Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Fourth (and final) Christmas

My Dad and Suzy returned from New York on Wednesday. They came up here on Thursday to celebrate Christmas with us.

The kids were more than happy to open presents....again.
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Emily got lots of Barbies to go in her new mansion.
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Noah was digging his new Elmo.
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Ben got more superheros.
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They actually got everything they've been eyeing at the store. I went shopping with Suzy before they went to New York and she had me pick out whatever they wanted. It was so much fun. It's really nice to spend someone else's money!

But the best gift was Noah's spiderman house that came with 20 balls. Of course, 20 wouldn't be enough, so Suzy and picked up an additional 100. Am I crazy?
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I figure if all I do for the next 3 months is pick up 120 balls 2-3 times a day, I'll lose 10 pounds.

In any case, it was a great night spent with my Dad and Suzy. The following morning I had the kids get in a photo with 4 of their 5 grandparents.
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The Christmas decorations have been put away. The house is back to normal. The kids start school in 2 days. Grammie Gwynne leaves in the morning. Everything will slide back into our routine. I like our routine. I love our life.

2011 was a great year for us. The latest accomplishment was Ben learning to swing!
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I'm looking forward to the new year and all that it will bring.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Third Christmas

Our first Christmas celebration was with my brother and sister on Christmas Eve. Then came Christmas day with our family. The third Christmas was when Aunt Pam came up the day after Christmas.
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Aunt Pam always gives books and pajamas for Christmas. It's a perfect gift after an overload of toys.
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Noah has this whole wrapping paper thing down.
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Emily got a collection of Ramona books. She was thrilled.
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Ben got a few superhero books. This one is about a little boy who becomes a superhero every night in his dreams. Just like Ben.
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Here they are looking good in their new pajamas. Emily got Hello Kitty ones.
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Ben got a new set of Spiderman and Captain America pajamas. He was ecstatic.
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Noah had a moster theme. Very appropriate.
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Then, it was time for Just Dance 3. Wow, is that fun!
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We still have another celebration with my Dad and Suzy. I think we'll be Christmas'd out by the end of the week, but in a good way!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Christmas

Our Christmas started with leaving cookies for Santa.
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Emily wrote a note in her poorest penmanship. I personally like the arrow, so Santa will know exactly where the cookies are.
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Have I mentioned yet that David's Mom is visiting? She's been here for awhile and the kids are loving the extra attention.
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With David's Mom (Grammie) and my Mom (Granny) both here, it means we've been playing musical beds. Granny is in the guest room. Grammie is in Emily's room. Emily is in mine and David's room. Emily is a very light sleeper which made things really difficult for Santa come Christmas night. But he managed as he always does, and everything went off without a hitch.

At 7:39, Ben came running in the room to wake up me and Emily. David had already been awake for awhile and Noah was up. The chaos was about to begin.

To my surprise, the kids didn't want to tear into their big presents from Santa. They wanted to find the gifts that they bought for everyone at Santa's workshop at school and give them to everyone else.
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They handed out gifts to each other, to Mom and Dad and grandma's. I was shocked. On a child's most selfish day of the year, my kids were thinking of others. Maybe we are doing something right.
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Their turns came soon enough and they were happy to open all their gifts.
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Santa brought a big train table.
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Emily got a "brown" doll as she requested.
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Emily also got a Barbie mansion which I've enjoyed playing with.
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This train table almost brought me to tears. Screws the size or a pin head, a missing part, I was cussing out Santa by 1:00. But, it finally got done and the kids love it.
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I love Christmas. The get togethers. The anticipation. The magic. It's all wonderful, but come the 26th, I'm ready to pack it up. Once the day has passed, all I see is clutter and craziness. The superheros have invaded the Christmas Village.
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And Ben dumped out half of his 1600 piece Lego set on the floor. Then, Noah dumped out all of the canister of popcorn on top of it.
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Yep, I'm ready to pack up the chaos and put it away for the next 11 months.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

This year, I had two Christmas cards made. Basically, I had a gift card through one site and then ordered the rest on another site. Same pictures, same words just different backgrounds.

I love having a holiday photo card. I used to write a letter with it every year. Now, I've condensed the letter to fit in the card. It works for me. You can see our past photo cards here.

I used to stress about getting a great family photo. Now, we just put on snow hats and it's all good.

In any case, here's our card this year.
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And the inside:
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We hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Usually on Christmas Eve, we head to Phoenix to my Dad's and Suzy. This year, they went to New York to visit my Grandma. So, we decided to host Christmas Eve at our house for my family.

My sister and brother and their families all came up.
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My brother Joe, his girlfriend Melissa and daughter Auna.
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My sister Tammy and her daughter Tiffany.
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Tammy's son Rocco and our dog Rocko.
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All the kids at the kids table. I made baked ziti, sauce and meatballs.
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The kids had a blast with this helicopter that my brother brought.
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I say the kids, but the adults had as much fun with it.
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Time for presents.
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Then, chaos ensued.
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We are dogsitting Katie. She started opening presents too. Crazy little girl.
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It was great to spend the day with my family.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Apprentice

Noah is a learning a lot these days, like how to cause trouble.

The other day I hear rip, rip, rip. He's unwrapping Christmas presents.
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Noah's attitude change has benefited everyone. Ben and Noah are starting to play together, and Ben has lots to teach him. Ben is enjoying adding a sidekick to his superhero play and gets Noah all dressed up.
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The pajama pants hanging off his backside is supposed to be a tail. I'm not sure what superhero that may be.

