Friday, December 26, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nipples and other body parts ...

The best part of Christmas holidays is hanging with Amanda and watching TV in front of the fire.

Amanda has been asking some really good questions lately. We're often fielding a barrage of questions. We also want to give her real answers and try not to defer a real answer later when she isn't as interested.

Today's question came when we were watching a commercial for hair removal. She asked why are the ladies legs on TV so skinny? And she hoped that the product was for kids. We had to explain that everyone's body parts are a little different and that everyone's legs are different. We also tried to explain that on TV they sometimes pick people who tend to look the same and that they look different than people in real life.

She thought for a moment and then seemed to absorb what we had told her. A commercial for orange juice came on with an older gentleman spouting the benefits of freshly squeezed orange juice. Amanda asked if he was a real person. I said that I'm pretty sure that he is real because he had his pants pulled up to his nipples. Amanda then asked what are nipples.

We thought that she knew what they were and asked her "What do mommies use nipples for?"

She answered "to breathe!"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Day 8: Make Hand Wreaths

Day 8: Make Hand Wreaths

(Totally adorable Nativity Set by Little People - we also have the Little Drummer Boy and Little Shepherds sets.)

This is one of favourite crafts, and we've been doing it for the past three years. I'm proud to say I thought this one up on my own! Not that it's terribly original, and I've since seen it elsewhere, but the idea came off the top of my head. I love that this is quick, easy, very inexpensive, and uses supplies that even the craft-challenged such as myself are sure to have on hand. We also store the wreaths in the kids Christmas box* each year, so it's fun to compare how their hands grow from year to year.

All we do is trace hands onto red and green construction paper (this year I used a total of 10 hands for Amanda and 12 for Sam):
Day 8: Tracing Hand

Sam was more interested in crumpling the paper than having his hand traced...I managed to get one tracing then used it as a template for the rest:
Day 8: Playing with Paper

Then lay them out in a circle shape (it's important to do this before you start gluing to get the right shape), add a bit of glue, and - ta-da!
Day 8: The Finished Products!

I also write their name and the year on the wreath with a Sharpie, but hadn't yet done this when the photo was taken. There you have it - lovely wreaths with which to decorate their bedroom doors!

* We have a big Christmas box that we use to store all the kids' Christmas stuff each year - Little People sets, decorations, books, hair elastics, etc. That way all those things seem new again when we pull out the box each year. Is this how other families do this? I've always been curious...

Day 7: Preschool Christmas Party

Day 7: Preschool Christmas Party

Yes, as you can see the plan was also to attend the Rogers Santa Claus Parade downtown. However, the night before, we realized that last year's parade didn't wrap up until almost 4 pm, and we needed to be back in Coquitlam for Amanda's preschool party by 4:30 pm. So reluctantly we decided to skip the parade this year. Hopefully we can make it next year, as we have enjoyed it in the past! It felt weird not to go this year.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon was the Christmas party for Amanda's preschool. In school they have been talking a lot about construction, so the teachers came up with the idea of having them "construct" gingerbread houses as a Christmas project. Although it would have been easy to just provide the kids with templates, each group was given the option to design the type of house they wanted to build, as well as any special design elements. The students visited a local high school and worked with Foods students to roll, cut, and bake the gingerbread pieces. Then at the party, they constructed and built the houses. Finally, on Monday morning they visited a local seniors centre to present the houses and enjoy a carol sing-along. I thought the whole thing was brilliant - the emphasis was not only on building the houses, but building relationships in the community.

Of course, our team of kids decided that an ordinary house was not for them - they wanted a chalet. (In the car on the way home from school the day they planned their houses, Amanda announced they'd decided on an "A-frame house". That kid knows more about houses than I do!). They also specified that it was to have an awning and paving stones. Hmm...OK. So we parents planned accordingly and waited to see what the kids would do with the decorations we provided.

The built house:
Day 7: Chalet House

The crazily-decorated roof:
Day 7: Crazy Roof

The completed house...check out the Pop-Tart and lollipop awning:
Day 7: Working on the Walkway

Sam was not terribly impressed:
Day 7: Sam Unimpressed, As Usual

Amanda posing:
Day 7: Tree Pose

We were totally impressed with the kids' decorating job (OK, the dads were mostly responsible for that awning). But the chalet-style house posed some huge challenges - the roof wasn't well-supported by the house walls, so it was a constant battle between armed-with-icing parents and the determined-to-slide-off roof. We thought we had won the battle, but the house had the last laugh, as it collapsed in the car on the way home. :( The kids were a bit sad, but not much so...after all, the fun was in the planning and building!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Day 6: Buy Our Christmas Tree

Day 6: Buy Christmas Tree

On Saturday we headed out to Art Knapps to pick up a Christmas tree! As I've said before, we are definitely a "real tree" family even though they can be a huge pain in the you-know-what. We used to buy our tree from a grocery store, but the past few years we've been spending a few extra bucks to buy them from Art Knapps and they have been very nice trees.

