Friday, December 28, 2007

Family Pictures

We took a few family pictures today. I'm only posting our immediate family, but I'll put the rest on Snapfish and send a link to everyone who was there. (If you don't get it, let me know.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Making Herself at Home

First Daughter loved the little bouncer/rocker seat my nephew brought from home. Luckily no one minded when she co-opted it now and then. (She's signing baby. Isn't that cute?)

Keeping Little Hands Busy

First Daughter didn't last long before she started eating the dough. She had fun, though.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dance Party

With December winds blowing, we needed an outlet for all the kid-energy pent up in the house. Dance parties were a big hit, thanks to Sandra Boynton and the Veggie Pirate CDs. (These pajamas were a big hit with First Son, purchased just in time for our trip to visit Gram and Papa, where we thought it would be too cold for the too-small-not-quite-covering-the-arms-and-legs-pjs.)


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Pictures

After an exhausting night and a busy morning, these are the only pictures I have from Christmas Day.

We piled the kids (and some select gifts) in the van and headed for my parent's house, after spending the morning opening gifts and eating some fantastic French Toast casserole. We left later than planned and will be on the road for twelve hours...

Just in case you're worried, the coffee cup was not a gift for First Daughter. In typical toddler fashion, she ignored her presents and tried to confiscate whatever else she could grab.

The Worst Christmas Eve Ever

First Son got sick in the car, on the way to a Christmas Eve service. We had to change him when we got there, but he didn't want to leave because it was all too intriguing, so we huddled in the pew, praying he didn't get sick again and didn't pass on the illness.

At the end of the service, as we were discussing how to get First Son home (given the sad state of the car seat in our car), First Daughter set off on an adventure. Alone. It took a number of volunteers and at least five minutes to track her down. (It felt like at least thirty minutes to me, but I'm sure it wasn't that long.) She had walked out of the sanctuary, through a set of open double doors, into a room full of adults she didn't know and calmly helped herself to a bottle of soda. One of them finally recognized her as the missing baby and carried her back to us. She never cried, but I did once we found her (sobbing onto poor First Son's shoulder who was still sick enough to miss the drama of the situation).

We buckled First Son into Grammy's car and he promptly threw up again. They drove him to their house while we took First Daughter and made a side trip to our house for some medicine for his fever. Apparently, he was sick a number of times on the way home. First Daughter, meanwhile, who had not cried at all during her adventure, started crying as soon as we buckled her in and cried all the way home, a good thirty minutes. She cried while we sat in the car waiting for Kansas Dad to gather a few things. She cried so hard she threw up. Kansas Dad had to clean up another mess before we could drive to his parent's house.

First Son was feeling a little better, but still sick. He watched a video while the rest of us ate dinner. We finished after 8 pm and finally got the kids to bed around 9:30 pm. Then Kansas Dad and his parents took all the car seats apart and put the covers through the wash.

We missed mass. We left the kids for just a few minutes to go back to our house for our luggage. First Daughter was already awake when we returned. I spent the night holding her on the sofa so she could sleep upright. Neither of us slept very well. (Kansas Dad tried to sleep upstairs because we have a long drive in the morning, but he was still awakened by her cries pretty often.) At 6:45 am, I decided it had been long enough and deposited her in Kansas Dad's lap with a pathetic "Merry Christmas" and collapsed in bed for an hour.

In the morning, we discovered one of the kids had thrown up a little on the carpet. We don't even know which one. At least First Son woke up refreshed, "I'm feeling better, Mama!"

Monday, December 24, 2007

Moved On

It didn't take long for the kids to find a non-Christmas focus for play.

Our Christmas

We celebrated our Christmas this morning at home before heading to Grammy and Paw Paw's house to stay the night. We didn't have too many presents for the kids this year. We bought one combined gift that First Daughter loved. (Kansas Dad had one of his first Christmas Eve moments last night, a night early, as he pulled the pieces out of the box and struggled to get it together at the last minute.)

We were careful to get one First Son could ride. He didn't seem to take to it as much as his sister, but I'm sure he would have if we had to ask him to stay off.

First Son was much more interested in his stocking gifts, Pirate Larry in particular. He's been waiting (not very patiently) for weeks with the rest of the set ready for play. Here he is, complete at last.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


This morning, First Son and First Daughter started practicing for all the opening they have ahead of them. They spread the paper out on the kitchen floor and slowly ripped each piece into shreds.

