Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sisters


Today is my "baby" sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Kimi!! 33. Surely she won't mind me divulging that since she's 3 years younger than me, and 6 years younger than our older sister. Kimi is the one in the middle in this picture. Debbie is to her right. This was taken this past summer during our visit to Texas for Holden's Baptism and Mom's knee surgery. I don't see either of my sisters often enough. Usually just once a year, sometimes twice. We have families and jobs and commitments that keep us from seeing each other as often as we'd like. But that doesn't keep them away from my thoughts and my heart. We are all three as different as can be. But we also have similarities - Debbie and Kimi are both teachers and love to shop. Debbie and I both have small children who keep us busy and crazy, respectively. Kimi and I both have a fondness for vino (ok, we have more in common than that, but that stands out). We all love to eat, and we strive for bargains - I attribute that to our Grandma Broome. Oh, and did I mention both of my sister's are totally smarty-pants and are both pursuing their Master's degrees right now (yeah, guess who the black sheep of the family is...)?? I am beyond proud of them for pursuing this enrichment to themselves and to their careers. So I thought I'd give a little shout out to my awesome sisters on our little sister's 33rd birthday. I love you gals. And feel so lucky to have grown up with you both, and to call you not just my sisters but also my friends. xoxo

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cookie Time

You know when you make a batch of cookies and the recipe (or tube of frozen dough) says: makes 4 dozen? I'd like to know in what Universe any batch of dough ever made 4 dozen?? For reals. I mean you have to first take into account the raw cookie dough you consume whilst baking said cookies. Including your little helper elves (please don't give me guff about raw eggs, k, 'cause we all survived it in our childhood of cookie-dough eating, and I also gave my kids peanut butter before they were three - sue me). So including your elves and yourself that's easily half a dozen potential cookies gone before they even make it to the pan. Then there's the less than accurate measuring for the formation of each cookie. Usually a recipe says: drop by heaping tablespoon. Again, in what Universe? Our heaping tablespoon is usually the biggest serving spoon I can find to scoop up dough, and less than delicately dumped onto the cookie sheet. So it equals more like three tablespoons per cookie instead of one. That takes away at least a dozen more potential cookies (please don't ask if this math is correct, or worse yet figure out the math on that yourself -- it hurts my head to think that much, and my cell/calculator is in the other room and I'm too lazy to stop typing and pull up the computer calculator. And to that point, recently my eldest saw a real calculator -- you know, Texas Instruments -- and asked me what it was. Sigh....) Anywho, we're down 1-1/2 dozen potential cookies by this point. Then of course each fresh batch out of the oven needs a taste tester. Or three. You know, to make sure the cookie dough is fully cooked - you have to watch out for the raw egg in raw cookie dough. So three taste testers at two cookies each per pan, give or take, that's another dozen or so. Again, stay away from the math on that. And finally, the cookies are all finished baking. Their smell has permeated the house (which is usually why I make cookies in the first place - to get rid of the "boy" smell in my house). They are lined up on a cooling rack, ready to consume. They are perfectly golden. Perfectly gooey with deliciousness. And, of course, by this point myself and my elves have upset tummies and want nothing to do with the one dozen cookies we have just prepared.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What We've Been Doing


Oh, and I hit a sale at Michael's, too. Peace out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the best ever


Christmas Eve with best pals -
Holden (3), Jackson G (6.5), Allie (2.5), Jackson J (5.5)
Christmas Eve -cookies, milk and letters for Santa (and carrots for the reindeer!)
New super-duper Spy Watch
Christmas Socks Rock!
(I bought these Stockings the year we were engaged -- I bought 4, with hopes that two awesome kiddos would find their way into our lives one day)
Mr. Roboto
Santa's gift - a cool game table for the basement!
Christmas Dinner by candlelight - wish I'd photographed those crab legs!!!
Christmas Sundaes, of course

Christmas 2009. Maybe the best Christmas I can remember -- at the very least the best Christmas since 1984 when I got both a doll house and a cabbage patch doll.

We were on our own this year, just us and the boys. We spent Christmas Eve with the Weik's, as has become our tradition -- Mexican food and cocktails! Perfection. Christmas morning started pretty much the same way every morning starts for us, with Jackson coming into our room at the crack of dawn. But I will add that it was a very respectable 7am, and he waited 14 minutes before begging us to wake up Holden and go see if Santa came . He did.