Checking out the trees:
Day 6: Rows of Trees

Amanda posing with the winner!
Day 6: This Is The One!

Sam looking unimpressed, as always:
Day 6: Still Not Impressed

I have to say that this year's tree may be our best yet! I think it's definitely the fact, there's a branch that touches the ceiling, but it's just a weird bare branch that we need to cut off. (Yesterday Amanda told me that we needed to cut "that freaky branch off the tree" so we could put the angel on). Unfortunately, after 3 days it is still sitting in our living room completely naked. Maybe we will just go for the natural look this year! Kidding...hopefully we can get it decorated in the next couple of days. The biggest stumbling block is the lights, which I need to do but have been completely unmotivated to get started on.

Day 5: Watch a Christmas Movie with Grandma & Grandpa

Day 5: Christmas Movie with Grandma and Grandpa

Jeff had his work Christmas party on Friday evening. Even though we weren't sure how Sam would do if we left him for the whole evening, we figured it was worth a would sure be nice to get out occasionally, just the two of us! So we planned an activity for Amanda that she could do with Grandma & Grandpa when they came to babysit.

When we opened up the envelope in the morning, she chose to watch The Grinch. However, it was reported that they ended up watching a few others as well, including Charlie Brown Christmas. She had a great time watching with her grandparents, and being spoiled by them as well! They brought dinner over for her with all her favourites - mac & cheese, tomatoes, bread, strawberry milk, and ice cream for dessert - and generally treated her like a princess.

As for Sam...well, he took a bit of milk from the bottle with much coaxing. But it wasn't exactly a roaring success; he still spent much of the night crying. I guess we will keep trying...if he doesn't take a bottle eventually, we will probably just try a sippy cup after Christmas. Maybe Santa will bring one for him in his stocking...

Day 4: Shadbolt Centre to See Bobs & Lolo

Day 4: Christmas Event with Bobs & Lolo

Several weeks back, my Mom had told me about a Christmas event at the Shadbolt Centre at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby. I took a note and thought we might try to attend, but then I found out that one of Amanda's very favourite singing groups, Bobs & Lolo, were going to be performing! So of course we had to check it out.

I was quite impressed with the event - there were tons of activities and it seemed very well organized. It was pretty crowded though, and since it was just me and the kids (Jeff had choir practice to attend), it was a bit of a challenge maneuvering the stroller through all the people. It was especially fun once Sam woke up from his nap, took a look around at the totally unfamiliar place, and started screaming. Good times! I was able to take him out of the stroller and carry him on my hip with my carrier, and he was pretty good after that.

There was face painting:
Face Painting...
No offense to anyone, but this was probably the saddest face paint Amanda has ever had. This was supposed to be a princess, in case you can't guess. I suppose that's what she gets for asking for something so complicated!

Amanda with the winter fairy:
Winter Fairy
She's looking just a hair short of terrified in this photo! :)

Bobs & Lolo performing:
Bobs & Lolo!

Amanda wanted to draw a picture at the art station. The easels were set up with pastels, which she's never used before - they are sure messy! Here is the picture she drew of Bobs & Lolo (click through to see the photo on Flickr, with notes describing all the parts of the picture):
Amanda's Bobs & Lolo Picture

Day 3: Eat Breakfast for Dinner

You will have to take my word for this one because I can't figure out what I did with the envelope so there's no picture.

We've been doing breakfast for dinner as one of our activities since Year 1, and it's always a fun break in the middle of the week. Usually we cook waffles at home, but Jeff was in the mood for dinner out so we headed over to IHOP. For those of you who are interested in a run-down of our breakfast/dinner selections (i.e., none of you), here goes: Amanda had a create-a-face pancake, I had a chicken fajita omelette (with pumpkin pancakes on the side...a weird combo, but they're so yummy!), and Jeff had steak and eggs. We were all thoroughly stuffed.

Which again, you'll have to take my word for, because although we took our point-and-shoot camera to the restaurant with us, we realized once we got there that the batteries were dead. Argh!

Day 2: Record Answering Machine Message

Day 2: Record Answering Machine Message

And, here's where I admit...that we still haven't done this. We forgot in our planning that Jeff would be out at a meeting that night, and I really need him to help since he's the tech guy (and we will likely do the recording on his new Mac, which was with him at the time!). We keep meaning to get to it, but it hasn't happened yet.

