It’s beginning to look a lot like… Chaos.

This is a long one-so go make some hot chocolate, come back and sip while you read. First up, a Tucker report. We are proud parents of a graduate. Tucker officially graduated from the Pediatric Gastroenterology doctor this week. He doesn’t have to go back and he’s off Prevacid! This is great news. One less monthly doctor visit and another medication off the list! He also finally got rid of whatever was causing the runny diapers after 8 days. Thank you Lord. Next week he’ll get his 2nd RSV shot and then…no appointments until January! We have never had more than a week without a doctor appointment. It feels so wonderful.

And lastly-Tucker had his Early Intervention assessment this week. The therapist and case worker were impressed with how big he had gotten. And he showed off. In every category (Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Speech/Language, Self Help and Social Interaction) he scored one month ahead of his corrected age! He is 5 months adjusted (almost 9 months actual) and he scored in the 6 month range for all categories. Praise God! A big part of the credit goes to my mom and mother in law who work with him every single day on his development checklist. Thanks moms. He will get another assessment in 3 months but for now he’s tracking well. Thank you, thank you for your prayers in this area. God and Tucker continue to amaze us.

We’ve been holiday-in’ over here at the Hucks casa. We decorated the week of Thanksgiving. In what can only be described as  a divine appointment on a tree lot, I agreed on the FIRST tree I saw at the FIRST Christmas tree lot we visited. To put this in perspective, last year I made Darrin drive all over northern Mecklenburg county (and parts of Iredell and Cabarrus) before we finally strapped the perfect tree to our car. It took several days. And many hopeful glances from Darrin when I would stand at a tree for more than 30 seconds-his face saying, “Please. Please. Please. Let this be the one.” He finally put his foot down at the last lot and would not agree to leave without a tree. {insert prayer here-“Lord, thank you for pairing me with Darrin, who puts up with my borderline (at times 10 feet over the line) obsessive need for perfection. Amen.”

I’m not sure why we’re so festive, so early, this year. I think it’s part isolation (what else is there to do), but mostly I think we’re both just really excited to get Tucker’s first Christmas underway. Our last two Christmas holidays were less than festive. Two years ago, the season was laced with sadness-our first baby’s due date was going to be Christmas day. All the things we had happily anticipated that the holiday season would bring, was now overshadowed with grief for what should’ve-been. Last Christmas we were pregnant and thrilled that I had made it to the 14 week mark. But my grandad, who was very special in my life, was very ill and in hospice care. He passed away on Christmas day. So the season was bittersweet and not altogether festive.

But. This year? THIS Christmas is going to rock. There are no less than 4 “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments on the tree. Tucker has, since the day after Thanksgiving, sported only Christmas pjs and outfits every single day and night. I’ve worn out Pinterest. Pretty sure I’ve pinned 500 things to my “Christmas Eve Forever” board (you can check it out if you want, click on the Pinterest “P” link over there on the right of my blog). We’re exclusively listening to Christmas music. This could be what sends Darrin over the edge. Evidently there’s a limit to how much Barbra Streisand and Willie Nelson Christmas music one man can take. And since we’re not really leaving the house, I’ve chosen the weekends leading up to Christmas to do at least 1/25th of the crafts I’ve pinned to my Pinterest board. This takes organization. And a list 🙂

So. On the docket for this weekend:

  1. Get the perfect shot for the front of our Christmas card
  2. Make Tucker’s 1st Christmas handprint ornament
  3. Wrap presents
  4. Watch SEC Championship game
  5. Make popcorn garland for the tree

What unfolded next was a tragedy of rookie-ness, mama-brain and hilarity.

#1 Get perfect picture for Christmas card.

This one ended in a shiner. Keep reading to find out who got it. So, pretty much every weekend there is some photo shoot that happens in the Hucks house. When Darrin walks in and sees Tucker dressed in a outfit that is clearly not lounge-around-for-the-weekend, he says to Tucker, “Uh-oh buddy. I know what’s coming. Mama has a photo shoot planned huh?.” I am not a photographer by any means, so our shoots have been trial and error. Heavy on the error. We have the one-step-above a point and shoot camera and I know just enough to feel smug when I answer Darrin’s, “what about here?” with “No, no, the lighting’s not right”. (Cue eye roll from Darrin). We uses baskets, sheets, pillows and pots as props and backdrops.