This morning it was all Star Wars. The kids haven't even seen Star Wars. I know, I know, I deprive them.
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We are all enjoying Noah now. I think we'll keep him.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Will Eat For Applause

As a baby, Noah was not picky. He ate just about every fruit and vegetable. Until I went from stage 2 to stage 3 baby foods. Stage 3 has some texture to it. Noah has issues with texture. He was over a year old and I refused to still feed him food made for a 6 month old. I was sure he'd transition to table food quickly.

It's been a very slow transition for Noah. The kid won't even try foods. A strawberry or grape are just fun squishy dinnertime toys. And a piece of corn might as well be acid when you try to put it in his mouth. Really, have you ever met somebody who doesn't like corn? No, everybody likes corn. Well, everybody except Noah.

If we try to force him to eat, he cries until he chokes and throws up. That just ruins everyones meal. So, we've decided to let him take the wheel on this one. And if he only eats rice and pasta for dinner, so be it. May I add the pasta sauce has to be homemade. I tried to give him Ragu once and wouldn't even go near it.

Noah doesn't really eat meals though. He's a grazer. He likes to eat little bits here and there. He prefers carbs out of a bag. Dry cereal, crackers and chips are his favorites. He'll go crazy every once in awhile and have a Dannon Yogurt Smoothie or a string cheese. We all sit down together every night for dinner. Noah's meal is just different from ours. I always try to give him some of what we have, but he usually just throws it on the floor for the dog.

Needless to say, Rocko is gaining weight. Noah is holding steady at 27 pounds.

The other night David made a ham dinner with au gratin potatoes, green beans, corn and biscuits. Noah had his usual - a bowl of plain rice. I had a plate next to the rice of ham and corn, but we all knew that was going to be dog food.

We decided to try to coax him into eating with some cheering. It worked. By the way, Ben dressed Noah up as Robin. Ben was Batman of course.

He ate all his food!

Tomorrow, we are all going to cheer around the toilet bowl and hope for the same success!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Off The Fence

Noah has by far been our hardest child. He's strong willed, demanding and stubborn. I don't know where he gets that from? Probably me.

It's been my joke that David wanted a third child. I was still on the fence and Noah was 2. Don't get me wrong, I've loved him from the get go. But... Dr. Phil once said, whatever comes after "but" is how you truly feel. So, I've loved him from the get go, but he's a royal pain.

Something has changed lately. Noah is still strong willed, demanding and stubborn, but he's also learning to communicate more. With that comes telling me he wants juice instead of screaming. Also, my Mom being here gives me a little freedom. I can go to the store without Noah and sometimes space is a good thing. Whatever exactly has changed with Noah has finally made him enjoyable.

I like him.

I told him that the other night and now we repeat it back and forth to each other. I tried to get it on video.

I wasn't too successful that time. He just thought I was funny.

This shows some of his spunk.


And finally, I got him to say it.

I like him.
I love him.
I'm no longer on the fence.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Junie B. Jones

Emily is totally into Junie B. Jones books. She checks one out almost weekly from the library at school. Sometimes Emily and David will read the books together before bedtime. David will walk out of the room laughing and say something like, "That Junie B. cracks me up." Wow...he should get out more.

A few years ago, our little town opened a new library. The old library was crammed in a small spot in the civic center next to the restrooms and where you pay utilities. The kids section was the size of my bathroom. Our new library is amazing. The kids section takes up half the second floor. The point being that there is a second floor and a third and fourth too!

Every year, various organizations decorate or make Christmas trees and they put them on display around the library. This year, Emily's school did one. They made a Christmas tree out of books! Genius idea really.
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Some classrooms decorated a box and some kids got to decorate a box. Emily got to do one all on her own. She made a Junie B. Jones book, of course.
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I was so proud of her. She did such a great job.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Concert

The kids had a winter concert last night at school. Well, it wasn't at their school as there are too many people for their school gymnasium. It's now held in the middle school auditorium and we are still at standing room only by show time.

Ben and his friends all looked really cute.
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Patiently waiting for the concert to start.
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Kindergarten sang Must Be Santa.

Followed by Hanukah is Here.

Emily and her girlfriends looked cute on the stairs waiting for the show to start.
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They were all ready to sing, but had to take a seat and watch the music teacher and his Dad perform a few songs which were really good.
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While they were waiting, the PE teacher came over and sat by the girls. He was helping corral all the kids. I could tell by Emily's little smirk that she has a little crush on her PE coach. Kind of sweet...
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Second grade sang Esta Si Que Noche Buena. Her Grampie would be proud.

Followed by I Saw Three Ships.

Then, a surprise visitor showed up. SANTA! Emily's music teacher reminds me of Jack Black in School of Rock.
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Their final song was We Wish You A Merry Christmas with Santa leading the choir.

They did a great job. After, we went to see a drive-thru Christmas light display that they put up every year. We all love it.

There are snowflake arches.
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A tribute to our military.
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A Menorah.
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Some wise men. And if the story is told by Ben, they are on their way to see the Grinch in Bethlehem.
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Noah's Ark.
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My personal favorite, the pointsettia arch.
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The lights span a mile long and are really nicely done. Most displays are animated. We usually do this at least twice every season.

It was a great ending to a great evening.