Friday, November 30, 2007

Hustle and Bustle

Our shopping trip this morning zapped poor Sammy. I hadn't even finished nursing Julia and he was sound asleep. I suppose being up until 10:30 and then again from 4am-5:30am would make me tired too. Wait, scratch that - I am tired, but thanks to Jennifer's thoughtfulness I have two Cherry Coke's to keep me awake. I want to record a couple of special moments I've shared with the kids in the midst of the worst colds they've endured since Julia's was a newborn. The first night Sam slept in our bed he leaned over to kiss me on the forehead before falling asleep. There isn't much that tops an unsolicited kiss from your child and I'm a sucker for forehead kisses. Then today while I was singing and rubbing Sam's back before his nap, Julia started rubbing my back. She even took a moment to stoop down to her brother and give him a love pat as well. It is humbling to know that no matter how short I get with them, they posses the capacity to forgive and forget.

I'm trying not to be anxious about tonight's impending snow, but it could really throw a wrench in our weekend plans. Finishing my Christmas shopping this morning before the first flakes fly helps a little. It's hard enough going out when it's only 8 degrees outside let alone in six inches of white stuff. We found some treasures at the craft store that Sam has already added his personal touch to. He's really gotten to be a good painter this year and it's a good thing. He and Julia have made all of the Christmas presents they're giving this year.

Every year we help out with the decorating at our church and that's suppose to happen at 9 tomorrow morning. We had plans to "cut" our tree on Sunday, but Brian will be plowing all day. I'm praying that we'll be able to decorate at church for a couple of hours, buzz out to Grandma and Grandpa's for tree cutting and cookies, and still have time to decorate the tree together before Brian has to plow snow. At least Brian is on his way home as I type this. We're do for some quality family time and cookie baking falls most definitely falls in that category.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's no fun to be sick - part 2

It has been a loooooong, horrible day at our house. Sam "slept" in our bed last night so I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of days until I'm sick with the same crud. I don't think I'll be able to get away with whining, "nose ruuuniiiinng" and expect someone to drop what their doing to come wipe the snot. After 3 hours of doing this for Sam I finally said enough is enough. He's old enough to take the Kleenex he's holding in his hand and wipe his nose himself. It doesn't help that 75% of the time there isn't anything to wipe. He's feeling it running inside his nose. I refuse to wipe when I can't see anything. His poor face is chapped enough. I'm sorry he's sick and I'm trying to be compassionate, but it's every 5 minutes that he is whining about something. Not to mention that Julia is still sick and needy herself. I'm not asking for sympathy, I just need an outlet for my frustration - frustration with myself for not bending over backwards to do every little thing my kids are whining for me to do, frustration that we haven't found a job for Brian where he doesn't have to be gone for 12 hours a day, and frustration that I haven't been able to teach Sam how to blow his nose and eliminate at least half of the nose wipes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

...over the hills we go

laughing all the way. Ha! Ha! Ha!

It has been our tradition since Sam was born to ride a tractor out to the field of Christmas trees to pick out the perfect fir tree. This year we've had to get creative in order to continue that rather pricey tradition. Thanks to Brian's parents we'll be dashing through the snow this weekend (as long as the weather forecast holds true) to "cut" our Christmas tree at Grandma and Grandpa's house. For half the price I picked out a tree today at a local nursery to "plant" in the woods. With a saw in hand and two kids in tow we'll venture out to find our perfect tree again this year. The reindeer who witnessed our little deception have been sworn to secrecy. That goes for you too!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Darn that college football!

