Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New and Improved...




For part of our birthdays and Christmas my parents gave us a new fan and light fixture for the family room. They look so good! We had them installed a couple of weeks ago and I'm sad to say that we've already been able to use the fan. The old fan barely worked, had 4 smaller blades, and was very unstable. It always shook back and forth when you turned it on. This new fan is much more powerful, which is exactly what we need for the summers here. We had the handy man set it on the highest setting and it feels wonderful and doesn't shake at all! It doesn't provide quite as much light as the last one (which Al is happy about) but I am okay with that.

And the light fixture in the hallway looks so much better. The fan and light fixture both helped update the room so much.

Trying Out the Scooter






Yesterday the kids and I headed to the park by our house so that Avery could really try out her scooter. She loved it! James and I played on the playground while she rode around. We lasted for about 40 minutes, but then it got cold with the breeze. None of us had mittens on and James' poor hand were so red. I didn't even buy anybody mittens this year, thinking it was a poor investment, but maybe we'll get some cheap ones some where for those few days we might need them.

Christmas Morning









Christmas morning finally came. The few days leading up to Christmas were maybe the longest of Avery's life. She would ask me every day, several times a day, if it was night time yet. She wanted it to be night time so she could go to bed and have one less day until Christmas :)

The kids woke up at 6:30 am, not too bad since they usually wake up between then and 7 anyway. I remember when I was a kid my older brother woke us up at 4:30 am once. The first thing Avery saw was her bumblebee pillow pet. She had been asking for one of those for months and she was so excited about it. Santa brought James the doggy one since he loves doggies so much. And Avery got the scooter she had been eye-ing for months too. The kids got so many fun things from Santa, grandparents and from me and Al. Avery declared it was the best Christmas ever :) James was perfectly content with Christmas after opening his Thomas the Train coloring book. He oohed and aahed over it for the longest time, thumbing through the pages and immediately colored several pages. Al and I ended up opening most of his presents for him, but after he saw everything else opened he was really excited about his other gifts too.

Al built a huge train track for the kids with all of their new pieces. We have quite the collection now of tracks and accessories and it is really cool!

Al got his Droid for Christmas. Well, actually, he got it on the 14th. I didn't write about it in my birthday post because Al was going to act like he really opened it on the 25th. Verizon wasn't supposed to deactivate his old phone until the 25th. But on the 13th I went in to exchange the first phone that was selected for the one he actually got and I think the girl messed it all up. I even talked to her that day about not deactivating the old phone until the 25th...oh well. So on the morning of the 14th I came home from a run and Al told me his phone wasn't working and then he got a huge smile on his face. At that point I tried to act like I didn't know what was going on for a while, but then I figured the jig was up. So I went and got the Droid out of it's hiding place (I hid it so well too!) and gave it to Al. Then we went to Verizon and got everything set up on his new phone, etc. and he's been playing with it ever since. In a way, it was a good thing he got it early because he was on vacation that week and had a lot of time to get applications and figure things out before he went back to work. Otherwise, he went back to work the morning after Christmas and wouldn't have had time to get his numbers/pics and everything transferred to his new phone. Not to mention that he was able to focus more on the kids on Christmas day than the new phone :)

We had a great big breakfast that morning. I cooked aebelskivers for everybody. We had some plain, and some filled with strawberry cream cheese, and some filled with Nutella. All rolled in powdered sugar. The Nutella were far and away the best ones. Whatever filling you put in there gets all melted and delish. I think it would taste good to have a fruit filling too. We also had eggs, bacon and sliced oranges.

It was a great day spent in pajamas, playing new board games and wii games, watching movies, trains, scooter riding, eating, chocolate, etc. That night we had hot chocolate with a peppermint fluff that was tasty and festive.

The pictures of the kids in their new church clothes was taken Sunday morning of course. Remember how well they did on the last Sunday morning photo session? It went about that well this time too. Avery didn't want to go to church. She wanted to stay home and play with her toys in her jammies again, etc. And James just plain didn't want his picture taken. Oh well. One of these days we'll get a good one.

