Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve - Part 3

After getting the kids into their Christmas pj's, we made hot chocolate (cold for Robbie) and piled into the car to drive around Wheaton and look at the Christmas lights while sipping our drinks and listening to Christmas music.  It was fun even though it was raining, and everything was covered with a thick layer of ice which made the world at night seem to sparkle.  On the way home we picked up Chinese food, since having fun today and cooking a big meal tomorrow trumped cooking tonight.

Then it was time to get ready for the Big Guy's overnight arrival... setting out the milk and cookies.  We explained to Robbie that Santa needs a snack because it's a long night for him, and Robbie seemed to think that it had been a long night for HIM, too... and helped himself to Santa's milk and cookies!

"Those 2 cookies sure look lonely on this plate..."

Um, yes honey - I can see you.

We also added baby carrots to the plate (for the reindeer, of course).  Robbie wanted to test those out as well, but nearly choked on the bits after chewing and gave me a mild heart attack.  Next year we're sticking to milk and cookies only.

Thanks, Great Grandma Jessie, for this adorable dish set!  We were so excited to use it tonight.  Especially Robbie, apparently.  :)

And with that, we are all off to enjoy a long winter's nap... 

Christmas Eve - Part 2

Last year we started the tradition of giving Robbie a Christmas Eve gift - Christmas pj's for that night.  I couldn't wait to find matching pj's this year for both kids.

The best picture of the 2 of them on the couch I could get in their matching pj's!  Ha.

Oh goodness, this sweet girl just melts my heart.  
Please do not overlook the way she has her feet stacked.

I love this picture of Robbie because it explains perfectly what he is like right now.  Obsessed with Polar Express and viewing it 3 inches from the TV, unable to sit down, up on his tip-toes all day long reaching for things he shouldn't be, toys everywhere.  I snapped this shot just moments after he tried to fit his large Thomas the Train figurine into the nativity manger.  The train puzzle pieces didn't fit either, but not for lack of trying.

What makes me the happiest mom in the world - when my kids love on each other.
Merry Christmas to me!  (And, don't you love how babies respond to kisses by trying to suck on the kisser's face?!)

My favorite picture of Ellie tonight - enjoying her Christmas Eve bottle on her daddy's lap.  It doesn't get much better than this.

What a blessed night this is!

Christmas Eve - Part 1

Robbie is our little sponge, and we are having a lot of fun teaching him about Christmas.  He knows who Santa is and what he says... after this morning he knows some of the words to Jingle Bells... and he knows presents are for opening.  But more importantly to us, he knows whose birthday Christmas is ('baby cheese-us!').  Tonight we thought it would be fun to start off celebrating Christmas Eve by baking Jesus a birthday cake.

I poured all the ingredients into the bowl, and he mixed it with the spoon (his favorite kitchen activity)...

Oops.  This is the gene he got from his mother.

Later in the evening he helped me get the cake out of the oven (not really - but he does love my Orka).  Don't worry, this was taken hours after the cake had cooled.

He helped me spread the frosting... and got a lick in there too, don't worry.

And even threw a few sprinkles on.  My little taste tester wasn't about to let the cake have all those pretty sprinkles.  Here he is most likely discussing that candles usually have fire, or that this birthday cake is for Jesus.  It sounded mostly like: "dis-and-dis-and-dis-and-dis", his go-to babbling when he doesn't have the words to use to describe what he's trying to say.

It was a fun tradition to start with him.

And just because I love everything that is going on in this picture...
I asked Robbie to tell Daddy about the cake he had made for Jesus.  Ellie couldn't spin herself around in the exersaucer fast enough, so she just leaned back to listen!

I love my little family...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa is a Target Employee

A little Christmas story to make you smile...

Backstory: Ellie had a rough  night last night after receiving her usual vaccinations at the Dr. yesterday along with first doses of flu and H1N1 vaccines.  She seems to feel better this morning, as long as I'm giving her a little extra love and attention.  Robbie woke up crabby and all that could make him happy in the world was to watch Polar Express while drinking a cup of apple juice.  We had big plans to stay inside all day long.  Halfway through our peaceful viewing for the hundredth time, the DVD stops working (jumping and then freezing completely).  What else am I to do but throw the kids in the car and search for a new copy, what with a borderline sick baby and tantrum-y toddler?  We need peace today!  Especially since we are NOT attempting the trek to New Jersey in a few days without this beloved movie.  It is certainly our ticket to quiet and calm in the van for at least a few hours.

