Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

The best picture of the morning, both kids in their new wagon from Grandpa.

Caroline surrounded by her new monogrammed towel from Nana and some of her other presents. She got a shape sorter, some large pop beads, a Melissa and Doug birthday cake set, a purse with accessories, books, a necklace and bracelet from her cousin, some cute ballerina socks, and one of those bead-on-a-wire maze toys.

Caroline's big present was this stroller for her doll. I am still trying to convince her it is designed for her baby doll, because every time I put the baby in the stroller, Caroline quickly tossed her back out. At this rate, her future mothering skills are looking pretty scary. Thankfully we have many more years to practice!

Rylan and his dinosaur from Grammy. Rylan was awake bright and early at 6am and the combination of lack of sleep and the excitement of Christmas made him a little cranky and definitely not in the mood for pictures.

Rylan and his Buzz Lightyer, whose wings really do pop out just like the real Buzz!
Thanks to our family for getting both kids so many great toys. Rylan also really liked his Woody doll from Toy Story, his "band in a box", his firetruck puzzle and gear building toy from Nana and Papa, his Batman figure passed down from when Charlton was a little boy, his "Monsters vs. Aliens" movie, and his small cars.

Charlton gave me a DVD of home movies from when Rylan was a baby. Our camcorder broke, so I had never actually been able to watch the movies, and have hinted (once or twice :-) how badly I wanted to be able to have a copy of them. They included some priceless clips of Rylan's first bath at home, his first Christmas, and early baby days. Thanks honey, for that wonderful gift!
We had one of the best Christmases I can remember in a long time. I was able to spend time with my family last weekend for the first time near Christmas in years. We had snow, a fire in the fireplace, stockings hanging from our new mantle, a tree with twinkling lights, homemade cookies.. what more need I say? We started some new family traditions that made each day of the Advent season memorable. Charlton had some time off work, so we were able to enjoy his company at home. The joy and excitement of the kids at this age is just priceless. I love being able to teach Rylan the true meaning of Christmas while still anticipating Santa Claus's visit. Caroline doesn't quite understand everything yet, but she is walking and curious and much more able to participate than last year. Even though parenthood can be exhausting and tests our patience, I kept thinking these are truly some of the best years of our lives and I am so thankful. Thankful for my husband, for the babies that fill my arms, and for the gift of the Baby who came to earth so long ago to bring us joy and life.

Christmas Eve 2009

We ate a delicious dinner of oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits, then the kids took baths and changed into PJ's early. We watched the "Polar Express" a present from Grammy, ate cookies and snuggled on the couch. It was such a fun, relaxing family time to spend together and just anticipate the joy of Christmas coming.

Our elf on the shelf's final resting place before Christmas.

The stockings were hung by the fireplace with care.

When the kids went to bed, Santa's elves got very busy. They didn't realized assembling the wagon would be so loud and make it hard for the kiddos to fall asleep. Finally, the wagon was built, stockings filled, and presents arranged under the tree. Charlton and I stayed up later and watched the Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, a first for me, and a movie with lots of childhood memories for Charlton.

Caroline says "ho,ho,ho"

Playing in the tent

While I worked Tuesday afternoon, Charlton set up the tent for the kids and got some fun videos of them enjoying it. I love how Caroline is thrilled to just "wallow" on the floor, with some interesting results to her hair.

More Caroline pigtails

The pigtails keep getting longer and cuter!

We played at Chick-Fil-A on Tuesday and a lady made balloon creature for the kids. Caroline got a pink and purple horse, and Rylan asked for an airplane. They had a lot of fun playing with their new "toys."

What a great smile!

Sadly, my best attempt to get a picture of Caroline in front of the Christmas tree. She moves soooo fast, tht my other attempts just showed a blurry small part of her. I am not sure what she is saying here, but I think she is trying to tell me this photo session is done! div>

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bethany's graduation

On Thursday, I flew up to Kentucky for my sister Bethany's graduation from nursing school. She has persevered through many challenges and obstacles to reach her goal and I am so proud of her. I am probably biased, but nursing graduations are a little more special than just your average end of school celebrations. One of the unique aspects of the ceremony includes the pinning, where a friend, family member, or other nurse presents you with your school's pin. Bethany gave me the honor of pinning her and I was very pleased that I didn't trip or stab her with the pin! Now she just needs to pass her nursing boards in the next month, and then she can start her new job. She actually has several job offers and will probably accept one in an adult ICU. We are excited to have another nurse in the family.

