Monday, December 31, 2007

wrap-up

We had a lovely holiday. We enjoyed lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner (well, everybody except C. We made him some instant mac & cheese instead.) and then spent some time trying to get a family photo in front of our tree. Thankfully my sister was around to help take pictures.

We celebrated midnight mass at our parish. N fell asleep about 10 minutes in, but C & L stayed awake throughout. The boys were eager to climb into bed when we got home, and even more eager to wake in the morning!

We had our usual, relaxed Christmas morning opening gifts and taking our time. I made cinnamon rolls the night before, and baked them in the morning. After opening most of our gifts, I laid down with L and we napped a good 3 hours of the afternoon away. When we woke, my sister was here and everyone was playing Wii (the big, extravagant gift this year!)

DH made the entire dinner (I am such a lucky woman!) and it was yummy as usual. I was going to make fresh bread, but my nap put the end to that.

The next day, the kids & I started coming down with a head cold, which gradually got worse - and then better (as colds tend to do) over the next few days. I think yesterday was the worst day, but I feel a ton better today. L's nose is finally stopping the constant running, for which I'm thankful.

I still have to address and send our holiday cards (whoops!) and get our thank you notes written and mailed. DH is painting the kitchen today. We don't have any plans for New Year's Eve - other than spending it quietly in our home.

I'm thinking about resolutions for 2008 and planning a post about them tomorrow. L is stirring on my lap, so it's time to change diapers and figure out a dinner for tonight!

Monday, December 24, 2007

almost ready!


The cookies are baked (cutouts, gingerbread, peanut blossoms and haystacks) and the presents are wrapped! Today I'm making a lasagna, frosting for the cutouts, and cinnamon rolls (to be baked in the morning.) I'm doing today & tomorrow's laundry so I don't get behind.

The baby is actually napping off my body, so I can dust and sweep the livingroom. The boys are off on a bike ride with their dad.

Later tonight, we'll take our annual holiday family picture in front of the tree, enjoy midnight mass and put the kids to bed. Tomorrow we'll relax in pajamas all day and enjoy watching the kids with their new gifts.

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderfully blessed and merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2007 Meme

As seen over at Carmen's . . .

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

Gave birth to a daughter

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any resolutions last year. This year I resolve to find a way to create a 2nd revenue stream for our household, as thing are ridiculously hard again this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Other than myself, our boys' godmother gave birth to her first child.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my great-uncle died in November. We were lucky enough to see him in August for a family reunion, and got a picture of him with L. They were the youngest and oldest members of the family attending the reunion. I sent a copy of the photo to my great-aunt and she said it was the last photo of him, and was grateful that I sent it.

5. What countries did you visit?
none

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Money. More Time. Cleaning help again!

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 29 -- birth day of L. August 8 -- 10 year anniversary with DH

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Surviving my pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy, happy baby

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not budgeting as well as I could have

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The pregnancy was very hard on me, especially the last couple months. Recovering from my c-section was fairly easy, especially in comparison.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I can't think of anything -- probably the co-sleeper.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My boys stepped up to the plate and are awesome big brothers.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Mine, on occasion.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Bills, groceries, mortgages

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Welcoming L. Visiting WI with the whole family and seeing tons of family/friends we haven't seen in years.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Huh. I have no idea.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) about the same; b) thinner; c) poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
saved more money

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
feel stressed

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
hanging out at home with my family, playing the new Wii that is our family gift

21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
Still am.

22. How many one-night stands?
None.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Rescue Me (although I wasn't crazy about many of the storylines this year - maybe this was last year's favorite TV show), Heroes

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.

25. What was the best book you read?
I read many, but none come to mind. I think I need to track my books again in 2008.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Renee & Jeremy, It's a Big World. soft, sweet and gentle . . . wonderful music to calm children and myself.

27. What did you want and get?
a healthy baby

28. What did you want and not get?
A better year of commissions for DH.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Haven't been to the movies this year . . . except to see a kid's movie and I can't remember what it was. I rented a bunch though -- liked "A Night with the King"

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 40 in November. Celebrated with my parents who came to town! We went to a symphony concert in the afternoon, then had a wonderful homecooked meal eaten outdoors for dinner.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not stressing about paying for the basics in the last few months.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Big and pregnant . . . then nothing fitting because the weight keeps dropping, but the clothes budget is nonexistent.

