It’s been a crazy few months for us over here. So much has happened in such a short span of time. I’m reading back on my last entry and it feels like all of that happened ages ago. Did we really manage to take a trip to Japan? Did Max turn 2? Were we really super stressed about his first fever? (Yup, yup, super yup.)
Lately, our squishy days have been very busy days. I scored a regular freelance job that I’m really enjoying right now. And I also got another Psychology-related gig that starts some time next year. The best thing about these gigs is that all the work is done at home and is flexible enough to withstand the chaos of living with a toddler. I’m learning so much from all of this and I think I’ll have to write about that later on.
Our days have also been extraordinarily busy because it’s CHRISTMAS! It’s our favorite time of the year! Actually, over here in the Philippines, Christmas celebrations (un)officially begins on September 1. But because Max’s birthday is on September 13, our little family’s Christmas extravaganza starts on September 14. I love building memories and traditions with our little family. Here’s what we’ve been up to this year.
10 Squishy Christmas Traditions
1. Christmas Nesting
I love decorating for Christmas! I make a day out of it where we turn on the air conditioner outside and play Christmas music. We did a great job in organizing and packing our Christmas decorations last year, so unpacking them wasn’t too stressful. I highly recommend investing in good storage boxes for your decorations. We have little decorations sprinkled all over our apartment, but my favorites are our Charlie Brown-esque Christmas Tree and our makeshift fireplace (shoe cabinet) with Christmas Stockings and Sexy Santa. We had fun decorating with Max. Every now and then, I’ll find one of his toys sitting in our Christmas tree, as if it really belongs there.
2. Christmas Books
We’re so grateful that Max still finds it entertaining to be read to. One of the things I did for this Christmas season is box up some of Max’s books to make room for Christmas books on his little book shelf. For the next couple of days though, he was looking for some of his old books. But we dove right into a Christmas themed read-out-loud series that we all really enjoyed. Here are our favorites this year:
- Liz Climo’s Rory The Dinosaur Needs A Christmas Tree
- Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
- Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas
- Charles M. Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas
Max really enjoys rhymes. It sustains his attention even if it’s actually a longer book than what he’s used to. We love, love, love the Rory The Dinosaur series (but the Christmas book is my personal favorite). It’s perfect for Max because the stories are short and easy to understand. He likes to point out objects in books, and, sometimes, he’ll try to skip to his favorite parts. Some nights, we go through 4-5 books before we sleep!
3. Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Over the years, Mikey and I have collected odd holiday shirts and sweaters. As soon as September hits, we start wearing our favorite holiday clothes. We always shop for Christmas shirts and sweaters in January when everything goes on sale. Last year, I bought I bunch of Christmas shirts for Max in Old Navy—all less than Php 200 or USD 3.77!
4. Peppermint Mocha (Starbucks)
I’M SO GLAD THAT STARBUCKS BROUGHT BACK THE ORIGINAL PEPPERMINT MOCHA THIS YEAR. Ok, I will stop yelling now. But last year, I was so disappointed when they tried to trend it up and came out with a DARK Peppermint Mocha. You don’t mess with classics, people. We made a yearly tradition to hit a Starbucks on the first day of red cups.
This year, we did it over breakfast. Mikey and I ordered our tall, hot Peppermint Mochas (no chocolate drizzle and please make sure that the whipped cream is as high as it is in the photos [and extra peppermint sprinkles for Mikey]) and we asked for milk on the side (for Max). We also ordered one pastry each. I’m so glad that Max is coming around to the idea of eating pastries for breakfast. He really likes the croissant with butter (I tried giving him some with strawberry jelly and he spit it out).
5. Power Plant Mall
We love visiting the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell over the holidays. It’s usually dressed up in a very holiday-dignified manner (except for that one year where they used ORANGE twinkle lights instead of warm white). They have these gorgeous, huge, real-looking trees that are full of twinkle lights and Christmas balls. For the past few years, they’ve showcase these giant electronic animals that move and sing Christmas songs. This year, they added a little toddler’s play area by the fountain.
Christmasized Power Plant Mall makes me feel really warm and fuzzy on the inside. And Max really enjoys going there. In fact, it’s my favorite Momma-and-Squishy date place because the mall is pretty small and it’s easy for us to get around in.
6. Christmas Shopping Frenzy
I come from a big family and it’s tradition in our family to exchange gifts. My dad has eight siblings and my mom has five. I have over two dozen cousins and a handful of nieces and nephews. So Christmas shopping for me is kind of a year-round activity because it would be too costly and overwhelming to do it all during the holidays. Mikey and I used to hit all of the bazaars to find unique and, uh, competitively priced Christmas gifts. When we had Max, we kind of gave up on the whole bazaar scene, but this year, we were able to go to one with Max! As usual, we ended up getting more stuff for Max, but it was so much fun!
7. Rum Cake
Every year, we order rum cake from Mrs. Cristy Puno. This year, we ordered twice. Hahaha. It’s this beautiful bunt cake with a sugar glaze and Christmas sprinkles. The best thing about this rum cake is that it keeps getting better as the days go by. The center becomes rummier and rummier. Max prefers the crust with the glaze though.
The rum cake goes great with a cup of coffee. It’s extra special this year because Mikey gave
me us himself an early Christmas present—a Nespresso machine. So our coffee at home was extra good with the rum cake—or, our rum cake was extra good with the coffee at home.
8. Christmas Movies
I love Christmas movies. I think we’ve devoured all the Christmas movies on Netflix, but the Christmas movies watch over and over again isn’t on Netflix. We’ve watched Elf and A Charlie Brown Christmas at least four times each. We were so surprised when Max finished Elf! He normally gives up after a while when it’s not an animated film. But he watches Elf from start to finish and he even cries during the sad parts.
9. Christmas Music
Whenever Max is playing and we’re lounging around the house, we play Christmas music. Max can tell when it’s a Christmas song because he’ll say “‘mas sing” [Christmas Song]. He can also tell if the music is from A Charlie Brown Christmas because he’ll say “Snoopy!”.
10. Yearly Christmas Ornament Hunt
Every year, we try to get one new Christmas ornament each. When we had Max choose his ornament last year, it was pretty arbitrary. He just pointed to a random ornament. This year, he played a more active role. He pointed at the ornament and said “dinasawr hoho”. When I asked him if he wanted to buy it, he nodded. So we got him his t-rex-wearing-a-Santa-hat ornament. I got a Love is Love ornament and Mikey got an Ugly Christmas sweater ornament.
Max is more involved in our Christmas traditions now that he’s a full fledged toddler. He points out “mas tweee” [christmas trees], “santa” [Santa Clause], “Hoho hat” [santa’s hat], “know man” [snow man], “pen gif” [open gifts], and “know flake” [snowflake]. I hope he’s enjoying the season as much as we are.
We love Christmas because it’s that time of the year where we make time to be with people we love. In the last few weeks we’ve spent time with friends from high school and their kids. For a stay at home parent like me, it’s refreshing to talk to other adults. It’s also so cool—and so sobering—to see all of our kids together. Weren’t we all just idiot teenagers, like, a few days ago?
I hope I get to write another post before the year ends. But we’re going on a short trip in a couple of days and I’m also trying my best to keep up with my new work-from-home gig. So, if this ends up being the last thing I get to post before the year ends: Team Squish is sending everyone happy thoughts of a warm and fuzzy Christmas and have a love-filled New Year. ❤