I got Tucker’s outfit ready. I set up the shot. Covered a chair with our soft white fluffy, kinda looks like snow, blanket. We fed Tucker (learned the hard way that photo shoots with a unrested, hungry baby is never a good plan). I took a practice shot. You know-to make sure the lighting was good. And last. We put on the hat. The one he doesn’t exactly love. Ok-ready? Ready.  This is how we work these shoots. I get in impossible and quite hilarious positions with my camera and Darrin’s job is to make Tucker smile or laugh.

Tucker can’t sit up on his own yet-but if you lean him against something he does pretty good with balance. We sat him up in the chair, Darrin stood up and started dancing. I aimed. Tucker, though, slumped over and promptly fell to the side. Faster than we could catch him. And hit his noggin on the arm of the chair that was wooden under that soft blanket. Immediate tears and screaming. We scooped him up and planted some kisses. Within a minute the tiny reddish/purple spot rose to his little cheek. Me: Dissolve into tears, “I am the WORST mother ever. Who lets their kid get a black eye just so she can get the perfect picture?” Tucker stopped crying in under a minute. I didn’t stop for at least 10. I felt terrible. We lined the chair with pillows over the arms and under the blanket and tried again. But my heart wasn’t in it. I still feel awful. His shiner is gone this morning. But still. Rookie Fail #1.

Mom, the shiner makes me look tough. The hat says otherwise.

# 2 Make Handprint Ornaments

So I tried to take the easy way out and bought a kit online to do the handprint impression ornament. It was terrible. The dough was so thick, Tucker couldn’t get his hand pressed down enough to make the impression. And it was ‘no bake’ dough it’s just supposed to dry and get hard. Didn’t happen. Still semi-soft and it’s been days. So I put my Pinterest board to good use and made one of the recipes I had pinned for salt dough. There are only 3 ingredients for salt dough. Salt. Flour. Water. Staples in any house. Except mine. Somehow, in a weird home economics blunder-I was out of salt. I noticed it was low last week at Thanksgiving. The recipe called for a whole CUP. We try not to go to the grocery store on a Saturday-too many possible encounters with germs. In fact, we do all our grocery shopping online (it is awesome).

In a stroke of luck though, thanks to my turkey brine from last week-we did, have sea salt. That would work right? I mean, I’m using my heavy duty Kitchenaid mixer, surely it will grind up the large granules and smooth out? Um no. No it won’t. Our dough had large chunky bits of sea salt and resembles one of those garden stepping stones that has decorative crushed tile. Too late to turn back. And we aren’t going to the store. So we forged ahead and managed to get a decent hand print and footprint from a squirmy baby in the dough. Then the baking. Directions said to bake at 200 for 2-3 hours. 6 hours later-dough still not hard. Not completely anyway. I looked at the directions again. Apparently, halfway through I should have turned them over. Oops. So…I turned them over, baked them for another hour, turned off the oven, left the ornaments inside and went to bed. Here are our ornaments. Too heavy to hang on even the largest of tree limbs. Still slightly soft in the middle. And riddled with chunky sea salt.


We’ll call them “organic”.

#3 Wrap the presents.

This-this, I can do. I’m good at this. To wrap presents though, one needs wrapping paper. More than one roll. Which is all that was staring back at me when I opened the big bin of Christmas wrapping stuff. Darn. I really need paper. If I order it online, it will be another week before it gets here. I need this paper-I can’t have a Christmas card picture with a tree and no presents. Ok-I’m going to Target. It’s an odd hour for shopping so Target won’t be terribly crowded. I won’t get a cart. I’ll just wipe down the little baskets with Lysol, run in, get the paper and a few other things and be gone. So yeah. That was me. Standing inside Target, taking a full can of Lysol out of my purse, and spraying the little plastic basket. Liberally. I got more than a couple “hello-obsessive-don’t-you-think-that’s-overkill” looks. But. wrapping paper purchased. Gifts wrapped.

#4 Watch SEC Championship Game

Tucker loves football. No really. If it’s on and he’s taking a bottle, he’ll crane his neck to see. If he’s getting his diaper changed and it’s on-he’ll roll toward the TV (which makes changing his diaper a sport). If he’s in his bouncy activity thingy and it’s on, he’ll ignore the toys attached to it and bounce and watch the game. It must be the colorful uniforms or all the action, or maybe he’s studying early to be the master Fantasy Football champion. But it’s kinda cute. This actually went off without a hitch. Pretty much. It’s probably a good idea to change the diaper immediately when you smell something amiss. Instead of getting “just a few more shots” of our cute baby watching football in his bouncy seat. Bouncing + Dirty Diaper= Colossal Mess. 