33. What kept you sane?
snuggling with my husband

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
no clue

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Healthcare in America.

36. Who did you miss?
my extended family. It's hard sometimes having family all over the country, and no feasible way to get together regularly.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
L. She's made me want to do so much better for our future, and I am amazed at how wonderful she is.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
Remember to breathe.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Everything is possible, 'cause you're a miracle"

(Miracle, Renee & Jeremy)

Friday, December 21, 2007

sitting up

L has been crawling farther and farther each day. Today she went from a crawling position to sitting up by herself. She's very confident pulling herself up to standing and cruising along furniture.

It's so much fun watching her grow and develop. The boys are so excited to watch her learn new things as well -- they are almost as fun to watch!

infant CPR

I was nursing L late this afternoon, when she suddenly pulled away and began to choke. The scary, silent choke that screams that the air passage is blocked. I immediately flipped her over, did a sweep of her mouth and knocked her on the back. A small piece of black plastic came out, along with a bunch of mucus. She must have had the plastic tucked in her cheek, and swallowed it while nursing.

With my heart racing and my baby screaming, I sat back down in my chair and cuddled her close. Once again, I was grateful for the infant CPR class DH & I took soon after C's birth. While it is something that I hoped never to use - I have used the lessons I learned about choking at least once with each of my children.

I always tell new parents to take the time out of their busy lives to attend an infant CPR course. It's just a few hours -- and the lessons learned last a lifetime -- and probably save a few as well!

L is fine. She finished nursing, then took a nice long nap on my lap. She's sitting at my feet now, tugging at the stuffed ornaments on our Christmas tree.

If you have young children in your life, PLEASE take an infant CPR course. We probably need a refresher course, since it's been seven years since we last took the course. I'm off to search for local classes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

presents

I wrapped and sent the box of presents to my parents today. Almost all other gifts were sent from Amazon with free shipping -- but no wrapping. In years past, we've spent over $100 in postage alone shipping gifts, so I was happy that we spent only $24.10 this year in shipping. We're waiting for DH's paycheck after Christmas to send gifts to his dad & girlfriend and his mom; but I'm hoping to spend only minimal (if any) shipping for those gifts as well.

I had an hour or so today to work on wrapping our family's gifts and got through the majority of them. In years past, gifts from Santa were not wrapped, but this year I decided there were extra elves so they are wrapped. I picked up some wrapping paper with Santa's face all over it from the dollar store and sparkly to/from gift tags. I also was able to sort out stocking stuffers, and was relieved to see that I had plenty. DH's stocking will be pretty sparse, but the kids and my sister will have nice stockings to open. L's stocking will be full of socks and bibs -- the only thing she really needs right now. She will get a couple toys (things I actually had picked up on clearance a few years ago!), but that's all.

We're having lasagna for Christmas Eve, and all I need is ground beef (raincheck from Safeway for sale price.) We've decided to go to midnight mass again this year, a tradition that I grew up with and love. I figure that L won't be able to go next year (or for a few more years), so we may as well go this year before heading back to vigil mass until she's older.

Other than wrapping a few more gifts, I'm ready for the holidays.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

tree & other holiday prep

Thursday night, I wandered out to the living room after putting L down and found that my DH had put up our tree and strung lights all over the living room! It was a very nice surprise.

On Friday, the boys and I pulled out the decorations and decorated the tree. Each ornament on our tree has a story, and I love them all. This year, I got C a dragon and N a horse as their 2007 ornament. C especially has been very interested in the fact he was born in the Chinese year of the dragon, so the ornaments went along with that. (N was born in the year of the horse, L in the year of the pig.)

I have to wrap the presents for my parents and get them in the mail tomorrow, and I plan to wrap family presents on Tuesday when my Christmas angel watches the boys (we had to cancel the first time because of illness, she & her mom forgot last week -- so we'll see her this week.)

All the shopping is done! The kids will visit Santa tomorrow, and I'll start making cookie dough this week for a big baking session on Saturday with my sister. I think we're planning on 5 different kinds of cookies.

