Let's start with the Ella update, because I'm sure that is on everyone's mind. Ella is on the mend! In case you aren't on Facebook, we came home on December 23, just in time for Christmas. We have to keep her warm, no playing outside, and keep her hydrated (with room temperature drinks). We saw the hematologist again this week on Tuesday, and her hemoglobin numbers continue to climb. We aren't back to normal yet, but we are well on our way. We see him again in 2 weeks.
Having to stay in the hospital for 4 days was an experience I'd rather not repeat anytime soon, but of all the things to stay in the hospital for, this was pretty mild. Ella acted like her regular self most of the time. All the nurses kept commenting that she was the healthiest girl on the floor! We even decorated her room to make it more Christmas-y, and between that and a few visitors, it was much more tolerable. And, we felt an outpouring of love for our family, between phone calls and visitors and meals and help watching Julia, we were abundantly blessed. How grateful I am for good people, both near and far. We have some wonderful friends.
And then we were home for Christmas! I was most grateful for that. Christmas is a magical day no matter what, but I'd rather be home with my sweet family all together, than trying to haul everything to the hospital and spending the night apart.
We decided a long time ago that everyone gets 4 things for Christmas: something to READ, something to WEAR, something they NEED, and something they WANT. And then Santa brings a gift as well. I love this setup. It keeps things much simpler, and helps the girls to really think about what they want, knowing they probably won't get everything on their list. Grandmas and Grandpas help round things out, but this makes things much more manageable and less overwhelming on Christmas morning.
I thought I'd share what was given, because a lot of time and energy was spent thinking up the gifts.
Read: The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak, including One Was Johnny, Alligators All Around, Pierre, and my all time favorite, Chicken Soup with Rice.
Wear: 3 pairs of tights. This girl wears a dress or skirt almost every day, and her tights are all starting to wear out. So these were desperately needed.
Need: A waterbottle. A leak-proof waterbottle. It has seen much use in the past week.
Want: A Frozen playset. She was delighted on Christmas morning to see Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf, and Hans, ready to play. Delighted.
From Santa: Sydney Lee, an Our Generation doll. The American Girl catalog made its way to our house this year, and both girls were thinking they would love one of those dolls. However, our keen sense of thrift did not love the idea of one of those dolls. Enter in Target and their brilliant knock-offs. Everyone was happy. Santa also left some socks in her stocking, as well as the traditional candy, and an orange in the toe.
Read: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. Julia is quite the little reader, so it was tricky coming up with something to give her. We went with an old standby that both Clark and I loved when we were younger.
Wear: A locket. She decided she wanted one after she read the Molly American Girl books. I didn't think this one would happen, until I remembered that I had wanted a locket too, when I was a girl. And I had gotten one. Which I never wear. So I pulled it out, put a chain on it, and gave it to Julia for Christmas. It melts my heart a little bit every time I see her wearing it. It's certainly not heirloom quality or anything, but it feels like a special connection to my girl. And she treats it like one of her most prized possessions, which makes it all the more special.
Need: A full set of scriptures. Julia has had a couple copies of the Book of Mormon, but both have been lost to the ether. We decided it was high time she got a new one. And if we're giving a Book of Mormon, we might as well make it a whole set. She was over the moon to get this, it was a total surprise, and I was over the moon that she was so excited about it. Clark dug out his old scripture case, too, so now she is ready for church on Sunday. She also pulls it out when we hold family scripture study, and the excitement to be reading out of her own scriptures is palpable.
Want: A matryoshka doll set. Someone who served a mission in Russian visited the primary a while back and showed them a matryoshka. Ever since then, Julia has wanted one. We wrapped each doll separately, which only added to the fun.
From Santa: Jenny, an Our Generation doll. See above about American Girl dolls. Julia saw Jenny at Target around Thanksgiving, and decided that was the doll for her. Santa was kind enough to bring it. She also got a pair of tights in her stocking, as well as the traditional candy, and an orange in the toe.
Read: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. He asked for this, so that was easy.
Wear: New tennis shoes. We went shopping together one morning, and he picked them out. Boring, but necessary.
Need: Jeans. It got down to the wire on this one. Julia and I stopped at an Old Navy on the way to the hospital one day to snag some. Luckily he likes them, and they fit!
Want: A race. This was tricky because I don't know what race he'd like to run. So I basically went to the internet, found all the races in the area for the next 6 months that aren't on Sunday, and made a spreadsheet with dates, prices, length, etc. I figured he's a sucker for spreadsheets, so he'd appreciate it. He still needs to pick one, but I'm told he is working on it.
From Santa: A new computer! From which I am typing this very blog post! It arrived a week before Christmas, and Clark was THRILLED to have it! Starcraft has been played. He also got some new socks in his stocking, as well as the traditional candy, and an orange in the toe.
Read: Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan. Because you can't go wrong with a book about food.
Wear: A new outfit. This was purchased on the aforementioned shopping trip. No surprises, but a good gift all the same.
Need: A 2015 calendar for the wall. Julia thought of this idea all on her own. Clark took the girls shopping, put it in the trunk of his car to hide it, and then with all the switching of cars at the hospital, I totally saw it. But we pretended like I didn't.
Want: White tank tops, for wearing under more revealing shirts. My old ones were looking less white and more...grey. So this was not only a want, but a need. Crossover gift!
From Santa: A new griddle, to replace the mostly broken one. I also got a phone case, some orange peelers, measuring cups, and replacement wires for our cheese cutter in my stocking, as well as the traditional candy, and an orange in the toe.
This turned out to be kind of a long post with no pictures. (Of course there are no pictures! Why would there be pictures of Christmas? To be fair, I did take a few videos. So I'm not a completely terrible parent.) But this is all to say, we had a lovely Christmas, warm and snug at home, feeling grateful for the matchless gift of God's divine Son to the world. Merry Christmas!