Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas!!

I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone already! Over the weekend we got all of our Christmas decorations out. Now the house really looks and feels like Christmas!

Gabrielle was super excited about all the decorations. She decorated the tree pretty much by herself with the exception of a few fragile ornaments that we put on well out of reach. She really likes to group similar things so the ornaments are clustered together into little sections. We could re-do it to our liking but she had so much fun decorating who really cares if it may not be magazine worthy! She is absolutely dying to move the little snowman on the countdown wall hanging. There are 24 pockets so she'll just have to wait until Wednesday and then I'm sure she'll want to move him several places a day.

We are doing a couple new things this year. I mentioned in an earlier post the Advent paper chain we are doing. We got the chain made and hung on Saturday and started tearing open the links Sunday. On Sunday our activity was to make an Advent wreath and to "light" the first candle. We made the wreath, candles and flames out of paper. Gabrielle colored and glued the pieces and added a little glitter just to give it some sparkle. She pasted on the flame for the first candle and she'll paste a new flame on the appropriate candle each Sunday. I'm trying to explain to her the symbolism of the wreath and candle and to read some scripture with each Sunday. Even in the simplest terms she still doesn't quite get it but I figure it's never too early to start.

Today's activity from the Advent chain was to make a new ornament for the tree. My sister had given us a little kit to make a pom pom penguin ornament that we never got around to doing last year so we finally put the little guy together.

Samantha isn't quite as excited about the Christmas decorations as her sister. In fact she had the exact opposite reaction to the tree. While playing on the living room floor Saturday night she rolled onto the tree skirt. She immediately started crying and screaming and it wasn't the normal fussy kind of cry - she was genuinely scared! I picked her up and she grabbed onto me tighter than she ever has and only calmed down once I moved away from the tree. Every time I moved back toward the tree she would start to get upset! Today was better and I'm trying to get her used to the tree gradually. I certainly don't want her to be afraid of it for the next month!

The weather was so nice on Sunday. While Ed put up the garland, lights and bows on the porch I watched the girls play in the front yard. Gabrielle did a little roller skating but our driveway is covered with pinestraw which made it very difficult for her. Then she rode her tricycle for a little bit as well but she is still learning to pedal herself and she gets frustrated easily. Samantha chilled in the stroller most of the time and then rode in the cute little red car a little as well.

And can you believe this photo??? No one is holding onto her. She is just standing on her own, holding onto the kitchen set!! Of course Ed stood her up there but she still shouldn't be able to stand so well for so long at this age. We're still waiting for the crawling but she is getting closer and closer each day.

I can't believe tomorrow is December 1st! That means 2009 is almost over, Christmas will be here before we know it and Samantha is 7 months old!! My babies are growing up way too fast! Where does the time go? Seriously, I want to know!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kelly's Korner - Show Us Your Life - Christmas Traditions

”Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner”

I love Christmas! And since Ed and I were married, even before the kids came along, starting our own traditions has been a big thing for me. Things we do every year:

  • Christmas baking!! I love to do lots of sweets - cookies, fudge, brownies, cake, and cinnamon candy. I usually wrap up most of it and give it to friends and family as gifts. I try to make a batch of cookies for Ed to take to his employees as well.
  • Christmas parades!! I love them. For anyone who hasn't been to a small town Christmas parade the majority of the parade is made up of local fire and rescue vehicles, a few dump trucks and tractor trailers, and sometimes just random people and businesses. But there is usually at least one high school marching band, a ton of girl scout and boy scout troops and several dance studios. Small town charm!
  • Christmas Eve - we usually open one gift and have let Gabrielle open the gift from the dogs. Our Christmas Eve meal has changed over the years. We started out doing Ed's family traditional antipasto tray before going to church and then having our big meal on Christmas Day. But now our tradition is we have our big meal (usually some type of Italian dish ~ lasagna, spaghetti & meatballs, etc.) on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is leftovers.
  • Christmas Lights - On Christmas Eve we go driving around to look at all the Christmas decorations and lights, sometimes before going to church and sometimes after, it just depends on what time the church service is we are attending.
  • Christmas Day - The past three years I have made a sausage, egg and cheese casserole for breakfast. While it is cooking Gabrielle looks at all the stuff Santa brought her and we open gifts. We keep this day pretty relaxing. We're in no hurry to get out of pajamas and pretty much lay around most of the day and eat.
So this year will be very interesting since we will have a new crawler in the house! Gabrielle was only 3 months old her first Christmas and by her second was walking around and understood "no" and "don't touch" to some degree. But this will be a new experience having a little one who is all over and doesn't understand anything about staying away from such things. I guess once again the bottom half of our tree will remain undecorated!!

