Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Very Happy Christmas

We had Christmas on our own this year, which turned out to be really nice. It was especially fun because Benjamin is old enough now to appreciate it. We're beginning to establish our own traditions like ham steaks and Chinese food. It's a work in progress.

Benjamin had full confidence that it was going to snow on Christmas, but I had a hard time believing it would. It was pouring rain all week, but sure enough, it cooled down by Christmas morning, and we were delighted to see a light dusting that even courteously left the roads clear.

We tried to get Benjamin into the spirit of giving this year by passing on some of his toys to Peter. He was a bit reluctant at first, but was soon excited to give him his Noah's Ark. It was sweet.
But Peter's favorite toy was Elmo. He even shares his pacifiers with him.
Aunt Katie sure scored this year with Benjamin's present. He loves "playing" his little violin. The strings play a note each time the bow touches them, and we soon discovered that notes can be held indefinitely. It's programmed to play several songs, but for some reason it only plays one song for him...over and over and over.
Benjamin was stoked to find a fireman costume for his monkey in his stocking! Now they can fight fires together.
And now they go to sleep together in their matching jammies. He's in heaven.
And the "big" one this year was a little kitchen for them to share. They love it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Newsletter 2009

We can hardly believe another year has passed! It seems like the projects that we used to have lots of time for have all but vanished, but we truly enjoy the two little boys who have filled that time. And we hate to admit it, but we’re starting to feel like real mid-westerners. A little over a year ago, Peter joined our family, and already he is a full fledged toddler. He runs everywhere, climbs up on chairs, and explores everything within reach. He imitates words like computer (po-coo-toe), and says others with perfect clarity, like “bath.” He is a sweet, gentle boy, and will usually surrender a coveted object the moment his big brother requests it.

Benjamin is now 3 ½, and is very full of life. He loves to read words by sounding out the letters. He also loves dressing up as a fireman almost everyday, as that is what he aspires to be. He doesn’t always love to share the spotlight, but he is learning to be a good big brother.
Paul loves his job at Monsanto. He really believes that being a statistician is the greatest (paying) job on earth, which is great! But even more than that, he loves being a daddy. The boys can’t wait till he gets home from work everyday.

Sarah is enjoying life as a mom. It’s a demanding field, but certainly the most rewarding! She’s feeling pretty good these days, but with another little one on the way (due in July!) she often wishes she had more energy to keep up with the boys!

We are so blessed to count you as our friends, even if we don’t get to see you very often. May the Lord bless you with an extra measure of peace and joy as we celebrate His birth and life this Christmas season.

Love,
Paul, Sarah, Benjamin, and Peter

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Benjamin is really excited for Santa to come this year! We got to see him at the Magic House a few weeks ago, but Benjamin wouldn't go near him, let alone sit on his lap. Peter wasn't so lucky. I plopped him down and snapped a quick picture with my phone.
Then we got to see him again at the church Christmas party! Benjamin brought his letter (balloon attached) with him to hand to Santa. He sat on his lap pretty hesitantly, and stayed there in silence for about five seconds. His only issue afterwards was where Santa had parked his sleigh. I told him Santa had to hide it so the kids wouldn't take it for a ride. Sneaky Santa.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Five Years!

I'm so glad that I married Paul five years ago today! He just gets more and more perfect for me. Happy anniversary, my little Shmoopsie-poo! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Pictures

I've got a few pictures from our Thanksgiving trip with Paul's family! Our own camera was MIA so we had to rely on others to capture the moments. Here were some of the highlights for me.

