Wednesday, December 28, 2011

'Twas the Night Before

With being pregnant, we tried to keep things a little more low key this year but often the best laid plans go awry. Christmas Eve, while shopping for the few last things for the meal, Keila hurt her elbow. She wouldn't move her right arm for the life of her, even to suck her fingers which is a big deal for her. After a light lunch Kent took her to Urgent Care where x-rays were done. Thankfully it was only a sprain and in the morning, she was moving it just fine. Regardless, she read her parent's concern and milked it for all it was worth with lots of cuddles and kisses along the way.

Later that evening we drove out to Mesa to spend time with Kent's siblings. Isaac had been dying to go the moment he woke up that day but was rather discouraged given all the excitement about Keila. When we finally took off it was with a great deal of disbelief, "NOW are we going?!!! Finally!" He had a blast playing with his cousins and eating Christmas goodies. A special visitor came later and Isaac was more than eager.

Christmas morning gave us another good medical scare. We had church at 9 am and had informed the kiddos we wouldn't do any presents until they were dressed and ready. Unfortunately for me, I had a Braxton and Hicks contraction that would not let up. About half and hour in I began have extremely sharp pains that would come and go in 5-6 minute intervals. Since everybody that we knew that could be of help was at church or would be there in the next 5 minutes headed out. Kent was able to leave the kids with the Bakers while I got a blessing and rested. Things calmed down enough so that I could enjoy the Christmas program. We were extremely grateful, this is one present we want to remain wrapped for several weeks longer. A visit with the doctor 2 days later confirmed there was no damage, but it's become rather apparent that old age is taking it's toll and I need to rest up a little more.

I really enjoyed having church first before the craze of unwrapping presents. If I could have it my way, Christmas would always be on a Sunday. We kept the perspective of Christ's birth first and foremost in our minds and it made the day calmer and more meaningful in every aspect.

The kids came home and hopped into PJs before attacking the gifts under the tree. The big gift this year was the dress up treasure box which I had prepped just after Halloween. Keila was thrilled beyond measure with her princess dress, shoes and accessories. As soon as she unwrapped it she stripped down to try out all her new clothes. She was also thrilled with her very own turtle. Ever since she's been in the preschool playroom, she's become rather attached to 2 plastic turtles. Heaven help the child that dares to touch them because they get a firm rebuttal, "Don't EVER, EVER touch turtle!" This one is much more pleasant to cuddle and we hope it softens her a little towards her classmates.

Keila was thrilled with a marshmallow Hello Kitty pop and wouldn't put it down until ..

Isaac began opening up the presents for the dress up box.

What could a girl do when she had a new dress, shoes and accessories, but abandon the lollipop and don all things beautiful!

Isaac favorite was definitely the Lego set he got the night before from Santa. He said it was "a dream come true" and within minutes was building all sorts of wonderful things. It was even more thrilling when he discovered the instructions for building the cars/helicopter, etc. It was rather touching for me to see him and Kent with heads bend working together to make each vehicle. It was definitely a male bonding moment!

If the excitement ended there, then the holiday would have missed one of the best parts. First thing the next day I drove out with the kiddos to pick up Uncle Joe and Aunt Becky from the airport. It was heaven and their presence was the very best gift Isaac could receive. He was never without a playmate or companion and if it was a small as watching an episode of the Backyardigans, to playing pirates in his bedroom, they were always there for him. When it came time to send them back to Connecticut, Isaac cried on and off for over an hour. Small things would trigger the reminder of the loss (like seeing his room empty of their possessions) and his eyes would well up and he'd begin to sob with "Uncle Joe and Aunt Becky" being the only coherent words for the next 5 minutes. We just hope that they had as much fun as we did. We sure do appreciate their annual visit.

Kent took the Friday and Monday off around New years and we attended a pint sized New Year party at Imagination Ave, complete with a balloon drop at noon and bubbly Martinelli's.

Keila was in her element as her current favorite princess - Snow White. She looked the part and knew it and demanded pictures and admiration from one and all ....

and especially herself. I don't know where she got it from, but most of the first hour was spent twirling and admiring herself in the mirror!

Isaac built

and built (does this not remind you of something from Dracula?)

and built!

Kent was well examined in the hospital. Of course their favorite areas to poke at was his head and he couldn't help but ask what kind of a doctor they were and where did they train.


One last ride for the princess from her personal chauffeur!

Later that evening we went to our neighbours for our potluck soup and bread dinner. The kids had a blast with sparklers, sugar, bouncing on the Erickson's trampoline and running amok in general. We ended the holiday bash by cleaning up the Christmas decor (during which many tears were shed) and a morning visit to the McCormick Train Park and lunch out.

Isaac enjoyed watching the little model trains running overhead. I think I counted 4 times where I saw him biff it since the floor was so slick and he kept chasing them!

