Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas (on the 26th!) in Denton & a Plano Visit

After our fun time in Cypress, we packed up and headed north on the 26th.  We just pretended it was still the 25th, and it felt very Christmas-y! :) The Whites were more than accommodating with us trying the new Cypress Christmas this year, and it worked out okay too, because Cason's sister's family got to have a more laid-back Christmas on the 25th as well.  

We got there and were welcomed by a warm house and lots of love, as well as family excited to meet Clara, since the Bristers hadn't met her yet.  Nana found a Santa hat for Madeleine with a tiara on it.  Can you even imagine how excited she was?!  Daddy still looked like a jokester in the elf hat.
We had a great time opening gifts, and everyone put a lot of thought into what they gave!!  There was no shortage of cuddles for Clara. 
Things got silly again when Madeleine decided to make a bow hat out of some of the present ribbon.  Things also got violent in the kitchen when Bill and Cason were chopping vegetables for dinner. 
 Aunt Heather made some gorgeous wreaths for Madeleine and Clara's rooms!
As we usually do in Denton, we enjoyed some laid-back days over the weekend following Christmas.  Madeleine really loved Nana and Pop's new copper bathtub, and she did wonderfully during her first trip to the movies to see Frozen!!  As you can tell, Clara had a really rough time. ;)

On the Sunday after Christmas, my sweet Gran offered to host us so we could still see some of our Plano family while on this trip.  We really enjoyed the time with them, my Grandma Carole, my Aunt Jessie and my Uncle John, Aunt Suzanne and cousins Brittany and Brooke.  It was so sweet of everyone to make time for us at lunch - to see us all and meet Clara.

And when you get to see family, it's such a blessing that it doesn't matter TOO much if it's not on December 25th. :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas in Cypress

This year, our family celebrated Christmas in a new way.  From Christmas 1988-2012, I had woken up in my grandparents' house in Plano every Christmas morning!!  As our family grows (in age and in size!) my parents decided to at least try staying home this year to host.  Most of our Christmases looked like this, but this one was the beginning of something a little different.

Our day began at home, packing things up for the next few days.  Madeleine watched the "Snowflake Day" episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and she proceeded to make "snow angels" on the rug.  Poor little Houston girl...
and don't even ask about her outfit...

Madeleine's sweet grandad had a pile of leaves ready, in which she could jump and play!  He knows exactly how to make her smile!  She was just delighted, and she really enjoyed throwing them all around.

For Christmas Eve church, we attended the service of the Cypress campus of HFBC.   Since they are still without their own building, they held the service in Tin Hall (one of Cypress's oldest dance halls) and it was really special.  It had a nice, casual, home-grown feel to it, and we really enjoyed celebrating Christmas eve in that way. 
We enjoyed Christmas eve festivities in Cypress, eating dinner, reading the Christmas story and opening gifts.  
This was Jul and Liz's last single Christmas!  Our family will grow by two official members next Christmas!
Christmas morning began with stockings and Madeleine's "big gift" - her Hello Kitty bike.  She wasn't really into Santa this year (nothing we pushed or didn't push) so we just told her it was from us.  She insisted on putting on her new princess dress from her great-Gran and great-Granpa before getting on.
We had a really laid-back Christmas morning - plenty of time in PJs with coffee and relaxing, especially since we had done the flurry of presents the night before.  Madeleine even got to decorate Christmas cookies with Granna!
It's hard to believe the Whites are now a little family of four!!  Clara feels like such a part of everything already. 
We got dressed in our festive Christmas clothes - we didn't know we would be especially red and green this year.  Clara looked so cute in her tiny Santa hat.  Linnet joined us for lunch.
It was a really nice day with lots of laid-back family time...
Mom busted out the Christmas carol charades, and we finished the day with a Happy Birthday Jesus cake!