So this morning we are meandering around Target (after locating the new copy of Polar Express, of course), and who should appear in the canned goods aisle but a Target employee stocking the shelves.  What was unique about this man was that he was a jolly old fellow with a white beard, spectacle glasses, and of course the standard Target-red shirt!  On the heels of teaching Robbie who Santa Claus is, I knew he would take notice of this sweet old man just as I had, and make the comparison.  

The man made his way past us, and gave us a kind smile.  As soon as Robbie looked up from his perch within our shopping cart and made eye contact with the man, he froze.  His gaze followed the man as he walked away, and I stopped and watched to see what Robbie would do.  After a few seconds of stunned silence, wheels obviously spinning furiously in his little head, he turned to me with his wide eyes and a happily surprised expression and quietly exclaimed,


Two other women were nearby in the same aisle, and watched this all happen.  They chuckled at Robbie's assumption that this dear Target employee might in fact be Santa Claus in disguise.

And I was worried that I might not get Robbie over to the mall to see Santa before Christmas...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy 6 Month Birthday, Ellie!

It seems like I was just posting Ellie's 5 month pictures... since they were late in being put up, it really only has been 2 1/2 weeks!  There haven't been dramatic changes in Ellie's growth this month.  She is as sweet as can be, and the perfect combination of mellow and happily attentive.  She continues to be enamored by her big brother, and the highlight of her day seems to be when he climbs up the side of her crib and hangs over the edge to say good morning to her before I lift her out.  She's all smiles then!

Speaking of the big brother, he is as busy as ever.  I look for every opportunity to lay Ellie on the ground or on her play mat but there are very few safe moments to be found in each day.  For this reason, she has yet to roll over.  I know she'll do things in her own time, but I can't help but feel responsible for the delay!

I can't wait until Ellie is able to tell me what's really on her mind.  She loves to try and talk to me, usually as I'm about to put her to bed.  (What she lacks in physical ability at this point, she makes up for in smarts.)  I am a sucker for her sweet babbling and always linger a few minutes to listen to what she has to say and offer a few of my own 'bah-bah-bahs' and 'le-la-los'.

If anyone sees a resemblance in her to us, please let us know.  We have yet to determine who she looks like!  We LOVE that she is her own little person, though.

Today I was finally able to write again in the journal I've kept for Ellie since we learned of my pregnancy with her.  The last entry in her journal was exactly one week prior to her birth.  What they say about the second child is true.  Less is documented, and life is exponentially busier and more full.  She doesn't even have a 'First Year' calendar like Robbie did!  But I never want this sweet girl to feel less important.  I hope she grows up knowing that she is a precious treasure.

Sweet Elizabeth Suzanne - God's perfect gift to us!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peace in December

The month of December has brought a lot of activity to our home, which is not unusual for anyone this time of year.  For us, the holidays are coinciding with Robbie's early navigation into the 'terrible two's'.  Rob and I were talking about how that phrase is misleading - it's not a terrible age.  We find our son to be more and more endearing by the day.  Our love deepens (if that is even possible considering how much we loved him the day he was born... and even before!) with the continued unfolding of his personality.  It is, however, a very frustrating phase for a little guy to experience.  

The main offenders: teeth, verbals, physical boundaries and abilities.  

His eye teeth have been coming in for over a month - the most painful of teeth to cut, our pediatrician reminded us, as the tooth continues to cut at the gums because of it's sharp angle from tip to base.  

Although Robbie is our little chatterbox, his vocabulary is still limited.  He knows what he wants (take after your mother much?) but cannot always verbalize his needs or desires to us, leaving him a whiny, tantrum-y mess.  Thankfully mommy is a fairly good translator (and mind-reader, for that matter), and so if she is nearby many frustrations in this department can be avoided.