Of course we hit the "must sees" like the blacksmith shop. Benjamin still proudly wears his prairie diamond ring around. My favorite place was the family living center which we visited by ourselves one afternoon (hence no pictures.) We got to see how they made wool and flax thread and fabric, candles, and Paul and Benjamin made a length of rope. On another evening some of us went to a performance at the old entertainment hall. It was really cute...lots of old people singing and dancing (and forgetting their lines). Here is part of the group outside the Printing Office, where John Taylor and George Q. Cannon lived and worked together. We took a carriage ride tour, and it was freezing! We were all bundled up in blankets, and sandwiched in pretty close. It was still a great tour.
Peter started screaming until I wrapped him up like this. Then he eventually fell asleep.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, especially considering we came to a pretty bare kitchen.
Here's Benjamin and Andrew peeking through one of the old windows that connected the original house to the addition. The cousins enjoyed running around the house together shooting Nerf guns (Abby and Patrick were smart enough to bring about six Nerf guns with them). They were about the only toys there.
We stayed at the farm home of the Hyrum Smith family. The original structure has been expanded and they've added a hot tub room, but you can tell which parts are original. It was a really special house! Behind Paul, you can see part of the original brick wall and window. I was surprised to see how large the original home actually was. We had more than enough space. It was such a pleasant experience just to be together! Whether it was visiting the sites or just lounging around in our PJs we loved every minute.
Here we are outside the Nauvoo Temple. It's incredible! I was struck at how enormous it is, and how beautifully detailed it is inside and out. I marvel at how the pioneers built it within the few short years that they were there without power tools or a lot of means. I also marvel that they were able to leave it behind. We got to take a walk down Parley's Street and read some of the journal entries from those early saints as they left. It was incredible to see the beautiful temple towering over the city just as it would have appeared to them as they left.
Here's the entire group. We were pretty lucky to have everyone together this Thanksgiving- especially since everyone besides us had to drive at least 13 hours to get there. Jan brought some family names, and all the married couples were able to do a session together for them.
It was a very memorable Thanksgiving. There was no "Black Friday" or local movie theaters, or even an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner, but we had an amazing time together. It was a really special place to remind us of all that we're most thankful for.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Entry

Some of you have asked about pictures of the entry I did for our Creches and Carols Exhibit, and I finally have one. Here's the view coming in.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some Christmas Fun

We have our camera back (thanks for sending it, Grandma)! I tend to blame a lot of things on "pregnancy brain" these days, but for good reason. In the past few weeks, I have blown out a week-old tire, left my phone at the grocery store only to discover its whereabouts two days later, turned on the wrong burner on the stove, and I'm sure the list goes on but I can't remember them all right now. I'm seriously a hazard.

Anyways, I have a few cute pictures of the boys. Here's Benjamin decorating the gingerbread men we made. He did a pretty impressive job I thought! I handed him a tube of decorating gel, left the room, and came back to find they all had eyes, smiles and buttons.
He wrote a nice letter to Santa this year. It says, "BENJAMIN. DEAR SANTA, I'M A GOOD BOY. (I want a) WORKER OUTFIT, DVDs, (monster) TRUCK, (thomas toy) TRAIN." He dictated, then traced the letters Paul drew for him.
I put the letter in an envelope with a stamp and addressed it to his grandparents (I mean the North Pole...), and we were set to send it off in the morning. Until he devised a much better plan. He wanted to put the letter in a box, tape it all up, tie a rope around it, attach the rope to a balloon, and let it float to the North Pole. Unfortunately, the wind wasn't strong enough to overcome gravity's force.
So we made it lighter, but that didn't work either. Then he wanted to get lots of balloons and take our whole family to the North Pole to Santa's house. I told him it was pretty far away and that I didn't know how to get there, but he told me that Daddy would be able to take him. I finally struck a deal with him. I told him Santa might be coming to the church Christmas party tomorrow, and that we could give the letter to him there. Benjamin wants to ask Santa if he can go back in his sleigh with him to the North Pole to put it in his mail room himself. Oh, man...
Here's our Christmas tree this year...I admit it's a little juvenile, but we're cheap. Much to my surprise, Peter has left the ornaments alone, so I haven't had to redecorate it at all. I filled a container near the tree with plastic ornaments that he's free to throw around and play with, and so far, that's seemed to work.
Peter is so much fun these days. His jabbering is starting to turn into words, and he's a great imitator. He loves reading animal stories and imitating the sounds they make. He likes to run now, and climbs up on little chairs. So he does get hurt a lot.
He likes to find the baby Jesus in every nativity. I got this set at the dollar store last year, so I let him rearrange and play with it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My even more legitimate excuse for not blogging...

