‘Tis the season of tiny tots with their eyes all aglow. Thus, some words about the girls. OK, over 1000 words. It’s been awhile.

The big sisters are especially excited about Christmas this year. It’s all clicking for M., and C. has reached the first level of understanding. We’re doing the <a href=”http://www.elfontheshelf.com/#/home”>Elf on the Shelf</a> this year, so every morning involves a frantic search through the house to find Elfie, as they named their Elf. There have been a couple mornings where I forgot to move Elfie, so I had to quickly come up with excuses for why he was in the same spot. Fortunately, they bought the high winds excuse both times.

It’s funny to watch C. take the things she’s learning at preschool and apply them to Christmas. One day she said, matter of factly, that Joseph and Mary don’t have a baby anymore because he’s in heaven. She seemed concerned that their baby was gone, which was sweet. One of the songs her class sang in their Christmas program had a lyric about the “glorious kingdom.” Yesterday she asked me how Jesus got here from the glorious kingdom. I reminded her that Mary was Jesus’ mother. How did Jesus get in Mary’s belly? That was a tough one, because I didn’t think she’s ready to grasp the immaculate conception yet, and I didn’t think the drop-off line for school was the time to have a refresher of the “how babies get in mommies’ bellies” conversation. Plus, I’m not the best source for explaining stories that are the roots of Christianity. Fun times all around.

Since M.’s been through the dog and pony show that is Christmas a few times, she’s been wound as tight as a five-year-old can be wound since Thanksgiving. As the leader of the girls, she’s constantly creating games that involve Santa Claus, reindeer, and the parts of our nativity scene. She’s as much excited about her aunts and uncles coming home for the holidays.

She’s also our sensitive child, and cried when we left the church last night after the Christmas program, since she won’t be back at school or see all of her classmates until January.

Speaking of the Christmas program, it went well. C. didn’t freak out, sang her songs, and seemed to have fun. M. had a brief speaking part, and completed it with aplomb.

Our big kid news is that L. is no longer sleeping in her crib or drinking from bottles. After months of claiming we were going to get tough with her at nighttime, we finally bit the bullet and did everything in one night. She helped us throw away all the bottles and then we took the mattress from her crib and placed it on the floor. We spread out a sleeping bag and some blankets next to the mattress. When naptimes and bedtime come around, one of us will lay down next to her for awhile, get her to sleep, and then escape.

Well, that’s the idea. When I put her down, she tends to want to play for half an hour. The only way I can get her to stop is to close my eyes. Which generally means I fall asleep before her and wake up an hour or two later with her laying across me, snoring. That’s not the ideal situation, but we’re in better shape than we were two weeks ago. She even slept for eight straight hours one night this week, a personal record.*

(I wrote that part yesterday. Naturally last night (Wednesday) some teething pain kicked in and the early stages of a cold kept her awake until after 1:00. The up-side was that I got to clear out a lot of programs on the DVR while I let her sleep on me downstairs.)

Other kid news: M. is learning how to read. She’s doing a great job so far. She brings home a book each Thursday that they’ve practiced on during that week. She rips right through it each time we review it over the weekend. She’s looking at unfamiL.r books, magazines, and signs and trying to figure out what they say. She is constantly spelling things, or at least attempting to spell them, out loud.

We had our first-ever call from a teacher about a girl’s behavior last week. When she got home, C. said that one of her friends was mean to her and pushed her. We brushed it off, because she almost always claims that a classmate pushed her. That evening her teacher called and said that C. had said some mean things to her friend. As soon as we asked C. what had really happened, she protested and then began crying. She needs to learn if you’re going to bend a story to make yourself look better, you don’t cave the second you’re confronted with the truth. Then again, if she’s the honest kid that can’t lie, it’s going to make our lives a lot easier.

C. went through a small relapse on the potty-training in October, but got through that and is again doing a terrific job going to the bathroom. She’s quite proud of herself, in fact. When she has a bowel movement, she feels obligated to offer a description when I go to help her clean up. Sometimes she’ll just say “TA-DA!” lift a cheek off the toilet, and point to what she’s deposited when I enter the bathroom. Others, she’ll tell me all about the size, shape, color, etc. “Dad, I have a great big giant poop!” Always good for a laugh.

L. is expanding her vocabulary each day. She has lots of animal sounds down. She says “sisssss” for sister. Has said “C.” and “M.” a time or two. “Bah!” is a remnant from bottle, but means milk. Unfortunately, she’s entered the stage where she wants things but doesn’t have the proper words to ask. So she’ll point and grunt and if you don’t guess correctly, those grunts turn into shrieks and yells. Not fun. But when you do guess right, she grins, closes her eyes, and nods her head in a slow, exaggerated manner. It’s like she’s saying, “Yeeeeeaaaaah, you got it!”

She loves looking at pictures. We don’t have tons of family pictures around the house, but those that are on display are constant areas of attraction for her. She loves to be carried over to them so she can point, laugh, and talk about who is in each pic.