Life Lately…According to Abby

I thought it was high time to add a few new pictures of Abby! She is growing so quickly – literally changing every day – and I’ve tried to be more aware about how quickly time is slipping away.

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This has been such a fun phase; last month she seemed to be struggling with her teeth, and the result was a lot of whining and clinging. The last few weeks, though, she’s just been a delightful toddler. Her vocabulary continues to explode, and I think she is less frustrated by things now that she can convey wants, needs, and even let us know when something hurts or is scary. She is becoming very helpful too – cleaning up toys, getting a diaper out of the drawer at change time. Her appetite has returned too, and she can pile away the food – especially dessert, of course!

Current favourites: colouring, using a shape sorter, playing outside (of course!), and jumping on the bed.Books are still a highlight of her day, and she loves stacking (and crashing) Mega blocks. I love watching her play on her own; she talks to her toys, and has started to personify them a bit too. The other day she took hold of a stuffed animal by the hand, and had the animal (a penguin, named Achoo) touch the various textures in one of her books – “feel this Achoo” she would say. The cuteness level was just too much!

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These pictures were snapped a few minutes after a long shower – Abby loves to take showers these days, and wants to snuggle (for as long as you’ll let her) after she’s been washed. Since she’s never been a particularly snugly baby, I take what I can get!

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Having our Christmas tree hasn’t been the slightest problem. I was a bit aprehensive, so I decided not to use our breakable ornaments, but she has not touched a single ornament. She is so careful any time she’s in the vicinity (and you can hear her say over and over again – “careful, careful”) and while she loves to look at the lights, seems to know it’s off limits and only observes from a distance. Maybe she remembers our stern warnings from last year? I don’t know how, or why, but I am SO thankful she is so obedient (well, actually, I’ve never had to ask her not to touch it even once this year).

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We played with homemade playdough yesterday. She had SO much fun with making shapes and feeling the different textures. And yes, she was in PJ’s for most of the day. After a long, cold morning walk outside, we warmed up with a shower and I couldn’t think of anything cozier than settling right into pajama’s.

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I love this picture of her tiny feet. Hard to believe she’s big enough to stand on a chair beside me in the kitchen…just like I used to do with my Mom years ago! Look at all those crumbs scattered around (which did, incidentally, all end up on the floor).

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She had to give the dough a taste – at least I know the ingredients: salt, flour and water!

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Today we coloured some of the shapes from yesterday during a morning playtime in the kitchen. This was her first time using markers, and she was more interested in taking the caps off and on the markers than actually colouring.

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Right before naptime (hence the dark shadows round her eyes) we made cookies; although they didn’t turn out too well (my first time making the recipe), Abby approved of the dough (which didn’t contain any eggs!).

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Look at those pudgy little paws touching away!

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And one more, from tonight: right before bed, she insisted on putting on her rubber boots. How could I refuse! She loves wearing these things, and tromped around the house in all her glory!

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A few recent videos for interested grandparents:

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Denmark Adventures: Day 11

Not sure if my goal of finishing these posts before Christmas is realistic anymore, but here goes another Denmark recap!

We started out by strolling (no biking allowed) through a park across town. It was really quite beautiful.

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And…it had a soother tree. Most children in Denmark tote around a soother (or two or three) until they are several years old. A popular way to dispose of their soothers, and rid themselves of the habit I suppose, is to leave them attached to certain trees in the city. Apparently, a city worker will come and cut these down on a semi-regular basis, so this just goes to show how much Danish kids like their paci’s! Many sets of soothers are attached together using ribbon and include an attached note, presumably saying farewell…my Danish isn’t so great. If Abby didn’t love hers so much – and I didn’t think I would need it on the return trip home – I would have loved to leave her pacis on the tree, complete with a note.

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The poor girl – there were SO many Mam soothers (her preferred brand) dangling in front of her temptingly. She did slip one in her mouth (sorry any germaphobes), but was just fascinated by this display!

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Uncle Tim and Abby!