The news didn't start until 10:30 because of college football so the number of people who would have just happened to see the kids on tv dropped significantly. Oh well. At least they made it into the segment. If you listen closely you can hear Julia's vehicle noises in the background. Bonus points go to Carrie who spotted me holding a sleeping Julia during part of the clip!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

News flash

You can't walk down the toy aisle at Target without noticing the ever increasing number of recall notices. We are on tight budget so ordering expensive European toys is not an option for us (and probably not for many people) but there is this cute family owned toy store in St. Paul that I enjoy shopping at because I can usually find small, unique, and affordable things that normally I'd have to pay to have shipped to my home. After finishing our Saturday chores by 9am we piled into the van for a trip into the city. The kids were in heaven with two different train tables to choose from. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the choices. What in the world do you get for your second-born who just turned one? While I was carefully looking over every toy I noticed a woman that looked awfully familiar. It turns out she's a WCCO news reporter. She asked if the kids would play at the American made train table for a few minutes so they could get some footage for a piece that's airing tonight at 10 on channel 4 about toy safety. I am so glad I dressed Julia in her new overalls from my bargain hunting at Gymboree yesterday. They played very nicely together and Sam even said excuse me to the camera man who was blocking his way around the table. Julia puttered around the table making truck noises with a little car. Ah! That's my kiddos. :)

On the way home we passed Mickey's diner. We couldn't resist the famous (does anyone know why it's famous, cuz I sure don't?) little establishment and enjoyed a tasty lunch of pancakes and burgers.
Those are Sam and Julia's pancakes cooking on the griddle in the upper right picture. yummy!

I'll try to find a link to the WCCO segment to share tomorrow.

Peapods is nice enough to gift wrap, otherwise I'd share pictures of the cute wooden airplane and helicopter we picked out for the kids. I even picked up a stocking stuffer for the other kid in the house (otherwise known as Brian). shhh....he doesn't know I did that.

Welcome to the family

Congratulations Mom and Paul!

I took my first "engagement" photos before Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. I put quotes around engagement because they eloped on my mom's 60th birthday a few weeks ago.

Hope you like them Mom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Three little monkeys

jumping on the bed

nobody fell off but,

the biggest one said

let's try sitting on the couch instead.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Playing catch up

I've got a couple posts worth of photos that I've been meaning to share: Halloween and Sam & Julia's birthday party. I better upload them now before the holiday rush and they get completely forgotten.
This batch is from the Halloween party we go to every year. The weather was calm and warm enough to be outside without being bundled up. The host were brilliant. Instead of the usual games geared towards adults (who then couldn't play because the children needed supervising) she incorporated the kids into the fun. We wrapped Brian up as mummy and we scavenged the woods for items on a list, including a pine cone that I climbed way up in a tree to retrieve.
Just for fun, see if you can list off any of the costumes you see. Here's another hint on Brian's costume: politics

Doesn't Julia make a cute Little Red Riding Hood?

Ok, on to the party.... (October 13th, 2007)

Sam and Julia's Birthday party this year was at McDonald's playland. Cousins, Godparents, Aunts, and friends made for a fun afternoon.

The annual birthday tree picture.

We also take a picture every year in this chair my Grandparents made for me when I was little. The picture on the right is on Sam's 1st birthday

Here's JoJo's first chair picture.

Phew. That feels good to get that task completed. Now if only cleaning out the garage so we can park the van inside before it snows could be so much fun!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

They're all smiles ...

...until it got close to bedtime and we realized the keys were locked in the van and it would be 45 minutes before Brian returned with the spare key to unlock the doors.

Thanks for a fun evening Gene and Rena! The kids sure love coming to Grandma and Grandpa's house! (and so do we)

Santa: take 1

I have been prepping Sam in hopes that he won't be scared to sit on Santa's lap this year. I don't have pictures from last year, but one look at this one will make this year's apprehension look like excitement. We took the kids to the mall last night to get a glimpse of the jolly fellow and let Sam warm up to the idea at his own pace. Here are the pictures from our first try. I'm sure we'll give it another go soon. Stay tuned...

I was a tad disappointed to not see the usual Santa, but when this kind soul asked one of his elves for a Sharpie (a purple one) "because the elves like purple", my heart softened as he carefully checked off the toy train from Sam's letter and made a note to make one for Julia too.

Notice Julia's expression says about the same thing Sam's does, "Don't you dare leave me here with this dude!"

