Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ruthie Turns ONE!

Wow.  My baby girl is ONE!  I know everyone says the same cliche statement, "How did this happen?".  But I think every mother really does wonder how time moves so quickly?  It is like one moment they are a nursing newborn in your arms, and the next moment they are toddling around your living room, laughing, and smiling, and opening presents with glee.  It really does go by so swiftly.

Clearly, since Ruthie is my first little girl, I was over the MOON to plan her first birthday.  Luckily, since we are blessed with lots of good friends, I was able to plan several parties!  I shared details and photos of her first party with her buddy Nolan, in Oklahoma, which turned out so cute.  Oddly enough, she didn't love the cupcake, but she sure dug all of the attention, and the presents.  And in true girly fashion, she adored her outfit, which consisted of a pink tutu, a minnie mouse t-shirt, and a giant bow.  And I'm not joking about adoring her outfit; this little one is all about the accessories.  She will bring me her shoes to put them on, and hand me bows and barrettes.  Thank goodness for my girly girl.

Because we celebrated her birthday big-time in Oklahoma, I was able to plan a small tea party for just her little baby friends on her actual birthday.  I really wanted to do a vintage theme, and I tossed around the ideas of My Little Pony and Care Bears, but ultimately decided on Strawberry Shortcake.  What tipped the scales?  The fact that my mom still had my old Strawberry Shortcake figures, and they even retained a little bit of their vintage fruity scents!  It was meant to be.  And I love my mom, because she actually washed all of their clothes, and then went online to make sure all of the their outfits were complete and correct.  After a quick visit to the fabric store, she also procured a lovely Strawberry Shortcake table runner, and the scene was set :)  She wore a frilly little tutu that I had special ordered for her, and while my mom was getting her dressed, she cried and fussed until she put the pettiskirt on.  True little lady fashion!

The party was planned for a day when the boys were in school, and it was made up all of babies under 18 months.  In contrast to my boys, who always played with kids their own age, Ruthie mainly hangs with the older kids, and rarely gets to spend time with babies her own age.  It was so sweet and adorable to watch her get thrilled with each new "friend" that arrived at her party.  One cuter than the next.  We had tea sandwiches, a strawberry pecan salad, some deviled eggs, fruit kabobs, mini-quiches, and the most amazing sugar cookies with strawberry frosting, from Swirl Bakery.  Delish.  My hope is that Ruthie had a wonderful time with her friends, and I think she really did!

That night, we continued the festivities with a gathering of our family friends.  Once again, she dressed up in her most fetching attire, this time a dress from her Aunt Allison, which was beyond frilly and cute.  Although it was made even more frilly by the fact that Ruthie whined and cried until we put her morning party pettiskirt back on, under her frilly dress :)  The boys were able to help celebrate this time, and they insisted on wearing matching homemade birthday hats, even though they were of a very girly print.  I just love that they wanted to participate in the fun.  A great meal of spaghetti was capped off with a giant strawberry frosted cookie cake, and then our girl was ONE.

ONE!  What a big number.  She is certainly reaching all the milestones that are typical of a one year old, and then some.  She began walking at about 11 months, after our week in San Fran with our buddy Nolan, who showed her the ropes.  Now she is running.  She will give hugs and kisses readily, and just wrap her chubby little arms around your neck and smile and snuggle.  She loves to bring me shoes and bows and socks, and honestly enjoys being dressed.  It's like she knows she is pretty.  The boys and I like to sing her a song, "She's a big girl, she's a big big girl", and she'll sway and dance to the tune.   Often, she'll pull a blanket up over her eyes and play peekaboo with me, expecting me to say the phrase "where'd she go", to which she'll reply "there she is" in a very baby-talk version haha.  But I know what she is saying!  She is such a good natured little girl, who naps easily and peacefully, and is finally beginning to sleep long stretches at night.  While she is still nursing quite a bit, she does LOVE almost all foods.  Some of her current favorites are avocado, blueberries, cheese, eggs, beans, broccoli and green beans.  She is pure bliss, and the apple of her daddy's eye.  I just absolutely love her, and count my blessings each day that I get to wake up to her little curls and hazel eyes, and ready laugh and smile.  My sweet Ruthie is ONE!

I am officially a terrible blogger

Hi everyone!  Oh my has time gotten away from me.  Life just races past at warp speed, and it's hard to take a breath sometimes and write and remember it all.  I feel like the month and a half since Christmas (when I last blogged) has been filled with so many sweet and wonderful, and blog-worthy moments, but how to recall them all!?!  I'm beside myself that I've let this much time pass.