Christmas Eve






Christmas Eve was an absolute blast this year. I was worried I would be homesick, but that didn't set in until Christmas afternoon. We were invited to a party at my friend Anna's house. A bunch of our friends that were staying in town were there too. The theme for the evening was "Pasta Night" and the food was fantastic. I made 2 batches of my meatballs and 3 batches of Sarah's marinara sauce, and then spaghetti noodles to go with it. Anna made her awesome tomato cream sausage and basil rigatoni, and Ashli made a creamy chicken and bowtie pasta dish, along with some parmesan and herb rolls. Then Anna also made 2 different green salads to go with. Paola brought a traditional Brazilian ham dish (not pasta...but delish!) and was in charge of drinks. She went all out and brought bottled Mexican coke, and tons of different varieties of sparkling ciders. Meretta brought a yummy spinach and parmesan dip with crackers. Anna also dedicated her entire kitchen table to desserts. Everything was red and green and white and so festive! I wish I had taken pictures. Loni brought a couple of different types of cupcakes to contribute to the dessert table.

The adults all sat around Anna's huge dining room table and the kids were just off to the side. Anna had borrowed Miss Annie's preschool table and chairs and it was perfect for the night. After a lot of eating and visiting the kids put on the nativity play. Avery was Mary. As you can tell from the pictures, she was pretty wired that evening. James was a shepherd. He looked pretty cute in his costume, but as you can imagine the headpiece didn't stay on very long. Anna's husband, Clarke, read the account of Jesus' birth from the scriptures as the kids acted everything out. Then we sang a few carols.

Then it was time for dessert. I think most of the adults were too full to eat much, but the kids loved all of the bowls of candy Anna had set out and the cellophane bags they got to fill with candy before heading home.

It was pouring rain as we left the party and rained for most of the night. We came home and the kids opened their new Christmas jammies before going to bed so Santa could come.

Holiday Baking



We did a lot of holiday baking this year between what we did at home and what we did in San Antonio.

You can see in the pictures what part Avery likes to help with. And what part James likes to help with :)

Before we left to San Antonio we made chocolate chocolate/mint chip cookies and two batches of chocolate chip gooey butter cakes to take to some parties and to Al's home teaching families.

In San Antonio we helped make homemade oreos and peppermint marshmallows.

Then when we got home we did two batches of sugar cookies, gingerbread boys and girls, gingersnaps and chocolate peanut butter balls. I am ALL baked out for a long time!! I guess I have just over a month to get the baking bug back in time for Avery's birthday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

San Antonio






Last week we went to San Antonio for a few days while Al was on vacation. He has never been and so it was fun to show him around. We spent a lot of time hanging out at Jon's and Becky's which is always fun. James loves to play with the dog and Avery and Alison play around the clock together. We drove around the city a lot so Al could see what San Antonio is like and did a lot of holiday activities: eating cookies, making gingerbread houses, making hot chocolate, homemade marshmallows, baking more cookies, wrapped presents, spent a lot of time in the sewing room working on projects, etc. We rented several movies, but I think I fell asleep during every one so I can't say whether they were any good or not. We've all been sick with really bad colds and nobody slept that great while we were there.

We went to this amazing outdoor shopping mall they have there and walked around for a while. I found Avery a navy blue polo for next year at Gymboree for $3. This school uniform thing is gonna kill me. I guess that's my new challenge...to make it as cute as I can.

Saturday night Becky and Jon took us out for a night on the town. We left on the earlier side and took Al to see the Alamo. We made it inside for a few minutes before they closed the grounds. Then we walked the Rivercenter mall and the Riverwalk. It was super crowded because of Christmas and people wanting to see it all lit up. It was still so much fun though. They took us to a really nice restaurant and we got a table right on the river. It was a great night!

Now Al is back to work as of yesterday and the kids and I are busy getting things ready for Christmas. I think we are baking today!

Birthday Celebration




I had a great birthday this year! The kids woke up early and Al was home because he was on his official vacation. They gave me my presents in the morning and were so excited for me to open them. Very cute. Then we took Avery to her preschool Christmas party and I went on a short birthday run with my friend, Leslee.

After we picked Avery up we ran a few errands and then went to the grand opening of a Chipotle that opened just down the street from us. After that we went to HEB to pick out some birthday cake. We ended up with a few different cupcakes. Avery chose the chocolate one...as you could have probably guessed.

Then it was off to the DMV! Birthday fun all day long! Ha ha ha. Oh well, it had to be done, and Al had the day off to help with the kids. The line wasn't too bad and now I have an official Texas driver's license. Plus, the worker at the DMV wished me a happy birthday.

