Wednesday, December 26, 2012

M“ear”ry Christmas

Christmas Eve and Day were filled with good food, a happy family, brightly wrapped presents…and a trip to the urgent care for an unexpected ear infection (but not for the Jewell you’re thinking of).

Before I get into the ear issue, let me back up and start with the family get together on December 24. Christmas Eve has always been the big night in my mom’s family. Growing up in Connecticut, the entire Puziewicz family would celebrate, make dinner, exchange gifts and do oplatek — a tradition they continue to this day. Out in Nevada, our little family outpost does a smaller version.

So what’s oplatek and how the heck do you pronounce it? I highly recommend taking brief detour through the January 2012 post “Flashback: Brayden’s First Oplatek” and pick up back here when you’re done.

We love sharing this meaningful family tradition with new, important people, and this year’s special guest was my brother Ryan’s wonderful girlfriend, Abby. She jumped right into the fun and was, quite literally, embraced for it.

Being two years old now, Brayden was able to get into the spirit more than ever. He was a little oplatek hoarder and happily munched on any piece put in front of him.

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After all the kisses, hugs and loving sentiments were passed around, we sat down to a totally fantastic prime rib dinner which was followed by Brayden’s big bedtime send off (which was complete with lots of Santa anticipation).

The next morning, Brayden woke up at a respectable 6:00 a.m. and found a tree filled with presents, including a super special gift from Santa — a big, new train set. I, on the other hand, woke up with an incredible pain in my left ear. Jury’s still out on whether or not Santa brought that too.

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A flurry of Christmas carnage ensued, and by the end, I was left with a ridiculously happy toddler with a bunch of new Little People toys, books and other really fun stuff. We also opened two really great customized books from Grand-maman Pare, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Danny, Samantha and Courtney (see the video below).

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After everything had been touched and loved on a bit, we packed into the car and drove to my parents’ house for brunch and more gifts. As usual, they outdid themselves and Brayden is the ecstatic owner of lots of new toys at their house now too.

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Another big hit that day was the Hess Helicopter and Truck set from Aunty Liz, Uncle Roger, Matt and Greg (see the video below), and a college fund gift from Uncle Henry. And the gifts continue to pour in from our amazing CT family with packages due to arrive any moment from from Aunty Heather, Uncle Jake, Gramma Braun, Grampa Braun, Aunt Vicky and Uncle Ed. Brayden couldn’t be loved any more, and we are so grateful.

After the merriment was over, it was time to focus on my increasingly painful ear. I knew a ton of people would try to get into the regular doctor’s office tomorrow, so I left Brayden in my capable parents’ hands and found a nearby urgent care.

I breezed into an appointment (no one was there!) and a quick look in my ear confirmed an infection…but not your run-of-the-mill middle ear infection (i.e., the ones Brayden gets). I had an outer ear infection, otherwise known as swimmer’s ear. What? How did I get swimmer’s ear in the middle of the desert in December? Anyway, the nurse practitioner actually asked me if I had recently been swimming in usual or foreign waters. Um, no. I’m already on the mend though; nothing a few days of ear drops can’t fix. I’ve decided that Fate is upset about Brayden getting tubes and no longer getting ear infections so it decided to transfer them to me.

The rest of Christmas was a nice balance of play and rest, and Brayden is still on cloud nine with his new toys. I really feel like Christmas is reborn for me now that Brayden is in my life. Seeing his eyes light up with joy and hearing his squeals of delight brings me back to my own happy childhood Christmas memories. I am so excited for the chance to bring his little dreams to life and make his memories as special as mine. And since opening presents is the cornerstone of a kid’s Christmas experience, the compilation video below captures some of the high points of the day.

0:00 – Presents from Santa

0:40 – Books from Grand-maman Pare, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Danny, Samantha and Courtney

2:08 – ATV ride on toy from Nana and Papa

3:23 – Hess truck set from Aunty Liz, Uncle Roger, Matt and Greg

4:11 – Playing with the swirly car track from Nana and Papa


Brayden and I hope your day was filled with the stuff that matters—family, love and yummy cookies. Merry Christmas!


  1. what a treasure it is to read every thing and watch your video's. We get to see how precious your Christmas was. Thank you so much Beth for letting us still feel so close to you even though we are so far away. I know it's a lot of work but it's much appreciated. Love you all so much<3

    1. Even though you are so far away, you guys are still a big part of our lives. I'm so glad you enjoy the blog. We love you!