We spent the morning opening gifts at a fairly leisurely pace. We enjoyed a breakfast of bagels and lox for us and cinnamon rolls for the boys. Christmas carols played on the speakers, a fire was going in the fire place, and a beautiful white snow was on the ground outside. But who am I kidding - the presents took center stage. We played all morning and all afternoon, and never got out of our jammies the entire day. Shawn and I made an amazing dinner for ourselves - steak, shrimp, crab legs, roasted potatoes and a yummy un-oaked Chardonnay. Who needs turkey?! It was one of the best meals I've ever had, holiday or not. The boys enjoyed their favorites as well - chicken nuggets and melon. And we finished off the meal with ice-cream sundaes. Not traditional, certainly, but a perfect finish to a perfect day.

After the boys were in bed Shawn and I watched "Love Actually" which is also a tradition of ours. It is a perfect little holiday film, and has made it to our DVD every Christmas since Jackson was a baby. Love it. We all slept well, thankful for our blessings and each other, and the new robots that are certainly the boys' favorite gifts of all.

But back to why this was the best Christmas ever... it wasn't because of the gifts -- though let's face it, presents rock -- and Shawn and I even opted to not exchange this year so we could save some dough, so the presents with which I speak were all truly, 100% for the boys. It wasn't the delicious food -- but again, let's face facts, I love food and love eating food with people I love, and the food we all ate together was divine. But that's not it. It wasn't the snow on the ground -- again, snow is awesome, but Mr CT has to shovel it and it makes him grouchy about living in Colorado, and it makes the roads slushy and slippery and messy, even though I about die every time I look at it because it is gorgeous and we have amazing views of the mountains from our new home. And it wasn't even the new home -- though the house was warm and toasty and decorated just how I want it to be, and all our merry-making was lovely and spread out and we all felt a sense of space which is nice, oh so nice. But that wasn't it. What was it? Well of course it was them. That pretty much goes without saying. My family. The people I adore more than anything or anyone or any place on the planet. The boys were joyous and full of wonder and excitement and dare I say it, graciousness! They hardly even bickered yesterday. And my husband, whom I am blessed to be in love with. Who makes me smile and laugh and flat out guffaw more often than not. And it was having a long chat with him over dinner while the boys played. It was being with someone that allows for honestly and truth. It was feeling that love come back to me a thousand times over. That is what made it the best. Christmas. Ever. (Except the year I got a doll house and a cabbage patch doll...)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What it is all about...


These two are the reason I do just about every single thing I do in my life. I love them beyond measure. Even when they are cranky on Christmas eve. Oh yeah, and their Daddy is pretty spectacular, too.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas. We'll be snuggling up at home this year, as is our tradition, but thinking much of our family and friends afar. I'll be thinking of the beautiful Christmas service at St. Christopher's in Lubbock. It always has a special place in my heart - the beautiful candles and music and of course the Christmas story. I'll be thinking of BJ's divinity (DIVINE!) and spicy sausage balls. Opening presents at Dad and Di's on Christmas eve - always an awesome display of mayhem and tissue paper. I'll think of waking up Christmas morning at my Mama's house. The beautiful handmade stockings hanging from the hearth -- one for each of us including Kimi's dog Bubba. I think the total is around 15 stockings, all made with love by my Mama's hands. I'll think of Debbie and Ed's turkey and my Granny's stuffing recipe. I'll think of watching my nieces open their myriad of gifts. I'll think of home and what a great place it was to grow up. And of course I'll relish our time now, here, with our boys. Snow on the ground. The boys so young and full of wonder. Opening their gifts. Eating yummy noshies. Christmas eve spent with good friends. And the boys awaiting impatiently Santa's visit -- a little elf told me he's bringing them a game table this year! I love all that it encompasses.

So with that I'm signing off. Going to chow on some delish Mexican food and enjoy my time with my family. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Comes Early

We started Christmas a tad early this year. Alison (my mother in law) is spending Christmas in Buffalo with Shawn's sister's family, so she celebrated this past weekend with our family before hopping her flight earlier this morning. She of course spoiled the boys with armloads of presents -- toys and books and electronic gadgets, a science kit, a microscope (I admit I'm having fun with this one!), musical instruments, and more that I'm probably forgetting. Shawn made Paella. I bought a Black Forrest cake. We watched movies and ate too much and watched the boys play. All was right with the world. (well that is until we discovered an early demise by Jackson's pet fish, King Ned Blue Red, but that is a tale for another day...).

Thank you for a wonderful Christmas Nana! And we send much love to our Buffalo family and our Texas family this holidays season. We'll be waking up at our house Christmas morn, as has become our own family tradition, but we will miss our loved ones and be thinking of you all so much and wishing you a very safe and happy Christmas. xoxo

Nana, Jackson and Holden

Utter excitement over toys that are about to be opened...
In need of Daddy's assistance

Leapster's - the big hit of the day (and I also busted Jackson playing with this after lights out last night...but I forgave considering the passing of his fish earlier in the evening)
My loves

Dr Jackson at your service

A little dress up earlier today
Don't ask 'cause I don't have a clue
And a visit to Santa and the most unfriendly helper elves I've ever come across (seriously, they would allow me to take one picture -because I wasn't buying their package - and demanded that I erase any extras...I didn't)
Ah yes, and Shawn's Paella...mmmmm....