So what has happened in the past month?  One of the most noteworthy events was a business trip to San Francisco, with Ruthie, my mom, my friend Lindsey, and her son Nolan.  It was meant to be work trip mainly for me, and a fun trip for the babies, along with a sprinkling of visiting with old California friends.  Well it was NOT to be!  Ruthie ended up coming down with a cold on our day of travel, and by the next morning she was feverish and coughing, with a terrible runny nose.  My mom and Lindsey did their best to nurse while I was at work, however she began vomiting anything she ate or drank, and we finally made the call the take her to the local hospital ER.  I honestly haven't been that scared in awhile about a health problem.  She was just lethargic and burning up, and we were so far from home.  The ER was amazing and prompt and wonderful, and diagnosed her with bronchitis, along with ear infections, probably caused by RSV.  We left there armed with anti-nausea pills and a tylenol supository to reduce her fever.  The next few days were still pretty miserable for everyone involved, however by the time we made it the airport for our flight home, she was finally in good spirits haha!  Despite having one last bout of throw-up on the plane (for which my mom suffered a change of clothes and bottle of wine bought for her by me in return!), she was on the re-bound.  We also managed to fit in a few trips to some local San Fran sights, and I got to spend some time with my best friend from college who lives there, so the trip wasn't a total bust, but it was definitely a reminder that nothing really goes smoothly when traveling with small children, and you always have to be prepared for any situation that arises!  But Lindsey, Nolan, and my mom were all troopers and such lifesavers so I could still be productive at work.  Here are a few photos from "San Fran 2012" as Lindsey and I affectionately call it :)

In other news, we just got back from a fantastic weekend trip to the woods and hills of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, with 10 other families!  We rented 5 big, beautiful log cabins, and spent the weekend playing on the swing sets, taking nature walks, hot-tubbing, roasting smores, and drinking probably more than our far share of Irish Coffees (only to keep warm!) :)  The kids were in Heaven with all of their best friends, and despite there being 22 kids on the trip, it managed to be both relaxing and enjoyable.  Valentines were exchanged, birthdays were celebrated (Nolan and Ruthie), faces were painted, guitars were played around a roaring campfire, copious amounts of food were consumed, and all in all it was a weekend I will always remember fondly!  I adore my friends and count myself very lucky that we can take trips like this together, with our kiddos.

The Mickey and Minnie Birthday party extravaganza!

Campfire Fun!

The kids enjoying themselves with their friends!

So on to my lovely, fabulous, perfect little children.  Hayden is a rock-star lately with learning to read, and for that I am so proud of him.  He is sounding out letters, and beginning to be able to spell simple words (tree, car, run, bus, van, etc), and he is starting to enjoy reading some beginner books.  I can tell he enjoys it and has a natural curiosity about reading, which makes me hopeful that it will continue to come easily to him. His writing amazes me.  His teacher at preschool requested that the kids write out their Valentines themselves this year - not only their own name signed to the cards, but also addressing them to their friends.  I sat Hayden down at my desk and gave him a written list of his classmates.  After completing a card, he could cross that name off the list.  I left him to cook dinner and get some things done, and came back 10 minutes later expecting to see him maybe having ticked off 2 or 3.  Instead, he had nearly finished, and was so proud to show me his hard-work.  And they were legible (well for 4 year old standards)!  He continues to enjoy a somewhat unusual taste in television programs and books. Currently his favorite series is "Most Extreme", which typically chronicles some kind of cool and interesting animal or machine (and is not meant for children!).  He also loves any National Geographic show about animals (especially sea animals like sharks and whales), or volcanoes.  And my friend introduced me to a great series of books about science, written for kids, and he is obsessed with the ones about clouds and blood haha.  As always, he is the sweetest, most cuddly, most endearing child ever.  He strives to please Nathan and I, and gets his heart broken far too easily.