Today will be the big day of decorating the tree and the house. Gabrielle is ecstatic and has asked over and over the past few days about the tree and everything. I got the Little People nativity out yesterday. This was a family gift from my mom on Gabrielle's second Christmas. Gabrielle absolutely LOVES it and I'm sure Samantha will as well.

Here are some photos from last Christmas!

Dressed for Christmas Sunday!!

Making an ornament for our tree.

Posing for our Christmas card.

And some photos from 2007 (Gabrielle's first parade!)

This year will also be nice because last year Ed was working, working, working. Unfortunately he had to miss out on a lot of our traditions but all the hard work paid off and I am fairly certain he won't have to miss out on anything this year for Samantha's first Christmas.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was great. All the hard work yesterday paid off because today was not stressful at all. In fact, each time I found myself sitting on the couch I felt like I was forgetting something and would check my to do list. I just expected today to be a lot more chaotic than it was. Actually it wasn't chaotic at all!

I was happy with the way all the food turned out as well. Ed, who likes pretty much all my cooking but isn't one to compliment that often, said my gravy was "really, really good." Tonight he said everything was really good and that he had a good Thanksgiving. That certainly brought a smile to my face.

This was our menu:
  • turkey & gravy (of course!!)
  • mashed potatoes
  • potato filling
  • sweet potato casserole
  • green bean casserole
  • cranberry sauce
  • yeast rolls
We had veggies and dip and cheese and crackers to snack on before our mid-afternoon meal and for dessert we had sugar cookies, chocolate spritz cookies, pumpkin bread and pecan pie.

I actually didn't overeat today but I definitely went overboard with the punch. I felt so sick this afternoon and knew that was the reason why.

Ed's dad joined us today. He couldn't believe how much Samantha was getting around and Gabrielle was thrilled to see her Granddad. We were very happy to have him join us!

We all took nice naps this afternoon - in shifts because Gabrielle was too hyped up on sugar to even think about a nap! But she went right to sleep tonight so that was good.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone I'm really in the mood for Christmas! I will get some decorations down from the attic tomorrow while Ed is at work and then on Saturday we'll get the tree down and get that set up. Of course we won't be decorating the bottom half since we now have another little one getting into everything.

In my Kids Craft Weekly newsletter a couple of weeks ago was what I thought a really great idea for an Advent calendar. We have a fabric countdown sort of calendar I use every year in which we move the little snowman from pocket to pocket counting down the days until Christmas. But these ideas for advent calendars were much more meaningful. So this year I think we will do the paper chain idea in which various activities are written on the back side of each link. As we tear off a link each day we do that activity for the day. This will definitely require some planning so that we don't have a difficult or time consuming activity to do on an already very busy day. I have some ideas written down, some better than others, but I'm open to any suggestions any of you may have!

I think I always end my blog posts this way, probably because late night is one of the few chances I have to actually sit and write but I am tired and should get to bed.

And of course here are some pictures from the day. No pictures of food because none of it was really that visually interesting but it did taste awfully yummy!

I can't believe this is the only photo I took of Gabrielle but I guess it will have to do. I did get some cute video footage but that takes too long to upload. She has been drawing on her magnadoodle quite a bit lately.

I guess I did take one photo of food - sort of. This was the table after the meal. Everyone else had gotten up from the table and I was feeding Samantha. You can see the jar of baby food macaroni and cheese that she had for her Thanksgiving dinner.

I couldn't get her to hold the turkey leg for some reason. I also got some video footage of this moment and of course once my hands were full she decided to pick it up and try to put it in her mouth!


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Whew! What a day!!

I guess I am about as prepared for tomorrow as I can possibly be at this point. It has been a LONG, LONG day! I have been on my feet cooking and washing dishes from the moment I got out of bed at 8:00 this morning. I don't know how my mom did it all those years or how any of you women still do it year after year. But I guess if this is the first year starting our own traditions then I might as well get used to the idea! I know the work will never get easier but maybe I'll get better with my planning and get more realistic expectations of what I can actually accomplish! I would say once I don't have bottles and diapers and naps to deal with it will get easier but I know that isn't true. I'll just have new issues to deal with like settling disagreements between the girls.

A little side note about my cooking today - can you believe I realized half way through my dishes that I was not going to have enough eggs? And I realized I forgot to buy ginger ale for the punch. Talk about lack of planning! One would think after running out of vanilla yesterday I would have double checked to make sure there was not anything else I needed. Fortunately I didn't have to go out and make the trip myself. Ed was able to pick up the couple of things I needed on his way home from work.