Last year, Amanda sang Away in a Manger on the machine. It was really long, and a few people seemed annoyed by it, but we also got tons of really great messages about it. In fact, one guy called and left a message saying that he'd called our house by mistake (wrong number), but that he had to redial to listen again because the message was so cute! I managed to find the audio file of last year's message but can't figure out how to post it! Better yet, I will try to post this year's once we finally get it done.

Off to hang my head in shame...

Day 1: Make Paper Snowflakes

Day 1: Make Paper Snowflakes

I wanted to stick with something easy for Day 1, so we made paper snowflakes. This was my first time trying this with Amanda, and it was probably a bit too hard...maybe it would be better in another year or two. I hadn't thought ahead to realize that she wouldn't be able to cut through the folded paper safely, so I ended up doing all the cutting. She drew patterns on each snowflake for me to cut, but she had a bit of trouble keeping them on the fold, so I had to improvise a lot.

A finished snowflake:
Day 1: Ooo, a Snowflake!

(And yes, Jeff was sleeping on the couch behind her. He is sick, so he was allowed.)

The December Crazies

I have been very neglectful of this blog seems that December has gotten away from me somehow! I'm going to try to get some posts up tonight and maybe tomorrow as well with details of our "24 Days of Christmas" activities.

I must admit that somehow I'm not really feeling the Christmas spirit yet, despite being more organized for Christmas than ever before. For the first time ever, I was pretty much done shopping for the kids before the end of November (just a few more small things to pick up). We have really scaled back our gift-giving to others this Christmas since it seems like over the past several years it's gotten more and more crazy each year. Awhile back when I was talking to Amanda about Christmas, she asked right off the bat "I wonder what gifts I'll get this year?", which was a sure sign that it's time to cut back! It doesn't matter how much we talk about how Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday and spending time with our family and friends, unless we put less emphasis on the presents she's never going to get it. Not to mention that it gets more stressful each year coming up with gift ideas, not to mention the money to pay for them! I'm looking forward to having a simpler holiday this year.

All that being said, we are way behind on getting the house ready for Christmas. Despite the fact that the kitchen is in total disarray, the weather has been terrible the last few weekends so we haven't got any outside decorations up. We are slowly getting the inside decorations out, but it's hard to get much done during the day with a baby who doesn't want to be put down! Hopefully by the end of this week we'll be feeling more ready for the holidays to come.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Misc Stuff...

Once again we are doing our "24 days of Christmas" tradition, but I have to get organized and write some blog posts about it (maybe tomorrow??). In the meantime, you can check out what we did two years ago here.

In other news, I've been searching for a way to add a list of my read and currently-being-read books to this blog for awhile. I've been updating my list through Facebook, but decided to switch to GoodReads because it gives me the ability to add a widget to the blog. You can find it on the sidebar at the right, a few items down.

Sam at 4 Months

4 Months

Not the greatest birthday portrait, but seeing as how it was already 2 days late, I didn't want to wait any longer! I didn't weigh Sam for his birthday, but I did it about 10 days before he turned 4 months and he was 13 lbs, 10 oz and 24" long. Much smaller than Amanda at this age (she was 16 lbs, 1 oz and 26" long at 4 months). Not that I'm complaining!

A snapshot of Sam at 4 months:

His pleasantness during the daytime is much improved, but he still has his moments. ~ He has learned to blow bubbles and loves to show off his new skill at every opportunity!
Showing Off Bubble Skillz
Consequently, he is drooling like a madman. I am now having to put bibs on him during the day - I NEVER had to do that for Amanda! ~ The tradeoff for daytime happiness seems to be less nighttime sleep - he is only sleeping a 4-6 hour stretch now, but I'm really hoping it will improve soon to his previous 8-10 hours! ~ It's hard to be sure, but I really think there might be some tooth action happening on his bottom gums. He is very intent on chewing on his fingers constantly.
He is a pretty serious baby and doesn't smile a ton, but when he does smile, they're big and beautiful!
Big Laugh!
He is refusing the bottle, but we are trying valiantly. Tonight I had some limited success with the Adiri Nurser. ~ He absolutely adores his big sister. ~ He resists naps wholeheartedly, but if I catch him at the right time, I can usually convince him to nap now - except they generally only last 20-30 minutes. ~ He is really strong in the neck and shoulders, but hates being put on his tummy. ~ He has a really bad temper! If he is mad about something, he turns purple and shakes with rage. It shouldn't be funny, but it kind of is! ~ He loves his Sophie the Giraffe and Little Green Dude, who travel with him all the time in his car seat. ~ He is getting pretty good at reaching for things with purpose - today he even managed to get his soother back in at one point! ~ He has made our family feel complete, and we are pretty crazy about him!