Watching football after bathtime.

Me? Fussy? Not when you pick me up and let me watch football.

Best seat in the house.

#5 Make a popcorn garland for the Tree

This one I’ve always wanted to do. It seems cheap and easy and it looks so cozy on the tree. It shouldn’t be hard. Hard no? L.O.N.G. yes. No for real. It took FOREVER. One Panthers football game plus a Hallmark Christmas movie and I still wasn’t done. I lost count on the number of times I pricked my finger with the needle. A needle that I had to buy because I didn’t have a needle and thread in the house (please don’t tell my grandmothers, they would be mortified). I also don’t recommend the movie theater buttered popcorn-while, I thought this would be more tasty (if you’re going to make popcorn garland, there’s no way not to eat some) it also makes holding the impossibly small needle ridiculously hard because your fingers are buttery. AND the salt in the butter, burned all the prick marks in my fingers. Garland is on the tree. But my back hurts from sitting so long, I have a headache from trying to thread the needle a million times, my fingers are sore and bloodied and I stepped on the garland at least once leaving a pile of crushed popcorn in the floor. And a hole in my garland.

Garland. Ornament. Whew.

So, the weekend didn’t turn out quite like I planned. But, its Tucker’s first Christmas. And no amount of salty ornaments, sore fingers, or bouncy dirty diapers will make me less joyful about this season. We have the one gift that has been on our list for a long time. He’s wearing “My First Christmas” pajamas and snoozing next to a little tree with his NICU beads of courage draped around it, now as I type. So on this first Sunday of Advent, we are grateful for answered prayer. We are so excited about these next 24 days. Our first Christmas as a party of 3. Merry. Merry.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke 2:10



This entry was filed under: Family Matters, MVP Awards


  1. kitty
    Posted December 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    God’s continued blessings to my 2nd favorite author (Amanda must remain #1), her unbelievably patient hubby, and God’s gift to us all–Tucker.

    • Heather
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Kitty! Merry Christmas to the Soesbee Chief 🙂

  2. Renee
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    You crack me up! Love hearing about your (mis) adventures. I love the popcorn garland. When I was little my aunt would line all of the kids up on the couch and have us stringing it. I think she did it to keep us out of her hair for hours! A little hint on the popcorn is to buy the unflavored, unbuttered kind otherwise your going to be smelling rancid popcorn in a few weeks.
    Happy Holidays!

    • Heather
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Oh my word Renee, I didn’t even think about the smell in a few weeks! Plus this morning instead of my tree smelling like nice pine-it smells like buttered popcorn. This might be shortlived 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  3. Carrie Kerley
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful post Heather! Love hearing about all of your Tucker Christmas projects. I especially love the picture of Tucker in the moose hat…Ethan had that hat last year for his first Christmas picture. Then he proceeded to projectile vomit all over his big brother. These things never go as planned!

    • Heather
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Carrie, so glad to hear I’m not the only mom with visions of perfection that come crashing down! We got that hat back when Tucker was in the NICU. I love it. Merry Christmas!

    • Carrie Kerley
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Just so you know I have the matching moose booties if you need to borrow them! Merry Christmas to Team Hucks!

  4. April Alverson
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    I am so happy for you guys this Christmas! What a joy and blessing to have that sweet boy. He is so precious! I love reading your blog, by the way, it makes me laugh out loud… lots of good memories laughing together with you! Merry Christmas my friend! I love you!

    • Heather
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      April, feel soooooo blessed this Christmas! I’m glad I can still make you laugh like the good ole days. Merry Christmas, love you back.

  5. Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for making my day, Heather. And thanks for taking the time to include us in your lives. Praising God for His goodness. Tucker is precious.

    • Heather
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Tina! Merry Christmas, Tucker LOVES his Tarheel football 🙂

  6. Vinnie Rabon
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely beautiful – I loved it all.

    So when someone asks whose my favorite author, I will say, why Heather Hucks, I am sure you have heard of her!!

    Merry Christmas to you all!

    • Heather
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Merry Christmas to you too Vinnie!!

  7. Heather Figaro
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I take so much Joy in reading your blog my friend! Happy Holidays to you, Darrin and the precious Tucker. And my sympathies in regards to the popcorn garland…I went through the very same thing this year! Mom made it seem SO easy! 🙂

    • Heather
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Heather! Seriously though, that popcorn garland is no joke..

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