My kids were acting like the sweetest angels the few days before I left for my trip. They certainly weren't acting like that when I booked my tickets, the little tricksters! That made it hard to leave them, but I thoroughly enjoyed my short vacation. I haven't been able to sleep in, just relax with no responsibilities, and have un-interrupted conversations like that in years. I also haven't been home at Christmas time since Rylan was a baby, three years ago, so that was also very fun and brought back memories.

I had a great time, but was glad to see my husband and babies on Sunday. They did very well in Daddy day care, even Caroline didn't act that interested in seeing me. Later in the day, she called me "mama" for the first time, so I forgave her. I had to go to work on Sunday night and sleep most of the day Monday, so I am just now starting to get back into the routines of being home. We are all ready for Christmas now and just hoping for some snow to make it even more perfect.

On Friday, we enjoyed a ladies day out with lunch at Applebees. It was a special treat for all of us sisters and Grandma to spend some time together.

Bethany and my proud parents.

Three sisters.

All five siblings together. That doesn't happen often, so I'm glad we got the picture to prove it!

Martha, if you read this blog, I'm sorry I included this picture with your eyes closed. I just had to share this picture of the three nurses in the family. I was so bummed I didn't think to bring my nursing pin, so we could all truly match.

On Saturday the weather was was drizzling and barely above freezing. That didn't stop Bethany from "retiring" her nursing school clinical apron in a special ceremony, involving a shotgun. I think it is time to call the code on that garment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas tea.....and more

On Saturday, we had my MOPS care group Christmas tea. Our group mentor mom, Tricia, hosted at her home with all her lovely Christmas dishes and linens. I was very careful to take all these "before" pictures of the lovely table setting, but could of kicked myself for forgetting to get any shots of all of us ladies. Only the most important part... Good grief! My excuse is that we were just having too much fun laughing and telling stories and enjoying a relaxing time without kids that it completely slipped my mind.

Just some of the delicious food, pumpkin scones, cranberry white chocolate bread, chocolate dipped orange cookies, and snowflake sugar cookies. We also had a scrumptious quiche and jellow salad.

I got the idea for these cute ornaments from someone else's blog. They were fun to make and pretty cheap, too. I made one for each of the women who came to our tea. I bought plain, clear glass ornaments, shredded my own construction paper to stuff the balls, added the letter sticker and topped it off with a coordinating bow. The letters were a little thinner than I had expected them to be and so were kind of hard to see. Also, I didn't realize until too late that the red of the paper didn't quite match the red of the bows. Bummer. I imagine it bothered me more than anyone else, but I will be more careful about that next time.

No, Caroline did not get to go to the Christmas tea. Naptime and all.. But she sure did look like a pretty little lady on her way to church the next day. This girl does not stay still for a moment, hence the blur of her head. I didn't want to post a blurry picture, but this may be the best we ever get of her in her dressy red coat.

Here I was experimenting with camera angles to make the shot more interesting. Don't Caroline's pigtails look adorable? Her hair is really getting long. The even more amazing part is that Charlton fixed her hair all by himself. We had to redo them several times during the day, because Caroline newest habit is wanting to play with a strand of hair while she sucks her thumb. So after each nap, she had worked a huge piece of hair loose and it was hanging wildly in her face. I would love to fix her hair like this more often, if I just didn't have to re-do it all day long!
Tomorrow I am excited to be flying home for my sister Bethany's graduation from nursing school. Originally, I didn't think I would be able to go, but I am so thankful everything worked out about a month ago. I am so proud of all of Bethany's hard work and am honored to be able to pin her in the special ceremony. This is my first overnight trip away from Caroline, and although I have been away from Rylan for a few nights, I know I will miss them both and their daddy like crazy. So if you think about it, please pray that everyone will stay happy and healthy for Dad and he will have a really great, low-stress time with the kids. I am looking forward to having some fun and relaxing time with my family near Christmas and a little break from being in "mommy mode." I'll be home Sunday, but have to work Sunday night, so I'll probably post more near the middle of next week. Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow babies

