Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 - In Retrospect

I know it's so cliched and everyone always says it at the end of every year, but I can't believe it's the end of 2007 already! The year just seemed to fly by, helped along I'm sure by how busy and full this year was.

Let's see, this year we:
  • moved over a few states
  • got a new job
  • bought a new house
  • had our oldest child turn 3 years old
  • had a baby
Did I miss anything? Whew! It was a very crazy year full of all kinds of major changes for us! Not to mention how much the kids have changed over the course of the year. Amazing, isn't it, how each little day goes by and you don't really notice a big change in them from one day to the next but when you look back over the year, how those incremental steps forward add up to one big leap! Bree seems so much more grown up at the end of 2007 than she did at the beginning, being potty trained and starting to get past the toddler tantrum phase and more into the preschool age. And little Noah...eating baby food, rolling over, and starting to babble, they go through so many milestones in the first few months! Here he is on the verge of 6 months old as we head into 2008 and it's gone by so fast!

Which leads me to my New Year's resolutions. I know, I know, they never really work and we all end up breaking them after just a little while. In fact, I usually try not to make any. And mine aren't resolutions so much as general goals anyways, but the main one is to spend some good quality time really enjoying my children. Now, I'm not saying I haven't already been doing this, but I want to try and do it more often in the upcoming year. It's too easy to get swept up in the piles of laundry or never-ending dirty dishes, I can ALWAYS think of some chore or other that needs to be getting done around the house.

You know how it is, first thing anyone tells you when they see you with young children is, "Better enjoy them while you can! It goes by fast!" And, while I often feel grouchy that people feel the urge to act like my kids' childhoods are practically over before they began, (I KNOW they grow up but do we have to dwell on it? Not to mention I really honestly DO try very hard to enjoy them as much as I can.) While that's a pet peeve of mine, it IS true... So my goal is to firmly push that extra stuff lower on my priority list, at least when it comes to the kids, to put the cleaning by the wayside more often, take at least an extra half an hour out of each day to sit down and really play and laugh with them. I guess more and more I'm just feeling the moments slipping past me like sand through my fingers. (And I don't think that having that darned birthday ticker up there, just counting down the days of the kids' childhood really helps either. Can't tell you how weird it felt the day after Bree's 3rd birthday to already be putting up a year 4 countdown...kind of like how stores have out their Christmas stuff after Halloween, way before most people feel ready to start the that. Maybe I'll banish the tickers!)

This year in particular, with all the changes and business that's gone on, I feel like I just have been super preoccupied and time has passed me by in a blink before I was ready. Especially with Bree, who is already 3 1/2 yrs, it will be no time before she's off to school and I'll be looking back at the time when we spent all day together...and I don't want to be at that point wishing I had just taken a little more time to cherish her preschool years. But I know I won't be wishing I had folded more of the same laundry. I guess adding another child only compounds the situation as well, less time to spend on each one individually perhaps.

So, that's my goal and I am genuinely going to try and pursue it whole-heartedly. In fact, by posting it here and making it public I'm hoping it will hold me more accountable to it. What's your resolution this year?

That was our 2007, I can only imagine what the kids will be like at this time next year.... Hope you all had a wonderful year gone by and a great one to come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas is the Day When Santa Brings you Gifts for Jesus' Birthday

Christmas can be kind of confusing for a kid. Between the commercialism and Santa stuff and then talking about baby Jesus in Sunday school, the whole thing can get a bit hard to explain as a parent. But Brianna has handled it pretty well. She seemed to have no problem talking about Santa coming and mentioning the baby Jesus in the next sentence. In fact, the Sunday before Christmas, the 23rd, we had this discussion:

"How was Sunday School today? Did you sing any songs?"
"No. We just played and had a snack."
"Oh. Really?"
"Actually we did a song. We sang Happy Burtsday to Jesus."
"Oh uh-huh. Because Christmas is Jesus' happy birthday right?"
"Yep. (Pointing to our tree and the presents underneath) Those are Jesus' birthday presents and He doesn't want us to take them, we're supposed to share them."
"I see...." (I guess at Sunday School they must have had a talk about being nice about sharing our toys at Christmas or something.)