Lucky for us, that's perfect for the compost pile.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Give and Take

Today, First Daughter broke my glasses. Just pulled them apart. Snap. Thanks, thanks a lot. I've been waiting patiently to buy a new pair...for the new year because my insurance for this year is all paid out. Just a little over a week to go and now I'm out of luck. (Kansas Dad repaired them for me, but they snapped again a while later.)

In exchange, she had the best nap ever. She slept for two hours and then Dad and Brother had to go wake her up! I'm not sure that's ever happened before. I got all the wrapping done during nap time. While wearing my contacts.


Today we had a blizzard. According to the paper, it was the worst winter storm (not counting ice storms, I think) we've had here in at least 30 years.

And I decided to take the kids for a drive. I was convinced I absolutely had to return the library books and go to the grocery store. (I took the kids so Kansas Dad could keep plugging away at that dissertation, and because they like the library.) Well, we made it to the library going 20 mph or less the whole way. First Daughter cried three-fourths of the way and then fell asleep (at 10:30 am!). I could hardly see anything, so I was just glad she was quiet.

After the library (where no one else brought their young kids, of course, because it was crazy to be driving in that weather), I decided to try for the store since I was already out. After about a block, my windshield wipers froze and no longer functioned. I had to pull over and break all the ice off of them with the wind whipping around my face. That's when I quit and headed home. Both kids fell asleep on the way, but we made it.

Next time they say "Stay home" on the news, I will.

The snow looks pretty, though. We're having a white Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Still Need a Gift?

Speaking of charities...

Here's a twist on the usual gift certificate. Give a gift card that allows the recipient to select a charity to receive the donation. Learn more at Charity Navigator.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood, founder of Room to Read

I loved reading this book. It made the trip home from New York a breeze. This inspiring story is a first person account of Mr. Wood's journey from high-level high-intensity Microsoft executive to high-level high-intensity non-profit start-up. It's an easy read that doesn't hide how difficult it can be to shed the security of a high-paying job, even when he finally realizes it's the only way he can be happy.

I was amazed at his dedication to Room to Read, which continues today. I love working for non-profits and am proud to believe I'm contributing to a better life for the kids we can reach here in the States, but I could never put in the time and energy he does, especially for no pay. (He admits his lifestyle has sabotaged all his relationships. He also accepts a paycheck now.) But it was still great to read about the life of someone who really is making a difference. His charity is also rated very highly for fiscal responsibility. You can read more about it here at Charity Navigator or here on their own website.

I watched a video recently that reminded me of the same sentiments expressed in the book. "In service really comes freedom. The more I was concerned about myself and how much money I could make or what things I could...amass, the unhappier I became." You can learn more about his charity Charity: Water on their website. (I think they might want to work on the name a little. Mr. Wood's charity was named by a bunch of friends enjoying numerous bottles of wine. Now that's the way to brainstorm.)

What struck me the most about these, the book and the video, is that the founder of each realized chasing the American dream of a secure job with as big a paycheck as possible wasn't fulfilling some need within themselves no one mentioned while they were going to school and starting careers - the need to serve, the need to make a difference in the lives of others. I'm not saying we shouldn't have jobs and make money. After all, the Bible calls us to work for our food. I'm saying we should learn to recognize the opportunities to serve in our lives. Sometimes that will mean taking a big risk, ditching a high-paying job to help children in Tibet or Africa, hopefully pointing them in a direction that will eventually benefit their entire families, communities and countries. Sometimes, it will mean walking the floor with a crying sick toddler at 11 pm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What First Daughter Says

What does a sheep say? "aa-aa-aa"

What does a cow say? "mmmmmm"

What does a pig say? "sniff sniff"

Everything else is "mama" and "dada."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Favorite Birthday Present

Mouse Cookies & More: A Treasury by Laura Joffe Numeroff (Author), Felicia Bond (Illustrator)

First Son adores this book and CD. We listen to it every night. We listen to it during the day. He dances to the songs and exclaims at the pictures. We've even started coming up with our own "If" stories.

