This year was the first "real" Christmas you ever had. Not that last Christmas wasn't "real," but this year, you were old enough to participate in the magic and wonder that is Christmas. And just like every year we've been married, your Dad and I started things off right this year with our annual family Christmas card (and we're so happy that you are now a part of the inspiration that goes into each card):
This was also the first year that you got to help make Christmas sugar cookies with your best friend, Zora:
And what would Christmas be without homemade decorations to put upon the mantle? Mommy was so happy to give you markers to color your own reindeer and elf. (I will treasure them always.)
But I think the best part of Christmas day was seeing you come down the stairs all by yourself...
...and hearing your genuine surprise when you saw what Santa left for you under the tree...
This was our first Christmas as a family -- just the three of us -- and it was magical.
The holidays are always a busy time of year for the Pattens, particularly Thanksgiving. Mommy and daddy have had the honor of hosting Thanksgiving since 2008. It's like our Super Bowl -- mommy and daddy gear up all year to plan the perfect menu and host family members who want to share that special day with us. It's a lot of work, but we enjoy opening up our home and our kitchen to family. It's a special time of year where we make the effort to catch up, drink wine (only when you're old enough!), and express the love we have for one another. We laugh, we cry, and we share.
We had a full house!
This Thanksgiving was a particularly memorable one for mommy and not in a good way. This was the Thanksgiving that mommy broke you. Let me explain... as you will probably have no memory of this (thank goodness!). It was the day after Thanksgiving. Half of the family was gone watching a football game (Duke vs. Miami). Mommy stayed at home with you to relax and prepare soup for that night's dinner. As the soup simmered, your Aunt Kristie, Aunt Meredith, cousin Emily, Grandma Joyce, and Uncle Josh's girlfriend, Carrie, came to our house to help out and wait for the boys to come home from the game.
All smiles before that uneventful evening
Your cousin Emily and I played with you outside to let you get some fresh air and kick around a soccer ball. As one last hurrah before taking you back inside for dinner, we each took one of your arms and began to swing you across the driveway, making our way to the front door. With each swing, you giggled -- until we reached the front of the house. With that last swing, you let out a scream and tears started to explode from your sweet little face. Instantly, I knew something was wrong and I thought, "Uh oh... Dislocation."
I rushed you into the house and took off your coat and began feeling your shoulders and elbows for anything unusual. Every time I touched your arms, you cried even harder. Your Aunt Kristie rushed to my side to help me evaluate your condition. She noticed that your left arm was limp -- the arm that mommy was holding when we were swinging you in the front yard. The only thought I could think was "I broke my baby."
I decided to take you to the emergency room. Your Aunt Kristie agreed to drive. On the way to the hospital, I had to call your daddy and tell him what happened. Upon hearing his voice, I started to cry, too. How could I tell him that I broke our baby? But your daddy knew it was an accident and made sure to make mommy feel better about the whole situation. Even your Aunt Kristie told me that accidents happen and that it's a part of being a mom. Her ER stories did make mommy feel a little better, in a weird way. She told me that she suspected you had a partial dislocation of the elbow.
Once we got to the emergency room, we waited patiently. You were quiet and fell asleep in my arms. (That's how I knew it was serious -- you never do that!) The wonderful people at Rex Hospital saw us right away. I don't think we waited longer than 20 minutes. A nurse brought us back to a waiting room where we sat and waited. A nurse practitioner came in, and I explained what happened to you. He told me that it was a common injury with children your age. He called it "nurse maid's elbow." It is when the elbow becomes partially dislocated (Aunt Kristie was right!). Once he gave me and Aunt Kristie the diagnosis, he gently tried to pull and twist your arm. You did not like this one bit! You began to wail and tears exploded from your eyes again. He made three attempts to fix your elbow. On the third try, you cried a long, slow wail and bent forward until your face almost touched your knees. Once your elbow popped back into place, you used your arm to push the nurse practitioner away. That action alone let me know that you were going to be okay. (Though you did give the nurse practitioner a look that seemed to say "A pox on you and your family," as Aunt Kristie suggested.)
Another nurse came in and taped a pulse monitor on your finger while we waited for the doctor to come and release us from the hospital. You DID NOT like that. As soon as she left, you ripped it off your hand. I didn't have the heart to put it back on your finger.