I looked back at last year's posts this week and realized that this is the week we found out that L was a girl :) I remember how excited the boys were that they would have a sister, and that excitement has remained. She giggles in anticipation of their interactions when she sees or even just hears them come into the room.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mom Central Review: What to Expect Guide to a Healthy Home

When the request came through for bloggers to review What to Expect Guide to a Healthy Home, I was in the midst of cleaning house during/after a rotten stomach virus. I jumped at the chance to review this booklet, in hopes of finding some tips to make sure I got all the germs OUT of our house. Since it was funded by Clorox, I admit wondering if every page was going to tell me to use a bleach solution or their wipes on every possible surface!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 16 page booklet presented very practical tips, and did not present any information which made me want to burn the house down and start over! While it was suggested throughout the booklet to use disinfectant wipes, I felt that it was warranted -- as they ARE a fast, easy way to disinfect surfaces.

Some of the interesting facts I learned while reading was that most people touch 300 surfaces every 30 minutes!! I assume that number is probably higher for children. I also learned that the flu virus can live for 2 days (or even longer!) on some surfaces. I had been under the misguided notion that most viruses/germs could only survive a few hours on surfaces (I have no idea where I got that idea though.)

After our stomach virus, we all picked up a chest cold. I passed this little booklet along to my 7 year old and pointed out specific pages for him to read out loud as part of his reading lessons. He was amazed to learn that 80 percent of germs are spread by touch. Even though I've taught my boys to wash their hands practically since birth, somehow reading about it in this little booklet helped drive it home even more. I heard him later in the bathroom telling his brother to close the lid before flushing, and that he'd sing the ABC's along with him to make sure he washed long enough.

The booklet is set up with 2 sections. The first is "Keeping Your House Healthy" and has tips about keeping bedrooms, bathrooms, playrooms and kitchens clean. One thing mentioned was washing plastic toys in the dishwasher, which is something I actually did with a bin of baby toys that I came across in the garage. I had saved them when the boys outgrew them, and realized they were right for L. I had planned to fill a sink with hot, soapy water and wash them all, but instead I threw them all in the dishwasher and they came out fine!

The second section is "Healthy Habits For Your Family." This had the reminders to wash your hands and encourage kids to do the same! There was also information about protecting your family from germs while away from home -- from public bathrooms, playgrounds, the family car and child care centers. I realized that I do not disinfect the car often enough, and spent yesterday afternoon wiping the inside down.

The booklet is a quick read, and I think there are definitely tips to be learned. Long ago I heard a comment that if you take the effort to learn a bunch of tips that make improvements of only 1%, before you know it, you'll have improved 100%. The booklet is available for download from the Clorox website.

Oh, and go wash your hands!

Thanks to Mom Central for the chance to read and review this booklet!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mom Central Review: Crawling

I finished reading Elisha Cooper's book, Crawling, and immediately sought out my husband for some loving. Cooper's honest and poignant writing style brought back so many memories of the year my DH & I first became parents, that I had to go & kiss my sweet husband for all that he still does for our family.

I think fathers are often overlooked when it comes to new parenthood -- except for dumb jokes and assumed incompetence. I was delighted while reading Crawling -- a book written by a father about that first, wondrous year of becoming a parent. I was enchanted by his love for his family, and enjoyed his writing. His book of essays about that first year of fatherhood was funny, honest and charming. The overriding thing that came through was his deep and utter love for his wife and his daughter, and that was so endearing to me.

I enjoy reading about other people's lives; I know it feeds the voyeur in me. I like to read about how other people approach life and how they respond to various situations. What Cooper's family and mine have in common is a great love for our families, and I loved reading his feelings about his family. Cooper writes from a father's standpoint, but many of the things he writes ring true for any parent - male or female. At one point he wrote "Acceptance of change is at the heart of parenting . . ." and I thought "YES!" and even called a good friend (and mom to a toddler) to read her that line!

His essay about his daughter's dog bite brought tears to my eyes, and a reminder of the fear I've experienced when faced with hospital visits with my children. His book also made me think of my own sons as fathers some day -- and I imagine they will be as helpful then as they are now with me and their baby sister; fetching water and snacks so that I can spend hours each day nursing.

I looked Cooper up on Amazon and realized that we have checked out his children's books from our library in the past. I feel like I know him a little better now, and we'll look for more of his books in the future!