I made the mistake of telling Gabrielle this morning she could help me make sugar cookies. The mistake was not letting her help but telling her she could help hours before I was ready! I had to hear her ask about helping with the cookies every 15 minutes. I divided the dough in half. I started rolling and cutting the first batch and was saving the second batch for Gabrielle. Once she saw me working with the first batch she stood on the other side of the dog gate to the kitchen asking every 3 seconds "Is it my turn yet?" About 2 minutes into cutting out the cookies she was more interested in taking "a little taste" than she was about the task at hand.

So it is midnight as I'm typing this and Samantha just went to bed for the second time tonight. She woke up a couple of hours after putting her to bed the first time at 8:00. Both Ed and I took a turn rocking her but she was very restless. She would close her eyes and act as if she were asleep but every so often she would kick or wave her arm. I attempted to let her "cry it out" but after 20 minutes of relentless crying I told Ed to get her out of the crib. I fixed a bottle for Ed to give her while I continued making the potato filling. Samantha finished the bottle but it did not lull her back to sleep as I had hoped.

This is Samantha playing in the living room floor when she should be sleeping!!

And this is Ed, "watching" Samantha as I am in the kitchen cooking. It was a long day for him at work!

Well it is late and I am tired. I have made my to do list of everything I need to get done tomorrow and the order in which to get it all done. Hopefully everything will go well!

I hope everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Preparations

It has been a busy week and it is only Tuesday night. This year I am excited - and nervous - to say we are having our first Thanksgiving at our house. We enjoy visiting and spending time with family but we decided with two kids now, one of which not even 7 months old, we would spend Thanksgiving at home this year. It is exciting to begin our own traditions with our girls but I'm getting a little nervous about preparing an entire Thanksgiving dinner on my own!

Today I was supposed to get all of the desserts done as well as some cleaning. Well the only thing I finished was the pecan pie. Hopefully tomorrow will go better or else at this rate we won't be having Thanksgiving dinner until Saturday! Although I have a lengthy to-do list for tomorrow most of the tasks are fairly simple and hopefully Ed will not be working late so I'll have some help tomorrow night watching the girls. I can't really blame my lack of productivity today on the girls though. I did not wake up motivated at all. I didn't sleep late but got a late start actually getting busy. Then while making the pecan pie I ran out of vanilla. Vanilla!! How in the world did I not pick up vanilla at one of my two shopping trips this week??? I mean, seriously, vanilla is in everything. So of course I had to go out again today to buy vanilla.

I was going to post last night and in that post was going to mention my prediction that by week's end Samantha would have her first tooth. But guess what - when I looked inside her mouth this morning I saw that her tooth officially broke through!! You can't see the tooth quite yet without taking a really close look but I can definitely feel it with my finger. So this photo will be one of the last of a toothless grin!!

From the looks of it the second tooth will be following very soon. Samantha also learned how to get on her hands and knees over the weekend. Yesterday she got on her knees a few times and rocked back and forth. I don't think I'm ready for a crawler yet but I'm not sure Samantha cares whether I'm ready or not. She is acting as if she is ready to go. I figure if she takes her time then she'll be crawling in a couple of weeks. I'm keeping the video camera charged and ready to go.

I may not have gotten much baking or cleaning done today but one thing I did get accomplished is a turkey craft with Gabrielle. Poor Gabrielle, I've been telling her for weeks now we would make a turkey but today I finally kept my word. My mom had printed some instructions to make a turkey using footprints and handprints. I think it turned out pretty cute. Gabrielle named him but now I can't remember what she said. Most of her names are gibberish. I'll try to remember to ask her tomorrow when she wakes up what she decided to name her turkey. Lately she wants to proudly display her artwork on the kitchen wall. At one time she didn't want me to hang her drawings and paintings on the fridge. I'm not sure if she likes the idea of hanging her work to be displayed or if she likes using the tape more. No matter her reason, I love seeing her artwork up everywhere!

So my new blog design is complete but now that I know how to change the background easily I may give it a new look for Christmas. I'm going to keep the format and the type as it is but just change my header and background images.

If Thursday isn't too terribly chaotic I'll try to think to take some photos of our meal and the day and let everyone know how the day turned out.

And if I don't post again before, have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Blog - Almost Complete

The new blog design is getting closer. I still need to tweak font types, colors, and sizes and a few other little things but at least I finally figured out how to get my background image to show up the right size. I read what seemed like a hundred tutorials before finding one that actually worked and was easy to understand. Please feel free to let me know what you think about the new design!

Today we have a busy day. I have the normal everyday activities of cleaning, taking care of the girls, etc. but this afternoon we have a birthday party to attend. Gabrielle's buddy Gus turned three last week. We are excited to celebrate his big day with him today and Samantha I'm sure is excited to see her friend Anna who is only a couple of months older. The last time we got together Samantha still just sat up and wasn't moving around a whole lot. Anna has been crawling for a while now but maybe Samantha will be able to somewhat keep up by rolling around.