It truly has been a wonderful holiday for all of us, we've been grateful for all the blessings of 2011 and look forward to the adventures that 2012 will bring. Happy New Year one and all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giving and Receiving

The first couple of years I dreaded giving the usual plate of cookies for Christmas. For one, I'm not much of a baker, I'd rather cook. As a result, my cookies greatly resemble something a 4 year old makes which is never appetizing to eat. (I must admit though, having kids has given me a scapegoat for the lack of aesthetic appeal in my baking!) Having received many such plates of cookies myself, I know I am often tempted to throw them away except for the guilt I tend to feel. The kiddos eat them for me but I hate the idea that the effort I go to might cause someone else a similar dilemma. Thankfully I have discovered the joys of melted chocolate that seems to make all baking beautiful. For simplicity, Isaac and I dipped pretzel sticks in mint chocolate and added all sorts of sprinkles for a colorful flair. We had fun, it was easy and most of all I can hand them out without shame!

Isaac was rather keen on the clean up - I'm pretty sure he licked the sprinkle plate so well I need not worry about any waste!

I'm always amazed at the generosity of people during this time of year. There's a family about 15 mins from us that runs a Santa visit for 2 nights annually. They own horses and have plenty of land for parking and decorating. People are invited to come out with canned goods or donations for a particular charity they sponsor and in exchange they get to sit on Santa's knee, take a hay ride, drink hot chocolate and even roast their own smores. We were really surprised when Santa handed Keila a princess cup (how did that jolly old man know?) and some stamps to Isaac. I can't imagine the cost it takes to decorate let alone provide so much food. It was incredibly kind of them and we had a lovely time.

Keila ran up to Santa like she was greeting an old friend and gave him a hug. She has never cried on his lap even as a baby. You should have seen the look of adoration when he handed her a princess cup, "Pin-cess! I see pin-cess!" I have a feeling that cup will be with us for a LONG time.

Isaac is always more cautious with strangers, but he sure wasn't shy when Santa asked if there was anything from his basket he'd like to take home as a gift.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Run, Run, Fast as you Can

I love volunteering in Isaac's preschool. It's given me so many opportunities to learn from the teachers how to better raise my children and helped me to see how truly hard it is to make little bodies do what they know they should. It's that whole 'natural man' thing - naturally we don't want to share, or make order out of chaos (in other words - clean up) We're all naturally egocentric and as I've watched others teach my children these concepts and help them to change, I am filled with gratitude for what it does for them and for our home. I've also learned to let go and let them have a little more of the childhood that is so brief. This means the simple joys (often messy ones!) that are fun and creative.

Isaac has always loved the story of the gingerbread man and has read every version I can find in the library. For the heck of it, Isaac and I baked up gingerbread men one afternoon while Keila napped. I made up colored icing that they could squeeze out of a Ziploc bag to take to school for the kids to enjoy. Unfortunately I was only in the playroom with Keila and didn't get to see Isaac decorating his little man, but it was fun to see them share it with their friends.

As expected with the younger age in the playroom, they just piled the colorful icing in one spot for a good jolt of sugar in the eating of it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tis' the Season

I'm grateful that we keep the Christmas gift giving simple. It's usually all done and shopped for at the beginning of Dec because the demands of a child as young as ours are really quite simple. Even when asked by the jolly man himself, Isaac typically answers that he wants candy - definitely doable! This leaves the rest of the Christmas month to enjoy family activities and outings which I hope will be more lasting in the long run. So we make ornaments, bake, watch movies, visit friends, see lights, etc. Kent and I avoid the stresses of busy shopping places and take the time to watch the magic of Christmas unfold in our little darlings eyes. The downside to it all is the fact I'm ALWAYS behind on posting so bear with me if it comes down to a series of pictures and brief descriptions.

We attended our ward Christmas party with some close friends. It's so perfect when the parents click as good as the kids do! The dinner was nice, the program simple and of course we had our annual visitor. This last while Isaac has been asking many questions about the man in red. I've found him pouring over the books from the library, especially one about Santa's reindeer and the extensive 'training' they undergo to pull the famed sleigh. It was rather darling to find him sitting with Keila at the couch showing her pictures and explaining how the reindeer have to believe in the magic of Christmas with all their hearts. She was an attentive listener and later solemnly told me that Isaac 'knows' reindeer and Santa.

I rather hope for him to understand the symbol Santa represents without overshadowing the true meaning of this time of year so I was grateful to take them to see the Mesa temple, to listen to scriptures from the bible as we gaze at the Christus and enjoy the differing scenes from that holy night. All the following pictures Kent took at night using only the light from the trees. It was a very slow shutter speed so only a few turned out, but he was rather proud of them.

