All complaining aside, we did have a very nice Christmas together as a family. Hannah was totally into Christmas this year. She visited (and even sat on his lap!) Santa several times and asked for a new piggy bank (she broke her old one earlier in the year, sorry Mamaw but it was fragile). Both Santa and Mommy and Daddy came through with the piggy bank. I had bought her a (plastic) Sleeping Beauty bank back in October to save for a Christmas present. I thought it would really make her happy. Sure enough, when we started asking her what she would like for Christmas she indicated she wanted a new bank. With each successive visit to the man in red, as she warmed up to him, she started getting more and more specific in her request. She eventually specified that she wanted an actual "piggy" bank that was not breakable. Since I didn't want to take the Aurora bank back to the Disney Store, I started scouting out places to buy an actual piggy bank that was made of plastic rather than ceramic. I finally found one at Toys R Us of all places. It's actually pretty cute. Growing up, Santa always left my sister and I one unwrapped gift inside our bedroom. I remember being amazed that Santa had actually entered my room and I hadn't heard the stairs creak. This year since Hannah was so into Santa I decided to start the same tradition with her. Before going to bed I snuck the piggy bank into her room and put it just inside her door so that she'd find it when she got up and knocked on her door. As fate would have it, Hannah was so keyed up with Christmas excitement that she was up several times that night. At around 2am she found her piggy bank and you can surely imagine the havoc that caused. It was practically impossible to get her back to sleep after that. I eventually tucked her back into bed clutching her new piggy bank. She might have slept for a half hour or so, but then was up again at 3am and read in her room until 5am when I finally went back in and rocked her in her chair until she fell asleep. We snuggled like that until 7am when we finally got up. After checking out our stockings and opening a few gifts, Hannah became pretty disinterested in opening any more gifts. She just wanted to play with the few she had already opened. We struggled until lunchtime to get her to open up her presents then had brunch and spent the rest of the day hanging out and playing in our PJs.
Less than a week after returning from our Thanksgiving trip Kyle had surgery on his wrist (more on that fiasco in a minute). He expected to be off work for about two weeks, possibly less, but because what the surgeons found inside when they started exploring, he ended up being casted and put on light duty for his wrist (no typing or writing which is pretty much all an engineer does!) until January 12th! So, Kyle was off work for two weeks for vacation, back to work for 4 days, had surgery, and then will be off for at least a month after the surgery before they take the cast off and reevaluate! When it's all said and done Kyle will have been off work for almost 2 months. Hannah (and me too for that matter) is getting quite used to her Daddy being home. She's actually stopped mentioning him going back to work which is a bad sign. This has become her new normal and I'm worried it's going to be rough for her to adjust when Kyle goes back to work. Change is never easy for Hannah so I'm not looking forward to this change in routine that will probably happen in a few weeks. Wish me luck and pray that I'll have patience with her certain increase in defiant behavior.
Back to Kyle's surgery fiasco. The surgery was on a Friday which is a school day for Hannah. The surgery was set for 10:45am and was to be done outpatient. Hannah needed to be picked up no later than 5:30pm. 6 hours should have been plenty of time for a one hour surgery and outpatient recovery time. It would be no problem to pick Hannah up from school after getting Kyle settled in at home after the surgery. I was mildly concerned about caring for Kyle after the surgery while also caring for Hannah with no support network to help me out or keep Hannah occupied and from crawling all over Kyle, but I knew it would work out somehow. When we arrived at the hospital it became apparent that they were running behind schedule, but by the time they finally took Kyle back for surgery there was still plenty of time for everything to go as planned. The surgery took longer than expected, but still when the surgeon came out to tell me had made it through fine and was in recovery there was still time. Things were getting closer, but there was still time. As the minutes and then hours ticked by and I had still not been allowed back to the recovery room to see Kyle I started to get anxious. I was worried about why I was not able to see him and I was nervous about how I was going to get back to pick up Hannah in time. Finally, around 4:45pm, I was allowed back to see Kyle and he was still on his gurney and obviously in a lot more pain than was expected. The nurse told me there was no way he would be ready to be discharged in time for me to get Hannah at 5:30 because he wasn't even able to sit up yet. She told me to leave him there and go get Hannah. The catch was that because of strict flu season rules Hannah was not allowed inside the hospital (no one under 18 that was not a patient was allowed at the hospital) and they were also unsure as to when Kyle would actually be allowed to leave. How on earth was I supposed to pick Kyle up without taking Hannah into the hospital (was I going to leave her alone in the vestibule or out in the van?!?) and what if they discharged him after Hannah's bedtime? This is where the realization of exactly how hard it is to be so far away from all our family and friends set in. We have no friends here in Rhode Island and don't have a babysitter. Kyle and I haven't gone anywhere without Hannah (except when she's been in school) since we moved to Rhode Island 10 months ago. I had no idea where to turn. All I knew was that I had to take care of Hannah and I had to get Kyle from the hospital somehow and we didn't have friends or family that could easily be counted on to do either. The closer it got to Hannah's bedtime and Kyle was still being held hostage in the recovery room, the closer I came to deciding that it would be easier to find someone to potentially come stay at the house after I put Hannah to bed while I went to get Kyle than it would be for me to try to find someone to go pick up Kyle. The catch again was that I had no idea what time I would be allowed to go get Kyle. Finally I broke down and called one of our neighbors (the only one of the neighbors that I know their last name and phone number!) who has been friendly in the past and practically begged her to do me a huge favor. She quickly agreed and while she had always seemed nice I really didn't know her well, not well enough that I would normally allow a person to watch my daughter (what if she turned out to be a child molester!) and I was also concerned for her if Hannah were to wake up. She can be quite agitated and disoriented if she wakes in the night (and she does frequently) and has been known to get aggressive during night wakings. Even if she woke up and was fine, I worried about Stephany having to entertain Hannah with little to no experience interacting with Hannah and no knowledge of where things are in our house or the house rules. Still, I was in a bind and I had NO WHERE else to turn. I took the chance and prayed that everything would go smoothly. I was finally allowed to pick up Kyle at 9:30pm. It was probably around 11:30pm before we got home. Thankfully, Hannah stayed asleep the entire time and Stephany only had to spend 2 hours away from her husband and pet our geriatric beagle while I was gone! It's emergencies (even minor ones like this one) that make you realize how important it is to have that support network around you. Unfortunately, when you move far away it takes time to build up that network and emergencies can strike at any time. I wish I were more social and outgoing because that would make it easier for me to at least make acquaintances that might be able to be called on in a pinch.