So you see then the whole issue is very quite simple, Christmas is that day when Santa brings you presents to celebrate Jesus' birthday. :)

And our Christmas started out with Bree waking us up this morning, yelling from the living room, "MOM AND DAD! MOM AND DAD!" Normally when she first wakes up in the morning she heads straight into our room and snuggles for a few minutes. But today I guess she headed out directly to the living room to see what had happened overnight. So, we threw on our robes and headed in there smirking. "Wow! Santa must have come!" she told us. And so it began.

We started with the stockings as I think most people do. Bree's was full of little things like hair clips, socks, bubble bath, a little stuffed reindeer, some mini My Little Pony's, etc. Nothing real big. But, with every item that came out of the stocking she was exclaiming, "Wow! I never had this before! Just what I wanted for Christmas!" Right around when we finished our stockings Grammy Deb called. Brianna talked to her for a few minutes very excitedly and handed the phone over to me. "And guess what?" I told Grammy, "She's only opened her stocking so far!" This made Grammy Deb laugh since Bree was acting so excited Deb was sure the whole show was over. And here I had thought our little gal was gonna be one tough nut...but she was very excited and happy with every thing she got, even her little barking/wagging puppy that I got her and we had "an incident" over a few entries back. She liked it all, right down to a pair of soft flannel pajamas, when clothing items are usually notoriously unpopular with kids at Christmas. But there she was holding them up and declaring, "Oh these are just my size! And they have heart buttons!"

Although Noah is really too small to get into it, I did find it funny because he seemed to genuinely enjoy his gifts. And so did Bree...because she got to open them for him. He ended up getting several stuffed animals and a few little baby toys, rattles and such, all of which at some point during the day he was rolling around on the floor with, happily mouthing things and playing away. One particular rattle I know he liked for sure because he cried when he dropped it and then was fine once we handed it back to him again. So even the baby was happy with his gifts.

As for Travis and I, it was a cooking/kitchen themed Christmas for us this year. We've been into watching The Food Network lately on TV and are getting more and more into doing things in the kitchen, and have convinced ourselves we need more and more kitchen gadgets. So between the two of us I think we managed to get 6-7 small kitchen appliances or cooking related paraphenalia, not to mention we both had the idea of stuffing the other's stocking with small kitchen items.

Naturally, we all spent the remainder of the day playing with all our stuff and relaxing. So, anyways, that's our story.....hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Busy, Busy

I don't know about you but I've sure been crazy busy lately between the shopping, the wrapping, the mailing of things, the lines at the post office, the lines at the cash register, etc. It's been, to put it mildly, pretty hectic. I suppose part of my stress level this year is due to the fact that I have a young baby which makes everything a little more complicated and makes it all take just a little longer. Five minute errands take at least 15 when you're loading two kids in and out of the car. I'm resolved to start earlier next year to avoid the mad scramble, otherwise I kind of start to feel Scroogie instead of joyous. (Of course, I say I'm going to do it earlier every year but do I?) I think the kids are feeling a bit stressed out too, or at least, sensing my stress. Bree has been so prone to fits and tears this week I could hardly think of anything to blog other than, "tantrum central!" So for a few days in there I actually had bloggers block, nothing to say. (Which, was somewhat of a shock to me since I usually seem to find plenty to say. This is the first time the well has run dry and I was starting to think that I'd have to do a blog about my inability to blog if nothing else.)

This time of year is doubly crazy for our family since my I have a December birthday, (how inconsiderate of me)! This year my big gift was a KitchenAid mixer! Hooray! I'm pretty excited about it, should make my baking life a lot easier and convenient, and it seems I've been baking a lot more lately. Although, I do suspect that Travis had an evil ulterior motive for choosing that particular gift - more goodies for him! (Actually, I asked for one so...) It was pretty sweet though, Bree was all excited it was my birthday and was saying "Happy Burtsday Mom!" all day. The she and Travis sang me the Happy Birthday song that evening when we had cake. She "helped" me blow out my candles (which were practically setting off the fire alarm, getting to be a lot of them!) and then she made sure to tell me, "Make a wish Mom!" So cute! Although, Noah kind of ignored the whole event...

