Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

We had a complete blast! Unlike Christmases past, we had no puking, no plumbing problems, no huge meltdowns, no infant babies.

It was the best Christmas!

Seren woke up at 5:15 on Christmas morning. Yikes! Complaining of a stomach ache! The anxiety and lack of sleep had me panicking about a possible stomach bug all over again. The 'stomach ache' was sheer excitement! We made her wait up there until 6 am. She was in and out of sleep.

We woke her up with big Merry Christmas cheers! And then talked about whether Santa had visited or not until Wyeth woke up at 6:45.

We put on the tree and the kids came down. They loved that the tree had been trimmed by Santa! They ran to see if he ate the cookies. Seren was enthralled by the idea that Santa wrote her a note back. And the stockings were stuffed! She started bouncing up and down. "He stayed here and played with our stuff? And trimmed OUR tree?" We started with the stockings. And everyone loved the goldfish crackers. They happily munched and ate the fish.

Seren was particularly impressed that Santa remembered our cat Jordan. [Note, we actually totally forgot about this member of our family. Christmas eve found us crawling around out garage trying to find some random cat treats and wrapping in the Santa paper at 11 pm!]

Wyeth fed the cat a cat treat.
Seren fed the cat a cat treat.
The cat was happy.
Wyeth fed HIMSELF a cat treat.
Wyeth was not happy.

Here is a picture of him as he stood stunned by what just happened. Note the cat treat bag.

After about an hour of opening stocking stuffers [really!??], we had breakfast. I couldn't believe how slow the gift opening went. I was proud in that they didn't tear through it but it was kinda painful too! On Christmas eve, we started a new tradition with my in-laws. The kids opened presents with Bill and Linda via skpe. See below. It was the best! The kids LOVED it and it was fun to celebrate Christmas early with my in-laws. See them on the screen?

They got her a fairy house and she just LOVES the fairies!

They loved all of the gifts but Seren and Wyeth did a little bit too much "MORE" and "MINE" during the experience. We talked to Seren about this on Christmas Eve. That Christmas was about giving and sharing and not just getting. We also reminded her of how lucky she was to get gifts at all. We may have come down a bit more on the scrooge side but in a family that lives with such abundance, I don't want her to forget that some families had really no Christmas this year.

Anyway...back to the breakfast of banana shakes and other treats. We returned to the gits. The kids just loved it all. And we played with each item as it was opened up. Seren was really excited for some of Wyeth's gifts and asked if she could help him with the packaging when he couldn't open it himself. And Wyeth loved the excitement.

We had one minor meltdown and one MASSIVE meltdown. The mini meltdown happened when I took his goldfish cracker container and wrote an innocent 'W' on the side of it to distinguish Wyeth's crackers from Seren's. Fail. OH my holy gosh! I should have been put in prison for that crime! Crying and banging of feet happened.

The second massive meltdown happened when we tried to change him out of his pjs into his Christmas clothes. He had a massive meltdown. There was snot. There were tears. It was horrible! He DID NOT WANT TO GET OUT OF HIS PJS!!? Guess who was still in his pjs at 6 pm that night?

Seren and Sam wrote me poems for Christmas. I love these special poems. Sam writes a poem everyday. LINK. And when they write together, she dictates and he types. I loved mine and got all teary eyed with the emotion of the gift. So special!

But the main theme this Christmas was the real magic of Christmas! For Seren, she asked Santa for one gift this year. A 'doll bench'. This would be a place where her dolls could sit. On a bench. She asked for this time and time again. She asked Santa, when we saw him, for this item every time. She also threw in a 'new dolly' one time but the consistent item was a bench for her dolls.

After the stockings and breakfast, the monologue from Seren went something like this.

"Where is my doll bench? I thought Santa was not going to wrap it. But I guess he did. Or maybe I didn't get it. That's ok... But maybe the doll bench is here. Somewhere. Ya know, for my dolls."

After about 20 mentions of said 'doll bench' in about ten minutes, Sam and I looked at eachother and 'found' the one from Santa! The thrift store strikes again! Score!

Santa also gave her some lipgloss in her stocking. "Oh! Cool. Markers!" When I explained what they were she exclaimed "LIPSTUFF!!! JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED!" THe other huge exclamation concerned, of all things, underwear. "Oh Mom! He must have known that I needed this. THis is really, really good! "

Seren also didn't leave Wyeth out of the mix. She was a bit concerned that Wyeth, Mr. not so verbal, might be worried that Santa wouldn't know what to bring him.

