Saturday, December 18, 2010

1000 Words

Thanks to a great holiday deal at Whipper Snappers Photography, we finally got our act together and snagged some family photos. Since only one could make the Christmas card, here are a few of the others:


Now that Josh is past the 1 year mark, I don't feel so compelled to post monthly updates, but man! This kid has changed a lot since his birthday. Josh took his first tentative steps just 6 weeks ago, spent a month doing the "Frankenstein" (arms straight out) walk, but he's just... walking... everywhere... quickly. Josh is also climbing EVERYTHING - stairs, stools, boxes, you name it. The stools we have around the house to help Owen reach things are a favorite - Josh gets up with lightening speed, but the bruises on his head are a good indication that getting down still needs some work. Ouch.

At nearly 14 months, we suddenly realized Josh has reached the point where he understands WAY more than we give him credit for. Up until now, it's allowed him to be sneaky and innocent, but lately, he's been slipping up and revealing how much he understands:

- When we say, "time for bed" and he heads for the stairs on his own...

- Yesterday, he was walking around with a "torch" style flashlight from Owen's tool kit. He was holding it up by his face and basically yelling "ahhh, ahhh, ahhh!" as he walked around the house. I thought it was kind of strange until I realized that he was imitating the siren sounds that our toy megaphone makes!

- He's been using boxes and toy bins as stools. He may only be 26 inches all, but I found him on the couch this afternoon. I think Owen was at least 18 months old before he could climb on our couch. This one is much more crafty!

- Last night, he grabbed one of our "real" forks and successfully fed himself rice. This morning, he used a kid fork to feed eggs and potatoes (even dipping potatoes in ketchup).

- He climbs Owen's bathroom stool, grabs a toothbrush, and knows it goes in his mouth.

The gig's over Josh - we're on to you! No more innocent baby - you really are a toddler now.

Josh is still a total tornado. His attention span is about 40 seconds, and we can't get him to sit still to read a book for anything. Just shows how kids are different. Owen always LOVED reading books - it was our "go to" activity when the activity level just got to crazy, but Josh spends our pre-nap reading time tearing apart the room. He's just not a snuggler. I still nurse him before bed, but when he's done, he's reaching for the crib.

And, the best news for last: Josh is sleeping through the night. Something just clicked the night of December 6, and he slept all night for the first time... and has slept 11+ hours a night every night since. Crazy. Yes, about every 4 or 5 nights, he needs help finding his binky around 5 am, but that is a welcome change from having to nurse him twice a night! (and as a funny side note, I'm now waking up with sore shoulders from sleeping soooo soundly for so many hours at a time. Good problem!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Preschool Advent

I wanted to blog about the daily advent activity we've been doing for the month of December. In looking for advent activities that would be appropriate for the preschool age, I was actually kind of frustrated by what I found online - most of it was songs, games, coloring pages or elaborate craft ideas that would need a lot of prep (not gonna happen around here!) and aren't really focused on Jesus or the Christmas Story.

Thankfully, my friend Phyllis always has wonderful advent activities planned for her three kids and she always puts them on her blog. I remember reading about this idea on her blog several years ago and was so excited to start the tradition with my own kids. I don't know if we'll do this every year (but Phyllis has other ideas too!), but I'm really enjoying having a daily count down that reminds us of the reason for the season. At first, I was worried that having a daily activity for the whole month of December would be overwhelming, but it only takes about 5-10 minutes each day and has really just become "what we do" after dinner.

The Concept: I made this easy advent calendar with the 1-25 numbers. On the back of each card is the name of a small gift and then a bible reading that corresponds to the gift. For example: The second day the gift is "grape candy" and the card says, "Grape Candy--Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10" Of course, the reading is about Jesus turning the water into wine. Most of the "gifts" are things you can find around the house - a quarter, soap, goldfish crackers, etc.

The set-up: this year, we just did cards hung on ribbon with a gift bag underneath, but I found all sorts of other creative crafty ways to make your own advent calendar using painted toilet paper tubes, Christmas socks, snowflakes cut out - yea google on that one! (Note: Phyllis uses the same "gifts" and readings, but each night she hides a gift bag for the kids to find.)

The Content: The specifics came from this post on (you have to scroll down to the section that starts with the words "A quarter" to see all 25 gifts and the corresponding verses we are reading.)

The Routine: In our house, we grab the card of the ribbon and the gift out of the little bag. then, we all sit under the Christmas tree and read the card and verse while munching on Christmas cookies. You can do whatever routine works for you - light candles, say a prayer, sing a hymn, or go our route and follow the reading with some guitar carols and a dance party.

12 more days until Jesus' Birthday... Happy Advent!