That night my friends planned a big night for me. We met at Annie's house where a couple of my friends had presents for me. Leslee gave me a 6-pack of bottled diet coke and a giant bag of peanut butter M&Ms...she knows me so well :) And this was hilarious...the other night my friend Kim was asking me if money was tighter during med school or during residency. I said for most people money was worse during residency, but for us it's about the same because we didn't have food stamps during med school like most students do, so there wasn't much of a transition for us. And then I was laughing about how every once in a while Al will say that it has been so long since we've had chicken. Anyway, my friend Kim gave me a ton of frozen chicken for my birthday. I think it's the oddest, but funniest gift I've ever gotten.

A lot of us piled into my van and another group met us there later. All the girls were dressed up so cute for the night out and we listened to the Glee Christmas CD that Al and the kids had given me earlier. Then we were off to the Chocolate Bar! It's this really cool place in Rice Village that has 30+ homemade ice creams, all of these elaborate desserts, dipped chocolates, etc. It was a very fun night and we were out late!

It was also so fun to get all the phone calls and texts throughout the day. What a great birthday!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Avery's dance routine


video

This morning was Avery's dance showcase at her teacher's house. The little girls did such a good job and they were so cute to watch! I wish I had gotten a better angle with the camera, but I had James and didn't want to sit in the middle in case we had to step out. Dance is over for the year, but next semester starts the first week in January.

Ms. Tricia is just so cute with the kids and Avery is learning so much and having a blast. I am excited to watch Avery progress as she continues classes.

There were a few dads that were able to make it today and Ms. Tricia started the showcase off by showing some of the steps the kids have learned, some of their routines, etc. Then the girls performed their special dance for the parents. Afterward we had refreshments and visited with each other. It was a very fun morning and I'm so proud of Avery!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rebelling




I tried to get a couple of pictures of the kids before church on Sunday. They looked so Christmas-y in their outfits and I thought they would look great in front of the tree. It didn't go so well though...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cowboy Boots



I bought these cowboy boots on sale for super cheap at the end of the season last year, hoping they would fit James this year. The other day I pulled them out and James fell in love with them. It was a bit of a struggle to get them on (I still don't understand how it is so hard to put a baby's shoe on and yet they come off/fall off so easily...) but once they were on James wanted them there to stay. I tried to take them off to put on some sandals, since it was hot that day, but he threw a fit when I reached for his boots. Even after his nap he brought the boots to me to put back on him. He's such a funny little guy.

He's been sick with a cold the past week or so and had a rough time with sleeping. The other night Al was on call and so it was just me and the kids. They went to bed really easily, but a couple of hours later James woke up crying. I let him cry for a while, because a lot of times he just snuggles back into his blankies and goes back to sleep. But he cried for quite a while and so I went to check on him. He was standing up in his crib and so I got him out and rocked him for bit and he fell asleep right away. As soon as I put him back in his crib though his eyes popped open and he started to cry again.

I let him cry it some more and then checked on him again after the crying didn't seem to be stopping. Then came more rocking, falling asleep, put him in the crib, then crying again. After that I took him to our bed thinking maybe he just needed to cuddle for a bit. Avery was asleep in there because she likes to do that when Al is gone. So I laid James down next to her and he was just so excited to see Avery that he just kept saying her name over and over, "Avery!! Avery!!!!! Avery!!" Oh brother...but cute too...

After a while he seemed to be settling down. And then I drifted off to sleep, even though it wasn't that late and I hadn't intended to go to bed yet. Shortly after I thought I could hear some kind of tinkling of music from downstairs. I was kind of in and out of sleep and I was starting to drift off to sleep again when I heard the bedroom door shut tight and then the distinct sound of James going down the stairs on his bum. I got up and went downstairs to find James playing with his musical Thomas the Train books. It's like he went downstairs, realized that he was making noise, and came back upstairs to shut the door so he could just keep on playing downstairs while Avery and I slept!

I think he could tell by the look on my face that he was for sure going to bed at that point. No more rocking, cuddling, etc. Because I picked him up, took him back to his crib, and he went back to sleep without another sound.

Time Out



So James got sent to time out for the first time the other day. For us time out means you have to go and sit on the stairs for a little while, or if you're Avery sometimes it means you have to go to your room for a little quiet time/settle down time.