"Its ok Wyeth, even if you didn't tell him what you wanted, he knows. He knows you like cars and trucks and trash. He really knows these things. You'll see"

And Santa did know what Wyeth wanted!

After we opened about 80% of our gifts, the kids were overwhelmed. They ate goldfish in bed while Sam and I packed up for our trip down to my Mom and Dad's. We spent two nights down there and really enjoyed ourselves!

We finally arrived around 12. Santa had come there too! And my mom and dad spoiled us to gifts, salmon dinner, wine, raclette another night...and time with family.

After running around like maniacs with Uncle John after Christmas dinner, my mom had the kids do a little yoga! Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

The entire month of December brought us so much joy! We loved it all! We loved how much time we spent as a family! And we weren't stressed. Wyeth's bday was low key. And so was Christmas! I managed to get out my Christmas cards, succeed in not mailing a single thing at the US Post office and really enjoy the time! A full on success!

We can't wait for next year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Love it

I just love it. I love it all. I love the fact that my son sits in the back of the car and yells WOW at each of the houses that are lit with Christmas lights. He even yells WOW in our driveway when our lights are on.

And Seren screams at the top of her lungs INFLATABLES whenever we see them.

Unfortunately there are many in our neighborhood.

It is a cheap thrill really. Sam and I took the kids about three or four times this holiday season- they had a complete blast. Truly. And so did we. Just listening to Christmas songs and looking at super tacky lights.

I have loved every second of it! From Seren searching with her binoculars to find Beck, to thier new Christmas pjs, to the 10001 times we have seen Santa this season, to the gift wrapping and on line shopping to the topper of the holiday season, seeing Santa drive by our house in a fire engine.

He came late this year around 8:45! And we were so worried he wasn't going to come down our street. Seren already made peace with this. "It's ok. I already saw him." She had convinced herself but Sam and I started to worry about budget cuts and maybe the township couldn't make Santa drive down all of the streets.

When he finally came on top of that HUGE fire engine with the sirens blaring, we raced out in our footie pjs, coats flung on shoulders, running into the cold night.

And we waved and cheered and jumped up and down.

And of course I cried. I cry every year. Nothing better than seeing my children giddy with the magic of Christmas. And it won't be this way every year. And one day it will be Sam and I, in our jeans, looking out the window waving to Santa. Or casually sauntering out with coffee cup/wine glass in hand. But this year, it is about racing, being giddy and waving our little hands off, screaming SANTA!

Because we won't see him again, of course, until next year. With my new 3 year old and my 5.5 year old.

Life is so short and so magical.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crap work week but Christmas here we come

On Tuesday I heard that I did not get a promotion I hoped for, longed for and worked for.

I can't go into it but man, it was a total total blow to my self esteem.

There are many factors at work here. So I did some crying. Did some venting. Did some more crying. Hard not to feel like a failure!

But we'll see.

But last night Uncle John and my parents came by for dinner. It was just what I needed! Seren just ate up John's attention. When I came home from the office she yelled out, "MOM! Your brother is here!!"

So fun!

So it IS Christmas. It is about time with family. It is about just being together. Work is very important to me and being valued at this place is something I crave and deserve. But at the end of the day, there are bigger fish to fry. There are people and life goals and dreams that mean more to me. The biggest motivating factor, of course, is my family.

I'm excited to see Seren and Wyeth's faces when they open up thier gifts. I'm excited to drink wine with my parents. To have fondue with my family tonight! To sit by my already dry Christmas tree and just breathe.

We all just need a break!!

Have a Very Merry Christmas!! May we all have germ free days and lots of relaxation!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seeking Community

I come to this thought time and time again. The need to be surrounded by people. Real people. With real food. Not cyber friends or facebook posts which are just a daily stream of my "friends" thoughts.

I crave connection.

And I always think back to my days in California. Where I didn't have kids and Sam and I were still 'new'. The true mark of friendship, in my book, is the friend that can just stop by. Knock on the door and come in.

I had several friends out there that I could do that with.

And it was lovely. And they would arrive on my doorstep. And I'd open the door and welcome them in. To my messy house. To my imperfect meals. And we'd just talk. And share things. Share newly made bread. Fresh cookies. Fresh flowers. Othertimes we'd drink wine and share fondue. Those moments are now 6 years ago. Six long years. Six great years. Full of sleep deprivation. Early mornings. Diapers. Fun. New discoveries. Great victories. Small (first) steps.