Look at these adorable snowbabies! Nana sent these t-shirts to the kids last night and we couldn't wait to try them on. She made one for each of her seven grandchildren. We wish we could get a picture of all the cousins together, but considering the challenge just to get my two smiling and looking at the camera at the same time, photoshop is looking like a great alternative!
I took the kids to Sam's and shamelessly took their coats off in the store so everyone could see how cute they looked. Also, our temperature got above freezing for the first time in about a week, so it practically felt like a heat wave!
On an unrelated note, I took Caroline back to the doctor yesterday because she was still acting like her ears were bothering her. She also ran a low-grade fever, this while being on antibiotics. I wasn't exactly surprised, but definitely concerned when the nurse practioner said both her ears were now infected. How does the infection get worse on antibiotics? I would have asked that question if I hadn't been trying to dress Caroline while keeping Rylan from running out the exam room door on an "adventure." Good grief. That must be some tough bacteria. Now we've moved on to 10 days of Augmentin and hopefully that will do the trick for my poor girl and she can finally return to her normal happy, contented self.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rylan sings Christmas carols

When you watch this video, I am sure you will have a few questions. Yes, Rylan gets his amazing singing ability from me. And no, he hadn't had any sugar before his "concert". He is just naturally this energetic.

A Rylan crack-up

This morning as Charlton was leaving for work I cautioned him to be careful driving on the snowy roads. Rylan followed him to the door and chimed in, "Dad, don't crash into any cars, but if you do, just call Frank Azar." (Frank Azar is a local ambulance-chasing attorney who has commercials on all the time in the evenings when we watch the news.) We both just about fell on the floor laughing. Amazing, the power of advertising and the memory of a 3-year old!

Sunday best

This post is a little out-of-order, but I wanted to include some sweet pictures of the kids in their Christmas clothes on Sunday. Rylan was so cooperative to let me get a picture in front of the tree, but his sister was another story. She is constantly in motion! Her face is blurry in the picture of her standing, but it was the best/only one I could get of her full-length in her jumper. She also has a darling red wool dress coat, but at this point all my picture attempts were a red blur, so I will have to keep trying on that one. I thought they both looked adorable on Sunday. We are so blessed!
Sitting pretty. I bought this jumper on sale last year when she was just a newborn, and it is fun to see how it fits her now.

My handsome guy!

Snow day

Today MOPS was cancelled because of the snow and cold, so we spent the day indoors. The high temperature never got warmer than 6 degrees and we are expecting -10 degrees tonight. We only have about 4-5 inches of snow, but of course it isn't melting at all. The wind picked up this afternoon and the wind chill was around 20 below. Needless to say, we did not venture out, even to get the mail. It was a good day to stay inside, make cookies, build forts out of blankets and cardboard boxes, and make crafts. Nana sent a fun package last night at the perfect time for a day spent indoors.

Where's Rylan?

Rylan's handprints made the pattern for the reindeer's antlers. He had a blast cutting out the rest of the foam and making a "sculpture" with the pieces and a hot glue gun. I think it was a miracle that no one got burned with my three-year old holding the gun most of the time, something that seems a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Caroline has her own reindeer too, but I am still trying to figure out if it will be possible to trace a wiggly 1-year old's hands without making us both crazy! My "best" idea so far has been to dip her hands in flour and then press them to the foam and cut out around that print. I'm not sure if that will work, but I am pretty positive she won't hold still for me to trace around her entire hand. I really want to have a memory of her handprint, so maybe some inspiration will strike me soon. I may have to resort to bribery with food..

Christmas parade

We have had several days of snow and frigid weather. Saturday was relatively balmy with a high in the 30's so we braved the cold for the Colorado Springs Christmas parade. The themes of the parade was Festival of Lights, so the floats were very pretty and well-lit, many of the band members decorated their instruments with lights, and even the greyhounds wore lights on their blankets. I felt really sorry for those poor dogs, no extra fat or fur to keep them warm.