Piercey J just had his very first surgery.  It was enough to throw me into a total panicking tailspin, but he made it through happily and healthily.  He's been battling ear and sinus infections for several months now, and after taking pretty much every antibiotic on the shelf (much to my dismay), we decided to see an ENT.  His doctor explained all sorts of fancy medical things to me that I can't repeat, and we agreed it was time to put ear tubes in, and have his adenoids removed.  Similarly plagued by ear infections, we also decided to get tubes only for Ruthie.  Ugh talk about stressful!  I felt like I was doing the right thing, but my goodness it was hard to watch my children get walked away by a nurse for surgery!  It goes against every fiber in my body to expose them to pain and danger, but I really felt like the minimal risks of the surgery were worth the gains we would see in their health and well-being.  There was even some comic relief during the whole experience, as they gave both kids "silly juice" to ease their transition away from mom and dad, and into the operating room.  Ruthie just kind of smiled and giggled a lot, but Pierce was very looped up and happy.  He kept staring at his hands in wonder and moving them all around, and licking his lips and laughing, with his head bobbing all around.  In hindsight, it's pretty funny, although at the time it was kind of scary!  Our doctor told us to think of it as a preview for his personality in college.  Lord I hope not!  But I thank God that both procedures went off with out a hitch, and hope for improved health all around for our little family.

Otherwise, Pierce is awesome.  Just awesome.  He continues to be our daily comic relief; entertaining us constantly with his silly little humor and twinkling eyes.  He is frustrating as can be, and his current favorite thing to do is scold all of us.  "Mommy, don't scream at me, take a deep breath!", or "Hayden, that's rude, go to time out!".  He always tells me he is "super mad and angry" at me if he doesn't get his way.  Obviously he is mimicking Nathan and I, and if it weren't so funny I'd be embarrassed :)  But he is a champ at cleaning up his toys (he'll sing the tune "Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Clean Up!" with gusto, and he is also very proud to take his plate to the sink like big brother, and put his clothes in hamper.  In fact, he's very much in a phase where he wants to do everything himself!  And he's starting to grow into a little boy instead of a toddler....time flies.  Thank God he still has his sweet baby voice.  He is just a bundle of energy, fun, and joie de vivre!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas 2011

Well, Ruthie celebrated her very first Christmas!  And the milestones keep ticking off.  It's bittersweet, but exciting at the same time.  We all so enjoyed having a little girl around this year, and shopping for and unwrapping all the pink presents!  She was just darling, and despite having a terrible ear infection (that resulted in a ruptured ear drum on Christmas night), she seemed to enjoy all of the attention and love and gifts.  One of her favorite presents was the princess chair she got from her Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Rebecca.  She loves to crawl all over it, and go from sitting to standing while clapping away.  Very very cute.  And I love looking at that pretty pink chair in my living room, reminding me that I have a very sweet and darling daughter.  She also got a tea set and baby doll stroller from her mammaw, a shopping cart and dolly from Santa, and a new purse from her Grammy.  Fun fun fun!!  I love that little precious baby girl!

Christmas with the boys was BEYOND awesome this year, since they really truly BELIEVE.  They were both full of questions about Santa (especially Mr. Logical, Hayden), and were constantly aware of their behavior should the elves or Santa be watching!  What a wonderful tool for good behavior :)  Nathan and I really tried to enhance the magic of Christmas this year, with lots of story-telling about Santa and the North Pole, and enacting all of the Christmas rituals, like cookies and milk left out for Santa, with small bites taken out in the morning, and crumbs left around their room!  

This year Santa brought a big boy bed for Pierce, complete with Spiderman sheets and blankets, and a cool star curtain so he close it off like a hidden fort.  His reaction was precious, as he immediately grabbed his blanky and his paci, and tested it out haha!  He just couldn't believe that Santa had brought him this amazing new gift, and Hayden was thrilled because the room was all changed around, with the bed in a new place, and Santa had also left a globe with a special feature - when the lights go off, it becomes filled with glowing constellations!  It's very very cool.  So they were absolutely thrilled with their new room, and now that Pierce can get out of bed, it's always interested to see where they end up sleeping!  More often than not, they opt to sleep together, and I just adore that this is their choice!  I'll find them all snuggled up together, snoring away, with their fuzzy pillow pets and blankets.  What a special treat it is to be raising brothers who are so close in age, and obviously such great buddies.  Their bond is strong and I'm a proud mama.

Some other highlights of our Christmas celebration were decorating gingerbread houses with their Aunt Rebecca, who started this tradition for them this year!  It was super fun.  They also got a very cool horse swing made out of tires, to complement their regular tire swing at my parent's house, and these fabulous remote control vehicles that move over land and water.  My brother and his wife gave them possibly their most favorite gifts, these aerodynamic scooters from Switzerland, that they have been living on!  We've been taking long walks every day while they scoot along, and they are getting quite good.  It's pretty cute.  And great exercise!