...and it's not these two cuties. I'm PREGNANT! Baby #3 is due on July 9, 2010, and we're all thrilled. Except for Paul sometimes when dinner never happens and I go to bed around 8:30. :)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Busy Busy

I've been missing my camera for almost two weeks now, and it's driving me crazy! There's so much I've wanted to post about, but I'm a visual person, and you know me--if I don't have dozens of pictures, I don't blog. Anyways, this week, I've been busy helping out with our Regional Creches and Carols Exhibit. I helped design the entryway this year, which proved to be a huge undertaking. We transformed the church hallway into a stable, complete with wood beams, animals, oil lamps, and tons of burlap and raffia.

We also had a marvelous Thanksgiving! I'll post pictures once I have them. We stayed at the Hyrum Smith Farm. It was a really neat experience being in the original house that he built (there were additions to it, but you could tell which part was the original structure). It was a wonderful week spent with Paul's family. We had lots to be thankful for this year!

And we had our new window installed this morning! It looks beautiful, and I can already tell it's improving the insulation to our home. I can't feel any cold drafts coming from it! Novel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chipping Away

We've finally tackled a few projects this week that really needed to get done. First, this (really nice, but outdated) old fan has needed to be rewired for at least 6 months. We fried it when we attempted to fix the wiring ourselves, so we've been without lighting over our kitchen table for a while. Now that daylight is a scarce commodity, we decided it was time to do something about it. I called an electrician to look at it, but only one vendor even deals with this brand. And it would have cost a lot.
So we decided to replace it, and it's like a whole new room! I love the new fixture, and especially the fact that our house no longer resembles a cave. And project number two: the mysterious giant crack on our front picture window (we have no idea how it got there in the first place). The window has also been in this hazardous state for the last 6 months or so, and has been getting progressively worse as it's been getting colder. We're finally replacing it! I'm SO excited. All the windows in our house are really old...so old that you can't open them, plus they don't even have screens. So this will give us one spot in the house where we can let fresh air in! Woohoo!And can I just say I'm SO excited for Thanksgiving this year? Paul's entire family is coming out here, and we'll be staying in Nauvoo at the farm that once belonged to Paul's and my shared ancestor (I think we decided that we're 5th or 6th cousins once removed...or something like that).
Today I found this festive pair at Hobby Lobby for 80% off. We didn't have any Thanksgiving decorations to speak of, so I think they're happy to be our first.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Good Friends

This week has been heavenly- in more ways than one. Today was sunny and the temperature was in the low 80's. We took advantage of the nice weather, and winterized the yard. It was so satisfying.
We also got out of the house a lot this week; we went to the Zoo and the Butterfly House and got together with friends. I'm just soaking as much of this in before it turns cold again!
So we didn't have to rely so much on the "schedule" this week since we were out more than usual, but things have been a lot more mellow around our house. I think there's a much clearer understanding of what the limits are, so Benjamin just doesn't push anymore. It's funny how quickly family dynamics can change from stage to stage though. Peter is getting very active and opinionated himself, so I'm sure things won't stay calm for too long!