Once the doctor gave his approval, your Aunt Kristie and I scooped you up, and we headed straight to the McDonald's drive thru to get you a vanilla milkshake. You earned it, my dear.
Once back at home, you were your normal self, and no worse for the wear. Thank God.
Last night, the majority of the country decided to re-elect Barack Obama as President of the United States for the next four years. Today, some people in this country are very, very disappointed and have lost hope. Other people are ecstatic and continue to have hope for this country's future. Such is the state of many things in life, my dear. There are ups and there are downs, but we accept and move on and adapt as necessary.
As you grow and start to understand the world, you will find that everyone has their own idea of what is right and just in this world. As an American, you have the civic duty of voting and giving those ideas a voice. It's a beautiful thing. Sometimes you will find yourself a winner and sometimes you may find yourself a loser. But I hope that no matter the category you find yourself in, you remain humble and respectful of the process. Politics, you will find, much like other fiercely passionate topics such as sex and religion, are not the easiest conversations to have with someone, but I hope that you don't grow up oblivious to important events and decisions that could influence how you live your life in this country. It's important to be informed and want to be informed. It's important to recognize injustice and use your vote to make a change. It's a lot of responsibility, I know, but I hope you don't shy away from it.
Mommy and daddy brought you with us to vote in this year's election. We made it a family affair and headed to our designated voting location a week early to cast our votes. Did you know that daddy didn't start voting until he met mommy? Last night, he thanked me for encouraging him to exercise his right to vote. I will do the same for you as soon as you are eligible to vote. Just remember -- we may not always agree or see eye to eye on things, but I want you to know that I will always love you and will make an effort to respect and understand our differences.
Always aim to rock the vote, Isadora. Your voice is important. Always remember that.
One quirk that you have developed is standing up in the tub during bath time. Instead of sitting down and enjoying the warm water and playing with your floating toys, you insist on standing and walking back and forth from one end of the tub to the other. You occasionally throw your bath toys out of the tub and squeal and grunt to mommy and daddy, pointing at the toys so that we can fetch them for you. (A fun game for you; not so much for mommy and daddy.)
Well, you've added the "hammer leg" move to your bath routine now. What is the hammer leg, you ask? It's this:
As you walk from one end of the tub to the other, you swing your leg up and slam it down on the water, making very big splashes. You do this with even more enthusiasm when mommy cheers you on, screaming "Hammer leg!"
Believe it or not, I told daddy that I think this move is hereditary and that you got this trait from mommy... When daddy and I bought our first home, we bought two IKEA bookcases to fill the expanse of our living room walls. If you know anything about IKEA furniture, assembly is always required (and it's not always the easiest thing to put together). Your daddy and I spent quite a few hours putting the bookcases together. Toward the end when pieces weren't fitting exactly as expected, mommy broke out the hammer leg move. It basically entailed mommy kicking the stubborn pieces of shelving together while screaming "Hammer leg!!" in a deep shrilling voice.
You're becoming more and more like mommy every day -- my very own little mini me... Daddy's in trouble.
My, how time flies. Last year, Halloween didn't mean much to you....
But this year, you were totally jazzed about Halloween. This year, mommy made your costume. I made you a sushi roll t-shirt for you using pieces of felt. The finishing touch was mommy's ninja headband. Tada! Instant sushi chef. (Mommy dressed up as a loose cannon detective.) I posted pictures online of you in your costume, mostly to share with family and friends. Your Aunt Kristie commented on one of your photos and said, "I am envisioning years of halloween costumes as a diana patten production!!" (She's probably right.)
From what I could tell, you loved Halloween. Every time trick-or-treaters rang our doorbell, you bolted toward the door to greet our visitors. You were excited to see what costumes they were wearing and to see the crowd of strangely dressed children at the door. Daddy held you up high so that you could get a good view of all the costumes. You also cried every time trick-or-treaters got their candy and left -- you wanted them to stay a while.
You still don't get the concept of candy (which mommy is fine with). You were, however, obsessed with playing with the candy bowl, using the lollipops as drumsticks and the boxes of Nerds as rattles.
All in all, I'd say it was a delightful Halloween. I hope you don't mind -- mommy and daddy may keep your Halloween costumes on course with Japanese themes until you tell us to stop. Next year, you may be a sumo wrestler... Just sayin'.