Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Day of Thanks...

This was Ben's first Thanksgiving, and both sets of Grandparents did not disappoint. (Of course he pretty much only tried the potatoes.) We had an earlier dinner at my parents house, and an evening dinner at the Rayhorns. Delicious!!! I LOVE Thanksgiving day food. I prepared the cranberry salad and sweet potato casserole this year, two dishes my mom always makes and I've been meaning to try. Anna was very much into helping everyone prepare the food. She is a budding chef. The picture below is of Anna with the daughters of some family friends who were able to join us for the feast. The second picture of Benjamin is just typical...although it's a little hard to recognize. Ben just gets so intense, angry, vocal, demanding, etc. when it comes to food. He is yelling, furrowing his brow, trying to come up with a way to get more food in his mouth...just because Ethan isn't moving it quite fast enough. There's no reasoning with Ben either. :-) (He is so easy going about EVERYTHING else in his little life, it's just hilarious how seriously he takes his food.)

So, I have really been thinking about how blessed I am. There is just so much I have to be thankful for, from the "biggies" like Ethan, Anna, Benjamin, family, health, friends, education, the country I live in, my faith and more. I have also been thinking about less significant things I am thankful for like my warm, comfy, king size bed that I LOVE getting into (we bought it 3 1/2 years ago and I am still loving it), good books, favorite articles of clothing (you know who you are), our vehicles, my go to snacky foods, a new gym membership, family pictures, the Internet, and more. I am sincerely full of thanks. I live in a time and place with so much abundance, and blessings, and comforts in life that I am very grateful for. Life is beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The First Snowfall of Winter.....

The first snowfall of winter is gently floating down,
It doesn't seem to settle, only hover over town.

And in the quiet stillness, unbroken silent sound,
A snowflake wanders slowly to it's
Place upon the ground.
(Part of a song I sang in the Logansport Children's Choir 16 years ago. I loved this song.)

We had our first snowfall today, and it was exactly like the description in this song. Light, fluffy, lazy flakes. Magical. We noticed them when we went outside to go to church this morning. Anna was not amused by it one bit, oddly enough. How exciting for the first snowfall of the year, right?

Anna: "Get these bugs off of me." Me: "Bugs?" Anna: "Snow bugs." Me: "It's just snow sweetie. You know what snow is." Anna: "It's not real snow, it's just pretend snow. Snow bugs." Then, Anna vigorously wipes off all the snowflakes that she sees on herself. Hmmm, crazy girl.

This evening I had a bit more understanding into her reasoning, when the snow started to stick to some trees and cars. We were looking out her bedroom window at the falling snow and Anna said, "Now it's real snow, mom." Apparently it's only real snow if it sticks to the ground. The stuff flying through the air...snow bugs. Of course.

Guess what Anna is doing/pretending in this picture? The not so short answer: Ethan and I took the kids to the mall Saturday because it was cold and rainy. The mall has a fun play area for kids, cool things to look at, and escalators. What more could you ask for? Anna had a blast, and I found a cute new pair of shoes on clearance. Yay! As an added bonus, I guess, Santa was there. It seems a bit early in my opinion, but it worked out well for us. It was the middle of the day, and the middle of November, so there were no lines. Anna went and had a little chat with Santa, not on his knee, but she did give him a hug. She received a book from Santa that was all about a little girl (Anna) who goes to the North Pole to help Santa make toys and deliver presents to all the kids. So, the picture is of Anna acting out that story. I was Santa, until Daddy got home from studying, and Ben-Ben was the reindeer. We'd "make" toys, put them in the bag, climb in the "sled", fly around the world, and deliver presents down all the chimneys. Good times. Eventually I had to cut her off from this game.

The picture of Benjamin is not significant. Unless you count the fact that he is growing up way too fast, and looks more like a little boy than a little baby, as significant. (I do.)

Here are a couple sweet pictures of Anna and Ben with their Daddy. We really miss him. He has a pretty busy schedule this semester, which is what we can expect for the next three years. He leaves around 8 or 9 am most mornings and doesn't get home until just after 6pm. Except Fridays when he gets home at 4pm, which is very, very exciting! I know this doesn't sound extreme to most people, but we were used to much different circumstances until now. His undergraduate schedule wasn't as intense. There was a lot less studying to do, and we lived close enough to campus for Ethan to come home on his various breaks throughout the day. And the latest he was gone was until 5pm. Now he uses his breaks during the day for studying or a workout. So, he comes home at 6-ish, has dinner with us, plays with the kids, and then Anna and Ben go to bed at 7:30, sometimes 8pm. It's goes by very quickly too, the family time. After the kids are in bed, we hang out for a bit, and then he studies for a few more hours.
Fridays we have a date night. Yipee!!! We don't get a babysitter, but Eth doesn't study (since that would be a pretty lame date) and we rent a movie or just hang out. We make up for the week days with the weekends. Lots of family time. Ethan does study for a few hours Saturday afternoon, and then a few more hours Saturday evening once the kids are in bed, but mostly we just try to find fun things to do together. And of course Sunday is a family day...once we get home from church. So in case any of you were wondering the exact details of our not so exciting schedule, there you have it.
This schedule has had some positive influences: It's forced me to become more domestic. :) I do all the cooking and almost all the cleaning now (I know, it's crazy), not to mention taking care of Anna and Ben all day. It has also helped us to focus more on making family time more meaningful. We definitely cherish it more. Anna and Ben get so excited when Ethan gets home from school. They LOVE their Daddy. It's so sweet to watch them. I love my little family and I'm so proud of Ethan for all the hard work he's doing!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Sneak Peek...

