Our Christmas Album From 1 – 4 Kids, the Memories Despite the Stress

IMG_2655Merry Christmas from the family behind Nesting Story!  I thought it would be fun to create an album of each Christmas from 1 – 4 kids.  Wow, have we grown and have such full hearts!  Looking back I think out of all six Christmases we have been parents,
2014 has been the least stressful.  Shouldn’t it be the opposite?  Maybe we are seasoned veterans at this point!

Our very first Christmas as parents was both exciting and stressful.  Although it was so much fun to move the focus of giving from one another to our son Holden who was six months old at the time, it was also difficult navigating the busy family get togethers with a child who was suffering form major separation anxiety!  On Christmas eve we raced Holden over to the emergency room because he woke up from a deep sleep after a busy family dinner screaming hysterically for no reason.  Once we pulled up to the entrance, Holden had fallen fast asleep so we decided to head home.  We quickly came to the conclusion that Holden had a night terror.  The following two years of Holden’s life he would suffer a night terror about once a month, often after a busy social day.

collage 2009 2

Christmas 2010 We drove for the first time as a family to Sanibel Island, Florida.  My parents have a time share on Sanibel so I grew up spending Christmases in Florida.  To me, that is truly Christmas.  We would make the long, stressful but exciting drive from Ontario to Florida competing to see who can spot the first palm tree.  Crossing the bridge from Fort Myers to Sanibel at sunset and arriving on this magical island void of streetlights but sparkling from all of the twinkly Christmas lights.

That Christmas, although we were surrounded by my family in Florida, Holden was still very nervous around anyone other than Mike and I.  Our favourite memory from that holiday was taking early morning strolls on the sandbar just the four of us (I was 33 weeks pregnant with Beau).
collage 2010Christmas 2011 welcomed a new member to our family who was filled with smiles.  at ten months Beau was on the verge of walking.  This was her pre Beau the Destructor phase.  Mike and I were going through a lot at this time.  We had spent the last year working very hard with Holden on his language delay and his sensory processing disorder.  To say we were stressed is an understatement.  The stress on us as parents as well as our marriage was huge, but with lots of perseverance and the most incredible support from Holden’s speech therapist and our families, Holden’s speech caught up and he started to truly enjoy life.collage 2011Christmas 2012 we once again drove to Florida with intentions of a sunny fun filled holiday.  At the end of driving day one Beau became violently ill and by the time we arrived on Sanibel the next day she had been sick multiple times each hour and was living on orange Gatorade.  Thank goodness my dad and family friends who were in Florida with us were doctors.  This stomach flu which made the rounds to almost every family member transformed into a brutal chest cold which took hold of Mike and Beau.

Because Mike and Beau were stuck inside, Holden and I were out and about making the best of our holiday.  My favourite memory was after the sun went down each night Holden and I would head out together to explore, popsicles in hand.  We would watch the snails that would emerge after dark  and then head to the club house watching the older kids play ping pong, all while having long uninterrupted conversations… something we weren’t able to do a year before.

collage 2012Last year was a bit of of a write off.  Ontario had just been hammered with a massive ice storm a couple days before Christmas and we were still cleaning up from that.  I was so nauseous and we were still wrapping our heads around the news that we received on December 23rd… twins were on the way!!!  Looking back I am disappointed at how little photos I took.  Beau was so cranky on Christmas morning, probably from her over-excited brother waking her up too early!
collage 2013I’m not sure if it was the absence of pregnancy nausea, being forced to always be two steps ahead now that we have four kids or that our stress threshold is much higher now but despite Mia and Everly having colds (once again) we had a wonderful Christmas!  We had our moments of all four kids being over tired and screaming the whole drive home from family gatherings and  babies having bouts of stranger anxiety, but I found myself taking everything in stride.

We didn’t hide our litter of children under a rock either!  We actually packed everyone up (despite the mess it always creates) and crammed into our van to watch our local Christmas lights show where the elaborate lights on a home co-ordinate with the radio station we tune into.  This has become an annual tradition for us.  The older kids were full of enthusiasm Christmas morning and were patient while we each took turns opening presents.  The first thing our sweet Holden did when he arrived at the tree full of presents was start helping Beau find one with her name on it… heart officially melted!

collage 2014

What I can take away from looking at all the past Christmases of us being parents?  There will always be stress.  A lot of parents have commented to me that their favourite thing about my blog is reading about the chaos and stress that happens behind the scenes.  It makes them feel like what they are experiencing as a family is normal.  I am always happy to share the very real side of our family; I think it is so important for parents to stick together and share their war stories.  When the stress hits, especially during the holidays, just breathe and remember that it is completely worth it with the incredible memories you are left with!

Happy Holidays from Nesting Story!