The Mesa Temple in all it's quiet beauty. It has been 8 years since Kent and I were married for time and all eternity there. I am grateful for the blessings of the temple that our family can be together long after this life is past. It is these blessings that make the holiday time so much more meaningful. After all, what could be greater than the gift of life eternal with those we love through out Savior Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas one and all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Pickin', No Lickin'

I know this is such a Grinchish thing to say I'm going to say it anyhow -I HATE sugar cookies! The effort it takes to make the dough, let alone roll it out, wait for it to cool, ice it and then decorate is just too much for me. I'm not even that fond of it for flavor so of all the things Isaac wanted to do this Christmas, he HAD to choose sugar cookies. La sigh, the things we do for our little ones! There must be something about punching out those shapes in the dough that gives the kiddos a high. We could hardly contain Keila in her enthusiasm. The icing was another crazy business (my poor sugar deprived kiddos) and it was with great effort and policing that we managed the whole thing so that I could deliver the cookies and truthfully say, "There was no nose picking or finger licking in the making of these cookies." They really enjoyed though and it kept them from missing Kent too much while he was gone for a conference. I'm posting these pictures so I can prove to Isaac we've done the sugar cookie thing and hopefully I can steer him in another direction next year!

Just a quick update on the little guys and their growth and changes. The other day my neighbor commented on Keila and her activity level. I guess she thought Keila was the calm one - this is all in relative comparison of course! She's grown to be such a chatter bug lately that between the 2 of them, I can positively say the little voices are not just in my head! ;0) She has grown this infatuation with princesses, probably born from watching Tangled one too many times. ("Wanna watch pincess! Want bad guys and horsey) Kent isn't all too thrilled with it, but I'd rather that than Barbies/ Bratz. Her other obsession is the nighttime song she request that she calls 'Popcorn'. Unfortunately, she has an endearing way of switching the p and the c so you get something not so innocent. She loves to have a full on conversation and if you ask her what she did for the day, she'll tell you in as much detail as a 2 year old can. I love watching her play with Isaac. She's a little spitfire and it's due in part to needing to hold her own as Isaac doesn't view her as much of a girl/lady - just a sister who should sword play with him. She's learned to take a stand and not just run away to cry. More than that, she seems to be enjoying it and Kent and I hope it comes in handy when she needs to fight off the boys!

Isaac has grown to understand what it means to be a big brother and has shown an increase in kindness and helpfulness with Keila. He is extremely excited for the next baby and comes up with all sorts of strange random names: Fan-fan (rice in chinese), Pancake, etc. As you can see the names revolve around food, not too surprising in this household. He thinks it's a boy and hopefully he won't be disappointed. We practice his letters a few times a week and he's to a point where he can often sound out short words. The letters b, d and p are a little confusing at times especially in lowercase, but really we're quite proud of him and his progress. His favorite playthings are to pretend (a knight usually or an explorer), to build with ANYTHING he can get his hands on (yes our couch, pillows, boxes are always in danger of becoming a fort/castle) and when Keila naps, he likes to play games with me. It seems so strange that he could have grown so much in just 4 years.

What's Your Bet?

Little Thumper is the nickname I always give my babies while they're in the womb. For whatever reason, they have a knack of finding my cervix and their little feet start tapping out a dance so I feel as I have the conga going inside me. With Isaac, this was an all day and night event, with particular highlights after meals and during the first few hours of 'sleep'. In fact the few time he'd pause to rest had me worried that he'd somehow strangulated himself with the umbilical cord. Keila was a post-mealtime kicker (as if to say, "there's only so much room in here!") and just before bedtime stretcher and dancer. For those who have seen her, she is incredibly limber and this was obvious from the odd shapes my belly would contort into as she did her nighttime yoga.

This pregnancy has been different altogether. I wonder if it was that i was too busy with the 2 little ones to notice the movement, but on our recent trip to Vegas where there was plenty of down time I realize that this little one is just calmer. The movements are gentler nudges and shifts as if to say hello. Even at night, when I expect the most movement it is just the odd kick here and there and a little push. I think that's why it took me to nearly 18 weeks before I felt anything.

This has Kent and I thrilled with the possibility that we might have a calmer child (for once!) and that the transition into have 3 will be easier than we think. There are a number of things that have us a little anxious about this extra addition. For one thing, Kent has just moved into a management position that will have him gone an evening about once a week. This combined with the MBA program he is interested in starting in April along with his Scoutmaster duties will make for a tight schedule. The idea of having 3 children at home to tend to just makes me tired and to have one that will be laid back and easy going will be a nice reprieve. I suppose that only time will tell. No matter what though, everyone is excited for this little one. Isaac has suggest all sorts of strange names for it and anytime Keila get the chance she yells a hello to my belly for baby to hear.

We went as a family to the last ultrasound at 20 weeks last Tues. Isaac really enjoyed seeing the little one and it's heart beating. Previous to going Kent and I had been debating whether or not to find out the gender of the child. With one of each I was happy to be surprised in the old-fashion way, but Kent argued that he felt more bonded to the child if he knew the gender and could have the name pick out already. We went for a compromise and had the ultrasound tech seal up the info in an envelope. I delivered it to one of my best friends who will bake the answer into a cake. So in about 2 months from now we will cut open a cake with a few friends share in the delightful discovery of either pink/blue icing. I will have some element of surprise and Kent will have the last trimester to feel a sense of bonding. Anyone care to take bets on what we're having?