I missed being in Plano and getting to see more family, but I also appreciated the calm pace of a smaller celebration.  Traditions are so important, but flexibility is too!  We are so thankful for all the loving family with whom we are blessed!  And we didn't completely miss some time in DFW...we went to Denton on the 26th!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Countdown

With sweet Clara's arrival, I'd like to say we slowed down a bit, but that's really hard to do when there is a three-year old as active as Madeleine in your family.   We did take a little break, but we were able to make the most of the season and have a lot of fun!  The month began with Madeleine spending two nights in Cypress so we could catch our breath after Thanksgiving and newborn pictures.  Then, my mom came for a night to help, and then she was Clara's first babysitter so that we could take our big girl to Chick-fil-A and Zoo Lights!
We had so much fun!  Madeleine and I were able to go last year, but Cason was in CFP class, so this was his first time to go.  We really enjoyed it; the exhibit was expanded from last year, and I think Madeleine enjoyed having her parents to herself again for a couple of hours.  We celebrated Liz and Matt's engagement in Austin, and Clara also had her Celebration performances as Baby Jesus.  Somehow the house got decorated.  This included Madeleine making up a story about Baby Jesus being lost in a forest of Christmas trees and the angels rescuing him.  Well, that's not how our story goes, but I appreciated the imaginative effort.  She also did a great job assembling the gum drop tree.  It was surreal to have four stockings on our mantel this year!
Cason and Madeleine tackled a gingerbread house.  It didn't include the finest quality of materials, and you might notice the hot glue gun in the picture.  You gotta do what you gotta do, and Madeleine said "Daddy and me dominated that gingerbread house!"  It was hilarious listening to them and watching them put it together.  We also introduced Clara to the fun that is family walks.
We went to the Saxes' annual Breakfast with Santa party - this was the third year I think!  Madeleine was terrified of Santa.  I had to majorly bribe her to get this picture.  She's in my lap, of course, but it was hard to get her even this close to him.  Clara seems to have no problem with some Santa cuddles.  And, of course, Madeleine is wearing an Easter necklace she'd received months before from her great-grandparents.  Whatever you want, my dear!
My mom also had her annual cookie exchange.  My amazing sister Liz came over and baked my cookies for me the Sunday before the party!  Talking about speaking the language of a newborn mom!  It was incredible - she got my cookies done and she entertained Madeleine.  Brilliant.
At school, Madeleine celebrated with a Christmas party on the last Tuesday before the break.  It was the same day as mom's cookie party.  You think she got enough sugar that day?
On the last Thursday, the kids had their Christmas show.   Y'all it was adorable, but it was a big, hot mess.  I don't even know how in the world I got these cute cow pictures of Madeleine because she cried most of the time.  She thought something was funny for about 10 seconds, I guess.  Most of the time, Cason was with Clara's stroller, watching from the back, I was trying to get pictures and keep Madeleine with her group.  It was a hilarious "performance."
If we didn't have enough fun already, we had a Happy Birthday Jesus party with the mamas and kids in our Life Bible Study class.  It was in the morning, so I thought pajamas might be a "thing" like it was for breakfast with Santa (it wasn't) so Madeleine and Clara were the only kids in PJs.  :)  I also like the photo of the moms with the babies - Clara had just had her diaper changed and was hot, so in this picture, she is naked (second born.)  The other two babies, Jonathan and Lucie, firstborns, are in really cute Christmas outfits.  Ha!
We also managed to fit in a family breakfast at Barnaby's - one of our favorite breakfast spots!
What a FUN (and sleep-deprived!) Christmas season we enjoyed!!  We also enjoyed new-baby meals from the Nguyens, Fisackerlys, Sullivans, Galleanos, Johnsons, Campbells, Phipps, Hintons, Carpenters, Hoovers, Whites, Boutroses, Halgrens and Bishops!!  We were so grateful!!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy 1-month birthday, Clara!

You got to go to church for the first time on your one-month birthday!