Highly recommended.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snug as a Bug

First Daughter loves to practice sleeping in her brother's bed. If only she'd sleep well in her own bed. Kansas Dad and I have been taking turns walking with her, rubbing her back, and rocking her at night, listening all the while to her bedtime CD, my favorite lullaby CD of all time: Bedtime Prayers by Twila Paris.

The music is soft and lovely. The lyrics are beautiful. My favorite song is Your Whole Life Long. You can read the lyrics here (scroll down to track #6). I have a much easier time remembering how blessed we are and learning to love sacrificially when this song begins to play, even in the middle of the night when it feels like she hasn't slept for hours. Not that I have it down yet, of course.

When you're ready to become a parent, it's important to find a bedtime CD you can enjoy for hours on end night after night. I've tried others, many of them wonderful, but I always come back to this one. (First Son is old enough to pick his own now and usually listens to stories, but he listened to this one for over a year after he was born. We even had to replace it with the album from iTunes when we left the actual CD in a hotel in California.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sweet Relief

Now that we're not supposed to use cold and cough medicines on children under six, both of my kids under six have developed colds and coughs. We read in the paper that honey seemed to work just as well if not better for coughs, so we've started giving First Son a teaspoon of honey at bedtime. (First Daughter is old enough, over a year, but she didn't like it very much.) As far as we can tell, it seems to help. Most importantly, it's not hurting and First Son loves it.

Christmas Concert, Interrupted

The concert was suddenly ended when the main performer decided the commercial on TV was more interesting than performing for the camera.

You Haven't Been Dropped

We decided not to send Christmas cards this year. So if you usually get one from us and didn't, you haven't been dropped from our list.

We might decide to send Valentine's Day cards or St. Patrick's Day cards. I've known others to do that and it's nice to have something besides credit card offers and bills in the mail after the rush of holiday cards is over.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Even Bath Time Is Festive


She insisted I take off one and replace it so the pair was mismatched. I guess she couldn't decide which she liked better.

Girl of Many Hats

She also has this one and this one...and I think there are a few more in the basket. Can you tell I have three generous nieces just a little bit bigger than my daughter?

Dancing with the Pirates

For his birthday, First Son received the music for the new Veggie Pirate movie coming out in January and has been dancing up a storm ever since. (We're eagerly awaiting its release because it will be the first movie First Son will see in a theater.)

Thanks Grammy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Flu Will Return

The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

This excellent well-researched book covers the rise of modern medicine in America, the state of the home front during America's surge to World War I, and the path of influenza through it all. It's a wonderful history of the early 1900s that I can highly recommend, and there's not too much virology, either, if you're worried about that. There is enough, of course, to emphasize that the next great flu is coming and we are unprepared. (Wonderful news, no?)

Some notes:

1. Kansas was probably the starting point for the pandemic flu that struck in 1918 and 1919. Aren't we lucky?

2. The regular old influenza that hits every year kills more people than AIDS - around 36,000 deaths a year in the United States alone.

3. The influenza pandemic in 1918-1919 killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years.

4. Mr. Barry brought up an interesting question. Should the 1918 influenza virus genetic code be published? It would, of course, help scientists around the world develop potential vaccines and even better medications. It could also give sophisticated terrorists another powerful weapon. I didn't try to find out if it's been published yet.

5. If we ever have pigs and chickens, we're going to keep them far away from each other. It's just a theory, but I don't want to be the source of the next influenza pandemic that devastates the world.

There are dangers to reading this book on an airplane in December, as I did, listening to people all over the plane cough and sneeze their germs into the air. I'm not sure I'd recommend that plan.

I'd also like to point out that I'm not recommended we stop devoting resources to HIV and AIDS. I'm proposing we treat influenza with the same level of respect.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Official Birthday

Four years ago, we finally met you. I still remember the tears in your father's voice when he said to me "We have a son! We have a son!" And I remember how tiny you seemed curled next to me in the bed that night (though you were a hefty 8 pounds, 12 ounces when you were born). The first three weeks were tough (call a lactation consultant immediately!), but every day since then has been a joy.

I love to listen to you sing, watch you dance (and dance with you), see you hug your sister. I love that when I ask for a hug, you still come running (followed quickly by your sister). I love watching you grow up, even as I miss the little you from the day before. And I love to see you in orange and blue.