I was taking pictures of the kiddies to put in our Christmas cards this year. I didn't post the picture we'll actually be sending out. So don't worry - I didn't ruin the surprise and anticipation for you. :) Although, I was tempted to send the black and white one of the two of them making a kind of scowling, menacing face. Not very Christamsy though. That was totally unprompted, unless they just didn't want their pictures taken, and random that they were both making the same face. Ben was pretty photogenic for this, and Anna was a little less cooperative. Oh well, you can't win them all. I probably should have tried another time, but that's kind of hard for me. Let me explain. Once I decide something needs to be done, I have a strong need to finish it or I feel really....hmmm, what's a good word to describe it...uncomfortable. Just a little glimpse into my personality. The good and the bad. For the record, this particular habit I would count as good and bad. It depends on the situation. However, just because I really love the feeling of getting things accomplished on my 'to do' list and feel 'uncomfortable' when something is half finished, doesn't mean I never procrastinate. I'm human. Wow. I already get the feeling that when I re-read this entry, I will realize that I am not meant to blog after midnight. Hehe. A bit too rambling, sorry! Anyway, enjoy the pictures of my sweeties.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Time For Change....

Just a heads up: This entry is about Anna becoming potty trained. If you want to look at the few pictures I posted and know that is what it's all about, great. If, however, you'd much prefer to read the incredibly long description of the ENTIRE process, then by all means, read on my friend........................................................

As most of you know, Anna is just over 3 years old now. Her tastes are maturing - see tea party above- and she is becoming more and more sophisticated and grown-up every day. :-) For example, one of her favorite words right now is 'certainly'. Doesn't that just sound like a little woman, and not a 3 year old? So, it is very surprising that Anna has had little interest in learning to go potty like a 'little woman'. Sure, she would humor us and use the potty occasionally, but when I would delve deeper with her in conversation, she would say something along these lines: "I just want to wear diapers, mom. I don't want to be bigger. You can just change me. No thanks." And if she somehow caught on to my disappointed vibe she'd reassure me, "It's okay sweetie."

I guess that I should take a second to clarify here. I, we, have not spent much time AT ALL trying to get Anna to potty train. (We've talked about it a bit, we've asked her to sit on the potty a few times and she's obliged, and she happened to go a couple of those times.) Since Anna turned two I have used all the excuses I could think of to put it off, mainly legitimate ones: I'm student teaching. I'm in my third trimester. I just had a baby. We're selling our house. We're moving. We're going on a few trips over the next month. Etc. I guess in the back of my mind, my main goal was to have her potty trained before Sunbeams (the church Sunday school class she'll be starting in January). So there was always more time, but that's less than two months away now.

This past Monday we took the plunge. I mean, we went cold turkey. (No pull-ups. Just strait to panties.) I had a talk with her Monday morning explaining that she wouldn't be wearing diapers anymore, and that she would be going 'pee-pees' and 'poo-poos' on the potty. She was devastated. She cried. She said she didn't want to. She cried more. BUT, after some comforting, some explaining, some hugging, some reassuring (about 10 minutes worth)...she was okay. And here are the results...

JUST LOOK AT THAT! Smiling. Going potty. Waving at me. Oh, my little sweetie is growing up! The first day we had 4 successes and 3 accidents. The second day we only had two accidents and her first 'poo-poos' in the potty. Third day: one accident. Today: a half accident. What is a half accident you may ask? A little bit escaped before she made it to the restroom. I also just want to clarify that from the first day we explained/emphasized the idea that SHE recognize when she needs to go potty. Since, you know, she is 3 years old. So we didn't make her sit on the potty or "try" unless she felt like she needed to.
Wow, potty trained in three days...practically. :-) (We do have her wear a pull-up at night, and on the third morning she woke up dry and said she needed to go potty right away. Yay Anna!) I guess I was just totally setting myself up for the worse possible experience. This was great. Yeah, a bit draining. I mean, she "tries" about two or three times as often as she actually goes...and she usually, but not always, wants me there. I am constantly asking her if she needs to go, although it's gotten less and less as I'm learning to trust her judgement. She's proving herself. Oh, and one final piece of info: I totally expected us to just hunker down this week and not really go anywhere while we figure out the potty thing. Not so. We've been somewhere the mall, voting (Whoo Hoo for Obama!!!!!!!), to the park, and to the Children's museum. We just take a spare potty seat with us and she's fine.

Of course I had to make using the potty as fun as possible since she was so sad about it. We say "Wheee" when it goes down...because the pees and poos are going to a party of course. :-) She has her own special hand soap and a potty toy. We do a potty dance to the tune of the cha-cha: "Pee-pees in the potty. Potty, potty potty. Shake your little bummy. Pee-pees in the potty." And repeat one more time. Finally, she gets to put a sticker (2 stickers for poos) on her potty chart - see above - and she got a present after it was full. Anna put her last sticker on this morning and was very excited about her first present, "pretend food." She's already 7 stickers on her way to another present...just from today. Needless to say, the next present will not be so exciting, as I'm sure all of these incentives will be fading pretty soon.

So, was this unbelievably long post necessary just to inform everyone that Anna is now potty trained? I think so. I was expecting the most stressful, messy, frustrating, inconvenient thing ever, and it has been the total opposite. I just wanted to write about it in full detail so I can look back and remember this amazing occurrence with my first born. Way to go Anna!!!

One final note: When Anna informs us she needs to go she refers to it as "My bum is full," or "My bum is empty." (She uses this meaning for pees and poo.) We just go with it, although I've tried to explain some anatomical differences.