Robbie loves to run and climb.  He has fallen off the kitchen chair many times, attempted to scale my mom's kitchen island yesterday, chipped his front tooth in the bathtub last night (not a biggie, he was fine!) and is a frequent escapee of the Target shopping cart seat belt buckle.  He loves being active and dislikes (initially? on the surface?) when we set boundaries for or around him.  Don't worry, we're not deterred.  

We are, however, exhausted by the end of the day - physically and otherwise!  It takes a lot of energy to keep up with and ahead of our spirited little boy.  He is a gift - but of the mexican-jumping-bean-sort.

I have been seeking creative ways to not only entertain Robbie, but bring calm and happiness to our days.  Here is a peek at our favorite discoveries.

Breathtaking drives through the winter-wonderland that is the Arboretum right now!  (Especially nice for mommy.)  The deer are out in droves, and we always pull the car over and roll down our windows to say hi.  

We indulge in the occasional frosted sugar cookie while taking drives in the late afternoon/early evening at dusk to look at christmas lights and decorations.

We break out the portable DVD player (used on the flight to NJ over Thanksgiving!) and enjoy a viewing of the Polar Express at the kitchen table while mommy makes dinner nearby.  Sidenote: I have seen this movie so many times this month.  I am known to quote lines from it while shopping with the kids to entertain Robbie.  At Target this morning: 'Is anyone in need of refreshment?! I THOUGHT so!'  ::handing Robbie his juice cup::  Sigh.

And we have also perfected the art of sharing germs with each other.  Not exactly fitting with the whole theme of things-we-do-for-entertainment.  But definitely in the category of things-we-do.  For the better part of the last 2 months, at least one family member has been sick with something.

If you need a tutorial...

1. Remove paci from your mouth.
2. Insert paci into the mouth of family member closest to you.
3. Transfer a variety of viruses and bacteria.

Rob and I are learning every day what it means to parent small children.  Mostly we find ourselves asking God for more grace, patience and wisdom.  Often we look at each other and wonder what the next phase will hold.  Sometimes we find success in our attempts.  But we always find God to be faithful, the Good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.  Even when our home is a hub of activity and babies, our hearts can be filled with peace.  What a gift!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Challenge #682

On a good morning, Robbie and Ellie wake up almost simultaneously.  Amazingly enough, this happens roughly 90% of the time.  I kid you not.  (True story, they also usually have poopy diapers within minutes of each other, but that's another post for another day. Or not.)

However, 10% of the time I find myself sprinting up and down the stairs in an attempt to not leave either child unattended for any amount of time while they are awake and a danger to themselves.  (Thank you, those of you who have 2+ kids and are laughing at the impossibility of this.)

Today, Robbie got up first.  I got him changed and we had waffles for breakfast while Ellie snoozed a little longer than usual.  When she woke up, Robbie was contentedly playing in the family room and seemed distracted enough.  I quietly bolted up the stairs and snatched a diaper, wipes, and a change of clothes along with Ellie herself and safely (but quickly) made my way back downstairs.

Well, whaddayaknow.  In the 10 seconds I was gone, Hambone found the maple syrup.  AND popped the cap open, poured it out onto the table, which dripped onto the floor, and was scooping it up with his hands like it was the last few drips of water on the face of this planet.

"What do they put in this stuff...?  I can't get enough of it."

Possibly what he does in his dreams?

Caught red-handed.  And looking very remorseful.

Not one to let food go to waste... a few drips are spotted on the floor.

Mom should probably have put an end to this activity right around now.  Instead, she continues to snap off shots like any good blogger-mommy would.

A boy and his (butter rich) syrup - saccharine overload in every sense.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And then I learned that today was Sunday

If you are thinking about having kids 15 1/2 months apart, might I recommend viewing this collage prior to making your final decision?  (Click to enlarge.  Trust me, you want to do this.)

This is very symbolic of what life is like for me right now.  It's WONDERFUL.  Full of laughs, matching pj's (the kids, not me - don't worry), and juice cups perched in curious places - can you find it!?  But it's also a little crazy.  

Today I told my brother in law that I'd put a check in the mail to him... "on Monday, of course, since tomorrow is Sunday".  Today is Sunday.

