Friday, December 31, 2010

Playing together is actually now FUN!

Thomas is getting braver & braver as he jumps from higher and higher places...

My worry is Abby will be trying to do this next week because she has been known to follow her brother's lead.  Oh Lord help us!

The kids are starting to actually play with each other. I know the experts say that at Abby's age, children play next to their peers; but with brother & sister... I really think it is different. Thomas engages Abby in play... of course, that being said he also frustrates her, pushes her, snatches things away from her, picks what he wants before she does, etc... but all in all, he has conversations with her and she is smitten with everything he is doing it.  It really does warm my heart to see the two of them laughing with/at each other and enjoying one another...

Case in point: Each morning when we head outside for some fresh air & play time on the juggle gym, the two of them are usually together doing something:

On a different note - Abby is still very easily frustrated.  I'm sure not having the words to express herself has something to do it with it.

On the other hand - Thomas is our talker and he will tell you just about anything, anyhow, anywhere... and more than likely it will be absolutely amusing to hold a conversation with him.  It is probably one of my favorite highlights of my day... just talking with him about anything.

Friday Night Leftovers (Year in Review Edition)

To take the lead from my college girlfriend... 2010 in review by numbers:

228: days that Daddy was deployed to Iraq & Afghanistan
25: days old was Abbigail was when Daddy left
8.5: months old was Abbigail when Daddy returned
3: candles on Thomas' cake
1: candle on Abbigail's cake
4: mumbled words that Abby has mastered
6: years of married bliss with Brian
93: approximate number of wet beds at night from Thomas
27: new pairs of big boy underwear bought at store
1: long weekend vacation spent in Key West... just Mommy & Daddy
1: week of family vacation spent in MD & VA with kids
3, 751: approximate number of tantrums that have resulted with time-outs
4: inches that Thomas has grown
6: inches that Abbigail has grown
1: Air Force promotion to MSgt
12: number of teeth Abby got this year
11: approximate number of times fishing with Daddy & Thomas
728: appromiate number of poopie diapers changed
9: pee-pee accidents on the floor between diaper changes

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dancing Girl

Video Clip - Let's hope this doesn't turn into table top dancing when she is older! All you have to do is say "dance" and the girl starts shaking her groove-thang!

Abby feeding Ziggy

Video Clip - I'm not sure what is up with our kids and feeding Zig... but it has become some kind of pasttime, ritual, and "must" when you are a toddler in our house. This is an almost nightly routine for Abby & Daddy (just like it was for him & Thomas). She loves it and I think feels so proud each time she does it.

Will always be in my heart

My first baby.
Before Abby. Before Thomas. Heck (no pun intended), even before Brian.
There was my first dog.
My Booker.
It was only me & him for several years.
As many of you who are pet owners know & understand... he was my go-to, always-there-for-me, undeniably loyal friend.
Booker went everywhere with me -
Soccer practice... oh did he love the wide open fields;
Road trips... whether he was the "navigator" in the front seat or asleep in the back;
Shopping... he would wait so patiently in the car be it 10 minutes or 2 hours;
Running... he would pull me the first mile and then just coast next to me the rest of the way!
But there is no doubt that Booker was a lazy puppy dog and loved to snuggle.
He was the sweetest, gentlest giant I ever knew.
... and the silliest.
Brian & I had to put Booker to rest in September 2007, just months after Thomas was born due to cancer in the brain. He was just 6 years old. Since that time, his remains have continued to be a permanent fixture in a conservative "doggy" container on my dresser so that I can see him everyday.
That is until now.
Our good friends Kim & Jeff, who have long been dog owner themselves & lost many of their four-legged beloved ones, gave us a memory box for Booker.
Already decorated with favorite pictures, it was one of the most thoughtful and loved-filled gifts we have ever received. For that... thank you Kim & Jeff for knowing how special Booker is to us.
Today, as the kids took their afternoon nap, Brian & I had a few moments to ourselves where we silently opened the container and transferred Booker's remains to the memory box. Holding hands & each other, we placed a few special things in the box and then permanently closed it for the last time.
I'm still brought to tears & speechless when I think of Booker and that September day.
My hopes now are that I can have this beautiful memory box displayed and our children (who constantly see Booker's pictures) will continue to know & think of him as theirs, just like Brian & I will always do.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Home for the holidays

To me, Christmas is a time of celebrating family, enjoying quiet moments with loved ones (especially our little ones), being thankful for all of one's blessings and starting to look forward to the future of upcoming year.