And I have to re-count my favorite story of the season.  When we went to meet Santa at the mall very early in December, out of the blue Hayden told him that he wanted a baby reindeer that he could feed with a bottle.  This was so darn cute!  But also so clearly impossible to make happen.  So I went home and did some research, and ended up ordering a little stuffed animal "Webkinz" reindeer.  And then I began slowly trying to steer him away from a real live animal.  I tried the "we don't have enough land" tactic, which was met with a reply of, "well Grammy has a big back yard, he can visit there when he wants to be outside".  So I tried the "we can't take a baby reindeer away from his family and mommy" idea, to which he rationalized, "well Dallas and Lilly can be his family".  Fail.  Finally I said something that appeared to hit home, "honey, our yard is so small that there is nowhere for a reindeer to go to the bathroom, and he might end up going in the house, or even in your BED!" - which met with a complete look of horror!  Finally lol.  But of course it back fired on me slightly, because the poor child was so worried that Santa wouldn't "hear" his request to NOT bring a real baby reindeer.  Literally after he had been lying in bed for about 15 minutes on Christmas Eve, he came out into the living room saying, "Mommy, what if Santa bring me a reindeer?  What are we going to do?"!  So now I feel like a horrible mommy for worrying him so badly.  I explained that Santa likely heard his request, because his elves are always secretly listening, but if we did end up with a baby reindeer, we could definitely take him to live at the zoo with the other animals, and that seemed to satisfy him.  On Christmas morning, he was absolutely thrilled to find his little stuffed toy, whom he promptly named "Haydeer", which is so typical original!  He loves that little guy, and brings him to bed each night, which makes me feel like it all worked out just as it should have!

This holiday season has certainly been a magical one for our family, and we hope the New Year brings with it lots of great new adventures for our family, and for all of our loved ones as well!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December Magic

I was driving home from my parent's house tonight, and oohing and aahing at the Christmas lights with my kids, and suddenly I thought, "Oh my Gosh, it's already December 22nd!", where has the holiday season gone?  The span of time from October to December is my absolute favorite of the entire year.  From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas, the excitement just keeps coming, the weather is beautiful, and the kids find new fun around every corner.  I love it.  It's almost over, but truly, the best is yet to come - Christmas morning with kids!

But before I get ahead of myself, I should share some of the magic we've already experienced this holiday season.  The decorations inspired Ruthie's very first word, "Pretty", which I love!  She will wake up, all fuzzy and red-cheeked, wrapped up in her blanket, and we'll walk out into the living room, and she'll just point and wave to the lit wreath and tree, and say "Pretty" over and over.  It's about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.  She is relentlessly attracted to the Christmas tree, and I regularly find her wrapped up in a cord of lights or ribbon, or with an ornament in her mouth.  Little troublemaker!  While she loves the lights, she is NO fan of Santa.  Our two experiences were monumental fails.  Perhaps next year :)

Her complete awe at the simple things - the lights and decorations - is just a fraction of the magic the boys feel. What wonderful ages they are this year.  Everything is magical, and very real to them.  They are constantly concerned about whether they are on the "naughty" or "nice" list, and Hayden told Santa that he wanted a baby reindeer that he can feed with a bottle!  He told me again tonight that, "wow, that baby reindeer is going to be hard for me to care for!".  Yes...that should be interesting.  I have a feeling the reindeer "webkinz" I got him is not going to cut it, but here's hoping!

While the boys are always sweet to Ruthie, I think they've taken to being especially kind and caring with her, in hopes that they will move higher on the "nice" list.  The other day, Ruthie was crying in the living room while I was busy with a house chore.  I heard Hayden start to sing "You are my Sunshine" to her, and my heart warmed more than a little bit.  He ran into the kitchen to tell me the good news that his singing worked!  I told him he was just about the best brother I've ever seen, to which he happily replied, "I know mom, and now Santa is going to bring me LOTS of presents!".  Hmmm....regardless of the motive, it was cute.

One of the more special experiences this month was a vacation to Colorado to visit Nate's family and our friends.  It was something that we had really hoped to be able to pull off, however it's getting increasingly difficult to get home the more kids we have, and the more plane tickets we have to buy!  But I am so glad that we made it happen, and it's going to become a priority every year.  Seeing my kids with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, is just priceless.  The holidays are about family, and being home in Colorado is exactly where we need to be during the season.

Happy Holidays everyone!  May Peace and Joy fill your year to come.