I wouldn't trade.


I'd like some more community.

I think sometimes the computer enables us to hide behind the screen. Not reaching out. Not checking in on people in any real way. Not dealing with the reality of the messiness of life. And babies and kids make it harder. It is all about logistics. "Ok, if I were stop by, would I get home by nap? How would she be? If I brought him with me, would he melt down? What are her kids doing now? I'm sure I'd be interrupting. Oh. Forget it."

So I don't stop by. And I don't connect.

Somedays I have a big ole pity party about my 8 weeks on bedrest. It was the most isolating and stressful experience of my entire life. I had great support from friends. Daily emails, weekly check ins. But my friends weren't there in the flesh. Holding my hand. Sitting next to me to have a meal with me. And I craved that 'in person' sense. It wasn't as if they didn't want to be there- it was just that many live far away! I was so grateful for Umy, Andy, Rachel, my parents, and Whitney who met me at my house/at the hospital and sat with me in my 'sitting room'. Those moments were such GIFTS.

And I want to "be there" for others that are having a hard time. Or just need some respite. I want to be the person who drives in the car to arrive to say "I'm here. Let me know how I can help."

I want that. I want to do that. I want my kids to grow up in a house where that does happen. Where friends and family do 'drop everything' to be there.

But my dear friends are up to 3,000 miles away!

So my hope is that 2011 is the year of community. Not just friends but deep, real community. The open the door and welcome to my messy house type of friends. Where cleaning is nice but optional.

The bulk of this shift is within myself. And letting go of trying to be perfect. It will take putting myself out there with people. Offering up experiences to connect. And seeing what happens. The logistics will still be there. Naps will still need to be thought about and addressed. But my community can't just extend to 6-7 people.

I read on a blog last week that she described her life as a mother as 'shrinking to the size of a teacup'. I could relate to that as I became obsessed with sleep schedules, feeding patterns. But I know and she knows that life is bigger than that. There is much more outthere. Much more to experience and do. And it is possible with kids. Of course it is! Some of my most richest, most community minded moments surround my life with my children and husband. I don't want to say that it is either "rich community" OR "time with wee ones." That is oversimplying and unfair.
But I do hope that 2011 is the year of extending myself OUTWARD.

I feel like something BIG and hope filled is going to happen in 2011. I'm just not sure what yet. Join me!

Fondue anyone?

Friday, December 17, 2010

2 year stats

Wyeth is 27 lbs and 34.3 inches tall....which means he may be 5 foot 9 according to on line calculators.
He is 50% W, 50% H
100% loveable

Show me the Parents

There is no doubt about it- life with two young kids can be tough. It is the physical demands but the emotional demands as well which can be so challenging. The 'are we doing this right' thinking exhausts me. And I think those thoughts on a daily basis.

Often at the end of the day, I feel frustrated. What the heck got done today? Why have I only added to the to-do list? When do we just relax?

And when do I fit in time to just hang with Sam? This is increasingly a concern because he works at night on his part time job. And we are getting used to not hanging out!

So we continue to work to find little slices of time. To sit. To chat. To say, "Hi person I live with. How the heck are you?"

So this 'show me the mommy' post is also 'show me the parents'. Because seriously behind all of this- the work, the preschool decisions, the discipline, the fights about hair, the baths, the tantrums, the dishes, the home renovations, the bills, are two folks who are partners who love each other.

Damn cute, I tell ya. Damn cute.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Come on ride the train, the Choo-Choo Train

For Wyeth's second birthday, we took our family and my parents on a choo-choo train in West Chester, PA. We took him the day after he turned two and we had a blast!

The train wasn't a steam engine like the one we took in Flint but that didn't matter to Wyeth. And it was FREEZING inside the train. The website said it would be 'heated'. And it was, technically. But man, my toes were almost numb by the time we got off the train!

All that being said, we had a wonderful time! Santa and Mrs. Claus joined us on the train and there were some (off key) musical singers as well. The train stopped and everyone got off the train to get a chance to talk with Santa. It was a very beautiful, old station called Glen Mills. Just charming. When Seren saw Santa her face just LIT UP! It was the BEST. What a gorgeous little girl. A true believer this year!