Anyways, life's been busy over here, as I'm sure it's been for you. Having said that, I think this might be my last post before Christmas, so here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Behind the Scenes of our Christmas Pix

It's a fairly common thing for most families, taking the yearly Christmas picture to send out to family and friends for the holiday season. And every year there they are in the mail, glossy prints of smiling faces and for the most part we all look at them and say, "Oh look, isn't that nice! How cute they look." But we don't really think about what may have happened leading up to that picture. So this year I thought it might be fun to give you a behind the scenes peek at what happened in our family leading up to that one moment in the pictures we chose to share.

And let me tell you, getting a good picture is a hard thing! For starters we usually take our own pix here at home, having a resident photography buff on hand. Well, as you can imagine, this creates somewhat of a little problem in and of itself. In order to get all four of us in a picture, Travis has to set his camera to auto-shoot and then get over to the rest of us, position himself so he'll actually be in the frame and then try to smile and look relaxed, like he didn't just spend a hasty 20 seconds scrambling to beat the auto snap feature. I can't tell you how many pictures we have with Travis half in the frame, just his arm showing, or his head cut off, having not quite made it into the shot in time. So there's always that. But on top of that there's getting the people in the picture to look relatively normal and perhaps even to smile. Now, this is a challenge for any photographer but poor Trav doesn't really have the best subjects to work with. First off there's the kids. Noah is really too little to get to smile so the best we can do is get him to maybe look in the direction of the camera. This usually involves someone standing behind the camera making faces, snapping their fingers, jumping up and down, doing a monkey impression, or just doing whatever it takes and generally acting silly. Of course, this is a problem when we want the whole family in the picture since there's no one left for such antics. So in most the pictures Noah ends up looking off to the side, usually towards Travis. But really, who could blame him? Wouldn't YOU be gawking if your dad just vaulted the couch, scooped up your sister in a rush and yelled "SMILE!"

Then there's Bree. In years past we've managed to get her to smile at the camera in these types of family shots by going, "Here comes Daddy! He's running over here like crazy! Look at the flashy light, isn't it silly. It's flashing, it's gonna blink at you!" or tickling her and etc, making it into something silly for her. But now, she's just at that perfect age where she is virtually impossible to photograph. First of all she's just too busy to sit still long enough. We have plenty of shots with her as just a blur, leaving the frame. This is not to mention her "sense of entitlement" we'll call it (instead of difficult phase) that she feels rather strongly lately that leads to things like this: "Okay, Bree. Sit next to your brother please." "I don't want to!" "Brianna, smile!" "I don't want to smile!" "Please baby, we're trying to send a picture to Grammy and she wants you to smile." "No more pictures! I don't want to take pictures!"

As if all that weren't bad enough there's also me. I don't mean to be difficult but I have a problem, I just can't seem to look natural in a picture. If you've ever seen that episode of Friends where Chandler is trying to get pictures taken of himself then you know what I mean. In the show, he'll look great have a nice smile on his face and the minute the camera comes up he stiffens up and looks weird. He cannot take a normal looking picture. Same for me. (Which is why you don't see me posting a lot of pix with me in them on here.) When I see pictures of other people I think, yep, that's so and so all right, looks just like them and don't they look nice. And when I see pictures of me I go, "Oh my God! Is that really what I look like?" Now, don't get me wrong. I think I'm okay looking overall, not too bad. After all, you don't get to be (ahem) how old I am without at least starting to get pretty comfortable in your own skin. But in front of the camera I look as awkward as a teenager on their first date. Maybe I'm trying too hard or something but I have two problem areas, my neck and my eyes, and one or the other of them, or both, seemingly of their own control, decides to freak out and look weird in any given picture of me. Suddenly, my neck will develop giraffe syndrome and start to elongate, pushing my head forward and my chin upwards making me look awkward and usually giving a great view of my nostrils. That or the neck will pull my head backwards in order to show off that little fleshy part under my chin, "the double," that no matter how thin I get still manages to hang around. As for my eyes, they also usually cause trouble by one of two routes, either being halfway closed thus making me look sleep deprived and/or stoned, I think perhaps exacerbated by the neck tilt thing. Or they open up super wide and bug out, which usually happens when the camera is about to go off about half a second after I feel the urge to blink and make an effort not to. Maybe I have puffy eyelids but whatever it is, I can't seem to look like I have my eyes all the way open without the "deer in the headlights" effect.

