What a wonderful Christmas it was this year, getting to enjoy lots of time with family with our lovely little girl!

On Christmas Eve Eve my mom and dad came up to visit for a couple of days. Josh & Erin were in Massachusetts for the holiday and Michael & Jenna were spending time with Jenna's family, so Mom & Dad decided they would pay us a visit for a little bit rather than being alone on Christmas Eve. I was so glad to have them around. Brent worked most of the day on Wednesday and Thursday (Christmas Eve), so my parents gave Lydia and I some wonderful company. :)

Wednesday night we hung out and made frozen pizzas and drank homemade malts while watching a marathon of Christmas movies. Lydia showed off all of her tricks for Nana and Grandpa including cruising along furniture at the speed of light and army crawling all over the living room. She's also getting very good at learning how to obey simple commands like "No touch" and "No mouth." Additionally, her sign language for "more" and "all done" is greatly improving. We're all so proud of her!

Christmas Eve morning my daddy made us a yummy big breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits & gravy. Then it was time to get all cleaned up and ready for the CedarCreek Christmas Eve service. What a great service (check it out here if you are interested)! I've said it before and I will say it again: I am truly grateful to be part of a church that is so faithful to God's plan. We had over 20,000 people attend church this weekend across our 21 services at 3 locations. Wow!

Lydia did great and had fun with the other babies at church. She's a social girl, that's for sure. After leaving the Creek we headed for a late lunch / early dinner. The plan was Cracker Barrel but they closed at 2 so we ended up at Bob Evans. Once we got home we spent the rest of Christmas Eve just hanging out. We munched on some of my favorite foods from our traditional family Christmas Eve: chex mix, fudge, rotel dip, and wassail. Have you noticed that food is one of my favorite things about getting together with family? Ha! We watched more Christmas movies and played a few rounds of Mexican Train dominoes until Brent got home from work.

Christmas morning was calmer than I expect future ones will be. Lydia slept in a bit later than usual, followed by her typical morning routine. Once everyone was up, we gathered in the living room and let Lydia open up a gift from Nana and Grandpa. Most of her gifts from them will be opened later at our Cinci family Christmas, but they wanted to bring one up for her to get on Christmas day. It was an activity table that she could stand at and play with the different toys. Lots of music and buttons and lights... Lydia loves it! She really got into the idea of opening gifts and seemed to understand the concept of it. She would rip at the paper until she could see the toy, then would want the toy. But even while playing with a toy, if another gift was offered to her, she'd dive at it to open it up. She really seemed to understand that if she tore off the paper she'd get another toy!

After opening gifts, Lydia took a nap, we all ate breakfast, and the men assembled the new toys for Lydia to enjoy. She loves having new toys that she can stand and play with. Besides the table from my parents, we gave her a walk-and-ride toy that she can hold on to and walk with. At first she seemed pretty cautious, but she quickly got the hang of walking with it across the room. She is already getting herself into trouble walking up to things she shouldn't touch! The ability to steer isn't quite there yet, but it's a lot of fun to see her growing and changing like this. I love her so much!

My parents left for home after the morning festivities while Brent, Lydia, and I went off to spend the rest of the day with Brent's family. At Tom and Rita's place we ate lunch and hung out for awhile, then began the gift exchange there. Lydia got to open her gifts first so she'd have plenty to keep her occupied while the rest of us opened ours. Boy did she get spoiled! Lots of new clothes and lots of new toys. She even got a huge stuffed horse. What'd this girl do to get a pony on her very first Christmas?! Despite her lack of interest in our Christmas tree, she seemed quite smitten by Grandma's tree. When finished opening her gifts, she kept flopping onto her belly and trying to crawl over and grab the lower branches. There just must be something special about Grandma's tree!

Thankfully Lydia was able (and willing) to take a nap over at Grandma's house before we headed over to Brent's grandparent's house for more Christmas festivities. She slept for over an hour before I went in to feed her, change her, and pack her up for the next visit. At the Pirolli household was more yummy food (of course!) and lots more people to love on my sweet Lydia. She cuddled with Great Grandma & Grandpa for awhile, then wanted to hold hands and walk around the house. She did VERY well for Daddy when he told her not to touch the the candy on the table and was generally delightful. At least for the first part of the evening. It had been a very long and busy day and it eventually showed in her demeanor. By gift-opening time she wasn't very interested anymore. She kept wanting to crawl away from me but would then get mad and not really want to play with anything around her. Poor thing was probably pretty worn out! But she was a trooper and we didn't face any major meltdowns. Nothing we couldn't ward off with a distraction or two.

All loaded up with food, toys, books, clothing, and other gifts, we got home after 9:00 that night. It was well past Lydia's bedtime and she thankfully made up for some of it by sleeping in until 8 this morning. Today we spent the day trying to get things organized around the house before we do our last Christmas gathering of the year with my family on Monday. Lydia got so many new clothes that I had to do two large loads of her laundry today! I am so very thankful for all of our family who love our daughter so much. I might manage to get things put away and organized just in time for her first birthday in a couple of months!

Oh and I forgot to mention the lovely gift that I got for Christmas... digital scrapbooking software! My dear sweet hubby got me the Creative Memories storybook software and I am sooo excited to try it out and make my 2009 photo book. Alas we've been so busy that I haven't even had time to install it yet! Two big projects to come in the new year: making my 2009 scrapbook and finally turning our bonus room above the garage into a playroom so I have someplace to put all these toys!

Soooo big!

Yep that's right. This is Lydia's newest skill! I tried to teach her this about a month ago, then stopped thinking about it for a couple of weeks. Then all of a sudden, she's in playing with Daddy and bam! She's an expert. What gives? I slave all day for her and then she always does her new tricks for Daddy first. No fair! :-P Regardless, it is the most adorable thing ever. I love watching her reach those little arms up whenever I ask her "How big is Lydia?"

She's really beginning to understand a lot. I continue to use some sign language with her, and I think she generally understands what they mean, but I still haven't seen her sign anything to me. I think she's close to doing "more" and "all done"... it's sometimes hard to tell if she's just clapping or waving her arms though! Lydia does wave bye-bye. I guess that can be sign language too!

Today Lydia and I went to the evening service at church and she did excellent going into the nursery, but man oh man has she been severely attached to mama at home lately! This morning she was sitting all snuggled with Brent on the couch watching TV when I came down from a shower. The instant she saw me and I didn't come get her, she WAILED. But I guess all kids get that way at some point. I try not to let it get to me too much and try to make her get used to having me go away some. It's important that she learn that mommy can go away and that mommy will always come back.
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I have a Thanksgiving blog already in progress, but put it on hold so I can take the time to write about my sweet girl's latest developments. Holy cow she is changing fast! In the last few weeks she has really been working hard on a lot of new things.

First my favorite -she's been so cuddly! She has really started to show how to "love on" things. It is the best thing ever when she puts both her arms around my shoulders and snuggles up to me. Lydia has always been such a wiggle worm and wants to look around at everything. She just hasn't been super affectionate because there's always too much other stuff to look at! I've really enjoyed how cuddly she has been lately. She even sat and snuggled with me to watch a TV show yesterday!

Clapping continues to be one of her favorite things to do. She now notices when other people clap, even on TV, and promptly joins in. She doesn't even have to be facing the TV... if she hears clapping, she starts to clap as well. Too funny!

I can tell Lydia is getting more and more frustrated by her inability to crawl/walk. She's trying really really hard to figure it all out and it shows with a lot of crankiness. She is very close to getting into crawl position, but then stretches her legs out to be on her belly. It works well to get her from sitting to lying down, but not so well for movement. I've seen her inch worm a little bit, and she moves backwards pretty well on the hardwood floor (I don't think it's intentional though as much as she just slides around). On the walking front, she walks quite well if you hold both of her hands and she does a little bit of creeping along furniture (mostly when I'm not looking). Lydia has wonderful balance and plays very well standing up against a couch or chair. I'm still unsure about whether I think she'll crawl or walk first. She seems to just want to figure it all out at the same time!

Speaking of things happening at the same time, Lydia now has her first AND second teeth! I first noticed the sharp point of the first tooth on November 30th (halfway through our trip home from Oklahoma), and today I confirmed my suspicions that the second one was coming... sharp point #2 verified! Poor baby must be in terrible pain. On top of the teeth situation, we've all had colds. Runny nose, watery eyes, sore mouth... sounds fun, eh?

I suppose all of this gives her good reason for being a TERRIBLE napper lately. She's (mostly) still doing well at night, but daytime sleep is a battle. It doesn't happen without a lot of screaming, then only lasts for 30 minutes or less... at which point she wakes up screaming again. She's also been super clingy to me. I put her in her exersaucer and take 4 steps away and she starts pitching a fit. She isn't that bad all day long, but for most of it. Since getting back from our trip I've had a really hard time getting things done around the house because Lydia is either fussy because she's trying to crawl/move and can't, or she's fussy because I'm not within 2 feet of her at all times.

I love it. :) Seriously, this is a tough patch in the mommy life... but I love it all. This too shall pass. Good or bad, it will all go away in time. I want to enjoy the ride. I sure do love watching my lovely little girl grow, learn, and develop. What an amazing gift she is! As I write this she is lying on the floor next to me (after a failed crawling attempt) playing with her feet, blowing raspberries, and yelling "eeeeeeee!" ... her favorite noise haha. She makes my heart smile. :)
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What a Thanksgiving we had this year! To make a long story somewhat shorter, we were supposed to have Thanksgiving with Brent's family and Christmas with my family this year since we did the reverse last year. However, when my brother announced that his family was going to go out of state for Christmas but planned to join my parents in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving, we opted to switch as well.

My parents, my oldest brother along with his wife and 3 daughters, and Brent, Lydia, and I all drove from Ohio to Oklahoma to visit my extended family. My mom's parents and my dad's dad all live out there, plus a smattering of aunts, uncles, and cousins. On Thanksgiving day my grandparent's house was filled to the brim! In addition to the adults, there were a ton of kids... especially little girls! For my own future reference, here's everyone we saw during our visit: Mom, Dad, Grandma Bea, Granddad, Joshua & Erin & girls -Hannah (6), Abby (4), Michaela (2)-, Uncle Brad & Glenna & girls -Haleigh (7), Brittan (4), Brianna (1)-, Uncle Brian & Tish, Crystal & Daniel, Pam, Diane & Jay & kids -Trey (12), Christi (10)-, Aunt Rhonda, Eric, Aaron, Elliot & kids -Evan, Jaxson (3), Jailyn (3)-, Grandpa Kuntz & Emily, Aunt Lou Anne & Taylor, and Uncle Jim (plus myself, Brent, and Lydia (9m)).

Whew! That was a lot of people. Most of whom we saw on Thanksgiving day. On Friday we went to visit Uncle Jim. He lives in an assisted living facility due to his MS, but is always in high spirits. Such a wonderful example of faith and joy despite circumstances! It was great to get to visit him and also to see the rest of Dad's side of the family. That was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Other highlights included watching Lydia play with my Grandpa, taking walks with Grandma Bea, getting to eat Granddad's gravy & Grandma Bea's strawberry jelly, and going to Murphy's. Ah yes, Murphy's... one of my favorite things about Bartlesville! Those hot hamburgers are absolutely delicious and unlike anything else I've ever eaten. Brent and I even decided we needed to buy Murphy's shirts to honor the tradition.

After all of the chaos of Thanksgiving passed, Brent and I got the chance to see my good friend Allison and her husband Eric on Saturday night. Allison and I were great friends in grade school and remained close despite moves to different states, but the last time I was able to actually see her was over 5 years ago at my wedding! It was wonderful to speak in person again and to hear about how her life is going. We had dinner at Mazzio's then hung out for a bit at my grandparent's house until they could meet up with the friends they were spending the night with.

The last night we were in Oklahoma Brent and I decided it would probably be best for us to sleep in different rooms so that Lydia didn't wake him up in the morning. We needed him to be rested for driving! That turned out to be a very wise decision. Lydia had a VERY rough night that night... she was waking up screaming every couple of hours. Little did I know at that point that this was fully due to teething! Yep, Sunday night we stayed at a hotel and when I checked her little mouth, sure enough there was a nice sharp point in there. That evening continued to be an adventure. Between Lydia's teething and the fact that we were all in the same room together at bedtime, things were definitely interesting. Despite Tylenol and Oragel, Lydia cried off and on for over two hours after going to bed. I felt so bad about it since we were in a hotel... where other people were staying! But we made it through the night and finished up the long drive home on Monday. We even stopped to get a walnut bowl on the way. :)