Benjamin has always done really well with sticker charts, so I made one this week to encourage "Good Friend" behaviors (especially towards Peter). He's of course thrilled when I point out that he made Peter laugh or smile, and he gets another smiley face on his chart. I feel no shame in bribing my children to be friends. Hey, whatever works!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

For our ward's trunk-or-treat party, Paul dressed up as Peter Pan's nemesis, a pirate...
...and I was a fire for Benjamin the Fireman to put out.
Benjamin all ready to go trick-or-treating.
Peter, wishing he was in bed.
This was the first time I'd ever gone trick-or-treating to a tipi. It was set up in one of our neighbor's front yards. It even had a little campfire inside! Pretty cool.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Laissez-faire Parenting

I've finally had to confront my own laziness when it comes to parenting. To give you a picture of life as of late, let me first begin by saying that there have been very few October-blue-sky days this month. We've had rain, rain, and more rain, with a few really cold days sprinkled in (this morning, I noticed that our "waterproofed" basement has puddles where the water seeped up through the foundation...nice). So we've been stuck inside a lot, and my resolve to keep movie watching and computer time to a minimum has weakened. Benjamin has been pushing me to see how far I'll go with a lot of other things too. I've had to remind him dozens of times each day not to injure Peter in any way, and simple requests that I make lead to massive meltdowns and temper tantrums. It's been sort of maddening.
This week during preschool, the parents met in a breakout session to learn about discipline. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and I've already seen huge results. I was the problem.
I decided to go against my nature, and make a schedule. I blocked each hour of the day for an activity, like music/exercise time, scripture time, learning time, creative time, cleaning time, and so forth. And it's worked so far! Benjamin loves the structure, and it's been nice to have the schedule to rely on, and not try to come up with stuff for him to do in the heat of the moment when he just wants to watch another movie. It's taking me a while, but I'm learning...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Costumes

I finished Peter and Benjamin's costumes yesterday! They took way more time than they should have, and didn't end up saving me much money, but it was fun. And I think they turned out pretty well. I figured since I put so much into their costumes this year, I'd get their portraits taken. We've been listening to the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie in the car, and thoroughly enjoying it. I find myself remembering that Peter Pan musical (with Mary Martin as Peter Pan) that I thought was so dumb as a kid. 'Hook' also included a lot of the fun details from the book that the Disney cartoon left out.
And no, Benjamin didn't get his wish to be "Benjamin Pan" this year. But he looks pretty happy as a fireman, huh? I even spray painted an old hose for him. Happy (early) Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our One-Year-Old

We had a pretty low-key celebration for Peter on his birthday. I made him a pumpkin cake.
It's funny how every one-year-old is different. Benjamin burst into tears when we sang "Happy Birthday" to him on his first birthday, but Peter would not touch his cake. When we lit the candle, Peter waved his hands at it, saying"Bah, bah, bah!" which, interpreted is "hot, hot, hot!" So Benjamin blew it out.
I finally shoved his hand in it to show him what was expected of him. This is how he felt about it.
I guess he's a tidy kid? He hates touching mashed potatoes or getting his hands too messy during mealtime. He's even started demanding a fork.

Peter's personality has just exploded in the past few weeks. Here's a few fun things about him, in no particular order.

  • He loves shoes, and he likes to bring me new pairs to put on his feet throughout the day.
  • He is an angel when it comes to sleep. I couldn't ask for a sweeter baby.
  • He loves raspberries, and will find his way over to our bushes every time he gets outside.
  • He enjoys dropping marbles down Benjamin's marble track. He also likes to make car noises while he pushes toy cars around the room.
  • He is a snuggler. He lays his head on my chest and gives me nice, long hugs. He also loves to pick stories and come sit on my lap to read them.
  • You can tell if he's walking or crawling by listening from the other side of the house to the intensity of the "pat-pats" coming toward you.
  • He has a few words that he uses. "Dada," "Pop Pop" (popcorn), "Bang," "Bye-bye" (no mama yet.) He and Benjamin have their own language, where they shriek or growl together in perfect unison.
  • He has a great giggle. He was laughing and laughing at the doctor's office today as she jabbed her hands into his torso. Speaking of, he measures at about the 60th% for height, weight and head.
  • He has a coy, silly little smile where he sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth.

Question

Is it wrong that I enjoy "sick days?" Benjamin has been asleep pretty much all day, and it's been kind of nice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Peter!

It's amazing how fast they grow in that first year of life! We love our Peter Pumpkin!