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Things

Jackson is my big, strong, smart boy. He's also a bit on the timid side. He wants to be 100% sure of himself before he lunges into anything new. Once he's comfortable in a situation he'll give all of himself to it. But things have to be done on his time. It can be maddening to see him close to accomplishing something, but pulling back out of fear. I see it in the way he plays. The way he learns. They way he takes on the world. Sometimes it is big things -- venturing to his Kindergarten classroom on his own for the first time. Reading a new book aloud that might be a bit out of his reading comfort zone. Meeting a new friend, and more importantly, expressing to them how much he wants to be their friend. Those are the big things.

Then there are small things. Trying a new toothpaste might take months of small tries before he can commit to the new flavor. Ordering his own food at a restaurant. Etc. Today's "small thing" came in by way of swimming lessons. It was a small moment for a big feat. Jackson does well in swimming lessons, listens to his teacher, tries to do everything she asks-- except putting his head under water. He's petrified. He is in his 3rd round of lessons and this is the last hurdle to moving forward to the next level. 6 weeks of lessons and he has yet to do it. All week we've been practicing with him and encouraging him, leading up to today's final class that would determine the next level he would go to (or not). We don't want to push too much, but at the same time we know he is ready for it. He loves swimming. He's comfortable on the play area at the pool. He loves baths and playing in the water. But the dunking the head thing -- a small thing -- turned into a big thing. His foot was down and the line was drawn.

But today as he marched confidently into his last lesson he walked directly up to Miss Anna, his teacher, and boldly told her that today he would dunk his head under water. She smiled at him and nodded, pleased but uncertain I could tell. But then he did it. He took a deep breath, caught my eye, and dunked his head full force. And came up smiling and gasping and beyond proud of himself. His eyes shone like silver, reflecting on the water, and his smile was a mile wide. And then he did it again. And again. And again! And at least a dozen times over the course of the lesson. And each time he came up his grin was wider. And he didn't gasp as much. He seemed confident, and proud, and in control of his situation. And tears came to me unexpectedly. I never would have seen them coming. But to see his pride was too much for his Dad and me. We both cheered on this little big step for him. And he proudly accepted his certificate to move onto the next level. And grinned beyond measure. Maybe it wasn't such a little thing after all...


Friday, December 18, 2009

These Girls


These are my girls. Gidget, Carissa, Danielle and me. They get me through my week. They are my dear friends. They are my girls! (and how appropriate that this picture was taken at Chuckee Cheese at a birthday party!)

When we moved to Colorado 4.5 years ago from Washington I only knew a small handful of people who lived here, and no one who lived in my new home town. I was a new stay at home mama, having given up my career to stay home with my then one year old son. We lived in an apartment. Shawn was trying to find his way with his new job. I was lonely. I took Jackson to various parks around town just to get out of the house and explore my new (small!) town. One beautiful afternoon when Jackson was about 15 months old I struck up a conversation with a sweet southern mama who had a son, Jack, who was my Jackson's age. Danielle. She quickly invited me to join her playgroup that she and her neighbor Gidget were starting up. Would I like to join? YES! I was craving friendship and adult conversation in a bad way - I'm an extrovert by nature and being home alone with a barely talking toddler, while enjoyable, was also lonely and isolating.

I quickly fell in love with my playgroup mamas and their adorable tots. Eventually Danielle stalked Carissa, another new neighbor in their hood. And thus our playgroup was complete. Well, not really complete, because over the years we've added another two generation of kiddos to our group - 4 adults and 9 kids total. And even though we moved from the apartment to a home a bit further away, and our older kids have started school at varying times and schedules, we have made the commitment to our play group, and more importantly, to our friendships. I don't know how I'd get through my week without them. They are my dearest of friends, and I treasure them and their families. We have gone through so many highs and lows and in betweens in our 4.5 years together. And I see years and years more of friendship amongst ourselves and our kiddos.

