmas going any better than it did.  It was so fun to see everything through the twins' eyes.  It was the first year that they truly had some understanding of Santa and opening presents - their excitement was contagious!!  It broke my heart to think of the 20 families in Connecticut that were spending their first Christmas without their precious children and the thousands of others that have been impacted by that tragedy.  I cannot imagine the pain and loss they must feel.  It was a very powerful reminder that my greatest gift this season was to be surrounded by my happy, healthy (overall) family.

We did a few things to get in the holiday spirit this year.  We spent many nights driving around looking at Christmas lights.  The twins have memorized where Elmo, Snoopy, Mickey and Minnie are in our neighborhood.  We were able to go and visit Santa at the mall.  Brooklyn had been saying since Thankgsiving that she wanted to see Santa, so we were eager to see how she would react when she got to see him.  There was only one family in front of us and when it was our turn, she ran straight to him and gave him a huge hug.  She sat in his lap - no fear at all.  Tayden was a different story.  We warned the photographer to take the picture as soon as we put him in Santa's lap.  He was crying and would would not put his arms down where they would actually be touching Santa.  So we got a picture that I'm sure we can use as bribery one day - where Brooklyn is smiling and Tayden looks like he is an airplane. 

The weekend before Christmas we rode the North Pole Express in Grapevine.  The twins were so excited to ride to the North Pole to see Santa.  We got to ride in a beautiful, antique traincar for a 45 minute roundtrip ride to the North Pole.  On our way back to the train station, Santa came through our traincar and gave each child a bell.  There was amazement, caroling, and lots of bell ringing.  We also got to make ornaments and drink hot chocolate - very fun!!!

Tim recently had a birthday - the big 35!!  My mom watched the kids so that we could have a night out.  We went to dinner and a movie (hadn't been to one of those in months).  When we got home, we surprised him with a cake and a ticket to the Steeler / Cowboy game the following Sunday.  He was super disappointed that his Steelers lost, but he had a great time.  He had never been to Cowboy Stadium - supposedly a sight to see.  He has been working on converting half of our garage into a playroom for the twins.  He has spent so many hours out in the cold working away, to give them a space all their own (motivated by the thought of getting our living room back).  He is very close to having it finished.  I can't wait to start moving all of the toys and decorating the room.  I will definitely be posting pictures of the finished product.

This past weekend, Tim went to visit his mom and brothers to exchange Christmas gifts with them.  The kids wanted to go, but we didn't want to risk infecting anyone with our lovely germs.  Tim brought home many packages and the twins couldn't open them fast enough.  They each got a new outfit and a dish set.  Brooklyn got three Barbies and Tayden got a remote control car.  What lucky kids!!!

Our New Year's Eve celebration was very low key.  We went to the doctor, got Long John Silvers, and then snuggled on the couch.  Just a few years ago the thought of getting fast food and sitting at home on one of the biggest nights of the year, would've seemed dreadful, but it was perfect!!  The twins did stay up until midnight and kept telling each other, "Happy New Year!"  Very cute!  On New Year's day, we slept in and then I somewhat carried on our soul food tradition that we started last year by making black-eyed peas and greens.  We made resolutions for our family, for us as a couple, and for Tim and I individually.  I also wrote a family mission statement - to guide us not only in 2013, but for many years to come.  I wanted to put together a list of the things I feel most important to teach the twins (things that Tim and I both need to focus on as well).  Here it is:

Live purposefully.
Act responsibly.
Laugh uncontrollably.
Forgive frequently.
Give generously.
Be thankful continuously.
Treat others respectfully.
Choose your words carefully.
Speak truthfully.
Pray fervently.
Worship faithfully.
Love unconditionally.

Now, as always I must share some of the funny things heard at the Russell house lately.  Believe me, there are dozens a day, and I try to write down as many as possible.

Brooklyn - "Tayden, are you scared of Humpty Dumpty?" Tayden replied, "No, I'm scared of tigers."  I asked Brooklyn what our elf Christmas eats and she told me that he eats little pumpkins.  She calls Tayden's saxophone a sackaphone.  Tayden was misbehaving and she told him that Santa was going to bring him ugly rocks (my attempt at explaining coal).  She loves to talk about how she was a baby in my tummy.  She told me that Sambo (our dog) was a baby in her tummy, and that Daddy was a baby in Pawpaw's tummy.  She loves to tell Tayden to be quiet because Daddy is on the phone, even when he isn't at home.  I told her the story about Lovey finding a flying squirrel in her closet and she keeps telling Tayden about it and saying, "That is so funny!"  Last night she helped me unload the groceries and kept saying, "You bought _______ for me?  Thanks Mom!"

Tayden - "Brooklyn, are you sad?  A song will make you happy!"  He proceeded to play her "Oh Susana."  Brooklyn was misbehaving and he told her, "Santa will be so disappointed."  He now refers to Snoopy as Noofy, and always wants to drive by and see him.  This kid has the greatest memory ever!!  He will tell me about things that happened so long ago I have forgotten them.  Anytime he misbehaves he will say, "Are you sad?  Be happy!"  Many times I will ask him to do something and he will say, "No," but then with one glance of the evil eye he will say, "Yes ma'am."  Today Brooklyn told me no and he said, "Brooklyn, say yes ma'am."  In potty training news, Tayden has used the big potty one time.  We were so excited and starting cheering - which scared him and make him cry.

I apologize for the mass amount of pictures.  I am behind!!!

noodle necklaces from school

having fun with a garbage bag

His favorite thing to do - play the guitar and sing "Oh Susana"

our Chritmas cookies

Brooklyn's countdown to Christmas chain

Tayden's chain

Their angel ornaments on the tree

Tim's cake

The snow as we entered the train

Tayden's face when he heard Santa coming

Tim wasn't too thrilled about all of the bells

Christmas Eve at SueSue's

Decorating cookies

notice the high heels, tutu and crown

Santa found our house

Christmas morning - Tayden's diaper leaked in the night so he had to put on new p.j.s


playing with Malley's Furbie

sick little Brooklyn came home from the doctor and fell asleep in the trampoline