So, having thoroughly explained to you what Travis was up against here's some shots you wouldn't otherwise see:

Prime example number one of my giraffe neck syndrome. And this is a relatively mild case of it, there's WAY worse. I suppose if I were supremely confident and super cool I would share some of those with you, but nope, this is the best you get. So actually, it's not the worst shot ever, Noah's looking at the camera and looks cute but I look kinda stiff, that's my fakey smile as it gets hard to un-fakey smile on demand after awhile.

Oops! The camera fired when we weren't ready yet, there's Trav leaning over, see his sleeve? And, obviously, Noah and I are real thrilled about it. This is what our faces tend to look like between shots since there's usually quite a bit of time between the pictures while Trav adjusts this and that and then readjusts this and that. I'm not really complaining mind you, since I get to enjoy the pictures afterwards. But during the process we can get a bit restless and impatient. Although, I actually like this one of me better than some, at least I look normal. Not happy, but natural at least.

This is perhaps the truest picture of our reality at that moment. Typical. Brianna bawling because she resented Trav scooping her up into his arms, trying to pose (she doesn't like to feel forced into anything and really didn't want to be doing pictures) and Noah looking at the commotion, binky in place since he was getting crabby and was howling without it. And Travis and I, looking pretty good. Actually at that moment we were laughing at just the sheer absurdity and hopelessness of saving the moment. I don't know what's with us lately. There would have been a time when we would have been upset and stressed out in the face of such 3 yr. old angst and fury. But these days we just laugh at the kids when they both start up, perhaps because we've figured out that lots of times there's nothing we can really do to make it better, we're helpless to fix it and they just have to wind down. And sometimes you just have to laugh in the face of such irrational fury.

Getting close, but not quite. Noah's staring at Trav again, giving away that he's just done something interesting. (You gotta admire his ability to run over super fast and look so relaxed, would you have guessed he just scrambled into place?) And Bree's doing, I dunno, whatever weird face she can think of to avoid smiling. But hey, don't Trav and I look cute? We seem to have found a pose where my neck is in such a position it can't suddenly careen out of control.

Ooh, almost, except for those darn kids again! :) Wouldn't you know it, my favorite shot of myself, and Trav always looks good and the kids are spaced off somewhere.

So, I guess technically, this was our best formal family portrait, everyone looking reasonably happy and more importantly, looking at the camera! (But still, not my favorite shot of me, neck again...oh well.)

And here's a cute picture of the kids... shot on a completely different day. We decided to take another whack at it, however still only managing to get Bree to smirk a little. Still, pretty cute eh?

Of course, none of these are the shots we chose to use for our "official" Christmas pix we shared with family and friends, don't want to ruin it for them. But now you know how it really went down.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Baby Blue Eyes

Before I had kids, if you had told me that both my children would end up with blue eyes I would have laughed. Being married to a person with brown eyes, and with his whole family having brown eyes as well I just assumed that I'd have kids with dark eyes. It's basic genetics, brown is supposed to be the dominate color. So, when Bree ended up with blue eyes, I was sure that the next one would have brown. But alas, both blue and according to the doc if Noah's eyes were going to be a different color they would have started to change by now. So, both kiddos are blue eyed, go figure. But they do have different colors of blue. It's hard to describe but Bree's are more bright and Noah's are darker.

Anyways, so here's a few pix of Mr. Blue Eyes himself looking particularly handsome since he's wearing a blue jumper to bring out the eyes.... :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Blues

As I've said, this year Bree is old enough to have some express wishes about what she wants for Christmas, except she seems to get the idea that her parents have a money tree growing in the backyard. In fact when she was on the phone to her Grandma the other day she invited her to the "Christmas dance" we're apparently having (first I've heard) and also out of the blue announced that "Santa's bringing us a new radio, a new TV, and a new computer!" When I managed to get back on the line my mom said, "Gee, I didn't know you guys were having such an extravagant Christmas!" And I said, "Yeah, neither did I!" So it's pretty obvious to me that Brianna may have some unrealistic expectations of how bountiful the day will be.