This Christmas, Thomas & Abbigail were both very much "into" the holidays. They loved to look at Christmas lights, listen to the traditional (and not-so-traditional) songs, help decorate the tree, the cookies, and the gingerbread train, and of course... open presents! It really was such a joy & so heart-warming to watch with anticipation as they saw the tree Christmas morning with all the presents that Santa had delivered (in a blue sack that sat next to the tree); as they realized that Santa had helped himself to the milk & cookies left out for his enjoyment; and to listen to the note that Santa left behind thanking Thomas & Abbigail for the snack. Every minute of the peacefulness & chaos was what I had hoped for because this year Daddy was home to enjoy it with us. Instead of having to use Skype on Christmas morning or Daddy Dolls to have Daddy "with us"... we had the real deal and there is nothing more special and important than that.

I am reminded of how much families go through when they have loved ones deployed to the other side of the world - and during that time... birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and even the births of babies happen without the loved one there to celebrate. But this year, we had Daddy home for all of our birthdays & the holidays. It indeed was a good one and one that I am still cherishing now.

Post Christmas recovery & relaxation

The tree is still up. The outside lights are still hanging. All of the Christmas decorations are still found throughout the house, but finally......... oh finally, almost everything has found a new home and there is once again a sense of organization to our house. As much as I love to relish in the Christmas spirit afterwards, I like order. And my family does well with routine & organization too so it just made sense for us to take all of yesterday morning and sort through old toys, find a place for new toys and do some reorganizing of everything. As far as the tree, lights & decorations go though - my rule is they have to be down and packed away by the time I return to school (this coming Monday).

Other than all of the post Christmas recovery, we have had a rare opportunity to spend an enormous amount of family time together and it has been oh so nice. Mornings spent playing in 'jammies, playing outside (once it warmed up) and just relaxing together. Some days we escaped to do some light shopping or even take advantage of playgrounds & endulging ourselves with lunch out at a restaurant. It has been especially nice given the fact that next week we return to the "grind" with work, commuting, and starting my next M.Ed class... oh the joys of reality. It has been so nice since it has lasted and trust me when I say we will be soaking it all in for the last few days of our winter vacation as a family.

Just a few pictures from the last few days being lazy together:

Abbigail LOVES her some oranges!
Today we headed out to the Commons for some outdoor fun at the playground and to ride the Christmas train. Here we are stopped for a quick snack break.

Not sure why I only have one good picture from the playground today, but at least its a cute one of the two of them playing together. I love the fact that this park (and several others we have visited) have semi-soft climbing figures that make it fun for both toddlers, preschoolers and even slightly older kids to all enjoy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Choo-Choo

Today the kids & me had fun decorating a GingerBread Christmas Train.
Lots of fun (for them & me).
But I'm very glad that I took the advice of several blogging friends and prepped all the parts before I had the kids join me.
By the time they pulled up the stools and joined me at the kitchen counter, they were ready to dive into the candies and icing for the train. I have to tell you that they LOVED eating the candies but also sticking them on the train.
It is no surprise that the Heck train didn't turn out exactly the way the box picture looks... but we went for quality of fun & yumminess of candies... not for precise replication of the model.
And all of our troops here were perfectly happy with the results.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big boy toys

I'm married to the world's best & most thorough researcher when it comes to future purchases. There is always a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work that goes on before any type of purchase. If he decides that he wants to buy something, it is NEVER a rash decision. The man knows every loophole, scam, comparative price site and question to ask when researching. And this doesn't even begin to open the door & show you what he does with Ebay.

I'm sorry - I digress. My point...

In the last few weeks, Brian has done his research on the "toys" he wants to purchase and bring up to Alaska with us. I'll start with the most recent - the topper on the truck he just wheeled and dealed for from the local Dodge dealer. Savings? Several hundreds of dollars.
Other items being researched for future purchases I'm sure... ATVs, rifles & bows (for hunting). The man has even parted with some of his fishing rods & reels because apparently he will be doing a "different" type of fishing up there. All of those sold on Ebay. OMG... this is all such a change from what I'm used to with our outdoor activities. Usually Brian is the one buying fishing rods/reels. I'm wondering if we will be talking about owning a small camper soon so that we can get in plenty of camping during our time up north (in the warm months of course)?

All I know is big boy toys for Alaska are a com'in.

cookie (dough) tasters

These were my two taste testers this afternoon.
They work on commission.
Food commission that is.
It's simple... they will help pour ingrediants & mix ingrediants,
but they insist on tasting it... especially things that have chocolate in them.
At one point, Thomas & Abbigail looked like squirrels who were getting ready to go into hibernation for the winter and had all of their nuts shoved into their cheeks.
No, they didn't eat all the chocolate morsels (see above picture compared to below pic) - I saved them a handful after pouring the bowl into the cookie batter. But with only a few left, the two of them were like savages fighting for the last few.
Although this is an awful picture of me, I think you can clearly see the concerned & upset expression on Abby's face realizing all the chocolates were now gone.
Don't worry - my two tasters fully enjoyed the final product after they cooled slightly. With a cold glass of milk to go along with it.