Thanks to Mom Central for giving me the opportunity to read & review this book!

forward movement

I forgot to post a few days ago when it first happened, but L has figured out how to crawl! She's not fast yet, and she has to be motivated, but she's done it enough times to say that she is now a crawler!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

snow adventure

Nine years ago this month, DH & I were saying goodbye to friends and family in Milwaukee in anticipation of moving to AZ after the holidays. When people asked about missing snow for Christmas, DH always replied that we could travel to Flagstaff whenever we wanted and see snow.

On Monday, we traveled to Flagstaff for the first time.

The boys have been asking to see snow for ages, and with a winter storm blowing through, we decided to take off for Flagstaff (about 3 hours from our home) and take some pictures in the snow and let the kids finally make snowballs.

It was definitely snowing and we stopped at a park about 20 miles outside of Flagstaff to let the kids run and play in the snow. We got some great pictures and the boys had a blast. The snow was coming down softly and C kept complaining that we did not stop and buy them mittens because it was cold.

N mentioned that he never thought snow would CRUNCH, he thought it was just soft like cotton. I thought that was a pretty interesting observation -- growing up in snow I never thought about the crunchiness of it.

After a while of making and throwing snowballs, and running through the snow, we decided to climb back in the van. We drove a bit further into the park, thinking there would be more to see, and assuming there would be another parking area not that far. We were wrong.

After a couple miles, DH decided that we should turn around. He started to make the turn, and the van got stuck. He hopped out, pushing while I gave the van gas, and we got out of the spot. We switched places and he started to drive. And the van started to slip. And slip. And slip right off the road. Where the front tires got firmly stuck and the van was at a slight angle. DH pushing couldn't get us out this time (although he did try!)

I was thankful that we had cell reception, and called AAA. Who took all my information, assured me someone would be there in an hour, and told me to keep the baby warm. And then called back to tell me they couldn't help me after all, since I was in a state park and off a paved road (the snow was covering it and we didn't realize it wasn't paved.) They connected me to a towing company who wanted almost $500 to come and try to pull us out. I took his number and we began brainstorming.

We called the sheriff's office, who promised to come check on us in a few hours -- definitely before dark he thought. We called information trying to get a number for a park ranger, with no luck.

The boys thought it was great fun and were running around in the snow. The snow was falling more heavily now and it was pretty :)

2 young men drove by on their ATV's and tried to help push us out. They had no luck either, so they offered to go get their truck and come back with a chain. After they left, another ATV came by and he worked for the fire department, so he offered to get one of the trucks from the station.

The 2 men came back with their truck and after much effort, our van was back on the road! We thanked them profusely (thanks again, Cody & Cameron!!!) and they offered to follow us out in case we went off the road again. I got everyone strapped back into the van and we were about to head off when DH looked out the mirror and said "Um, I think they're stuck!"

Sure enough -- their truck went off the road and so DH tried to help them get back on the road. A truck drove up and I went to the window (I was blocking the road at this point, but I was afraid to move the van), and I told him that we were stuck, but 2 kind boys helped us, but now they were stuck! He asked if it was a black truck and I responded that it was. He shook his head a little and said "That's my son . . . " About that time, DH & the boys came around the curve and DH said the boy said "Oh, this is embarrassing, that's my dad!" Turns out, his dad was the fire chief.

The chief got his truck around our van, and I assume he pulled his boy's truck out of the ditch. We carefully drove out of the park, hopped back on the freeway, and drove back to warm Phoenix. N said at one point "I need to really enjoy this, because this is the last time I'll be a child in the snow!", because I kept saying this was the last time I would make this trip! LOL!

It was actually a fun day, and I'm glad I went. I'm also perfectly happy waiting another 9 years to spend time in the snow!

Friday, December 07, 2007

stuffed animals

My boys love their stuffed animals! Over the last couple years, I have tried to cut down on their numbers, but they still have millions. Okay, maybe just thousands.

This last bout of illness had me feeling crazy about the animals. They each had dozens (literally) on their beds and many found themselves in the path of puke. And then the rest were thrown to the floor in order to change the sheets 4 or 5 times (again, literally -- gaw, it was awful.) It was nearly impossible to walk into their room, since floor space is at a premium as it is. Thankfully, the ones that needed washing survived the washing machine beautifully.

I declared earlier in the week that they could have SEVEN animals on their beds. I wish you could have witnessed the anguish and difficulty they went through in trying to choose their seven. The rest went into a bin, with the promise that they could switch out animals whenever they wanted -- but they had to keep only seven on their beds.

