Happy Holidays!

We'll be taking Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, but we'll be back Friday with new posts. Today we're making gingerbread houses, baking cookies for Santa, and will watch our first family Christmas movie together. Tomorrow morning we're leaving for Los Angeles to spend time with my family over the holidays. From everyone at the Hellobee team, we wish you a very Happy Holidays!

Christmas Eve Present

Since we already got the kids pajamas, slippers and planned on watching a Christmas movie on Christmas Eve, I pulled together these Christmas Eve present boxes for them. This way they have something fun to open on Christmas Eve.

It includes How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which we'll read and watch), Christmas pajamas, bunny slippers, hot chocolate, popcorn, and cookies. Earlier in the day we'll also make a gingerbread house and bake cookies for Santa.

It really has been extra fun doing all these new traditions this year now that the kids are older!

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

From Santa Printable Gift Tags

I wasn't sure how to determine which gifts came from us and which gifts came from Santa because we never did Santa growing up. But since they had short lists this year (a cat doll for Olive and a Megatron action figure/Decepticon symbol for Charlie), I decided that their one big gift could come from Santa, and the rest of the gifts and stockings could come from us. That way they get what's on their letters to Santa, and it keeps their lists from getting too long in future years!

We've already wrapped all the presents and put them under the tree, except the ones they will be receiving from Santa. I wanted to find a way to differentiate the gifts from Santa so Minhee designed some adorable From Santa gift tags and labels! The gifts from us are wrapped with green ribbon, whereas the ones from Santa are wrapped with red ribbon and the special Santa gift tags.

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The Capable Toddler

We'll start with this: yes, you read that correctly.

If there is one thing that Lorelei shows me on a daily basis it is that she is a disaster. A full-on, diaper-removing, squealing, snatching, running disaster. So why the capable? Well, it means that for all her crazy (and believe me, there is mucho of the crazy) she can be surprisingly capable when she is called upon to act like a small adult. Sure, quite often she will run laughing up the stairs when I need her to come put on her other sock so we can just leave the house already. And she'll occasionally draw on the bathtub with whatever's handy and most likely to be permanent. But she loves to run the vacuum. She enjoys dusting. If I get out the broom she is after me like a greyhound so I can give her the dustpan. She's excellent with a whisk-- she's basically like a small and maniacally happy maid. Who is free. And, fine, maybe not the best ever at her job, but we did say free, right, so there's that.

Did I mention she makes a mean pancake?

It would seem like a no-brainer to let her work out her jones to clean whenever it strikes, but time, of course, is a formidable enemy. There's never enough. I'm sure that Santa will be getting lots of adult requests this year for an extra ten hours in a 24-hour period this year *small, polite wave* because I can't think of a single person who has managed to dodge that bullet. Often, it's faster and easier for us to do things than to have the help of a toddler. The average toddler brings a new and special meaning to the word "slow." All of a sudden, here's someone you have to supervise and teach for every single tiny thing, and who is both blessed and cursed by thinking a day is an eternity and that anything they feel like doing can take an entire freaking geologic period. What I have found in practice, though, is a little surprising. Lorelei tends to live up to my expectations. If I do absolutely everything for her that isn't either play (or at least its functional equivalent), Lorelei rewards me with a lower frustration point. In turn presenting me with the triune gifts of whining, obstruction, and hysteria. With some leg-clinging thrown in for a fun little bonus. Which, oddly enough, doesn't really save me all that time I was supposedly in the business of saving.

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Milestone Disappointment

I think D was about 2 weeks old when his first doc (my favorite of them all) told me "he's the tortoise, not the hare." Truer words were never spoken!

D has been pretty globally delayed on a wide range of things. At first the big deal was his suck/swallow reflex, which took weeks to return after his brain injury. He also relied on a caffeine prescription (to remind him to breathe) for about a month longer than most preemies need it, and continued having occasional brady alarms for longer than he was "supposed" to. He even decided to come down with NEC at three months old (one month adjusted) when most preemies get it before term! He's failed swallow studies, took longer to sit up on his own, to vocalize, to be interested in toys, to stop being a big grump all day, etc. The only thing I can think of that he was faster than normal at was getting his broviac IV out - he got it out in about 4 months, when we were told to expect 8 months. He also started crawling around 11m, which is on the late side of average (I think). Although he babbles a lot, and if we're generous we could say he has a word or two (hi, dada), and has no real signs of talking or distinct words yet at 15m.

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Getting 3 from here to there: cars and carseats Part I

The first thing that Mr. Jacks said when I told him about possibly adopting Jack Jack's sibling, "Well, it's too bad we can't do it!" When I asked why not, he said very practically, "Because we don't have a car that can hold 3."

Of course we decided that we could overcome that obstacle, but I do feel like the debate about vehicles suitable for three children rages throughout Mommy-land. People seem to fall into one of two categories: mini-van people and I would never be caught dead in a mini-van people. I fall squarely in the latter category. My husband, on the other hand, has been gunning for a mini-van since Little Jacks was born. "So practical," he says.  "What's not to love about them?" he says.

Mr. Jacks and I started doing research on the 3 car seat dilemma a long time ago when we were still toying with the idea of adding to our family.  Ultimately, the challenges we faced were enough to put "car" on the con list of having another baby. I didn't really enjoy thinking through the process and we couldn't seem to agree on approach, let alone a car. It's no wonder that Mr. Jacks called vehicle issues a deal killer in pursuing this adoption.

We found a number of resources showing how people configure their three car seats in a variety of cars. The overwhelming chorus is, "I got them in, but it wasn't easy!"  Still, it was enough to give me hope!

Another alternative that you all reminded me of when first blogging about this adoption was that instead of finding a new car, we could look for new car seats that would better fit in our existing cars. The Diono Radian R120 seems to be the go-to car seat for fitting 3 kids across one bench seat, and it gets great performance and safety reviews. Unfortunately, even with 2 Radians, our Britax infant carrier wasn't going to fit easily into the Audi Q5. Luckily, we thought we could make it work in our beloved (but ancient) Toyota 4Runner. I could wax poetic about my trusty 4Runner. He's never once broken down on the road. He's carried me all over the country and to countless snowboarding adventures. He's seen almost all of my major life events and hasn't complained about them. He's got 200,000 miles on him, but runs wonderfully. Maybe we could make it our default car for transporting the children?

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"For Your Mistletoes" Free Printable

I often wonder how teachers do it. Charlie's class has 26 kids, and his teacher is usually on her own. I can barely handle 2 kids... I can't imagine 26! For both Olive's preschool class and Charlie's kindergarten class the parents go in on one gift card, but I wanted to give them a little something extra because they do so much! In the past three months of kindergarten, Charlie has learned how to read and write. Olive, independent and in her own world since birth, has somehow become the class social butterfly. And I give all the credit to their teachers!

I saw this "For Your Mistletoes" idea on Pinterest and thought it was so easy and cute (perfect for a last minute teacher's gift if you're still looking for one!). You could keep it simple with a bottle of nail polish, or add accessories like nail polish remover, foot cream, socks, and pedicure tools -- all things you can find at your local drugstore. I included fuzzy Christmas-themed socks (because who doesn't love socks), nail polish (in festive red), and foot cream. You can download a free printable of the tag pictured below here.

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