For Christmas, Santa went a little crazy with the books. I have always been a voracious reader and Hannah has followed in my (and Kyle's) footsteps. For Christmas each year my dad would always give my sister and I a card that stated he would take us shopping every week at the local bookstore so that we could pick out a book. I LOVED doing that. It was one of my favorite times of each week. Needless to say I have lots of children's picture books and chapter books, but what I don't have are many early reader type books for Hannah to read by herself. We have a second hand store in town that has a section for books and every book is 69 cents and the books are also buy 4, get the 5th free. Many kids must not be as avid of readers as I was as a child and as Hannah is because the number of high quality and barely read children's books at this store is unbelievable. I find tons of books that look as if they have never even been opened and certainly haven't been handled by a child or read more than once. I specifically find lots of these early readers. Instead of paying $4 at the bookstore for each of these books, I can get 5 basically brand new (or at worst gently used) for well under what I would pay for one book at the bookstore. Like I said, Santa went a little crazy. I just couldn't resist all those great, cheap books. Consequently we've been doing a lot of reading lately, even more reading than usual, and what I've been seeing (and hearing) from Hannah has once again amazed me. She manages to read word after word that I am prepared to tell her what it is more quickly than I can get the word out of my mouth. She self corrects when she reads a word incorrectly and realizes it doesn't make sense. She reads without having to point at each word as she says it, in fact she reads so quickly and fluently now that pointing to the words actually messes her up because she can't move her fingers that fast. She's definitely reading at first grade level now and I have to constantly remind myself that she won't even turn 3 1/2 years old for another week and a half! I was an early reader myself, but she's more than an early reader. She's moved into territory where I can no longer say, "yeah, she's smart, but I was able to do that too and I didn't turn out to be an extraordinarily intelligent person." It's so hard to keep my expectations for her reasonable because her development is so uneven. She's so crazy ahead in some areas and quite behind in others and then totally typical for a 3 year old in yet others. Truly I don't even know what normal expectations to have for a 3 year old are because she's never followed a normal path. I often expect the kids in her class to be able to do things just because Hannah's been able to do them for ages and get surprised when I see that they can't do them at all and that they aren't even really supposed to be able to do them yet. I also get surprised when I see how confidently they interact with each other and get a punch in the gut when I realize that Hannah (despite the drastic improvements she's made since starting school) is nowhere near being able to do that. It's all very confusing and I'm afraid that's not going to change much in the years to come. Hannah's probably always going to have uneven skill development so I suppose I should just get used to not comparing her to her peers now and make things easier for myself down the road.
Before I log off here, one final story to make you smile from my Little Miss Literal. For Christmas, Santa brought Hannah 4 (35 cent after Halloween clearance!) foam animal face masks. Hannah has really enjoyed donning the masks and pretending to be the various animals. One of the masks happens to be a dog and the other day Hannah had on the mask and was wanting Kyle to pretend to be her owner and take her for walks and do other dog/owner activities. Eventually Kyle starts giving dog commands like sit, lay down, stay, roll over, etc. It was pretty comical to see Hannah's version of all of these dog tricks, but when Kyle followed the command of lay down with the command of shake I knew immediately that result was going to be funny. I was wrong, it wasn't funny, it was absolutely hysterical! Hannah's version of lay down was flat on her back and when Kyle switched to shake instead of sitting up and offering her hand/paw to shake she started flopping all over the floor and twitching her limbs. I laughed so hard I had trouble breathing. Of course she WOULD shake like that because that's how Hannah operates. If there is ever two different ways of taking a statement, Hannah will always interpret it the most literal way possible.
PS. Aren't the Thanksgiving turkeys Hannah and I made adorable? :)