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Had to snap a picture of this scene – a baby placed off in the shade to nap while the mother lounged reading a book at a reasonable distance away in the sun.

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In the afternoon, John and I headed off to another local art gallery (within 10 minutes of Tim’s apartment, and 2 minutes from the main SMK museum). This was far less impressive than the national art gallery, but the special exhibit was quite enjoyable.

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I loved this Christmas scene; the artist took three months AFTER Christmas finishing the details, so each evening his family would line up around their tree (what I imagine what just a heap of needles by the end of it) to recreate the pose.

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The signature painting – it was a lot larger than this picture portrays.

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In the afternoon we headed off to a local beach, located near the airport – it was stunning, and one of our favourite memories from the whole trip. The weather was PERFECT!

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The bridge linking Denmark with Sweden – the bridge actually ends up in the middle of the water in a man-made island, connecting to an under-water tunnel, to avoid interfering with air traffic (the airport is nearby).

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The requisite bikes!

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This is a fascinating piece of construction, with various tiers and floating platforms for diving and sunbathing. There are also change rooms located at various points in the structure. I really regret not having my bathing suit handy or I would have definitely gone swimming.

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When we were passing by this stretch of boats I saw a man (partially clothed) jump into the water suddenly. I was confused until he surfaced clutching keys – he’d drop a set into the water and had to act fast to catch them!

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Abby had a blast!

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Another view of the diving “apparatus.”

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As we were ready to leave the beach we happened upon a game of water – volleyball/polo – something-or-other?

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John was determined to get an active “jump” shot – I won’t show you all the outtakes. There were many. Abby just laughed from the sidelines (she LOVES to watch other people jump, and thinks it’s hilarious).

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The best of the worst!

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See Day 1&2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10

Christmas Traditions

The past few weeks have been…well, kinda crazy. At the risk of sounding cliche, I could say life happened – unexpected inconveniences, extra deadlines at work – you name it, it’s happened. So tonight, I’m officially deeming an “off” night. I’ll tackle a few nagging tasks along the way, but I can tell I just need a little wiggle room to breath. Some mindless activities to shake off this grumpy mood.

Writing calms me – gives me a focus and an outlet for any lingering tension or stress. And what better thing to ponder than Christmas traditions/memories when I’m in the mood for a pick-me-up?

I had idyllic Christmases growing up, and I hope that Abby and any other future little Frost’s will be able to look back at their own childhood and claim the same. I mentioned a few things that I cherish at each Christmas season, but that post didn’t encompass all our family traditions.

Christmas Present:

Food:

Following my family tradition of pizza on Christmas Eve, John and I now make homemade calzones each year for Christmas Eve, and have Cinnamon Coffee Cake for dessert (my family Christmas breakfast tradition). While quite a bit of work (I shouldn’t be talking…it’s actually John who does the calzones), they are worth every minute of flour-covered chaos.

Gifts:

We exchange a new Christmas ornament on Christmas Eve and hang it on the tree. It takes the guess work out of what gift to open on Christmas Eve, and we always pick up fun ornaments on clearance right after Christmas for the following year. It also makes decorating the tree extra special each year because we can reminisce about what Christmas such-and-such ornament joined our collection.

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One of my favourite ornaments from John

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My ornament to John last year – to commemorate our trip to New York City earlier in the year.

We also give clues on each gift tag that hint at the contents (sometimes it can be pretty obvious, but most times it’s just a frustrating teaser that only makes sense after the fact). They can be inside jokes, or other times we might pick a theme (last year I did song lyrics). For example, one said say “Charlie, Charlie give me your answer true” – these are lyrics from “A Bicycle Built for Two” and I put this tag on some bicycle photos I’d printed and framed for John.