We then finished up our train trip and went to lunch at a local diner.

We then went to my parents home for nap/rest. When Wyeth woke up he was greeted with a wooden train that my father had built for my brother 30 years ago! He loved it! My parents also purchased a Thomas balloon which was the hit of the day for both Wyeth and Seren.

We then had a simple pizza dinner and had cake.

It was a small celebration but it was perfect. He had a blast and we all had a wonderful time! What a great, great way to celebrate TWO!

Picture overload:

And my favorite of the birthday boy himself:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holidays done right

We have had a busy busy 13 days of December! But we have celebrated the upcoming holidays is so many fun ways!

December 3rd brought Wyeth's Second.

We took him on a choo-choo train to celebrate.

We bought the tree and decorated the tree and the house the following day

We decided on a family pic and puchased the cards

We have taken the kids on fun family drives to look at the lights. Cheap thrills! Seren yells 'INFLATABLES' at every inflatable Santa/elf/train/snowman we see. WYeth yells out WOW! WOAH!

We saw the Nutcracker

We made homemade Christmas cookies and delivered them to neighbors wearing the
Christmas hats my parents bought the kids.

We saw Christmas lights in Flint in November,

We have donated toys for kids that are needy- Seren helped pick them out

We have celebrated the magic of Christmas with Elf on a Shelf

We have done the advent calendar- but often are a day behind

We went to Holly NIghts in Pennsbury Manor- candlelight walks with hot cidar and friends

We bought Christmas presents

We open one holiday book a day. Sam, over the year, has collected 10 cent of 25 cent books at the Thrift Store. A total of 33 books. WE started November 22nd. He has dutifully wrapped this used treasures and the kids trade picking one out to open each night. Then we read that book during family story! Love it!

But we have really just enjoyed being together. No newborn. No bar exam looming. Just the four of us.

And it isn't over yet! As Seren told me yesterday, "I am giving my favorite cookie to our neighbors because Christmas is about giving, Mom."

How right she is! We get caught up in elves and Santa because it is truly a magical age. And we love it too! But I think that Seren is getting the real message in this nuttiness as well. I'm proud of the kind person she is becoming. She is a good friend and a true blessing to us.

Can't wait for more!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Elf on the Shelf

We didn't buy this product last year but this year my mom and dad purchased the Elf for us. And we LOVE it. Absolutely up our alley!
We love this little guy!

The story is that the Elf (who each family has to name) keeps watch over children's behavior every day and goes to Santa during the night to tell him about how the kids have been doing. The Elf comes with a story that lays out the rules. The main rule is that kids can't talk to it. That and that he can't talk back.

The elf arrived on December 4th. Seren named it Beck. The first night I found her talking to it quietly. I felt like saying 'Welcome Beck. Congrats! You picked a verbal house!'

And oh my gosh- we LOVE this elf! We love it because it is fun and magical and SILLY. And we love Beck because he is motivation for behavior modification. Seren screamed (as usual) during our morning hair tussle. I pointed to Beck and said, "Remember! The elf is watching."

Not a peep from her. Not an 'effing peep.

Bless the elf!

She tries it on Wyeth too. "Remember Wyeth! Don't scream and push me. Remember Beck, Wyeth? Do you?" (All while pointing at the elf with one hand and her other hand on her hip).

Beck is less effective with Wyeth.

The first day Seren said to me, "I heard him! I did! I heard him come in the front door! Do you think he is in my room? Let me check to see if my magic wand is where I left it. Oh yup. It is. Never mind. I don't think he is in here...."

And the magic begins. One simple story. One idea about a magical elf and Seren was off and running in her mind! It was simply amazing! She worries about Beck's arms being too weak to hang from the tree/chandelier/bookshelf. She also asks so many questions about how he uses his magic to climb and jump to high places. And when Seren and Wyeth spent a night at my parents' home this past weekend (YAY!), she was very concerned that we would look for him prior to their arrival home.

So far Sam and I have only screwed up once. We were bringing the kids down for breakfast when I realized that Beck hadn't visited the north pole last night!

I yell out, "Sam! E-L-F!"

In a quick minute, Sam grabs the elf, whispers, "shit" and finds a new place for Beck to hang from.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, I distract the kids with the "amazing" new piece of Tupperware. We were all clear.


