Sunday, January 31, 2010

CHRISTMAS and NEW YEARS!!

Here's post-birthday December through New Years in a nutshell :)

Caleb's class visited the Philbrook Museum's annual Festival of Trees. We had never been and it was very neat - all sorts of trees made of all kinds of materials plus an entire floor of gingerbread houses made by local schools, churches, Girl Scout troops, etc. It was a challenge to explain to a group of 2 and 3 year olds why they couldn't eat the candy off the houses though.


Caleb and his friends play spot each other on either side of one tree.


One pre-holiday purchase was a stuffed dog that danced around to Jingle Bell Rock. He was an instant hit with Harper G.
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We had several Christmas parties to attend this year, including our church community, Covenant. It was a tasty dinner at Ti Amo's and then, because so many of us had babysitters for the evening, we headed to a casino to dance. (Don't I love being Methodist!!) In all actuality, we didn't stay long - I've been spoiled by all OK restaurants being smoke-free that one step in the casino nearly did me in. But we did dance a bit :)


We tried four different times to get a good family picture to use for Christmas card purposes. My friend Alissa was so kind to meet us and tons of pictures just to make triple sure there were a couple decent ones in the bunch. Never a good one of the four of us but this one's pretty priceless.


Because I work at Riverfield, I had a two week Winter Break just like the kiddos. We took part of that time to travel to very west Texas to visit some of Aaron's family. Along the way, we spotted this truck with our friend Lauren (former Miss America) on it. I had seen it on a billboard but never speeding down the highway. Caleb was pretty excited to see the face of someone he knew on the side of a truck.


Our first stop was in Brownfield, which is close to Lubbock to see three of Aaron's great aunts. Though they are all getting up there in years, they still each live independently and were very hospitable to us. It was a challenge to keep Caleb away from all the breakable things but he and Harper Grace were very sweet and the aunts were good to put up with the increase in volume and activity for the day. Aaron's parents met us in Brownfield then we all headed to Farwell, TX - home to Aaron's half sister Lori and her family. It is so far west that it's about 10 minutes away from Clovis, NM. Lori, Gary, Stacey, and Bri live on a farm; it was a different experience for Caleb to not see any other houses around and to get to ride in Uncle Gary's big red tractor. We celebrated early Christmas with Aaron's family then headed back to Tulsa, just in time...


...because the next day bad weather began to move in, but not before Caleb could make his first trip to a movie theater to see the Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel. His friends Owen and Aidan joined him and all three were quite well-behaved.


The bad weather moved in on Christmas Eve day but we already had plans with some friends to go to early Christmas Eve service then to dinner at our favorite Mexican place, Arizona. You'd think I would get a clue when my sister, who was coming in from OKC, said she was glad they made it in one piece. Or when Asbury canceled the late services, then all services. Or when the restaurant we were going to closed early. Pshhhh...it's just snow and we have a 4 wheel drive truck, right? So we arranged to still meet our friends at the only restaurant that we could find that was still open. The snow was coming down but nothing horrible...until we sat down at the table and looked outside to see snow blowing HORIZONTALLY across the window. We quickly ate our dinner and the 10 mile drive took us about 90 minutes. OK, maybe I won't be so brave next time.

Once we were safe and sound, Caleb and Harper Grace put on matching pjs for yet another photo session. A few cute ones but we never did get both of them to look at the camera at the same time.



Caleb and I wrote a note to Santa and made cookies (or, in the spirit of truthfulness, placed cookies on the baking sheet).
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Before he went to sleep, Caleb confirmed that when Santa came, he would put presents under the tree. I told him that, because we didn't have a tree up this year, Santa would put his presents around the piano, with all the other ones that were already there. That seemed to satisfy his 3 year old brain and off to bed he went. But apparently Aaron was sure Caleb would be scarred for life without a Christmas tree so, once the kiddos went to bed, we went about setting up the tree and all the 100+ ornaments that went on it. Plus "Santa" had several presents to assemble so we didn't go to sleep until 4am on Christmas. Once we did go to bed, we didn't sleep very well because we didn't want to miss Caleb's reaction when he came in and saw this:


He was quite excited (but not quite as excited as our aching bodies and sleep-deprived eyes would have liked). There is a great video clip that should go RIGHT HERE but it is long enough that I can't get it to upload but I am ready to post this blog so I'll keep working on it for next time. (Anyone know of any free editing software? I just need to cut out a few seconds of the video for it to upload?)

Christmas day got off to a slow start because my parents and Morgan and Brian couldn't get here as early as they would have liked due to the foot of snow on the ground. Once they got to our house, we enjoyed stockings, brunch, presents, appetizers, and dinner in the space of a few hours so that we could stay on schedule. He was very eager to open his stocking but had to wait until my family arrived. He had asked Santa for "lots of cars" and was concerned when they weren't left along with the trampoline. We explained that Santa might have left some surprises in his stocking. Whew! There were cars in the stocking...Santa does exist!
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Caleb was a great present-distributor, making sure all the presents were placed in the right pile.