This picture was taken at the beginning of the parade when we were all relatively warm. Note the enthusiasm on the kid's faces. They look like they are ready to disown their parents for bringing them out into the arctic to freeze to death. I couldn't take pictures with gloves on, so this is the only shot of our wonderful experience. I ended up holding Caroline for most of the time and bribed Rylan to stay in the stroller with a cup of hot chocolate. After an hour, suffering from numb toes and noses, Santa finally appeared and we were free to make the dash to our warm car.

Caroline and the wolves

Caroline got a unique birthday present in the mail yesterday. Grampa Clarke sponsored the conservation of a pair of wolves in her name. Two adorable stuffed wolves arrived in the package and Caroline loved hugging them and petting their soft fur. Thanks Grampa!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Some videos of Grammy's presents

Thanks Grammy for our Christmas surprise!

Rylan listened to Grammy reading "The Night Before Christmas" almost non-stop.
I think I just about have the poem memorized by now!

Checking out our new "Elf on the Shelf". Rylan wanted to name him "Astro boy" after a strange Japanese cartoon character. Great... After gently making a few other suggestions, I think we have settled on "Fly", because according to the story, the elf flies back to Santa each night to report on the kids' behavior. Last night he hid on Charlton's armoir upstairs and this morning he was waiting on the light fixture over our table. I hope this will be a special new family tradition and I think it will be fun to search for him with Rylan each day. Thanks Grammy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ear infection

Poor Caroline was diagnosed with her first ear infection on Monday at her supposedly 12-month well-child visit. Her cold had continued for over a week, so I wasn't terribly surprised that something else was brewing to make her so miserable and cranky. We've been on antibiotics for three days now and she finally seems to be feeling better. It's nice to see her laughing and enjoying playing again.
She also weighed 23 lbs., 8 oz. and was 30 1/4 inches long. That puts her about 85% for weight and about 75% for height. She and Rylan were exactly the same length at one year, but Rylan was about a pound heavier. Interesting.
I posted this picture to show you one of Caroline's new habits, playing with her hair while she sucks her thumb. At night, when it isn't pulled back in a rubber band, she will pull the entire front section of her hair in front of her face and just stroke it while she sucks her thumb. Here she has to be content with whatever she can reach. It's really putting a crimp in my every-other-day bath schedule, especially after we have eaten anything sticky or saucy. Makes for some interesting hair gel.

Sweet sleeping boy.

Rylan loves to sleep, at least in the afternoons. He has been waking up early in the mornings to play in his room, so I have been trying to limit the length of his afternoon nap so he will hopefully sleep longer in the morning. It goes totally against everything in my mom sense to wake a sleeping child, especially when those afternoon quiet times are such a great break, but he gets super cranky when he wakes up too early. This afternoon, I caught the sweetest pictures of him sleeping.

The weather outside is frightful...

......but our living room is delightful. Don't you just want to stop by for a cup of hot chocolate, sit in our comfy chairs beside the tree with twinkling lights and warm your feet by the fire?
Last year we put our tree upstairs because we just couldn't think of how to place it in the living room. With a new baby in the house, I was just thankful to have our tree decorated.
We trimmed the tree last week, placed in upstairs by the window and I just kept thinking how the only time I ever saw it was as I was bathing the kids at night and putting them down for bed. It just didn't seem like Christmas without being able to enjoy our tree. At 10:00 at night on Saturday, I figured out how we could arrange the furniture and told Charlton my brilliant idea. I can't thank him enough for humoring me and hauling that completely decorated tree all the way downstairs so I could truly savor one of my favorite parts of Christmas. It must have been a comical picture to see us struggling with the awkward branches around the bannister, trying not to break the ornaments or make the bells jingle too loudly and wake up the kids. I was laughing so hard at the craziness of it that I could barely stand up and wasn't much help.
Rylan woke up the next morning and was amazed that the tree was now downstairs. "Look at my tree!" Our living room looks totally Christmasy now, and I am loving my cozy evenings downstairs.