I have burned 5 things in the oven on separate occasions in the last week or so.  I NEVER burn things in the oven!  And yet somehow I keep forgetting to check if the oven dial is set to "Bake" or "Broil".  Curse that Broil notch, and why isn't it twice as big and neon orange? 

So now don't you want to forgive me for slacking on the blog?  I thought so.

I will say that somehow, I have managed to get the Christmas tree up and decorated (only the top half... this year the bottom is empty for obvious reasons!), make a batch of sugar cookies with my mom's help, nearly completed our Christmas shopping (thanks to the kids napping for 2 hours at the same time today and Rob being willing to stay behind in case they woke up), mailed out our Christmas cards, and remembered to purchase AND wash the kids' Christmas Eve gifts (what else, matching pj's).  In my spare time this weekend I also cleaned out the pantry, top of the fridge, and our candy cabinet.  That's right, we have a cabinet devoted to candy, popcorn and cookies.  I have no idea why, since we rarely open it - I have a hard time throwing this stuff out even if we don't really eat it, it keeps so well (gross).  What we DO eat are the fresh baked treats that are usually on the cake stand on the counter. But I digress... my point is that aside from keeping 2 small children alive, clothed, fed and relatively happy every day, I AM managing a small level of productivity on the side.

And since I think that last paragraph was more for me than you, I'm heading to bed.  Here's to hoping you have the days of the week straight.  And if you don't, that you have as happy a reason as I do for not being right in the head! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Don't you just love putting up Christmas decorations!?  I do!  I was so excited to order Ellie's stocking in October - the type A in me (buried someplace deep inside since the babies were born!) could not wait to see all 4 stockings hung by the fireplace in perfect symmetry.  2 green, 2 red!  Dorky... I know.  And yes, those are cinnamon-scented pine cones!  Yum.

I am also celebrating the rebirth of my craftiness.  I wanted Christmas-inspired words to adorn our mantle and still-empty family room wall, but everything I could find was ridiculously priced.

So I made my own.  NOEL for the mantle, and PEACE for the wall.  I'm happy with the outcome!

Here's your quick tutorial:
Purchase the letters from JoAnn Fabrics (pick your font and size, or mix it up like I did) - they are $2.99 - $3.99 per letter, depending on size.  The ones I like best are lightweight and they are paper-bag brown in color.  Not sure what the material is - something similar to paper mache?  Then head to the acrylic paint aisle and choose a color.  I chose a metallic silver/bronze and it really adds depth to go with a metallic finish.  Usually in the same aisle you can find a paint brush (if you don't have a small one) that is about half the size of the planes of your letters, for easy paint application.  Go home, lay newspaper under the letters and paint the front and sides of the letters.  2 coats is best, but skip the back.  In less than 10 minutes, the letters will be dry.  Apply 2 or 3 3M tabs (the kind that don't take the paint off or leave residue behind - they're strong enough for the task) to the back of the letters and position on the wall.  Or, skip the tabs and lean the letters on your mantle or shelf!  It's as easy as that.

Last year my mom helped me with a more ambitious undertaking.  We found a great 2-D picture of Santa and projected it onto a 3 foot square canvas.  We outlined the image with pencil, turned the projector off, and filled in the drawing with grey acrylic paint.  This always hangs in our dining room at Christmas time now!

I love adding to my Christmas decorations each year in ways that are affordable, creative and personal.  

And just because he looks like Christmas cheer itself, a picture of the big guy eating lunch the other day by the glow of our indoor twinkle lights!

We enjoy wearing our Christmas pj's all month.  And sometimes all day long. 

Enjoy this festive month!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

167 Days...

Dear Ellie:

It has been 167 days since the day of your birth.  (I needed to post this sooner - I'm sorry!)  Every one of those days has been a gift from God, as you have brought so much joy and happiness into our home with your sweet disposition and beautiful smiles.

It's starting to feel normal - to wake up and know that I have not only a son, but a daughter.  But the notion that I am your mother, and completely responsible for your little self and very life... it is overwhelming every time I stop and consider what a high calling this is.  To be your mom.