The reading of the list

We helped Owen write a letter to Santa this year (he circled things in the Fred Meyer catalog and then told us what to write) and made our annual visit down to the Old Mill shops. It was kind of a madhouse, but the "elves" helping Santa were doing a great job. They even set up a waiting list with... get this... phone numbers! So we left and browsed through REI for 20 minutes before getting called back for our turn.

I was kind of worried because Owen looked really nervous as we waited the last 5 minutes in line, but when it was our turn, Santa looked up and said, "Owen!" and our little nail biter did a full on sprint and dove into Santa's lap. So cute... though not worth the extra $10 for another photo. Santa patiently read through Owen's list, including the note that we will be at Nana's for Christmas night. Josh, on the other hand, was not so thrilled. But hey, this guy's a professional (not some local celebrity voluteering for chairty... oh wait), so he jingled the bells long enough for us to get a photo.

Now, if we can just convince Owen that giving Santa a list does not mean he is getting everything he wrote... 12 days to Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we are spent! And thankful! We celebrated with both of our parents and my brother. Jeff cooked a wonderful classic feast, my mom brought squash lasagna, and we finished with a medley of pies. We are thankful that our families get along and are willing to share holidays together.

The rest of our weekend included quite a few special outings: our first turns on the mountain - beautiful snow for this early in the season. Owen's first movie in the theater - MegaMind ended up being a private showing for Mom, Dad, and Owen. A "field trip" to Grandma/Grandpa's hotel (and pool). An afternoon of play at Nana's. A date night for Scott and I with dinner and HARRY POTTER!

We are thankful for grandparents that generously traveled through the snow to join us for the long weekend and then volunteered to watch the boys, so we could get out and about.

The other adventure of our weekend was finding ways to repurpose the holiday feast. Of course, we ate lunches of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, but that was just the start. The turkey carcass turned into 2 GALLONS of stock. Jeff&Ethel took home frozen gravy. Scott made sweet&spicy mac&cheese with chipotle turkey. Today, I made turkey-lentil-barley soup to share with friends, and then a turkey-thyme casserole for our freezer. We are thankful for the endless feast!

After everyone hit the road today, we had a family swim at the pool and then spent the evening at Luke&Tara's, so the little boys could play and the big boys could continue their beer brewing adventures. Can't wait for the next batch to be finished - the midway taste today was delicious! We are thankful for dear friends and the beautiful town we live in!

And it looks like Scott and I will be asking Santa for a new camera this year, as ours is good for about 2 photos before it crashes. Hence, no pictures of the feast or aftermath. But we did get the snow day pictures in the post below.

Now, for the turkey induced coma.

Snow Day

Winter is in full force around here. I love the snow - in theory, but the practical application of getting two kids out the door in snow gear leaves something to be desired.

Thankfully, the winter wonderland seems to make the work worth it...

And, what good is a morning in the snow if you don't get to relax with a cup of hot cider or hot chocolate by the fire after...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My kids love pancakes. It's one of the few foods that both of them (even Josh!) will happily eat and usually ask for seconds. That MAY have something to do with the addition of syrup, but "calories in" is what counts around here folks.

Natrually... we got through a lot of pancake mix.

We've been reliant on Krusteaz whole wheat pancake mix for some time because I can't justify buying one of the fancier mixes - though they really do make much better pancakes. However, even the Krusteaz seems pretty expensive for what amounts to a bag of fancy flour, and...

Naturally... Costco does not sell the whole wheat mix, only the buttermilk.

We're trying to eat less processed foods and cook from scratch when we can. It's healthier and more cost effective.

Naturally... I've been thinking about making my own pancake mix.

So last week, I pulled out the trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook - the one with the red and white checkered cover - my go to classic. Imagine my embarrassment to see how rediculously simple it is to make pancakes from scratch. It's like 8 ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, oil - one bowl, and 90 seconds.

Let me tell you, those were the best pancakes! I used whole wheat flour and tossed in a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. They fluffed perfectly on the stove, crispy outside, airy inside, beautiful color, even shape. Beautiful and delicious! I even thought about taking a picture, but I was too focused on scarfing down the finished product. I was totally stoked putting the plates on the table and doling out the syrup.

Naturally... my kids did not eat them.


(But don't worry. We're persistent and I made the pancakes again on Sunday to show Scott. This time, the kids ate a more reasonable amount. I'm never buying bag mix again!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Summer Lovin - County Fair

This year, we made the a family trip to the County Fair. I love that our fair has all the classic fair events that you would find at the Puyallup Fair, without the 2 hour traffic and parking nightmare. We just pulled up, parked 100 feet from the entrance, ran into some friends as we walked in the gates, and collected our fill of barnyard animals, fried food, hokey vendors, and cheesy rides.