We love the elf! So much fun!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Before we race towards Santa and Christmas, I wanted to post about our lovely time in Flint Michigan to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Last year we drove to MI- a long 13 hours one way. Seren loved the hotels we stopped in both ways and so did we but after only an 8 hour car trip with Wyeth which included vomitting due to his own frustration, we took my in-laws generous invitation and flew to Michigan. What a life saver that was!

The trip to MI was great. Wyeth sat on my lap for the two flights. The first flight, he INSISTED on sitting on his own (non existant) part of the seat. We were sitting next to a young 20 year old guy. He was totally cool with the squirming, kicking Wyeth sharing his itty bitty seat. Once Wyeth fell asleep, I dragged his tired tush onto my lap and everyone was cool. The second flight, Wyeth and I sat next to a rathr large woman so there wasn't much 'seat' to share. That was fine with Wyeth- he even proceeded to 'drive' his match box cars all over the woman's leg! I was horrified but again, the woman was gratious and laughed.

We made it! We spent the better part of Thursday through Sunday eating and playing. But mostly eating. My mother and law indulged us with a completely full fridge and sam and I did our best to eat it all! The dinner itself was yummy and heavy on the carbs- just the way we like it!

We had some great evening adventures and were spoiled rotten by dinners out! Sam and I treated the family to an adventure on the Huckleberry Railroad which had to be my personal highlight. What fun! We bundled all up and saw some wonderful light displays aboard this old steam engine! It was a total blast!

We really enjoyed just all being together! Bill, Sam's Dad, also took some great famiily photos. We have so much to be thankful for: our health, our family, and our friends. At the end of each day, that is what life should be about!

We celebrated Thanksgiving!

We sat around and did cozy things:

We watched electric trains!

We trimmed the Angus family tree:

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We spent time with our family:

We saw a big choo-choo!

We celebrated two milestones! 70! and 2!

We had a great time!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wyeth is 2!

Tonight at 10:53 pm Wyeth will turn two! I have indulged myself by reminiscing about my weeks on bedrest, his awesome birth and the past two years. I simply can't get over the fact that my little man is two today. It seems like just yesterday Seren turned two and we were 8-9 weeks pregnant with Wyeth. And now Wyeth is having his big second birthday!

Wyeth, you continue to be pure light in our lives. Seren made me a mom- birthing me into someone completely different from my old self. But Wyeth, you re-birthed me as a Mom. A Mom who is much more relaxed that the previous version of my Mom self. You helped me enjoy and savor the baby weeks/months because I knew (the second time around) how fleeting the weeks and months would be.

You are all about life. You are not cautious. You live life large. I love that about you. You are also funny. You are quick to smile and laugh. And you are a charmer. Oh my, little man. So outgoing! You blow kisses to the garbage men when they pick up the trash as well as the cashier at the grocery store. You leave little melted hearts in your wake as you seem to have the ability to laugh and charm everyone around you.

You adore your sister. If she raises her hands up and sings, you do. If she tells you to say "Doo-doo", you do. If she tells you to say "Ta-da!", you do. She provides you so much comfort. When the vacuum comes on, you run into her arms for comfort until the vacuuming is complete.

You are a lover of cats. Meow-meows are amazing creatures! Hugging them has become a personal goal of yours.

And you are a lover of buses, cars, and trains. This obsession started 4 weeks ago and there is no end in sight. You will wake up talking about trains 'choo-choo' and go to sleep with cars in your hands. As a mother of a daughter and a son, I'm still surprised by your passion for all things 'transportation'.

You and your sister both love to dress up. Hats and silly princess costumes make you smile wide. Nothing better than being silly!

But Wyeth you really don't eat all that well. We are working on re-programming you from eating 6 foods to you know, eating more than 6!

But don't rush on growing up! You wanted to wear undies this weekend while we were at Grandma's and Granddad's. Your time will come. Please don't rush!

We can't wait to celebrate you this weekend on your birthday Train Adventure. We hope to see Santa Claus at the Holiday Express!

You also continue to be a momma's boy which thrills me to no end. As I held you while you slept on the plane coming back from Michigan, I looked at your face and realized that in the not too distant future, you will be 13 years old and instead of little feet, they will be big stinky feet. And that our time with you as a wee one goes all too quickly. In my mind's eye you were just born and I was gazing at your amazing face for the first time.

Continue to be the sweet, loving, active boy that we know you to be! We love you and are so proud of who you are, Wyeth! Happy, happy 2nd birthday!