G-Dad helps Caleb open a gift.

Harper initially slept through the gift-opening time but had her own extravaganza once she woke up.

The day after Christmas, we did some shopping. After returning home, it was warm enough that Caleb and I went to play in the snow. He had a blast, but mainly tried to eat it.


Harper's good hair day: This is what it looks like after I take a ponytail down. YIKES!
We enjoyed our annual Christmas gathering with our "other family", the Wilsons after they returned from a Caribbean cruise (must be rough, eh?). Caleb was stoked to get his marble race track!


Harper is pretty much fearless, walking around everywhere and climbing anything she can. I told Aaron that I'm willing to bet we go to the ER with her before we do with Caleb (aka Mr. Cautious).


My big big boy. He looks 3 going on 13 in this picture, I think.

We had some friends and their kiddos over for New Year's Eve. It was a lot of fun, especially because C and his buddies are now old enough to play upstairs and keep themselves entertained. Now Harper, on the other hand, was a bit of a pain - unsure of all these people in her house and needing a nap. She fell asleep sitting on the couch between Aaron and me about 11:30 and Caleb was still going strong when we finally insisted he go to bed about 1am.


Harper on January 1st -looking a little worse for the wear!


Caleb and his fancy green New Year's hat that he picked out. (What?? Caleb pick out something green? That's odd! Ha!)


Well, that's it for now. Now I just need to download, sort, upload, and document the last 5 weeks (is that all!?!?). Happy belated 2010!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Next Up: The 1st and 3rd Birthdays Post

If I thought last December was chaotic with Caleb's 2nd birthday, Harper Grace's arrival, then Christmas, I didn't know how good I had it (because at least there was an excuse to be a slacker!). Despite all sorts of preplanning, I was still scurrying around to get the last minute details taken care of.


Because Caleb's birthday was on a Thursday, we celebrated in class on Wednesday. We gave a book about drums to the Deer class and brought a cookie cake to share with his friends.


On his birthday morning, we woke Caleb up and had him follow footprints (green ones, of course!) through the house and to the garage to find his present. He was pretty excited!
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This was our first year for a friend party. Though several girls were invited, it ended up being an all-boys affair at Pump It Up, a local bounce house. Here are the fellas watching the safety video.


Caleb going down the big slide. It's hard to see but he has an expression of 1/2 terror, 1/2 joy - priceless!

Posing in front of his Rocket birthday cake (as in Rocket from Little Einsteins, in case you are familiar with pre-school TV shows these days). Thanks to our friend Lauren for a great cake. Her mom is a great cook/caterer. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, eh?


Struggling to find a balance between actually looking in the direction of the camera and doing this over-cheesy smile. Let me know if you have a suggestion.


We didn't open presents at the party but the boys all enjoyed a turn in the Birthday King inflatable throne.


The following Sunday was a "dog party" for Harper and Caleb for family and our family friends. I found this cute dress at Kohl's for super cheap. Have a 1 year old that wears 18 month clothes that might want to borrow it? I'll be glad to lend it. Drool stains have been removed :) You can't see them very clearly in this photo, but Harper debuted her pigtails at the party. Her hair is getting much longer in the back; I don't want to cut it but am trying to avoid the "mullet" so pigtails it is.

Caleb lovin' on his god-sister Ellison.

The joint party cakes were done by Icing on the Top here in Tulsa. I'd seen some great work by them including my sister's wedding cake. It was not easy to come up with a theme that was both girl and boy, not too young for a 3 year old but not too old for a 1 year old. So, dogs it was!


Caleb wasn't sure about Harper getting her own cake when he had to share the big one with everyone else. Notice his offer to "help" - ha!
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On Harper's actual birthday, the three of us went in and sang Happy Birthday to her to wake her up. Girlfriend is definitely not a morning person!
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Harper received lots of great toys and presents from our family and friends, and especially with Christmas right around the corner, I figure she wouldn't feel shorted (at least this year) if we gave her something practical for her birthday. So, Sit and Stand stroller it was. Before Harper was born, I researched like crazy (hard to believe, I know) and found a side by side stroller that I really liked. We used it a few times and it is great for the zoo or on a walk but not so much for the mall or somewhere like that. It fits through doors but not around clothes racks, etc. Especially now that Caleb is older, I think this Sit and Stand will be great. If you know of someone looking for a double stroller, we'd be happy to sell the side by side to them. It would be especially great for someone with twins, where both kiddos need to be in seats.


Similar to her brother, Harper's second go-round with a birthday cake was a lot more animated...and messy. Here she is going after it.
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Close to the end of the cake destroying mission. Right after I snapped this pic, she actually put her toes in her mouth to suck the icing off them. That's how you know it's been a great birthday.