We’ve super excited to take this one step further; our close friends the Abriels use Bible verses for the clues, so the kids spend ALL Christmas morning with their Bibles open. They even have the kids figure out whose gifts are whose by looking up verses (ie: a verse mentioning the first born would indicate that gift was for the eldest child etc.,). Some of the verses are hilarious (Luke 3:5 – “the rough ways shall become smooth” was the verse associated with a package of razors or Song of Solomon 4:2 about “your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn” might be used for a new toothbrush).
We’ll have to be wary of translations, though. One year we were included in this tradition, and although the intended version included the word “frost”…which happens to be our last name…the translation being read aloud said “ice”…everyone was left confused until we consulted another translation.

Christmas Past

Decorations:

We would always decorate the tree together; it was such a fun family event. Mom never seemed to care about misplaced ornaments or gaudy tinsel. Dad’s only demand – that “his” star be the crowning adornment. Every year we fought to get this star to work (it is ancient), and complained about how terrible it looked. And every year he said something along the lines: “One day when I’m gone, you’ll be fighting over who gets the star since you’ll treasure it so much.” And he was right – this star, in all it’s ugly glory, is such a fond memory for me now.

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The other main decoration item that stands out is the kissing mistletoe figure. This is an old, old, old Avon wax potpourri figurine gifted to my Mom years ago. Every Christmas when we went to get the box of decorations from it’s neglected corner of the basement I would just stand and soak in this scent – it is so distinctive, and it would permeate every last item in the box.

Mom passed this along to me the year we were married, and I’ve been proudly displaying and smelling this ornament ever since.

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Food:

Aside from Nuts & Bolts and Cinnamon Coffee Cake the other main family food tradition was Christmas Eve supper – every single year it was pizza. When my parents were pasting a small church, and struggling to make ends meet, one generous parishioner would provide gift certificates for a local pizza place. As the years passed, and we eventually moved to another location, the pizza tradition stuck. Most years we make our own, which adds to the fun. Along with pizza, we always dimmed the lights (much to my father’s horror who always announced he couldn’t “see his food enough to eat”) and had pop.

Gifts:

While we never received lavish gifts at Christmas, there were a few traditions

Big Stockings – we always had overflowing stockings, packed with every necessity: soap, socks, pens and paper…and almost every item would be wrapped in plastic bags. Yup – grocery bags from the store made it easy to wrap even the most awkward of stocking stuffers in seconds, all secured with masking tape! When I tediously wrap every last item in paper each year, I think longingly of the plastic bag tradition.

Tracking gifts – Mom would always sit in her chair armed with a clipboard. When we received a gift, she would note the contents, the giver, and the recipient to make sure everyone received a proper thank you note when it was all finished.

We had to wait until Mom and Dad were up, dressed, and Dad had taken the time to shave before we were allowed to open gifts. It was pure torture, since we usually didn’t get to start presents until 7:30 or 8:00. Good practice for self-control I suppose.

Other:

Every year we would contribute to these goody baskets our church delivered. They were packed with fruit and cakes and cookies and wrapped in bright cellophane. I loved tagging along as we visited the elderly and delivered this Christmas cheer.

Every year we would read the Christmas story (from Luke 2) right before we went to bed.

Every year, we finished Christmas Eve by singing Silver Bells by Christmas-tree light.

Every year we would sit around the Christmas tree and shake each gift on Christmas Eve. I got pretty good at guessing!

Every year we participated in wonderful Christmas programmes at church. We started practicing in September; I loved lighted candles all throughout the sanctuary. Another highlight – putting together the goody bags. I would cover our dining room table with small paper bags and fill them with chocolates and candies, to be handed out to each visitor at the end of the Christmas programme. The year I was deemed old enough to do this whole process by myself was incredibly special.

Christmas Future

I’m excited to start various Advent countdowns – I love this The Way of Light candle wreath that can be used at Christmas and Easter.

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I love the idea of a handmade advent calendar, with each day holding a Scripture verse, little candy, or maybe a fun activity (like go caroling at a nursing home, go ice skating, or make Christmas cookies).

I also love the idea of starting Christmas service traditions – like working at a soup kitchen each Christmas Eve, or every family member filling an Operation Christmas Child box for a less-fortunate child of the same age.

Any fun family traditions?