The other day she was looking through an ad and was pointing out all the things she wanted (pretty much anything she'd seen a commercial for on TV) and they were all pretty pricey items. She kept talking about how she's going to "win them" for Christmas so obviously the whole idea is still a bit fuzzy. So, I tried to explain to her that she wouldn't "win" them but that Mom and Dad would be buying her gifts for Christmas. But even after that she has the impression that she'll be getting everything she's pointed out. Take, for example, the fact that she wants a Dora's Talking Kitchen. Here's the thing-she already has a kitchen for one, the Dora kitchen is pretty expensive, and I'm not sure how charming another toy that makes lots of noise would be. So the Dora Talking Kitchen is a no on my part. But when I pointed out to Bree that she already has a kitchen she said to me, "But Mom! I hate having just one kitchen!"

So Bree won't actually be getting much of anything off her official list. However, I've been fairly sure that on Christmas morning she'll be so excited opening presents and getting toys she didn't know she wanted that she'll forget about the unrealistic things she pointed out....but now I'm not so sure....

The real kicker came the other day. As you may know Bree's driving ambition is to get a REAL puppy. And at some point we really would like to make that happen but just, not right now. So, hoping to reach a compromise on that when I did some Christmas shopping the other day I ended up buying a "Fur-real" puppy. It's furry and has batteries so it'll bark and wag it's tail and all that and it also comes with a little bottle she can feed it with. When I got home it was evening so I stashed the stuff in my closet and planned to wrap it all up the next day during naptime. Well, yep, sure enough the kid managed to stumble upon my secret stash before I had gotten it all wrapped or hidden any better. Although, to her credit she didn't touch it just came running out to me and asked if I had bought her some surprises. "Yes but they're for Christmas so don't look at them anymore!" I told her. "Okay" she said. And shortly after that they were stashed away in a better hiding spot. So, I thought to myself, she saw her presents for a second, she'll forget and still be surprised by the time she actually gets to open them. But a few days later we had this discussion:

Bree: "Mom do you have any presents for me?"
Me: "No, not right now."
Bree: "But do you have Christmas presents for me?"
Me: "Yes, but you can't open those until Christmas."
Bree: "But Mom! I wanted the puppy on the skateboard and all I saw was the puppy with a bottle in there. I don't think you did a very good job!"

I was so shocked by this conversation I'm pretty sure my mouth was hanging open and I didn't know what to say in response. (Partly because I have no idea what dog on a skateboard she's talking about and also because I'm sure she doesn't know that the puppy in the closet can bark and etc.) So I didn't say anything and she dropped the subject. But still....This phase already? I sort of thought that the stage where kids were just excited to get presents no matter what little silly trinket was in them, and not being super picky about what they wanted, would last longer. I'm thinking we're definitely going to have her pick out a toy that we'll be giving to the nearest toy drive to start learning about giving, sharing, and thinking about others.

I guess I'll give her a break because she's just 3 and doesn't really know better. It's kind of the age I think, I mean, what preschooler do you know who doesn't think it's all about me me me most the time! And it helps to know she's not the only one, the other day one of my friends was telling me how her 5 yr old son was convinced by commercials that he wants a Disney princess cash register and a my little pony doll. :) But still.....Oy vay!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Talent Show

Brianna put on a "talent show" as she called it the other day. This basically meant that she put on some of her dress up stuff and danced like a maniac to some music.....

Strike a pose!

See that flashlight? At one point she handed it off to me and it was my job to shine it on her like a spotlight. And if I got distracted and the light wasn't right on her, she made sure to get me back on track.

Thank you! Thank you very much!