Grateful - Rest of November (oops!) have I managed to neglect my blog this badly??  I was so determined to see through my Grateful posts in November, and I have a list of so many more things and people to recognize.  I think I will go ahead and finish off the list in a simple way, and then move on to the holiday festivities and travels.


Nov 18 - For wonderful cousins for my children to grow up with, making memories all along the way.

Nov 19 - For my health.  This year it's become abundantly clear to me that health isn't something you can take for granted, and I am blessed every day that my body and mind are sound.

Nov 20 - For an adventurous spirit, and the ability to provide travel experiences for my kids - so they can see new people, places, and cultures, and grow up with their eyes open to the world.

Nov 21 - For an amazing group of women that I can call my best friends.  They are women that I've known since I was in elementary school, that I danced with in high school, that I joined a sorority with in college, that I studied with in graduate school, and that I met as a mother.  You all have the ability to make me laugh, and you let me cry.  Love you all.

Nov 22 - For an equally amazing group of friends that my children have grown up with, literally, since the days they were born.  They are sweet, and kind, and smart, and I'm so thrilled to have such wonderful companions for my kids.  I imagine them being friends for life!

Nov 23 - For my education, and a job that allows me to help provide for my family, and which gives me a chance to assume an identity besides "mommy/wife/daughter", for at least a few hours every day.

Nov 24 - For all of my awesome in-laws.  I can't believe I got lucky enough to marry into a family where ALL 4 of my sister-in-laws are people I would probably be friends with even if they weren't family.  I respect them all and laugh with them until my cheeks hurt.  And my mother-in-law is someone that I look up to completely, and whom I love dearly.  And the guys aren't half bad either :)

Nov 25 - For football!  I love all of the nostalgia associated with the game, and the memories I have of growing up, and watching the Badgers and Packers.  There is no more perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon in the fall, than being gathered with family and friends, eating chicken wings and queso, and watching a great game of football.

Nov 26 - For Sonic Diet Dr. Pepper with cherry and lime.  Simple, but true!

Nov 27 - For a life that just keeps getting fuller and richer and happier (and busier) with every passing year.

Nov 28 - For my intelligent, ambitious, adventurous, witty, kind-hearted and generous brother, who always challenges me to be better and do more.

Nov 29 - For my children's TWO sets of great-grandparents.  How lucky are they to have relationships with so many generations of their family!

Nov 30 - For all of many many blessings.  I will never take this life I have for granted, and I will strive to be most thankful EVERY day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grateful - Nov 17th

I often blog and talk about what wonderful brothers my boys are to their baby sister.  And they really are.  It's a joy and pleasure to watch.  But lately they have been growing into their "big boy" relationship with each other.  What I mean by that is that Pierce is finally growing up, and becoming a partner and playmate for Hayden, rather than just a baby brother.  I know this is not uncommon, but it's just absolutely heart-breaking / heart-warming (depending on the degree of success) to watch Pierce try to accomplish all of the big boy activities that Hayden can perform with ease.  For instance, he has to put his own socks and shoes on like Hayden, and he also can put on his own underwear and pants - but the shirt gives him so much trouble (sad!).  He potties on the potty like a big boy ("Mommy I'm a big boy!" he'll say each time), and he can build train tracks, drive monster trucks, and play cars just as well as brother.  If big brother is out riding his bicycle, you better believe Pierce is out there on his tricycle.  I'm always hearing little voices yelling, "Piercey, come in the garage and build trains with me", or "Hayden, come outside in the sandbox with me".  They eat every meal together, and chatter and joke the whole time, and they will often fall asleep next to each other in Hayden's big boy bunk bed.

They definitely have their moments of bickering and sometimes seem to show a remarkable lack of ability to share, but more and more I am pleased by their friendship and companionship, and can only hope they remain this close as they grow.  So today, I am grateful:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grateful - Nov 16th

In addition to watching my children enjoy physical activities, like skiing, golf, soccer, baseball, swinging, swimming, riding bikes, etc, I also love watching their little minds work.  All 3 kids are constantly surprising me with the connections that they make, and the memories that they can call up from seemingly inconsequential moments.  I am clearly unbiased, but I think my children are bright and curious, which I love!!  Just today, Hayden begged to join us in a game of Jenga (which we had brought on our vacation for the adults), and he honestly kicked my butt!  It was crazy to explain to him once how the game worked, and then to watch him follow our instructions so earnestly, and actually play the game with concentration and skill.  He's only 4!  And it's only going to get more interesting to watch these little brains at work :)

For this reason, today I am grateful: