Christmas in Patrick’s House

DSC_9449Well, despite the fact that Patrick spent most of the week before doing forbidden things and saying “naughty, naughty, naughty,” Santa still came to Patrick’s house.

I was very excited to share Christmas with a little boy finally old enough to understand. In fact, I was wide awake at 5 a.m. after having a horrible dream about needing to collect a sample to test for C-Diff… and could barely get back to sleep because I knew it was Christmas!

Patrick, on the other hand, slept until 9. Brian and I actually got up and started making breakfast before the little munchkin dragged himself out of bed. Who was I to argue with him sleeping in on a day when naps would be near impossible?

IMG_2526 IMG_2527He loved opening presents, though wasn’t so keen on the fact that mom and dad kept taking the new toy away to give him another present to open.

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Still, it was quite the Christmas complete with lots of Elmo, cars, new clothes, books, and a stocking with goodies of bottled water and puffs.

Then, we finished breakfast. I found that I could make decent eggless milkless pancakes from a mix, so we made some silver dollar sized pancakes for Patrick and some big, fluffy, pecan laden pancakes for mom and dad.

We ate and then, still in PJ’s went to take presents grandma and grandpa. The rest of the day we visited family. We had a big family get-together with my family at my grandpa’s house. The place was so packed with cousins and gifts that you could barely walk!

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We spent the evening with Brian’s family. His brothers drove in from out of state and for the first time in years, the whole family was together on Christmas day.

At last, exhausted, we headed home to bed. Christmas was everything I could have dreamed!

As I reflect back on this Christmas season, I realize just how blessed we have been this year. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, the presents and family and good food… I’ve had a few little moments where I realize that we have been given the greatest possible gift this year. Our little boy was able to share in all of the Christmas magic with us.

 

This year, Brian’s company party took us to the theater for a production of A Christmas Carol. You know, I think I’ve seen or read that story at least a hundred time in many, many formats. I’ll admit, the character Tiny Tim has always seemed a bit romanticized to me.. how could a little boy really make THAT big of a difference?

This year, it took a conscious effort to hold back the tears. Having Patrick in my life has taught me just how a very special child can really touch hearts and lives. I understand why Bob Cratchit would stay working for that awful Scrooge. And what’s more, I understand why Christmas in their house was so very special.

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Dickens described Christmas in the Cratchit household with these words:

“There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed; their shoes were far from being water-proof; their clothes were scanty; . . . But, they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and contented with the time; and when they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the Spirit’s torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last.”

Happy, grateful, please with one another, and contented with the time. That is how I’d describe our Christmas this year. With our own Tiny Tim, each seems a little more precious.

Yes. We had a very merry Christmas in our house.

Christmas Eve in Patrick’s house

This year was Patrick’s 3rd Christmas.. And, once again, we were blessed that he was well enough to spend it at home. Still, with Patrick’s needs, getting ready for Christmas was quite a feat! I was exhausted in the days and weeks before but, looking back, all of it was worth it!

In our family, we start celebrating on Christmas Eve. Daddy got the day off again this year, so we were able to spend the whole day together. First, we went to Christmas Eve breakfast with my family.

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It took some effort to keep Patrick safely away from the eggs, but thanks to everyone’s help, we managed. Then, we exchanged presents and Patrick got to play with his cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

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Then, we packed up and headed to the zoo. Christmas Eve at the zoo is a tradition Brian and I started before having kids and this year Patrick was strong enough and old enough to take with us.

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The zoo on Christmas Eve is a different place. It’s much less crowded. It’s cold. The animals are all given Christmas treats. These factors bring out a different side of the animals. This year, for example, we got to watch a rhino take a mud bath. And Patrick got to visit with a very unshy cavy.

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Patrick managed a nap in the car on the way home.. just enough to be up and active the rest of the afternoon. It took some help from daddy to free me up to cook Christmas Eve dinner.

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I tried to keep the dinner simple but elegant, after all.. the only part Patrick cared about were the rolls.

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After dinner, we open just a few presents. Pajamas, of course, and a book. We decided this year to start a tradition of getting a new Christmas book to read on Christmas Eve.

Then, as Patrick had only had one very short nap, we put tucked him in bed, set out the presents, and went to bed early ourselves.

The big slide

I went online to look for pictures from the most recent HopeKids party and found these from the HopeKids birthday party that we attended in November. I just had to share.

This year, the party was at Classic Fun Center in Sandy. This place has two skating rinks, an arcade, ball pits, and best of all, inflatables. I wasn’t sure that Patrick was big enough for inflatables, and was sure his tubes would get in the way. Daddy saw otherwise.

Howie knows Patrick loves slides and so he found one he could carry Patrick up to slide down.

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He’d tuck Patrick under his arm, and up they’d go.  Up about 15-20 feet… and at least that many little foam steps.

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They’d stop at the top to get backpack and tubes situated. This only helped build the anticipation.

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And then down they’d come.

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Both of them thought this was pretty darn fun.

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And so, they’d go again.

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They did it again and again until Daddy was so tired from carrying Patrick and his equivalent weight backpack back up the slide that he couldn’t do it anymore. So they sat and had a rest.

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We played in one of the calmer inflatables for a bit. Patrick was really scared and frustrated trying to walk until Daddy started bouncing so we’d bounce. That’s how we finally got this smile.