Cutting Corners (and hair)

Sam's hair was getting poofy or "Big" has he called it once so I pulled out my new clippers and gave it my best shot. Right before the holidays, you say? Yep. More pictures are taken at Christmas than Thanksgiving so I figured it had time to grow out if I messed it up too bad. We are trying to save money wherever we can and dropping $17 into each hair cut for Sam is rough.

By his third trip to Mommy's Barber Shop the cuts will be free. Woo-hoo!

Happy 35th Brian!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A 180

Today is not at all like yesterday.


That's all the venting I have time for because we might be having a showing this afternoon and with Brian working today, my "break time" has to be spent cleaning.

*double sigh*

Friday, November 16, 2007

A new day

As long at the sun isn't glaring in my eyes, I prefer a sunny day to a cloudy day - just like I prefer a battle free and pleasant day with the kids rather than a day filled with whining and unwillingness to get along.
Thankfully today has been one of those days the kids play nicely together, Sam helps pick up and goes down for his nap without a hitch, and the house is clean before nap time rather than having to clean during nap time. When I look at this picture I'm reminded that without the hard times, we can't truly appreciate the good times, and without clouds, what would God use to paint such beautiful sunsets?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - (overdue Halloween edition)

You might remember Brian's request in this post. Any guesses on what his costume is? Click here if you need a hint.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Believe me, this is one numbers game you DON'T want to play

8 - the number of times Sam threw up last night
45 - the number of minutes of sleep I got from 10pm-3am
12:45 - the numbers on the clock when Julia started throwing up
2 - the number of times I changed sheets on a bed last night
4 - the number of times I changed a towel on a bed
(I wised up and saved myself a heap of work and laundry)
5 - the number of times Julia threw up last night
4 - the number of loads of laundry I did in the past 24 hours
4 - the number of loads of laundry still waiting to be folded and put away
2 - the number of clues I had that we were headed for trouble
(Sam said his tummy hurt while we were eating dinner. I chalked it up to his tummy was full cuz he actually ate a complete dinner for once. Then later I was at Owen and Staci's dropping off their wedding album when Staci asked how the kids were doing because Moriah had started throwing up that evening. Brian called me as I was pulling into the driveway at 9pm to say Sam had thrown up.)
13 - the number of people (at last count) who caught the same bug on Sunday
12 - the number of trips I made up and down the steps between Sam on the couch and Julia in her crib
8 - the number of hours I spent sitting on the couch with Sam who maybe slept 3 hours all night
4:00 - the numbers on the clock when Brian started throwing up
8:30 - the numbers on the clock when Brian learned that Julia had been sick all night too.
10 - the number of times I've prayed that I don't get sick too.
2 - the number of kids who appear to be on the mend. We all took 2 1/2 hour naps today and the puking has subsided. Praise God!

I was sooo worried that I wouldn't be able to handle two sick kids on so little sleep but Julia was a champ. I would turn the light on in her room so I could see to clean up the mess, change the towel, wipe her mouth, pop a clean paci in, point to the towel and tell her night-night. Writing that makes it sound so cold, but talking and cuddling would only serve to wake her up and then what was I to do? This method worked like a charm and she went right back to sleep every time. This is on the heels of just starting to sleep through the night too! Then there's my Sammy Sam. He's was able to tell me when he was going to puke and other than the crib, and a bit on his pj's, he got everything in the bucket. He was scared and in pain but he managed to keep quiet and not wake up his sister or his daddy. I'm so proud of both of you and am happy you are feeling better!

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's a jungle out there

We went for a walk today for the first time in a loooooong time. I'm not good at those transition weeks when the weather changes and it requires coming up with a new setup. I thought the fresh air would be good for us and since for once it wasn't windy I dug out the necessary hats, mittens, blankets and coats we'd need. Before long we were cruising along the paths of our neighborhood.
"What lives in there Mommy?" asked Sam.
"Maybe a.....squirrel?"
"What about an elflint?"
"Silly Sam, Elephants live in Africa and Asia."
A little while later...What do you think lives in there?"
"Hmmm...maybe a chipmunk?"
"What about a giraffe?"
and on and on we played this little game. The only accurate animal he came up with was a "stunk". But according to Sam, "They're iiiiiishhhhhy."
Gosh, I love this kid!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11/ 11 11: 11 111

