I've been sick since last Friday. I pretty rarely get sick- we seem to be the rare family that never cycles through illnesses, so I know I'm lucky that kids are healthy and no one else has gotten it, but ugh it has been ten days of no voice, bad cough, and general blech and stuffiness. I finally went to the doctor on Friday and now have some antibiotics and a better mix of over the counter drugs. I am feeling a bit better- I was able to teach barre yesterday, but I would really like to stop coughing myself to sleep and to look forward to food again. Anticipating delicious food is normally a big part of my day.
On the positive side, all my time off work enabled me to stare at the TV and get my Christmas shopping done. I even went to a store or two, figuring shopping didn't require talking or thinking very hard through the cold medicine. I'm now done with all Christmas shopping and wrapping, except for James's gift, because I'm still marinating on a few ideas. But the kids, extended family, and Santa are all done and that feels very nice. Christmas cards are also here, waiting to be addressed and written in, and all our holiday decor, including the tree, will go up the day after Thanksgiving. After the last two Christmases with newborn and snow storm craziness and then kitchen renovation hellishness, I'm determined to soak up every single day of twinkling lights and Christmas cheer from Nov. 27 - Dec. 26.
On that note, tonight we head downtown for the Parade of Lights, and then we're off on a camping trip for a few days before returning to have a nice cozy Thanksgiving at home, basically all ensuring we can get ready for Christmas immediately following. I have two meals simmering and cooking to bring along on our trip and am only barely holding back from kissing my counter tops and telling them I'm so glad they're here. A year ago my house was a dusty messy renovation disaster area and I will never stop being thankful that the kitchen reno project happened and that it is DONE. Mostly that it's done.
I finished Cora's first year photo book a few weeks ago and now I'm stalling on starting the big kids', which is very disappointing and yet I just can't get going. I give one to them every year for Christmas and they're already talking about receiving their next installment so I'm not sure why I stare at Shutterfly for hours as if it's both impossible and yet will somehow be no problem to whip through in two weeks before Christmas. I really don't know how they're going to get done. Cora's first year book took a lot out of me- I pulled in my favorite facebook quotes and blog posts and added picture after picture of the incredible JOY she brought to our family and I just felt kind of wrung out by the end. As I kept telling James over and over again with each page, she's just such a BLESSING and I am really struggling with the fact we aren't having any more. Every time I think I'm at peace with it, something else happens and my inner reaction reveals me that no, it's still raw. Okay, but raw. So I try to give myself space inside to feel it while also moving on and squeezing every drop of joy out of each day with the three that I have.
Because oh man have we reached an awesome place with them. Landon and Claire have been in the easy, play with each other for hours without adult intervention phase for about 4 years, but Cora just got there and watching her "play" with the big kids is hilarious and makes my heart so happy it aches in a whole new way. She's just so THRILLED to be part of it all and she takes on a whole new swagger when she walks around between them. She loves to hold hands and usually just stands still with a hand out until someone picks it up and she can take off. She adores accessories, animal sounds, and occasionally, her new baby. She has also taken up wearing Claire's panties around her waist which is hilarious, even as she stretches them all out and I have to buy Claire more.
She turned 2 on the 12th, right before we left for our San Antonio trip, and while she remained wary of the birthday candle (no cake though, just cookies), she was delighted by the birthday breakfast table and her presents.
I think this Christmas is going to be so much fun. She's juuuust grasping the concept of unwrapping and was so thrilled with each of her new toys- the Fisher Price animal sounds toy, a baby doll, purse, and a stroller. And a giant unicorn, though that has mostly been adopted by Claire. Cora is too busy haphazardly caring for a baby to bother with mystical creatures.
At 2, Cora is finally stringing words together and the results are cracking us up a near constant basis. She is fiercely affectionate and greets any family member who comes in the door with a screaming, arm flapping, thunderous run through the house before launching herself at your legs and yelling your name while hugging you with all her strength. I have to get it on film; it is nearly impossible to describe. She needs hugs "HUGS!!" and "KISS!!" from everyone before bed and sometimes just wanders around the house saying "mama" over and over again while smiling and waving at me, like yes, I know where you are, I just like saying your name because it makes me happy. I don't know that any age loves quite like a toddler.
She is like a pure source of joy on tap and she very much remains our family mascot. Every time she does something with the big kids we get a full report of her activities from her beaming big brother and sister like they just couldn't be more proud that she was able to do whatever they were doing. She is also very into dancing and uses a complex series of unintelligible hand motions for songs we don't understand. I keep forgetting to ask daycare, but I enjoy her interpretive dances to something that is probably just Twinkle Twinkle or Old MacDonald.
So all in all things are quite awesome. I sort of have my voice back. The big kids are playing outside while the littlest kid naps, my lasagna sauce simmers, James works, and I think about starting Landon's photo book though I'll probably go make cookies instead. Hmmm, maybe my appetite is finally starting to come back! Cookies for sure. I need to celebrate.