I think she's ready to star in her very own music video don't you? :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I Heart Mom

Can't even leave the boys alone for five minutes and look what happens....(check out that arm)

Noah ends up with a tattoo! (drawn by Trav) I guess boys will be boys.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Heaping Helping of Breeisms

  • espanol - Bree is now into making up her own words. She'll walk in and go "Hey Mom, look at this grblickmmer." The funny thing is she'll then stare at me like I should know what that is. For awhile I was completely confused as to why she was doing this since on my part I thought the days of me staring at her in confusion and trying to decipher the random syllables coming out of her mouth were over. Finally though the other day when I questioned her about it she told me, "Mom, I'm speaking Spanish!" Ah, just like Deigo or Dora does but I guess it sounds like random syllables to Bree because that's what comes out when she talks in her "second language"!
  • scrumptious - Brianna's new favorite word to describe food. "How's your dinner Bree?" "It's scrumptious!" or "Mom, this toast is sure scrumptious!"
  • grazing - Something most toddlers do. You know, wander around the house with a snack in hand. Bree however has elevated this to a new art at our house. We have to watch out not to leave portable, self contained snacks sitting around like apples or muffins. Why? Because Brianna will wander by, grab one up and start munching on it. But what's wrong with that? you ask. Well I'll tell you! Because the kid never finishes a single one of them! Apparently after about 5-10 bites they turn icky and she'll decide she needs a new one, leaving the old one wherever she was standing at the time. It's not unusual at the end of the day for me to find 5 or 6 different little snacks like this scattered around the house all with little nibbles out of them.
  • Apple Cinnamon - is what Brianna has renamed herself, perhaps influenced by the characters of Strawberry Shortcake stories we've been reading recently. Sometimes she even refuses to respond unless you call her this.
  • self-narration - Seems Bree is now into narrating her own life. Every so often she can be heard describing her actions as she goes...."Then she walked over and picked up Gingy..." Seriously, not kidding. I really think sometimes she sees her life as a movie.
  • sticking out her tongue - Bree's new favorite thing to do. I'm NOT a fan. It's just not very flattering and to me, smacks of extreme brattiness. Especially in those instances when the tongue flies out in response to me needing to correct her. So, I've taken a stand on this one, can't tell you how many time outs she's incurred for this particular infraction. Now she's taken to holding her hand up to her mouth and sticking her tongue out at me behind it. I'm not fooled but the funny thing is that Bree thinks she's pulling one over on me, she's pretty sure I don't know what's going on behind the hand.
  • packages - one of Bree's favorite things to get ever, she loves mail! You can tell because the other day when she volunteered to say grace at the dinner table..."Thank you for our family, and for our food and for packages and mail! The end."

What a little rascal!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Big Boy

Noah has grown so much that I've already had to start packing away a box of clothes that are too small for him. It's hard to believe that this big boy ever fit into the tiny clothes of just 4 and a half months ago.....

In fact, when he's wearing just a diaper he kind of reminds me of a tiny Sumo wrestler:

Yep, he's a chunky monkey all right but he's sure a happy kid.

Monday, December 03, 2007

More Baby Deja Vu

I know I shared the shot of Noah in his swing with the green bow in his hair before. But when I looked at that picture I was thinking, "Man! He is one chubby kid!" (Mainly due to his double, or is it triple, chin.) But then, by chance as our screen saver was shuffling through our pix the other day this shot of Brianna flashed onto the screen:

So actually, Bree was pretty chubby herself. Made me laugh to see these pix together and you can tell they're siblings. I've decided that their main big difference is the noses. But look how similar the shapes of their faces are, the cheeks, the ears, the shapes of their mouths.....

And then here's these because it's just fun for me to get to look back on and relive Brianna's first year while I'm in the middle of going through the same early milestones with Noah.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snow Fun

Our big snow fall awhile back is sticking around, it's never melted off and in fact we've had a few more flurries that added to our layers of white stuff outside. This is fine with Bree who continues to enjoy playing in it, and it was fine with GooGoo and Stinky Pete when they came over to play in it with her....

Here's Grammy helping Brianna make her first ever snow angel. Bree was so taken with this idea I think she made 5 or 6 of them in a row.

I guess it IS officially winter here if the mountains are any indicator, snow caps aplenty! This is the view from our back yard.

While we were playing I found an abominable snow baby.

Turned out he could be tamed with kisses though. :)