Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas catch-up!

Trying to sum up our Christmas events in a short little blog entry seems impossible! We had so much fun everywhere we went. It started in West Bend on the Friday before Christmas. We arrived around 4pm. Austin and Ellie both got Santa presents right away which was a big hit, especially with Austin. All of Rob’s brothers and sisters were able to make it home so that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Lynne had to stay back with Isaac because both were feeling under the weather and Lynne actually had Strep. So, we’ll have to catch up with them another time but appreciated her thoughtfulness in not passing on anything contagious! We did get to meet our new niece, Claire, who is every bit as cute as we thought she would be….perhaps more. Here’s the family picture (minus Lynne and Isaac).

We drove home Sunday and got caught up in a bit of a snow storm/blizzard. That wasn’t too great but Rob handled it smoothly while I took a nap in the back (I just wanted to distribute the weight in the vehicle for maximum control). For the record, I did do the driving on the way there. I usually offer to drive about 2 or 3 times a year just to keep Rob guessing. I don’t remember much of the time between Sunday night and Tuesday but I’m sure it involved eating leftovers from our trip and Christmas movies. Monday night we put out cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolph which left Austin bawling on the way to bed because Santa was going to eat HIS cookies. But, Santa was back in Austin’s good graces on Tuesday morning when he saw all the presents. Christmas is a whole new adventure now that Austin understands how it works. Even yesterday he said “Open presents Mommy!” Like he is going to wake up any ol’ day of the week and have a million presents to open.

Tuesday afternoon we headed to my parents house. Craziness ensued. Austin lives to play with his cousins Jake and Maddie. He even had some fun with Katelyn towards the end. I’m sure Ashley and Ellie will join in the fun next year. Ashley might be the most calm baby I have ever met. She is just content no matter where she is. That is a foreign idea in our house. Here is the Smith family picture:

We all managed to gorge ourselves with even more food and we rolled home around 7pm. Just in time for the kids to go to bed and Rob and I to collapse. For some reason this year Christmas has just worn us out! We have already decided that we are looking forward to our kids being a bit older and more self-sufficient and then we can enjoy the holidays more ourselves, maybe take a few naps, and not think about when the last time Austin went to the bathroom was. We hope you all had a great holiday and have a safe New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Frosty chooses Case IH

For whatever reason, one of the things I've enjoyed most about staying home is watching Austin play. He is a busy little boy, that's for sure, and I definitely get tired of the constant dialogue he insists we have between Lightning McQueen, Luigi and Guido (we don't actually have any of these cars, but he improvises with other matchbox cars). But, he also has a great imagination and I love to watch it come out when we're playing. We don't watch much TV during the day. It was kind of a rule to myself when I took this new job that I wouldn't rely on the TV to entertain us. So, there is no TV between 8 and 5. He gets to watch a cartoon while he wakes up a bit more on the couch, but then it gets turned off. There are definitely days when I break my own rule for sanity's sake, but for the most part it stays off. Last night we had a TV treat: Frosty the Snowman came on at 7pm. We were admiring the Christmas tree and discussing Santa's plan of attack when he reaches our house and Austin heard the Frosty the Snowman song in the other room. His face lit up and we raced in that room to watch it. Now, we own this on DVD and have already watched it several times, but for some reason, it's always a bit more exciting when it is actually on TV. So, we started watching it. I'm not sure if you're as familiar with the movie as this household is, but Austin will reenact parts for you in pictures:
First, there was a magician who had a magic hat:

The magician was suppose to pull a rabbit out of his hat but the rabbit wouldn't cooperate so the magician tried to stuff him in the hat:
(that's his dinosaur Sarah being stuffed in the hat like a rabbit)

When he gave up on the hat being magic he tossed it aside. The kids picked it up and put it on their snowman, Frosty. He immediately came to life:
(Austin is clapping and singing here)

But, when he took the hat off, he went back to being just a regular snowman:

(regular snowmen have closed eyes)

That's the best I could do snapping pictures of Austin and his imagination without getting in the way too much. The night also involved "Frosty" dancing through town, riding on a train, and melting. My favorite part of it all is he did this all on his own. Including going upstairs to find the perfect hat for the job.

Stay tuned for Austin's next performance. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brace yourself. This is a long one.

