Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pacifier Progress

Thought I'd update on the Big Operation going down in our area of the world. No, not that operation. I'm not going there. You can either guess my thoughts or you probably don't want to know (and that's the closest I'm hopefully ever going to come to discussing politics on my blog). I was more referring to this operation. Hey, it feels big when you're living it, okay?

So, the first night, ZL cried for 45 minutes. Seriously, he looked like a little addict going through withdrawal, thrashing around on his bed. It was pitiful. And I thought of Jackie Pullinger as I prayed over him. Fortunately, sleep came eventually. And when he woke up at 5:30 the next morning and got into bed with us (something he does when we're sleeping in), he went back to sleep quickly. No problem.

Night two: he cried for 5-10 minutes. Yay! Only, when he came into our bed at 4:45, he wouldn't go back to sleep. So, I put him back in his bed. And he came back to ours. And ML put him back in his. And he came back to ours. And I put him back in his. This went on until I finally got up with him at about 7:00. Not fun.

Night three: he cried for 2-3 minutes. Whoopee! And when he came into our room in the middle of the night, I took him straight back to his own bed, and he fell asleep. And slept until we got him up this morning.

Okay, so we seem to have the nighttime part of the routine down. Only one problem: Z hasn't taken a nap since we took the paci away. He just will not give in and go to sleep. It's like he's tired enough at night time to make it through not having the paci, but not at nap time. And he's seriously grumpy as a result. As if his recent obsession with the word "no" wasn't enough.

I'm not ready for him to give up naps. And I really don't think he is either. Here's hoping that he'll regain that skill sans paci.

And, for posterity, some classic Z-with-paci pictures.

A classic ZL picture all around. ZL gets overwhelmed in social settings, and we have allowed him to retreat to a Blue's Clues episode on my iPod when necessary. This particular day was on our vacation a little over a year ago, and it had been a long no-nap day. Lunch was late, so we let him chill while we waited for our food.

At the end of a visit to the Children's Museum. Either after ZL was tired of walking or Mommy and Daddy were tired of chasing him. One or the other.

At Wartburg Castle at the end of our trip to Germany this summer. I thought this particular picture was an appropriate representation of this particular week for Z. He spent a lot of time in the stroller. There were just too, too many people for him to process. And it was his first experience (in his memory) with organized childcare. They ended up parking the stroller, with his pacifier and B in it, at the door of his classroom. He would play with the other children and the teachers until it just became too overwhelming, at which point he would retreat to the stroller until he was ready to "face the world" again. A rather creative solution I thought, both on the part of the teachers and Z himself.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Love that Middle Eastern tradition!

Today, the kids played Santa and his elves. They delivered plates of homemade goodies to our neighbors (red plates with Santa napkins decorating them).

"Today?" you say. Yes, today. Because, you see, in the Middle East a holiday starts the day of the holiday but extends past the day itself 3-5 days. Basically, the opposite of Western tradition of the season leading up to the day and ending on the calendar day.

I love it, because it means we prepare ourselves and our family (with Advent and shopping and gift unwrapping, etc.) in the days leading up to Christmas. We celebrate with our ex-pat friends the day of. And then we host guests and deliver presents and treats to our local friends and neighbors afterwards.

It spreads the season (read: the busyness) out perfectly.

Deck the halls!

And you thought I'd forgotten to post pictures of the decorations! Okay, so I had, but I remembered...finally.

And here they are. (Fair warning: they're not stellar, but they pretty much get the point across.)

Standing inside our front door, looking through the doorways to our Christmas tree.

Looking from our family area into the dining area. The sole point of this picture is to show off our Texas-tribute pepper lights (which quit lighting up a couple of days ago :-( ).

And the tree itself. Decidedly not "Eat at Joe's," but definitely less perfectionistic than years past.

Our nativity collection: Palestine (top), Mexico (bottom left), and Honduras (bottom right) and two of the kids' stockings (temporary, until Mommy gives up and turns the whole project over to DeeDah [get ready, Mom, they're all yours now]).

The kids' tree. More on the Eat at Joe's end of the spectrum.

See, I let them have colored lights (and all the ornaments that belong to them, plus those that didn't quite "make" the family tree :-).

And, last but not least, our Advent calendar (see a previous post for the Advent wreath, too). This was given to us by ML's mom one Christmas when MS was a toddler, and it has been a fun part of our Christmas celebration ever since (okay, so hot-gluing all the pieces back to their velcro got a little old the first couple of years, but they're now permanently affixed). The kids take turns placing the day's figure. And the rule is that, whomever's day it is to place the figure gets to choose where to place it, no criticism or re-placing allowed (look again, and you'll see what I mean).

The end of Christmas

"The end of Christmas" sounds so dire, but we've had a really good Christmas season, and it's okay for it to come to an end. It wouldn't be special if it was all year long (and it's certainly felt like that as long as we've kept our house decorated in years past :-/).

So, on Christmas Eve, we went (courtesy of my and ML's Christmas gift money from my parents) to a Christian village outside of the capital to eat dinner and see the town Christmas tree and the decorated houses. I mentioned this in another post, but now I have a picture!

The tree in the town's main circle

The food was delicious (Lebanese, so a twist on the standard restaurant fare that we would get), the fellowship was sweet (we went with the family whom we've been working with since we came overseas 9+ years ago), and the lights were beautiful (both the tree and the decorated houses).

I mentioned most of our Christmas day but promised pictures. Seems like pretty much everyone was too busy having fun (and eating Mexican food and desserts) to take pictures, just like we were.

There were two cute ones of ZL in his Christmas gift from the G family...a giraffe costume.

Grumpy Giraffe

Happy Giraffe

Ever though there is no pictorial proof, trust us that we had a fun time. We all enjoyed our presents, and we even got to talk to DeeDah and GranJack (my parents) on the computer in the midst of it all.

Speaking of, we also got to Ina and Boba (ML's parents) the next day, and Saturday night we were able to see and say hi to all of GranJack's extended family, including Nanny, his mother, and Gabriela, his niece, for whom the purple dragon is named. They were gathered in Austin at my cousin's house (and had been at my brother's house, as well) for their Christmas celebrations. Since we were able to see and say hi to all of ML's extended family at Thanksgiving, we feel very, very blessed by the internet and webcams and the way they help us stay connected.

And now, I need a nap.

We did it! We did it!

Okay, three guesses as to what we finally accomplished last night. And the first two don't count.

(And he only cried for 45 minutes, poor guy. I tried to lay down with him, but it seemed to just be keeping him awake, so ML just sat in the hall to make sure he wasn't getting out of bed, since that's what our others did. He never even tried. Just cried. Hopefully tonight will be better. Especially since he's pretty grumpy today.)