But I write this because today Danielle and her family are heading off to a new adventure. Her husband got a great promotion at work that is taking them from chilly Colorado to balmy California. It has always been in the back of our heads that they would be moving eventually -- it is the nature of her husband's career. But seeing her off today was a heart break. I will miss her friendship. Her warm smile. Her beautiful southern drawl that makes me think of home. Her two awesome sons, Jack and Kent, and the friendship we have found with she and her husband Kevin. We will miss them greatly, and I wish them all the best of luck in their new home state. xox


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Levels

I walked into Holden's room this morning. He was awake, smiling, snuggling his shaky lamb in bed. He melts my heart a dozen times over.

me: "Wake up honey bear! Today is your last day of swimming and we get to find out what level you go to next!"

Staring wide eyed at me, an enormous, expectant grin spreading across his sweet little face...

him, in an excited whisper: "What's a level!?"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

post script - he passed swimming level 1 and is off to level 2! (whatever that means)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A little holiday prep

Making Gingerbread houses has sort of become a tradition in our house over the past few years. We made one on 2007, and less successfully in 2008. Today at the craft store I reached for the traditional kit to make this years' house and got side tracked by the "sale sign" showing a similar (this is Jackson's word of the moment - he loves using this word) gingerbread house but made with Rice Krispie Treats instead of gingerbread. hmmm...You had me at sale. And marshmallow. And easy. The boys were excited to try something new. I was excited I didn't have to actually construct a house (again, '08's house was a tad run down). And we were all excited that the results could be eaten immediately after decorating. And they were. Awesomeness. Tradition redefined.
The kit - cute;
I'll save the pan so next year I can just make the treats reusing the same pan.
The designers hard at work
Embellishing
and eating - the best part!
more eating -- this kid's eyes slay me every time... (and yes, please note he is still wearing his Power Rangers Halloween costume and it is, yes, the middle of December. I have sewn it twice now)
Later in the evening we all piled into the Subaru to look at Christmas lights around the 'hood. Cocoa and candy canes (and a lid!) - a must!


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Play Fight

Our boys love to play fight with Daddy. He barely makes it through the door at the end of a looooong day before "Daddy play fight!" echoes through the house. He sighs. He's tired. I don't blame him. He's hungry. I really don't blame him. And yet, that good man musters the energy, let's out a roar and plunges into playing fight. Sometimes he is a good guy, sometimes he is a bad guy. Jackson dictates. He's like that. There's lots of squealing and running and weapon noises and all things "boy" going on. I usually sit back and enjoy (and by that I mean I do the dishes, clean the kitchen, pack Jackson's lunch, and drink a glass of vino). And there are weapons. The boys turn everything they own into weapons - train tracks, tinker toys, tent spikes, you name it - it is a weapon. Never mind that we own one toy gun - a water gun at that. They'll make a weapon out of twin and glitter if they have to.

Last night's play fight conversation:

Daddy: Holden, what are your weapons of choice?!

Holden: (deeply thinking) A waterproof gun (of course) and...Popsicles!

Daddy: What are the Popsicles for?

Holden: (having a "Duh!" moment) To EAT!

Monday, December 07, 2009

blessings

Today I will try to value each moment. Treasure each kiss (even the one brought on because someone bonked me in the head). I will listen to the words I read to my children. I will feel blessed by the snow outside my window and the warmth inside my home. I will try to remember each moment is precious and unique and quickly over. Today I will be grateful for old friends, new friends, and friends who have yet to grace my heart. Today I will savor each taste, each smell, each sound...even the yelling. I will laugh. I may cry. That is ok, too. Today I am reminded that life is short, fleeting, and a blessing beyond measure. I will be thankful for prayers answered. And as Garth sings, unanswered as well. I will relish fresh laundry, even if it is in a massive pile on my bed ready, waiting to be folded. Today I will be in awe that those two little soul's have been given to me to keep, care for, watch over, guide, and of course, one day, set free. I will reach out to hug the man who gave me those souls. I will feel each breath. I will be thankful for my messes because they signify that I have more than I could ever need or want, and I should give thanks for that. Today my deep self evaluation is brought on by this amazing soul. You can't read her story and not feel how blessed your life is. Or hers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

ho! ho! ho!

The boys pre-Nutcracker. We made it 3/4 of the way through the ballet...
it is all about the exposure, right?!
Holden is potty training. Today he got a candy cane as a treat for a job well done.

A small taste of Christmas at our house: chandy made sparkly, nativity scene Mama gave me years ago, our tree decorated with ornaments we've made or bought in our 10 years together, angel Di gave me that I love, Lynn Haney Santa given to us by the artist's family when we were married (it has our wedding invite printed on the back of Santa's sack), our elf on the shelf, Fortnum (thank you Lisa!!), cute snowmen on my favorite chair
me and my baby
(I'm trying to ignore my wrinkles and relish having a photo taken with my son...)
Holden working on a craft project on a snowy Wednesday morning...

Happy Holidays - I love this time of year!!