A few other random things:

Harper began really using a push cart to get herself around. We had it out a lot earlier with Caleb. Poor second born in a new house, we left it upstairs for a long time because we didn't want it to scratch up the wood floors and be noisy. The sacrifices we make as parents to allow our children to walk!!
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As part of the preparation for the dog-themed party, I went on a hunt for a dog bone cookie cutter. I COULD NOT find one by itself so I invested $10 in a bucket of 100 various shapes, letters, and holiday cookie cutters. Both kids thought they were toys and made quick work of laying them out all over the floor. And you better believe I counted as we cleaned up to make sure all 100 ended up back in the bucket.

Caleb has never minded getting his haircut but has always felt more comfortable (read: doesn't throw a fit unless he's) sitting in my lap. Last time we got a cut, I mentioned that once he's three, he would be sitting in Miss Tara's chair all by himself. Well, the day came to get a haircut and he did wonderfully. In fact, he's the one that reminded me that he was going to sit like a big boy.

I am sure I've mentioned before that I like to help at Riverfield's Friday Nights Out or Sleepovers, especially if I get to hang out with my buddy. However, Caleb's never stayed overnight so I've only signed up to work until 11pm. In early December I took the plunge and we stayed the night. Yes, I did invest in an air mattress. I was definitely re-thinking my decision when Caleb and his friends started this up about 5 minutes into the evening!!
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Things actually went very smoothly after that, though I will say it will be awhile before I agree to stay overnight with a room full of 2 and 3 year olds.

OK, birthday posts taken care of. Maybe I'll tackle Christmas ones tomorrow! Yeah for updates. Feel free to show some love via the comment section!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How To Eat an Elephant...One Bite at a Time!

(I guess the date displayed on this post goes back to the day I started to upload some pictures to it. SEE! I do have good intentions!! Anyway, don't think you're computer has been shortchanging you; I only actually posted this blog update - and the one above it - today, January 29th.)

To take the advice of the old elementary school joke, I've decided to tackle the mounds of Thanksgiving/Birthdays/Christmas photos, videos, and memories, and blog about them a little at a time. So, here we go:

Harper Grace's hair grew long enough to start putting a pony tail on top of it, short and thin as it may be. It was perfect timing because she had stopped leaving her hairbows and bands in. Hooray for a new way to accessorize. Of course, Aaron rolls his eyes because now I have to go buy small bows to clip in with the pony tail holders (which, incidentally are small enough to be those rubber bands that go on your braces).


Not to be outdone, Caleb wanted me to put a ponytail in his hair too. Harper's gaining on him, but his hair was way thicker than Harper's when he was her age. Totally not fair!


On one of several trips to the mall for Christmas shopping, Mom and Caleb rode the merry go round. A big treat because Caleb's mean ol' mom never lets him ride it. Partly because sometimes it not there, partly because the germs that must be all over it gross me out (why did I only become a semi-germaphobe after I had children??Hmmmm.), and partly because I never figured out what to do with Harper if I was there with the kiddos on my own.


A breakfast staple around here is Weight Watchers pumpkin spice muffins. At least two of us eat one every day so we go through them pretty quickly. They are super easy - just pumpkin, spice cake mix, and water - and both kiddos love to help me with them. Caleb with the dumping and mixing and Harper with the beater-cleaning.


Caleb is growing more and more independent. Where he used to go to the bathroom and then ask for help to get his underwear and pants back up, now he's got it all by himself. Sometimes are a bit more successful than others. He wore them like this the rest of the evening. Aaron was suffering from sympathy chafing and kept asking Caleb if his undies were bugging him. Guess not enough to fix it.


Harper is adding words by the day. Here's her version of "Caleb".
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For Thanksgiving, we headed to Kansas City with many members of my dad's family. It was such a large group that we didn't all fit under Aunt Debbie's roof, but it was still the place to hang out, play, eat, and watch football.

My two kiddos playing together...and without a scream or tear to be heard or seen! (Note Harper's scrunchy hair. Think hers is going to have some natural curl too!)


Caleb and his "fings" (we're still working on that darn "th" sound). Thanks to my cousin-in-law Andrea for the fabulous photo.


I have always loved KC, partly because it is a great city (and that was before I knew about Nebraska Furniture Mart!) and partly because of all the great memories associated with it. It is so cool to me to see Caleb in Aunt Debbie's huge back yard, playing around and going on hikes like I used to. Caleb seems so big and grown up sometimes, but look how little he looks in comparison to the yard and house - still just a little fella!

Here's a cute video of Caleb with his cousins Luke and Culley.
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Aunt Debbie gave all the cousins matching hats and scarves. Funny to see Harper's screaming face and Cousin Cash (the little little baby) slipping from his brother's grasp. Oh the memories we're making!


The day after Thanksgiving, we all headed to the Plaza and at Baja 600, one of my very favorite restaurants. My generation of cousins had a photo moment outside.


Family photo - hey, at least three of the four of us are looking at the camera.


A traditional holiday purchase: matching Christmas PJs. This year's had hats - Harper wasn't sure about hers until she saw big brother wearing his too.



One blog down, several more to go. This will get us started though, right?? I've heard that the first year with two kiddos is crazy, but that if you can make it through, then it becomes much easier. We shall see, I guess :) Hopefully it will be a breeze and I'll be a regular blogger again!