Monday, November 26, 2012

how they'll remember Daddy

John left today, Sunday, in the middle of the day to catch his flight to New York for work. It was a different feeling having him leave today instead of Monday morning. 

People who know me personally know that John travels just about every week for work. Many kids grow up with a dad who is absent and tries to replace his time with gifts. That is not how our kids will remember their dad.

Even though John travels so much, he is more of a dad than most dads are who don't travel. He gives himself to our family 100% when he's home. 

Our girls are going to remember a dad who 
  • gets down on the floor to build intricate towers from Duplos. 
  • isn't afraid to be dressed up with scarves and shimmery purses ready to crown his daughter Princess Gobah of the Land of Building Blocks and Measuring Tape. 
  • throws epic parties with wooden cupcakes and made up songs. 
  • eats soup made of magnetic letters and looks up recipes online on a computer that doesn't turn on.
  • looks them in the eye with an expression of eager anticipation of what's going to come out of their mouths. 
  • flies them into their rooms having them flap their wings to get there
  • throws and kicks balls with them outside or up the stairs.
  • helps them jump over the moon.
  • shows creativity in the games they play and doesn't quash the creativity of his girls.
  • sweeps them up when they fall to give magical healing kisses or an ice pack "cold Elmo" to make things better.
  • remembers the order of obligatory songs each night and sings them as if it wasn't the millionth time.
  • helps overcome moments of shyness and fear by practicing how to be courageous.
  • cheers with pride when they do something for the first time.
  • stands by his word and follows through his promises.
  • plays hide and seek over and over. 
  • throws dance parties to homemade xylophone music.
  • greets them with excitement every time they enter the room.
  • experiences life with them in the same sense of wonder that they have.
  • loves them deeply and unabashedly.

Our girls are lucky to have a dad like John. And I'm blessed to have him as my husband.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

celebrating Christmas all month long!

This year, I somehow managed to get all of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving, leaving the month of December for us to concentrate on things other than worrying what to give to others. Yes, I love giving thoughtful gifts, but adding that on top of an already busy month makes it less fun than just shopping alone.

This year will be the first year that LE will start to enjoy the festivities of the season. I have a calendar [almost] full of activities for every day as well as an Advent scripture-based reading to do. There are some free Jesse Tree resources that I thought we'd do, but then I came across Truth in the Tinsel, which is aimed at kids closer to LE's age. It has a daily craft and scripture reading. I'm really looking forward to it.

Image source

We will be doing Elf on the Shelf (see last year's roundup if you're doing that, too) for the first time, but with a little different twist than it's intended. Instead of the elf doing naughty antics or reporting back to Santa, she'll be a clue to what we're doing for the day. For example, if we're planning on watching a Christmas movie together, the elf will be on the DVD player reaching down to push play. Or, if we are going to do snow angels outside, LE will find the elf making a snow angel out of flour on the counter. If we are going to do a painting craft, the elf will be holding the supplies. Hopefully, the elf will be a fun game of hide and seek that LE will enjoy playing every day with the added bonus of an activity.

Here are some of our planned activities:
  • Cut down/choose our Christmas tree
  • Decorate the tree
  • Decorate coffee mugs using porcelain pens
  • Watch a Christmas movie together in Mommy & Daddy's bed
  • Make snow angels
  • Go sledding
  • Make snowman
  • Make mint scented playdough
  • Make cornstarch ornaments (like salt dough but comes out bright white)
  • Decorate Christmas cookies with church
  • Drive around to look at Christmas lights
  • Make s'mores in our fire pit
  • Decorate gingerbread houses or ice cream cone Christmas trees
  • Shop for a kid on the angel tree
  • Make footprint Christmas trees and reindeer faces
  • (Truth in the Tinsel has daily crafts that correspond with the reading, too)

Do you have a favorite tradition or activity for this time of year? Be sure to let me know if I missed something!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! This year was our first time staying home and attempting to do the whole Thanksgiving meal thing by ourselves. I think John and I had Thanksgiving as just the two of us the first year that we were married. Even though that was only a few years ago, I feel like I've come a long way culinarily. I don't remember everything (yes, you read that correctly, John ;) ), but I do remember making turkey breasts and dressing. Neither turned out that well.

This year was the year to go all out just for us four. John thought of it as a good practice run for future years when we could potentially host others. So, I spent a few hours looking at recipes on Sunday evening, determining how to cook what and how long it'd take. I made a timeline for the week to prep certain things in advance, like chopping all of the onions, celery, etc. Then, it was game day (pun intended).

It started out really easy and peaceful. I did the stuffing and prepped the bird as I was supposed to and get her in the oven.

I cleaned up the kitchen in a few minutes...

and then went to see what the family was up to. At one point, John and LE were building towers downstairs while Hannah slept. At another point, I went upstairs to find them having a party with all of LE's dolls in a circle around toy cupcakes and brownies. LE was singing the alphabet to them all while playing the "violin."

A little earlier than planned, the turkey registered at the right temperature. It looked perfect!

The dance began of putting all of the things in the oven and on the stove at the right times. This was the hardest part but still not bad. 

John carved the turkey and found that parts of the dark meat were not actually done yet, so we just set the dark meat aside to cook separately and went ahead with the white meat. I'm not sure what I'd do differently since I checked the internal temperature multiple times out of the oven. I must say that this allowed the white meat to not dry out, though, and it was well-flavored and moist. Woohoo!

LE had been patiently waiting all morning for her "'pecial lunch." Somehow that equated in her mind to PB&J. She burst into tears, and through sobs proclaimed over and over, "I wanted peanut butter and jellllly!" It was hard not to laugh. 

With the promise of a PB&J after she finished her other special lunch, she liked everything, especially the "chicken" with ketchup. It's not Thanksgiving without the ketchup! 

And little Hannah was held most of the meal until she pooped out of her diaper resulting in two of us needing to get changed. She promptly fell right to sleep in her swing after that. ;)

All in all, the dinner was great. The gravy was especially tasty, and the stuffing was best the next day. Turkey, mushroom and walnut stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and rolls. 

And here's my favorite part, of course.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2 Months: Hannah

Hannah and Lauren were both in great moods right before naptime, so I spread a blanket across the floor near the window in our master bedroom, opened the blinds, and put Hannah down on the blanket. Lauren instantly wanted to be next to her. I managed to get a couple of my favorite photos of the two together. These show just how much Lauren loves to be close to Hannah. 

None of Hannah’s big, gummy smiles were captured, but the look in her eyes commands me to stop and stare for a moment.

The photo spreads are taken from the photobook that I'm putting together, which makes the text hard to read in this format. In case you can't read the text above, I'll write it out again:
at two months [Hannah]...
  • smiles and coos often, especially at family & a toy cow 
  • rolls over and holds her head up like a 4 month old 
  • won’t take a pacifier or bottle 
  • sleeps most of the day in her swing 
  • wakes up every 2-3 hours to eat at night 
  • comes in at the 48th percentile for weight (11.72lb) and 87th percentile for height (23.7in) /// (Lauren was 12.2lb and 23.5in) 
  •  is getting over her painful evening gas in her belly & takes medicine for reflux