Happy birthday, my son!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dangerous Games

She hurt herself a little about the fifth time she stepped off, so she doesn't play this game anymore. It's a much better deterrent than if we just said no, and she didn't get too hurt, so it all worked out. Plus, we have this fun video.

Birthday Video

Birthday Party!

After mass, we met Grammy, Paw Paw and Uncle at the restaurant First Son requested. It wasn't the food that had him hooked (he hardly eats anything while we're there); it was the play area. He spent pretty much the whole hour and a half climbing and yelling down at us. But it was his birthday party, so we're glad he had fun.

We opened presents before nap time. This was the first year First Son was excited about his birthday and presents, so he dug right in!

He happily trekked off to quiet time, too, which I hadn't expected. But he had a new book on CD and was very happy to listen to it and rest.

Kansas Dad very sweetly offered to make an ice cream cake to celebrate. (Neither of our kids are big cake fans, though they think they are until it's on the plate in front of them.) First Son was delighted, especially when we let him put M&M's (his favorite) and sprinkles on it. Nothing like putting them to work at a young age.

What a handsome guy!

Birthday Boy at Breakfast

It's not really his birthday for two more days, but I'm off on a business trip (when did I become the kind of mother who misses birthdays for business?) so we're celebrating today. Luckily, though he knows he's four, he hasn't quite got the idea of days of the month, so it's all the same to him. He just knows he's in for a great day!

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Tonight, First Daughter pulled off her pants and her diaper in one fell swoop. She carried them innocently to my husband, who was dismayed to find them all wet. Little one, that's not usually the best way to win a man's heart. Luckily, you already have your father's for life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Body Image

First Son, bending over and poking his finger into his bare tummy: "I'm Squishy".

Our Christmas Tree

We just have a little tree this year. It's decorated purely with kid-safe ornaments, except the Bob and Larry First Son discovered in the box and insisted I hang (up high). I took the picture on the fireworks setting, definitely the best for the Christmas lights. First Son helped decorate, hanging ornaments carefully all along the bottom. First Daughter helped to undecorate by removing them one by one right behind him. (I replaced them after they went to bed and will continue to replace them, I'm sure, all the way to Christmas.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Cheer

I know I'm not keeping up with the blog as I should. It's all Kansas Dad's fault. He thinks he needs to use the home computer to finish his dissertation and has been hogging it every night after the kids are asleep. The nerve.

Anyway, here's a little video to keep you entertained until I can post again. (By the way, I don't know anything about these guys, but I liked the performance.)

HT: Testosterhome

Saint Nicholas

Thursday is St. Nicholas's feast day (and my sister's birthday; happy birthday, sis!) so I thought I'd pass along a link with great information on this well-known saint.

I wanted to get the kids some chocolate coins to celebrate the feast day, but I caught a stomach bug and haven't left the house (and Kansas Dad is up against a dissertation deadline). They won't notice so we'll just start next year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Two More Teeth

Thank goodness. We weren't just deluding ourselves when we told each other First Daughter's grumpiness was uncharacteristic.

She's up to ten teeth - a fine set for a fourteen month old.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Boy's Sense of Humor

The Runaway Dinner
Author: Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator: Bruce Ingman

First Son loves this book. We checked it out from the library, along with a CD of the book and he's enthralled. He reads along to the CD and asks you to read along (with or without the CD). Personally, I think it's a little silly, but he thinks it's laugh-out-loud funny. Apparently, I don't quite have the sense of humor of an almost-four-year-old boy. The author seems to have it about right.

Ah, the Flu

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I love reading about epidemics and pandemics. I don't care if Kansas Dad thinks I'm weird. (I like to point out the books I read sell a lot more on Amazon than the ones he likes.)

Anyway, I finally got around to reading The Devil's Flu by Pete Davis. It took a while to make it to the top of my list (published in 2000). In general, I'd recommend Gina Kolata's book more. The version of Flu I have was published in 1999, but there's a new version that came out in 2001. It might even cover what was missing in the original. (I linked to the new one.) I liked her style better. I agree with both of them, though, that influenza is a great threat in our times and not given enough resources or respect.

I won't say any more because I'm about to start reading The Great Influenza by John Barry. Hopefully it'll have even more information, being published in 2005.