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And then, well rested, they went down the slide again. Is it any wonder why Patrick loves his Daddy?

(p.s. THANK YOU HopeKids for a very fun birthday party.)

Holiday fun

We’ve been doing our best to make the most of the holiday season. How fun it is to have a 2-year-old this year! Christmas is so magical for a child that age… and it’s the littest things that make the most difference. For example, Patrick’s been glued to the Christmas lights we hung on our house since the night we put them up. Now, given, we have some very cool lights this year – LED color changing icicles… He watches them and smiles whenever he sees them.

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Hiding ornaments behind the toybox

He loves the tree, too.. especially the ornaments.. and I’m finding that my investment in Ikea’s unbreakable ornaments has been a blessing because then he can take them off and carry them around without worrying me, and then we put new hooks on and hang them back up. (One disclaimer – they do break if you push a full toybox into them repeatedly.)

Of course, we took him to the Festival of Trees again this year. Last year, this really was a test of his patience. But this year, he loved the trees – especially the tree covered in Elmo dolls, and any tree with cars or trains under it.  He wasn’t so happy that we made him stay in his stroller so we couldn’t play with the toys in the displays and did his best to sweet talk someone else into taking him out.

We did our best to see Santa there, too… but we arrived as Santa went on break and by the time he’d made it through the crowd (giving hugs and candy canes along the way) we’d run out of time.

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Waiting to (NOT) see Santa

After weeks of snow, we had some unseasonably nice weather last week. Monday night I realized that it was probably the warmest evening we’d get all year. So, I called Brian at work and we decided to seize the opportunity to see some Christmas lights.

I made some taco soup and we picnicked in Daddy’s cubicle. For the record, soup is Patrick’s current favorite food. We stick to clear, mild broths. I’m not sure it’s the best thing for his tummy, but it he loves it and there are worse things for him, and so I let him have it from time to time. He makes a little sipping sound to ask for it and will eat until there isn’t a drop left.

After eating, we bundled up. I made a little tube warmer for Patrick because if the fluid in the IV’s gets cold on the way into his body, Patrick gets chilled really quickly. It takes about 5 minutes to do the 10 feet of velcro, but it seems to work. Then we added coat and hat and gloves. Patrick was more than happy to stay bundled and warm.

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Bundled and ready to go

We’ve got a zoo pass, so Patrick is familiar with the zoo… but looked a bit confused when we arrived there after dark.

And then, when we walked in and saw the lights, his eyes got big and he grinned from ear to ear!

 

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Posing with some of the lights (the little grey thing by his back is end of the tube warmer)

They had a really impressive display. Lots of lights everywhere, including full habitat scenes. And, where possible, we were able to walk in and see some real animals… mostly fast asleep. The leopard was sleeping sprawled in plain sight, but woke up to give us all a nasty look for interrupting his rest. And did you know that monkeys sleep all in a pile in the top of a tree?

Afterwards, we stopped in the gift shop to pick and ornament for our tree and let Patrick pick out a stuffed animal, too, that he’ll get on Christmas.

The next night, we finally got to see Santa. HopeKids had a big Christmas party for the kids. So big, in fact, that it took 3 sessions to accomodate everyone and there was still a huge crowd.

Meeting Santa- First Impressions
Meeting Santa- First Impressions

If I haven’t explained it before, HopeKids is an organization that plans free activities for kids with terminal illnesses. The idea is that if you have something to look forward to, then you have something to hope for and something to live for.

Well, we can’t really explain plans to Patrick. However, he’s beginning to understand one thing… the HopeKids shirt means fun is coming. I went to get him ready to go and pulled out two choices – a Christmas shirt because I knew photos would be taken… or the HopeKids shirt. Patrick caught one glimpse of the shirt and started to beg to wear it. When I tried just putting the Christmas shirt on him, he melted into tears.

 

This is what happens when mom says "No, stay there a little bit longer"
This is what happens when mom says “No, stay there a little bit longer”

Finally, I conceded and let him wear both. Which made him happy enough until that night when it was time for PJ’s and he fell apart again because I made him take it off… he carried it with him the rest of the night.

Why so much fuss about a shirt? Because Patrick knows that if we get out our HopeKids shirts… especially if we all wear them… that something really fun is about to happen.

This time, it came in the form of the biggest and most kid centered Christmas party I’ve ever seen. There were photographers, of course… and Christmas presents. (They let the kids pick their own… Patrick picked a fire truck). There was a magician and a juggler and pizza and so very, very many crafts.

Patrick looks pretty unhappy to see Santa in the picture we took. I think that’s cuz we put him on Santa’s lap and then made him stay there while we took pictures. As the night wore on, Santa came back a few times and each time, Patrick was less nervous. By the end, Santa could come get a high 5 or a pound on the fist and even a little grin.

Amazingly, Patrick even enjoyed the show. Usually he’s pretty unhappy when crowds laugh or applaud, but this time, he clapped and pretended to laugh right with everyone else, though I’m not sure that he really could see what we were all laughing at.

There’s still more Christmas fun to be had. We are almost caught up with shopping and half done wrapping presents. We’ve baked our goodies and visited the neighbors. Tomorrow is Patrick’s last appointment for the rest of the month… We had a busy couple of weeks trying to fit everyone in before offices closed for the holidays. But I’m hoping now it will be worth it as we have nothing left to do but play and enjoy the family and the holiday.