You have grown a lot this month - you are trying to sit up on your own, and you continue to explore the wonder of your voice.  You are beginning to really love (and anticipate!) bath time, and you get excited if I simply walk into your bathroom while holding you.

You are very aware of your surroundings; you watch your Daddy from across the room and beam at him when he looks over at you.  He can't resist your charms, and always comes over to hold or play with you if you seem to want his attention.  My favorite continues to be your flirty eye-batting.  Oh the boys' hearts you are going to break...!

We took you on a special trip this month to New Jersey for Thanksgiving - your first plane ride!  You also got to meet your cousin Katelin DeBlock for the first time.  The two of you are just 3 weeks apart, and you each have older brothers.  It will be a special relationship for you.

Your big brother Robbie seems to enjoy figuring out his new role with relationship to you.  He often comes over to me when I am feeding you and holds on to your bottle, helping with the task.  He thinks it's really fun to get close to your face and smile his big cheesy smile at you, which never fails to make you happy.  And he enjoys 'talking' with you - saying "Ha ha ha!" and hearing you repeat him.  I try very hard to cultivate your sibling relationship and help foster a strong bond of love between the two of you without forcing you together.  I know in the future you will not always get along with each other - but I hope and pray that you always love one another deeply.

Ellie, our prayer for you is that you will grow up knowing who God is, that you would develop a sincere love for Him as a little girl, giving your life over to Him freely and joyfully, that you would listen for and come to recognize His voice, and that the call He places on your life would be one that brings Him glory and honor and one that you live out wholeheartedly.  

Yeah, we want a lot for you!  (It's our job.)

It is such a privilege to pray for you, nurture you, watch you grow and develop, and enjoy your sweet little self as your personality unfolds each day.

You are a blessing little Elizabeth Suzanne.  One we do not deserve but are so very thankful for.

Happy 5 month birthday!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!  
We were blessed to see every member of both of our families, as well as some of our grandparents.  It was a memorable holiday, and I couldn't narrow down the pictures any more than I already did... apologies in advance!

My sweet family on the day before Thanksgiving, when we could all be together to celebrate.
(You can't imagine how difficult it was to get a picture like this!)

My grandpa Bob and grandma Edie drove from Indiana to be with us, which was so special.  We hadn't seen them since the summertime.  They are so sweet, thoughtful, and very much in love which is cute.

Well done, mom.  Our bellies were VERY happy that day.

We surprised Rob's family by walking in the door just an hour before his mom served Thanksgiving dinner, on Thanksgiving day.  We decided in late October that we would fly home to NJ to be with his family - it had been a while (and might be a while again) since we had all been together.  They had no idea we were coming, and upon entering the house I was sure we had given his mom a heart attack.  

The flights were manageable, although the one coming home was more of a challenge.  I think we'll be driving for the next decade of our lives.

It was an awesome visit, and I'll spare you the play-by-play that I really want to type.  The boys are all old enough now to play together, and the girls finally got to meet one another!  Most of the pictures I took were of the cousins playing together - but we got to spend time with Rob's brothers Ryan and Brad, Christine (Brad's wife) and her sister Jessica,  and of course Rob's parents and grandparents.

Robbie adored Nicholas and will forever look up to him, I'm sure...

The no-shirt gang (this is how they spent 90% of the holiday)...
Have you seen a cuter bunch of boys!?!?

Hanging out in the play room together... Nicholas and James had set up the train track just for Robbie!

Nicholas was really into posing (something about the Cars movie?!...).  It was hilarious and he is going to hate us for a very long time when he gets older.  I can still hear him saying "Ca-Chow!"

Sweet little buddies.

Ellie-girl striking a pose... this makes me laugh!

Ellie and cousin Katelin finally meet, and spend the rest of their vacation being photographed together.  We love these little ladies, and think they're just about the sweetest things we've ever seen!

They loved each other so much, they tried to hold hands.

A big-brother, little-sister moment.  Poor girl.

All of the cousins - Thanksgiving 2009.

Thank you so much, Livingstons and DeBlocks, for letting us crash Thanksgiving unannounced!  It was such a special visit and we love you all so much.