Merry Christmas, from the Shippelts. :)

Dec 24, 2014

It's Christmas Eve... my most favourite day of the year! We are heading to Red Deer this afternoon to celebrate with our families, so Santa came to our house a day early! It was so much fun watching Aaralee open all of her gifts... such a change from the tiny baby who sat completely unaware as I opened them for her last year.  Forget toys... her personal favourites were the boxes. She was even spoiled enough to try her very first Kinder Surprise! I've always loved Christmas, but as a mother it is so much more fun than ever before! 
Merry Christmas, from my family to yours! Here are some of our favourite moments from this season:

Mommy's First Baby-Free Weekend

Dec 23, 2014

The final weekend before Christmas was approaching, and with it came Ryan's company Christmas party.  It is always a highly anticipated event... a weekend away in Jasper and a delicious formal dinner.   Although I was excited to bring Aaralee along for the first time, the thought of trying to get her to sit quietly at a fancy restaurant for the span of a few hours had me rather stressed out.  It didn't help that in the days leading up to the weekend, she'd decided to suddenly increase her daily temper tantrum quota. 
On Thursday evening I sent my mom a message asking her to take her granddaughter for the weekend. I was joking... mostly.  When she offered to drive to Edmonton to pick her up the next day, I reluctantly mentioned the idea to my husband.  The instant smile that appeared on his face confirmed what I already knew... he would be more than happy to have a baby-free, stress-free weekend.  Deep down, I knew that it would probably be good for me to have a weekend of adult time for the first time since her birth, but the clingy, hormonal mom in me wasn't so sure.  I eventually gave in and packed Aaralee her very first overnight bag.  When Grandma showed up to pick her up, I smothered her with approximately 5,000 kisses and tried my best not to cry as I buckled her into her carseat. And then, she was gone.  The house was quiet. I packed my bags without little hands unpacking them.  Ryan finished work, we packed the car, and we were off! Just the two of us... and Niko, our dog.  

We had a wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful, the air was fresh, the evenings were late, and the food was delicious.  We enjoyed not one, but two massages, and dined on steak and lobster among other indulgences.  

To get our baby fix, we talked to Aaralee on FaceTime, and on Sunday we took care of our friend's 2 month old daughter while they enjoyed a couple massage. She was adorable and fell asleep in my arms... something that Aaralee hasn't done in many, many months!  

Niko wasn't too sure about his first stay in a hotel, but he certainly enjoyed the abundance of treats and daily walks!  Nobody complained about him barking while we were out for dinner, so we are hoping that he was quiet and well behaved... although we will never truly know. 

As silly at it sounds, the best part of the weekend was picking up my baby on Sunday evening.  I'd missed her so very much, tantrums and all! I was so proud of myself for making it through our first weekend apart. Meanwhile, she probably never even noticed that we were gone. 

We are all home and now it is time to get ready for the madness that will be Christmas week!  

December Days

Dec 11, 2014

It's December, and thus my second favourite month of the year... second only to June, because that's the beginning of summer and my birthday.  
Life has been wonderfully chaotic since our return from vacation. Aaralee is 15 months old and busier than ever.  She spends 70% of her day running circles around the house, and 30% of it eating.  She manages to sneak in some time for home destruction as well.  Her favourite activities are emptying the tupperware drawer, toting jars from our spice rack around the house, and attempting to dismantle our Christmas tree.  She face plants from running too fast about 10 times daily, and when it happens in public bystanders gasp as I shrug and say "she's fine". She has also recently taken up high pitched screaming whenever she's remotely annoyed.  "This bucket is too big to fit inside of a cup!"  - Scream.  "Mommy won't let me drink a bottle of vinegar!" - Scream. You get the idea. When you're one, life is completely unfair. 

Being a toddler's mother is a whole new ball game, but it's the moments in which she giggles hysterically, dances like nobody is watching (or videotaping), gives me kisses with a pacifier in her mouth, or sweetly hugs her puppy that make the tantrums and messy home worth it... Nap time is pretty awesome too.  
Of course, there are times in which I question my sanity when it comes to the fact that come June, we'll be adding an extra person to the mix.  Not that long ago I sat in my doctor's office waiting room, pregnant with Aaralee. There were heavily pregnant moms chasing insane toddlers and I watched them with admiration for their bravery, wondering how on earth they managed. Fast forward to yesterday, and I sat in the same spot with my miserable daughter, cursing the fact that the only appointment available had happened to fall during nap time.  The appointment was an hour late, as per usual, and we both needed a nap by the time that I was finally called into the room. When I heard that tiny little heartbeat though, it was as though I instantly forgot about the waiting room stress. Few things feel more surreal than the realization that there is a tiny little person growing inside of you.  Sure, life will be hectic, but I wouldn't change a thing. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to do this all over again!

I digress, so back on the topic of December... Christmas is only 2 weeks away! Now that Aaralee is older and more aware of her surroundings, I'm really looking forward to this holiday. I can't wait to see her tear into her gifts and watch her play with the rest of the kids in the family. We've already gotten into the holiday spirit around the house and at this rate she should know the words to every Christmas carol by the time that she starts singing.  

On todays agenda: Cookie baking and perhaps a sled right around the block. Maybe (fingers crossed!) this is the evening that I can persuade Ryan to watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate with me.  'Tis the season! 

Hello, Mexico!!

Dec 6, 2014

This week we returned home from Mexico a few shades darker and a few pounds heavier.  Once again,  we had a fantastic time in one of our favourite destinations.  Our timing couldn't have been more perfect, as temperatures back home plummeted to -40 degrees for a few days.  It certainly heightened my appreciation for the warm, humid ocean breezes.

It was Aaralee's first time in Mexico, which made returning to the resort that we got married at that much more special.  Less than 3 years ago we stood in the sand and said our vows, and now we were walking through that same sand with our daughter.  
It was a relaxing vacation, with no adventurous excursions or crazy stories to tell. Our daily routine was as follows: 

1.  Wake up to the sounds of our babbling toddler.  
2.  Go for a walk along the beach with Aaralee wrapped on my back. (This step was occasionally skipped due to sleeping in.)  
3.  Have an enormous breakfast in the buffet.
4.  Sunscreen each family member and wrestle toddler into her swimsuit.  
5.  Go to the pool. 
6.  Order drinks.
7.  Reluctantly jump into the cold water and spend time splashing around the pool. 
8.  Chase toddler up and down the wheelchair ramps around the resort.  
9.  Return to room for a late morning nap.
10.  Order room service or head to the buffet for lunch.
11. Return to pool for afternoon sunshine. 
12. Play until baby is grumpy and then return to room to shower and get ready for the evening.
13. Walk along 5th Avenue and fend off souvenir sales people. 
14.  Make any and every attempt to get all excess energy out of our daughter prior to dinner.
15.  Put baby in pyjamas, brush her teeth, and place her in her stroller. 
16. Position stroller facing beach and allow the sounds of the ocean waves to lull Aaralee to sleep. 
17. Enjoy a romantic dinner with our baby sleeping next to us.
18. Sleep.

We all had a wonderful trip and can't wait to return.  I'll leave you with a little holiday snapshot... by popular demand...