In a strange way, I kind of enjoy wandering through the barns with all the 4H animals. It's amazing how many kids commit the time to raise those rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep, or pigs. I'm hoping our kids are happy to go visit the animals each year... and not actually go through the work to raise them!

This was the first year that Owen was old enough to try out the rides, and (lucky us), he LOVED them. Not an ounce of fear in that boy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Teeny Tiny

Fact 1: We have small children.
Fact 2: Our pediatricians are awesome.

We had Josh's one year check-up a few weeks ago, where we confirmed that, no surprise, he is teeny tiny. Yes, kids come in all shapes and sizes, but our guys seem to be experts at avoiding those pesky lines on the growth charts. Josh got extra scrutiny from the doctor this time around because his low weight (17 lb, 5 oz - about the size of your average 6-8 month old) was coupled with 10 days of constant diarrhea. That weight puts him in the "failure to thrive range" (which is a horrible term, so our doctor said we can just refer to him as a "little peanut" instead), and the tummy issues had us concerned that perhaps something medical was going on.

So, off we went for blood work and stool samples (yuck, yuck, yuck) to rule out common allergies, celiac, major tummy infection, thyroid problems, and problems absorbing fats. So far, all tests negative. Josh is somewhat anemic (but not the iron-deficiency kind - did you know there are multiple kinds of anemia??), but that's just another symptom, not a cause. At our follow-up with the doctor, she covered a whole host of other tests we could consider, but in the end, we decided to run one more test to rule out cystic fibrosis (low weight gain and malabsorption are two major symptoms) and then return to a wait and see approach for the next 3 months.

I honestly tried not to stress about the CF test. I never looked it up on the internet, and I kept reminding myself that the newborn blood screens had already tested Josh for CF (among other genetic diseases) twice. Of course, I still found myself thinking about it in the wee hours of the morning, so it was a HUGE RELIEF to get that negative test result. FEW!

So, where does that leave us? Well, with a 17 pound tiny mite, who is hitting all his developmental milestones, except in the weight category. With a joyful, bald, walking one year old, who's first word is officially "no." And, with 3 months to figure out a way to get this child eating some more calories - especially since that walking is soon going to be running, and then we're really going to be fighting battle to keep "calories in" exceeding "calories out!"

Summer Lovin - Gearhart

Since we're halfway through November, it seems only fitting to post about some of those summer events that kept us too busy to hunker down behind the computer... Not to mention, I can really use this review of the sunshine months before we dive into winter.

These are pictures from our August vacation to Gearhart (long weekend). We were able to crash on Jeff & Ethel's annual vacation, and even snagged the condo unit right next to theirs. It ended up being an ideal situation - our own place for the kids to sleep, but we could still stay up late doing puzzles and socializing. Unfortunately, Josh was a pretty HORRIBLE sleeper throughout the weekend, so we had some tough mornings. Thankfully, Owen popped awake each morning and just raced down the hall to hang out with Aunt Kate, J&E, and Merv and Diane.

This year, in stark contrast to our last trip to Gearhart two years ago, the weather cooperated for some wonderful days in the sand. Here are the pictures!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Brain Dump

A little rapid-fire posting while the kids are both napping. I have a whole list of back posts to get on the screen (you know, so I can pull them all into our family scrapbook someday!) Catch up on our latest happenings below.

That's My Boy

You may notice a plethora of Josh posts and pictures recently. Owen has been in a "don't take my picture" mode these days. And oddly, there seems to be so much going on with Josh, that some of Owen's antics get lost in the shuffle. Either that, or we're so exhausted after dealing with the antics all day long, that they lose their luster when it's time to document our lives. I will just say that Owen is continually astounding us with his unending energy. He is probably a better behaving 3 year old than we give him credit for. He loves to be a part of everything - helping in the kitchen, snuggling close to read stories, playing (way to closely) with Josh, and interjecting himself into every conversation. In typical 3 year old fashion, he knows how to push buttons, ask why until we cry "uncle," and test every limit to the extreme. He is also incredibly inquisitive, a creative story teller, passionate about everything, and hilarious on a daily basis.

These are a bunch of random, but telling, pics of what Owen's been up to lately:

This is how Owen does yoga - get mom's mat out, join me for about 3 "animal themed" poses - downward dog, cat/cow, tree pose, and then decide the mat makes a better long jump track to run and LEAP across the room.
Owen protests his nap on a daily basis. We have a deal that I will check on him after 20 minutes and if he hasn't fallen asleep, he can get up and have 30 minutes of "quiet play time" instead. 4 out of 5 times, he falls asleep for over an hour. That's a good thing, because "no nap" days lead to one cranky kiddo and any late afternoon car ride is likely to result in this:
A random October snow day lead to an impromptu "snow gear testing" party after dinner.

Scott has been teaching him the famous frowny face from birth. Seems to be working.