Today holds a special place in my heart. I can trace it all the way back to my freshman year of high school when my friend Owen and I created this silly tradition where we'd meet at Dawn Benkowski's locker (#111) at 11:11 am on November 11th. I know it's odd and quirky - you don't have to tell me. With the possible exception of when I was in Santiago, Chili on 11/11, we've made the effort to reconnect on this day for the past 16 years. Well, except for the meeting at Dawn's locker part. Instead we send letters, make phone calls, or write an email.
I'm happy to share that today we were able to mark our tradition with a gathering at Owen and Staci's home.
See, they happen to have a daughter who was born on November 11th and today was a big day for her - a first birthday and she was being dedicated during the family's home church gathering.
After some warm up songs with the kids Moriah was dedicated to the Lord. It was a powerful time of prayer for this little girl and her family. It was a privilege to be a part of it. I am so thankful for the lasting friendship our families have formed. What's that Michael W. Smith song? Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them...or something like that. That pretty much sums it up. Great faith, great connection, great fun. How lucky I feel that they only live twenty minutes away now! That's the closest we've lived since we were kids.

While we were there I borrowed their wedding album to make some copies of the pictures I took for them over five years ago. I wanted to get some of my previous weddings on my photography blog for potential clients to view. It was 5 and 10 years ago that I photographed weddings. Where has the time gone? I'm more than happy to take up shooting weddings again now that we've entered the digital era. It was pretty scary not knowing if the shots were turning out or not. Everything was manual - apeture, focusing, film speed....
Here's Owen and Staci on their wedding day.
I love that she wore my veil. :) You can see more here.

Happy First Birthday Moriah!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A change of scenery

No snow here in Minnesota....yet (at least the kind that sticks to the ground. I did see a few flakes swirly in the wind earlier in the week.) I couldn't help but change my blog header to reflect our current situation and upcoming holiday. I took this picture back in March when we got over a foot of snow. We learned this week that the road less traveled is not the one for us. We are not meant to move our family five hours away and live in the Northwoods. Which road is it going to be then? Only God knows. Until He lets us in on His plan we'll do our best to find joy in the journey.

Here are the words that Michael Card sings in the last song of my play list:

There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
and freedom for those who obey.
And all those who seek it shall find it
A pardon for all who believe
Hope for the hopeless and sight for the blind.

To all who have been born of the spirit
And who share incarnation with Him
Who belong to eternity stranded in in time
and of struggling with sin.

Forget not the hope thats bid for you
and never stop counting the cost
Remember the hopelessness when you were lost.
There is a joy in the journey
There's a light we can love on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
and freedom for those who obey
and freedom for those who obey.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Now what Lord?

I never thought I'd have to write this post. Honestly I had a completely different one composed in my head for when we got the phone call from Voyageurs National Park but....I was the one to get the letter from Voyageurs in the mail that said they gave Brian's dream job to someone else.

It's going to take a while to not feel anger towards a place I used to love. The place we had such fond memories. The place we fell in love. The place we wanted to raise our family. The place we wanted to share with friends and family who would come to visit. The place we wanted to grow old together.

The big question is what will do now? We don't know so please, please don't ask. This is all we know for now: We will still sell our house (read- give away our house considering the price drop). Brian will continue to look for a better job so he doesn't have to plow snow this winter or break his back landscaping in the spring. I will continue to grow my business as much as possible. We will trust the Lord to lead us and sustain us wherever that may be.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Guess who slept through the night! (ALL ELEVEN HOURS OF IT)

Friday night: took an hour to fall back asleep when she woke at 1:30

Saturday night: took 15 minutes to fall back asleep

Sunday night: only up for 5 minutes and didn't cry hardly at all (Instead, Sam was up 6 times.)

Monday night: Not a peep from Julia and Sam was only up a couples times. (He's been waking up to use the bathroom.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

He said WHAT?

While watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood the other day Sam was introduced to the Incredible Hulk. Mr. Roger's was showing the kids the difference between pretend and real. Upon seeing Lou Ferrigno in all of his Hulk makeup Sam said, "He has B**BS! Then looking at me with a serious face he concluded, "They're just pretend." I guess that qualifies for understanding the concept of pretend and real, right?

Tonight Sam called me back into his room to tell me that he loves me. (A stall tactic if I've ever seen one, but one I don't mind the first couple of times a night.) He also said, "I like Tieran and the baby." I asked him what the baby's name was and he replied, "DAFFODIL!" He's never said that word in his life and knows very well that Kieran's little sister's name is Maisie.

Where do they get this stuff???

I think Sam has finally quieted down for the night as I wrap up this post. Darn, no more funnies. By the way, how are everyone else's kids adjusting to the time change?? We did fine today because our schedules are always off on Sundays anyway. Hopefully putting them to bed an hour later will even things out by tomorrow. And on a related note: At 1am Friday night I decided that Julia needed to figure out how to go without nursing 1-3 times a night. It took her an hour to settle back to sleep that night, but Saturday night it was only 15 minutes. The big accomplishment was that I didn't have to get out of bed for the first time in MONTHS. (I had Brian give Julia her paci so she knew we weren't ignoring her, but that it was time to go to sleep on her own.) Dare I hop that tonight I get to sleep through the night??????

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It may have been funny on Caddy Shack

but when you've gone to the trouble of taking your kids to the pool and have to get out after only 5 minutes because it's not just a Baby Ruth floating in the's not funny.
It wasn't funny when it happened in the bathtub three hours later either.

Note: Just want to make it clear that it wasn't Sam or Julia at the pool. The tub? Sorry JoJo, this one's on you, Peanut.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hello. My name is Julia

Julia turned 13 months old today. I truly feel like I've been introduced to a new little girl this past month. She's always been a happy baby, but her giggles are much more frequent. She's always been fascinated with her brother, but now she loves to crawl on him and snuggle with him. There are even moments, albeit brief ones, where they play together. This picture shows her zeal for giving kisses lately. Obviously the new skill of walking is a new milestone (10/22), but it's the expressions on her face that show she knows we're proud of her that are priceless. She'll get herself into a standing position and give me the biggest grin before toddling forward a few steps (usually in the direction of Daddy).
She is always pulling books out of the book basket to look at. She's drawn to the animals and pictures of babies. She does the appropriate signs when we get to the bath page or when there's a baby or puppy she's starts waving her arms and saying puppy or baby. I'm pretty sure she can say kitty too. She also says ball, pee (peek-a-boo), boom (when she falls), nu-nu (nurse), hi and Daddy without prompting. Mommy and bye come out clearing with a little coaching. This is a whole new world for us as Sam didn't talk until he was 2. We've reached the point where I can ask for a hug and she crawls over and puts her head on my shoulder. I often ask if she wants to sit on my lap and in seconds she's maneuvered her little butt onto my legs. She is constantly babbling about something or laughing at her own jokes (she gets that from her Daddy).
In the past 24 hours she's learned to point to her nose and to her head.
Anytime music starts she can't help but start dancing, whether it's swinging her arms back and forth, bopping her butt up and down or marching in place.
With striking strawberry blonde curls there isn't a person we come in contact with that doesn't mention her curls. At 13 months they are just starting to form ringlets.

Her favorite foods are sweet potatoes and bananas. I've been slacking in the baby food making department, but she's content with chunks of chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, and cheese. At first she didn't like cow's milk, but this past week she's started drinking a couple ounces out of a sippy cup. I'm embarrassed to report that she's still nursing in the middle of the night, but I'm too stressed about our life right now to take the week it would take to help her fall back asleep on her own.

Cutting four molars didn't help her sleeping issues.

I pray that we'll get through this rough time without any lasting effect on the kids. They have definitely been the comic relief we've needed.

Happy 13 Month Birthday Baby Girl

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...