This is what Jude does when I tell him to smile for the camera. I understand him so well. It is tricky to smile on demand when you are pretending to be happy you were born December 28th, when every other kid in the world also gets new and exciting toys and books. Poor Jude. And poor me for having to throw together Christmas AND a birthday party in the same week. . . a really AWESOME birthday party, I might add.
So, here's what's been going on. . .
Jude got to go see the REAL Santa this Christmas. This Santa is not just your basic overweight smelly guy with a fake beard who needs a job. This is the real Santa, and he happens to have a reception area at the downtown Macy's in Portland. He has a REAL beard, and is exceptionally good and gentle with children. This being Jude's first exposure, I didn't want to force Jude to sit on Santa's lap, so we just did a walk-by. Jude stopped right in front of Santa and said, "Hi Santa". To which Santa replied. "Hi". And then he just talked to Jude very kindly for a minute and asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" Jude replied, "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" (which I translated for Santa). As we walked away, Jude said, "Bye Santa" and the jolly fellow said, "Remember, Santa loves you." Jude then said, "Yup."
Jude has been obsessed with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He knows the whole song and often asks me to sing it with him. When he heard it come on in different stores, he would start running around and singing it as loud as he could! It has been a joy to watch him catch the Christmas spirit. Another thing he learned this Christmas is that "Baby Jesus lives in a barn with camels," and other important tidbits of information.
Jude really liked this snowman at Macy's. As usual, he has on his stoic picture face.
Dave, Jo, and I took Joseph, Talmage, Sydney, Isaac, and Jude bowling on the 23rd. I think that was brave of us, because we basically had 3 2-year-olds to take care of! They may have gotten hurt, but no one died, so I would call that a success.
Sydney found another use for the hand-dryer
the arcade, Jude and Isaac
Christmas morning was somewhat anti-climactic. Jude and I slept over at Dave and Jo's. Joseph woke up at 5:30 AM and got the ball rolling, even though no one else wanted to be awake. Jude was more stoic than usual, I think because he was tired out of his mind. But he played with his new train set FOREVER before looking to other presents, so I know he loved it! The other big Christmas present was a Buzz Lightyear with pop-out wings, noises, lights, and spoken phrases.
Have you ever seen such serious faces?
Isaac and Jude playing with Jude's toys, or rather, studying them closely, coming up with hypotheses about them.
Jude was the first to discover there was sugar on the other end of his helicopter. The other boys quickly found their sugar as well.
Joseph and Isaac's tent and tunnel
It was fun to go back to Robin's to see what the Barker kids got for Christmas. Sydney is secretly my favorite Barker kid. I mean, how could she be any bigger of a free spirit?
On the 28th, Jude turned 2. We had an AMAZING birthday party for Jude, and he shared the party with Sonia, one of his friends who turned 3. We reserved the church gym, made a 3-lane race track, and told all the kids to bring their Big Wheels and tricycles. Then we just set them free with basically no structure except a couple of organized races. It was just perfect for toddlers and pre-schoolers, and the parents were glad to get their kids out of their houses and let them run wild.
Jude got this cool Lightning McQueen Big Wheel for his birthday, and he barely got off it during the party! Also, thanks to Briton who assembled it in 1/2 hour right before the party! I started assembling it the night before, but my long skinny phillips screwdriver is in storage, and Briton didn't have one skinny enough, so he borrowed one from his neighbors the morning of the party and had it put together JUST as Jude walked into the gym! Phew! Thank goodness for good men who cover your back when you over-schedule yourself!
We had a little "pool table" for the kids to fish stuff out with fish nets
But they mostly just used their hands
Sonia's mom, Karen, is a professional baker and chef (hooray!), and took care of all the food and birthday cake.
Check out that train cake! Karen threw this together in 2 hours. . . INCLUDING the gluten-free, allergy conscious chocolate car! BEAUTIFUL, and perhaps the most beautiful part is that I didn't have to bake! There are serious perks to being friends with Karen!
The girl taking a bite is Sonia. Her mom offered her the option of having an all-girl tea party birthday, and without hesitation, she chose the Big Wheel party instead! Atta girl!
Here is Jude showing off his blue tongue
If you are wondering what we did with the left-over cake, ask Robin.
I like how little kids bowl. This is Talmage gitting 'er done!