Dear Clara, 

Happy one-month birthday, sweetheart!  It has been a wild ride having you born as the holiday season was really ramping up.  In some ways its easier to have a newborn during these days - you'll eat and sleep anywhere, and you aren't really on a schedule yet. We adore you and instantly felt like you were a part of the family. The transition has been going pretty well.  Don't get me wrong, I have still had lots of very tired days - some days I sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" on repeat in my head.  Some things have been much easier this time around because your dad and I at least have a clue about babies.  Some thing have been harder - since we have both you and your sister to keep up with!  I feel like our family had a little double-dutch jump rope game going on, and you just jumped right in!  We put up the Christmas lights when you were about one week old, you were just cozy in the Moby.  That's your head peeking out of my fleece. 
You had your first road trip when you were only two weeks old!  We went to Austin to celebrate Matt and Aunt Liz's engagement.  We stopped at Buc-ee's so you could nurse on the way.  You did so well on the road with us. 

We have spent a lot of time in your sweet room.  It's a good thing I like it so much.  We put you in your crib on the third night you were home, and on the nights when you were eating with an insane frequency, Mommy slept on the air mattress in there with you.  One day you ate 14 times.  14, Clara Bear!!  You also went through a phase where you only wanted to nap when someone was holding you.  Such a cuddle bug!  Look at all that pretty, dark hair you have.

You have had lots of sweet visitors bring us meals and come cuddle you.  Like any newborn, you had your days and nights wonky for awhile.  Sometimes it was so very hard to wake you up during the day for feedings.  I read that some time in the afternoon sun is a good way to help set your Circadian Rhythm, whatever that means, we tried it, and it worked!  Well, sort of, it got you on the right track. 
I have let go of so much more control this time around.  Babies will be babies, and many times we have just been able to let things go.  Madeleine has loved you from the minute she saw you, but it has still been a bit of an adjustment.  Thankfully, she has taken it out on Daddy and me, not you.  I love these pictures because they show her adjustment to you - from one of your first days home to a couple weeks into things.
She has made quite a playmate out of you - she "takes care" of you alongside her baby Camille, and she loves sharing her playroom with you.  That might change once you can take her toys, but let's hope not. 
I love these pictures - I was taking pictures of you in your personalized nightgown.  Madeleine laid down next to you and tried to do a similar pose!
You did very well at both your 2-day and 2-week appointment. At the 2-week appointment, you were 9 lbs. 12 oz, which was the 87%, and you were 21.5 inches long, which was the 89%.  Such a big girl!  
Since you were born in a chilly month, you wear sleepers and hats frequently, just like your big sister!  You always look so cuddly and cozy.  Some are hand-me-downs, but the two outfits in the top pictures are brand new, just for you.

Granna has been a huge help, sometimes taking Madeleine to Cypress for a couple of nights at a time, sometimes coming to our house.  She was your first babysitter when we took your big sister to Zoo Lights. 
At just two-and-a-half weeks old, you made your stage debut as Baby Jesus in our church's annual Christmas pageant, Celebration.  It was really amazing, and I got so emotional!!  You were on stage for three different songs.  Before your first performance, we were so nervous that you would get hungry on stage, so we tried to "top you off" with milk.  Well, when it was time for you to go on, you wanted more milk.  That made for a bit of a fussy baby Jesus!  Mr. David (Joseph) did a great job calming you down.  Your other performance (you were one of four baby Jesuses throughout the weekend) you did much better, sleeping the whole time!  We were so proud of you. 
I was also excited to take you to make footprint ornaments, just like I did with your big sister.  You did very well to let me paint your foot and put it on the ornament, then you slept while I painted.  You did wake up before I was finished, and you woke up hungry, so I had to breastfeed you and finish painting at the same time!
We dragged you around to lots of Christmas festivities, and your big sister was the one to get your first real smile out of you!  We have loved adding you to our family, and we are so excited you are here!

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Clara's Newborn Pictures

The day after Thanksgiving, we had Clara's newborn pictures done at the house.  Our photographer was a girl I went to elementary, junior high and high school with, but I hadn't seen her in years!  It was so much fun to reconnect a bit, and she did a fantastic job capturing our family in this stage.  She took a ton of beautiful photos - I tried to compile some of my favorites in black and white.