I thought they were too excited to sleep because Santa Claus was coming to visit. Turns out, they didn't want the guy anywhere near our house.
When I told them that Santa was on his way, but they needed to go to sleep first, I heard William mutter "No Santa!" and then, he coughed. But it sounded like a rather peculiar cough. Thanks to my fast reflexes and keen maternal sense, I was able to run in and cup my hands under his chin seconds before he sprayed his unsuspecting sisters with vomit.
Instantly, I was filled with dread.
My experience with vomiting children has been more unpleasant than is probably typical. Whenever our children are sick - they are sick for a minimum of two weeks. Thus far, William's Christmas 2007 puke fest appears to be an isolated event. I think perhaps too much chocolate, cookies, excitement, nerves and too little sleep made for a very upset tummy.
This morning, when I heard the children waking up, I went running down the hall yelling "Santa came! Santa came!" all three of the kids covered their heads with their hands and in unison screamed "NO SANTA!!"
Then, they dove under their covers and burst in to tears. Fat tears, rolling down their cheeks. They were sobbing. Hysterical that Santa and his reindeer had the NERVE to come to our house and leave who knows what in our stockings.
It seems Charlie and I may have gone a little too far the other night when the kids were taking a bath and Santa and Rudolph made a surprise appearance in our hallway, just out of view of three soaking toddlers. While I was washing their hair, Santa carried on a conversation with our children, who are still a little leery of the white-beared man, inquiring if they've been good or bad this year.
In the midst of their conversation, Santa's trusty reindeer - Rudolph - pooped in our hallway, leaving behind a nugget that smelled surprisingly delightful. We thought that our attempt at breaking the ice with Santa and his crew - by pointing out that they too are working on potty training - would have had a much better effect.
Apparently, although it is acceptable for our children to poop in the hallway, those species that hail from the rangifer tarandus line, better not ever do such a thing. Never. EVER.
Even if their poop does look and smell
This morning it took a lot of encouragement and ultimately - lifting and dragging - to get our children out of their beds to see the gifts that Santa had left behind. When they cast their eyes upon our family room, which had been transformed to a wooden block, truck, puzzle, bicycle, doll house, farm house, stuffed animal paradise ... you'd think it was Christmas morning and they were three years old.
They've never been so excited. Never. EVER.
The day was wonderful. In the morning, our children played with the toys that Santa had left out, and we left all of the stockings and presents under the tree intact until my sister, Eileen, and her three children arrived from Michigan at noon.
When I came home from the airport, everyone was anxious to dive in to the gifts that were flowing out from under the tree and halfway across our floor.
In the past, Charlie and I have been able to extend the gift-opening process for at least two, perhaps three hours. We will take turns, slowly opening our presents and commenting on each one. We do our best to savor the whole process and acknowledge the thought that went in to selecting this particular gift for us.
This morning, once we gave the green light, our children dove under the tree and literally started swimming through the presents. They were so darn fast that by the time I blinked - almost all the gifts were open. Gifts that were to me, from my sister. Gifts to Charlie, from his brother. Gifts to my niece and nephew, from Santa.
One of the gifts I received was a tuner and subscription to XM Radio. Now, I'm not much of a radio person. I love music, but since we've got almost 450 albums copied on to our iPod, that's all I ever listen to. I'm also not very "up" on "new technology stuff". What is this XM Radio and why do I need it??
When I opened my XM Radio gift, I shot Charlie a funny look because he's wanted XM Radio for as long as it's been around. Tonight, over dinner, I mentioned that I wasn't sure how it worked and Charlie said "Oh, Jen - you'll love it. XM Radio is really cool." When I asked how he knew, he replied "Well, I've been listening to it for the past three weeks. Ever since I bought it for ..." and then he stopped himself.
I think that when you buy your spouse a gift and then use it yourself for almost an entire month before presenting it to them - you have reached a whole new level in your relationship. His excitement today surrounding XM Radio, reminded me of my excitement the time I bought Charlie a jetted foot bath for his birthday.
Currently, our 1,600 square foot house is occupied by seven children. Four adults. A dog. And a completely dried out Christmas tree. There are air mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows and rogue bows covering every square inch of floor space. There are more toys than I've ever seen before and more clutter, too.
Tonight, I thought back to four years ago. We found out on Christmas Eve that round two of IVF had not worked. To think that four years later we have been blessed with these amazing children ... it really is nothing short of a miracle. Even with the vomit, crying, fighting and clutter, this is the best Christmas I've ever had.
This is also the most exhausting Christmas I've ever had. But with my two nieces and nephew that are more than anxious to watch and play with children, I'm gearing up for some major sleep-catching-up over the next few days.
And maybe even a little foot bathing.