Today I started to tackle the playroom. I went through it when I was pregnant, but you'd never know it. I managed to fill up 5 bags of trash (misc. Happy Meal toys, broken things, things they've outgrown.) Maybe 1 bag would have been worthy of donation somewhere, but I just wasn't going to take the time to sort it like that.

And then I came across another bin of stuffed animals. And then a basket in the closet (which I will HAVE to clear out since there are newborn clothes in there from Nate - who is 5 1/2. But, I think I'm waiting on that for a couple more months.) And yet another bin of stuffed animals. I swear they multiply when my back is turned.

They really care about the animals, and they do play with them. They have elaborate games of jungle, or zoo, or pet store. They are confidants and buddies. Some have special meaning because of who gifted them, others are special just because they struck a fancy. I feel like a meanie by insisting they cut down on the numbers - but they just make a mess!!

Does anyone have any brilliant stuffed toy strategy? (Other than donating them all?) We tried the corner hammocks before, but they weren't able to get them easily -- they would just knock them all out and then couldn't return them. I am donating the extra bins I found in the playroom today -- so maybe being down to just one bin isn't so bad.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

St. Nick's Day

My boys are finally feeling better, and I think L has left illness behind as well. My voice is gone today, but it's just a winter cold . . . that hopefully stays just with me!

The boys were excited this morning to wake to goodies in their shoes. C insisted on leaving his outside the front door, as he didn't want the door to be left unlocked and it stressed him thinking of a stranger (even if it was St. Nicholas!) coming into our home. (We have similar issues over Santa.) The shoes were inside when they woke, but we told them that DH woke earlier and brought them in.

They each had a chocolate St. Nick, a pen with a snowglobe and a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle. I bought chocolate gold coins . . . but couldn't find them last night. I guess they'll go into their stockings!

We read "The Baker's Dozen" last night which is about St. Nicholas cookies and greediness. And I read the story of St. Nicholas this morning. They did a coloring page of St. Nicholas riding through a town on a white horse with a sack of treats on his back.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kenosha?

Who's in Kenosha? Do I know you IRL? Just curious, as I see you've visited 2 of my blogs. Leave me a comment, or drop me an email! thanks ;0

under the weather

I had 1/2 thought the boys might have had food poisoning (they ate the same type of sub for lunch), but L threw up all over me Monday night, so I guess they had some random bug.

I'm almost afraid to say it, but it looks like DH & I are safe. N was still sick Tuesday AM, and I kept him home from enrichment today because he was complaining of a sore throat and still feeling yucky.

I'm coming down with a cold; I can feel it settling into my throat and chest. Can my breastmilk keep L from catching it? I sure hope so! She's been a bear the last few days . . .refusing to be more than an inch away from me at any time, and only napping if she's attached to me somehow. It's been an exhausting few days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

puke buckets

After completing our grocery shopping yesterday, both boys started complaining of not feeling well. About an hour later, the vomiting started.

I am so thankful I was caught up on laundry, as we went through 4 sets of sheets and almost every blanket in our house last night, as well as multiple pairs of pajamas and an entire drawer of clothes (N first got sick as he was getting into his pajamas, leaning over an open drawer.) My poor, sweet boys were both violently ill from around 6PM until almost 5AM. N got the worst of it, but C was pretty sick as well. They spent a good portion of today in bed, which tells you how awful they felt.

I hope tomorrow sees the end of this bug. N cried out around midnight last night "I can't even get a WINK of sleep!!" And C cried out once "I was sleeping so peacefully before I got sick AGAIN!"

I was thankful that DH was home to help, but it was still difficult to clean up & comfort the boys at the same time and keep track of L between the 2 of us. I am so very grateful that my husband doesn't shirk from helping out in situations like this -- he was there with towels and wet rags and the carpet cleaner and puke buckets. And, then he let me go to bed with L around midnight and stayed with the boys all night taking care of them. He truly is a gem.

L seems fine -- she has nursed quite a bit today, but doesn't seem to be sick at all. DH & I are also fine, which means I'm still caught up on laundry (the washing machine has been running non-stop!)

An interesting start to Advent, but hopefully this means we're done with sickness for the holidays??
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