There are only 7 shopping days left until Christmas....are you ready? We just have a few last minute items to purchase and we'll be done. And by "we" I mean "me". The kids and I have done all the holiday shopping during the day. A lot of times that has involved great distractions on my part so Austin doesn't see me put anything under the cart that might be from Santa. I imagine this is the last year it will be so easy.

We got into the holiday spirit even more this weekend. We've been in the spirit since early November but added to it this weekend with a Cargill holiday dinner, a dinner and movie night with some friends, and a visit to Santa.
I don't have much to say about the dinner on Friday other than it was delicious, with great company, and didn't involve the kids so it was a success in my book! Saturday night we invited a few friends over for pizza and Christmas movies. Carrie suggested she make the pizzas from scratch because she recently took some cooking classes and has developed "Mad cooking skills" (that's a direct quote). We took her up on it, and she definitely has some skills.

That's Carrie at the stove. Here's the rest of the group for good measure:

I think Austin was a bit smitten with Catrin (gray sweater and scarf above) because he wasted no time showing off in front of her by hopping on one foot and saying "Ouch ouch ouch!" I think he wanted a little kiss to make it better. Mike has greatly improved on his baby holding skills. We have a picture of him holding Austin that isn't quite so tear free (for them both).

Sunday we went to Nordstrom's at the Mall of America to visit with Santa. He is hands down the best Santa in town. There's a few reasons for that: 1) He wears the real santa suit instead of the overalls and flannel shirt (and of course has the real beard) 2) He is SO nice to the kids and really takes the time to make them comfortable and talk 3) He's free! You take your own pictures. My neighbor recently told me about her trip to a mall where they got in line for Santa and were handed an appointment card to come back at 2pm. 4 hours later! Austin did great! Santa showed up about 15 minutes early and took us all by surprise. Austin walked right up to him. He had a lot of business to cover.
Ellie didn't have any smiles for the camera. This didn't have so much to do with Santa as it did her bottle. She was getting ready to eat when Santa showed up early. So, the bottle was taken away for the picture.
We don't know what Austin talked to Santa was a private conversation. But if you ask him now, he says he asked for a candy cane. Santa delivered early. We got him back in the stroller, unwrapped the candy cane and he had the hook part gone before we could make the 50 foot walk to the mall. He started eating it like a piece of corn on the cob. He had the whole thing devoured in a matter of minutes. Seconds maybe.
Santa has already made a life long friend in Austin. I'm sure the holidays are going to be here just as fast as Austin can polish off a candy cane.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Teeth Coming, Naps Going

All Ellie wanted for Christmas was her two front teeth. Santa delivered them a little early this year. Actually, she's had them for a few weeks now, but this is the first time I've been able to get a photo of them. I know...what a wonderful picture it is. She is so busy chewing on her little gums that I've had a hard time getting my finger in there to take a peek. I was holding the camera with one hand, pulling down her lip with the other, and that left zero hands to protect the camera from my curious little girl. Out of the 10 or so pictures I took, this is the best I have. She has been in good spirits though despite the teeth.

Austin is doing well too. Although, I'm afraid that my threat of Santa Claus watching him has already worn off. It was nice while it lasted. As I write this, he is upstairs "napping". I'm done putting him back in bed and have just resolved to close the door and let him play by himself. The last time I went in there I said, "Austin, what are you doing?" and he said "I'm dancing." complete with a look on his face that said "Duh, mom!" This shouldn't have surprised me given the noise level that is coming from his room. But, until he figures out how to work a doorknob, I still get an hour or two to myself. And you still get an updated blog.

Monday, December 3, 2007

First Video Attempt

The weekend after Thanksgiving Rob took the kids to West Bend to visit his family. I stayed back in a kid free zone. I was sad as they pulled out of the driveway without me but I think by the time I got back in the house I realized the potential the weekend had. I accomplished a lot and Christmas decorations was on the list. I tried to hang the kid-friendly ornaments at Austin's eye level. Here is what we do 8-10 times a day.

He is also learning Christmas songs. His favorites are (including my best translation of what he is singing on the video):

Santa Clause is coming to town:

"Better watch out. Better watch out. Santa Clause is coming to town...mommy" (apparently he is warning me)

Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer:

"Rudolph Reindeer had shiny a rose"

Many people will argue it's "like a light bulb" but I learned like a rose in kindergarten and that rhymes better so that is what Austin will learn too (sorry Rob).

Mr. Grinch:

"Mean one! Mr. Grinch"

And he ends the video when I say "Can you say bye?" and he says "Say Bye!" Smart alec!