I think Samantha finally has enough hair for some bows. Yay! What hair she has had has always been long enough for a bow but only now does she have enough for the bow to actually stay in. I think she is so cute with her little Pebbles hair-do!

** I wanted to add that the images I used for my new background and header are from a digiscrap kit called "Happy Go Lucky" from The Shabby Princess. If you are a scrapbooker definitely check out this site. There are quite a few free kits and also a shop with even more available for purchase.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Overhaul

I've been wanting to redesign the look of this blog for a while now - I guess pretty much from the very beginning. I like this template but I really wanted to put something up that I created myself. Well I am dedicating this week to doing just that. This is all still very new to me so I will warn you now I have no idea what the blog will look like during this process or if I accidentally completely remove posts or what else I may mess up. But hopefully any damage I do will be temporary and I'll have a new look up by next weekend.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm back!!

In my last post when I said I didn't know when I would be able to post again I had no idea it would be two weeks! It has been quite hectic around here. I can not imagine what it will be like as the holidays draw even closer.

A brief update on all that has been going on...

Samantha had her 6 month checkup. I still can't believe she is 6 months old already! What I knew to be true was confirmed - Samantha is a big, big girl!! She is 27-1/2 inches tall and 18 lbs. 13 ounces!! Can you believe she is almost 19 lbs!!! Since her visit was two weeks she is most likely 19 lbs. by now. Such a big girl!

Samantha has been working really hard to get on her knees as well. She travels quite well around the house with rolling and doing a sort of army crawl and pushing and pulling with her legs and arms on the furniture around her. She gets into everything - already. Once she is crawling I will definitely have to set the playpen up again to contain her when I can't keep my eye on her. She is going to be handful! She hasn't quite gotten completely on her knees but yesterday came the closest to it so far. I joke that her belly is to big to lift off the floor.

Gabrielle has been up to her usual. We're dealing with the "trying three's" at the moment. Eventually this phase will end and we'll have our sweet, good listener back - right????

This week I took the girls to have their portrait made. It was Samantha's 6 month portrait, Gabrielle's 3 year portrait and their first picture together. The session got off to a rough start but we came home with some very cute photos so I'm happy. Unfortunately I was not able to get a cd of the pictures or else I would definitely post them. If only I had a scanner!! (hint, hint Santa)

Life is still very busy so it may be a few days before I am able to post again but hopefully I won't be gone quite so long this time. Until then here are some photos of the girls recently...

Gabrielle and Samantha are able to really play together more and more. There have even been times when Gabrielle has asked if Samantha can play with her in her room.

Gabrielle playing in Ed's shoes. The girl LOVES shoes!

It's kind of difficult to tell from this picture but Samantha is actually holding herself up off the floor. Her right leg isn't quite turned out but she is getting closer.

She is getting more and more determined to get to things out of her reach. I don't think any of us are ready for a crawler yet though!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick-or-Treatin' Fun!

It was a very busy weekend and I have a very busy week ahead but I wanted to take a few minutes to post some Halloween pics especially since I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to post anything after this.

We went to Ed's hometown for the weekend to visit Ed's dad. On Saturday night we dressed the girls up and took them trick-or-treating in Ed's old neighborhood. I thought it was kind of cool for the girls to go to the same houses and some of the same people that Ed did as a child. Gabrielle loved it and kept saying "I want all the treats!" Samantha only made it to the third house. As we were standing on the porch talking to some family friends she passed out on my shoulder. Poor thing!! I wish we had the camera with us at that point because she looked absolutely pitiful!

All in all it was a fun and successful Halloween. We now have more candy than any toddler could ever eat and way too much temptation for this Momma!

This photo was taken at Walmart. Ed and his dad were printing some pictures and Walmart had this set up. The girl working the photo lab came over and offered to take Gabrielle's picture as well. They gave us a free 5x7 which actually is much better than this one that I took.

Samantha the panda and Gabrielle as Angelina Ballerina. I pinned a pink bow on Samantha's costume but very few people noticed it so she was called "little buddy", "little brother", and "he" all night. Oh well! Next year I'll make sure she is dressed a little more girly.

Gabrielle kept asking us what we were dressing up as. I decided we were going as exhausted, overtired, overworked parents. Ha ha ha! Maybe next year I'll try to be a little more creative with my costume but I highly doubt I can get Ed to dress up as anything other than himself. Notice in the picture at 6 months Samantha is already trying to get into her sister's stuff. Only a small hint of what's to come I'm sure!

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