Anyway, the other day he pulled Avery's hair and bit her and so I made him go and sit on the stairs. He had been there for just a bit when I decided to go and check on him. For all I knew he escaped to upstairs or whatever. I turned the corner and found him on the stair I had left him and he had a really fierce pout going on! He had his little lip tucked in so tight and was looking down at the ground. I couldn't help it...I started to chuckle. And then I went and got the camera because I just needed to capture that moment. These pictures don't even quite do it justice. He is trying not to smile in them. But before that he just had such a down on his luck look on his face. I realize that first laughing, then taking pictures, isn't really conducive to an effective time out...but we'll just have to work on that the next time I guess.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mickey and Minnie










Halloween was so much fun this year! Friday night was the ward Trunk or Treat. They started with a dinner and then they did their usual carnival inside with all sorts of games-- donut eating, bean bag toss, fishing pond, cake walk, kissing booth (they just gave out Hershey's kisses), balloon room, etc. It was so chaotic inside! But fun too. There is always a huge turnout for this party. Then they end with the trunk or treat.

Saturday night we had a party with our friends. My friend, Paola, put together a mini trick or treating event just with the ward members in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is divided into 2 sections. So in the first 45 minutes we went to one neighborhood and in the next 45 we went to the other one. Al went with us to the first part and then handed out candy for the second part. We drove in our friends' trucks, which the kids thought was pretty fantastic. They loved just hopping in the back together and then slowly driving around the neighborhoods, seeing all of the decorations and stopping and hopping out of the back of the truck when we got to a house that had a ghost picture on their door. That was how we designated who was participating. Avery is an old pro at trick or treating now and loved it. James caught on at the second house. He was so cute to watch! He picked out lollipops whenever he could and at one point had a tootsie pop in his mouth while holding another lollipop in his hand. He would eat the lollipop and then proudly hand me the stick and announce "Da!" which means done.

After the trick or treating we went back to Paola's house for appetizers and dessert and hot chocolate. Paola had a trampoline and a bounce house in the backyard and so all of the kids went out back. That was when we got into trouble...Avery has had a little cold for the past week or so. And whenever she has a cold she has a super sensitive gag reflex. Between the candy consumed and the jumping on the trampoline and the cold...plus she bumped into somebody on the trampoline. They were both crying, which then started the bad chain of reactions. Anyway, about 10 minutes into the party Al comes rushing through the house, discreetly, but with urgency. I was lucky I looked up and saw him. And so I went over to him and that's when he showed me that Avery had thrown up all over both of them. He just took Avery right out to our van and I ran and told my friend we had to leave and grabbed James and we were out of there. I am sad to have missed the party, but what are you gonna do? On the way home Al and I were just saying it was maybe a little too much candy and excitement. That's when Avery piped in that she knew she ate too many treats, but her tummy kept asking for more sweets. We couldn't help but laugh at that. But I did put all of the treats away when we got home!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monster Dash



I survived my first 10K. My friends and I ran a 10K on Saturday morning. It was actually cold for here, which was great! My friends have been running a long time, but have been great in taking me under their wing and letting me start running with them. All of them are training right now for a 1/2 marathon in a couple of weeks, except for Leslee, who is right next to me in the picture. She is running a full marathon.

Look how happy we look to be running early in the morning! Right after, I mean seconds after this picture was taken a race official came up to us and said, "Are you girls running the 10K? It starts in 3 minutes and the start line is all the way up there!" AAAHHH!!! So we sprinted to the start line and made it seconds before the race started. And then we were off! My friends had warned me several times that on race day every woman was for herself. I never even saw Leslee. She was just gone. I saw Annie's shirt for a split second and then she was gone too. For a little while I saw Kim, Megan, and Paola, but then I was by myself. I was afraid of overdoing it at first so I took it at a pretty slow pace. It was a lot of thinking time :)

Prior to the 10K the most I had run was almost 5 miles. I ran past the 5 mile marker, rounded the corner and just had to stop and speed walk part of it. I really wanted to run the whole way, but I just wasn't quite ready for that I guess. I sped walked for a little while and then picked up the running again. It was into the last mile that I thought to myself, "Ya know, I don't know that I love this. Running." But then I crossed the finish line and I really liked it again :) All my friends, Al and the kids, my friends' husbands were all at the finish line cheering me on. Just like my friends had told me, Annie was yelling, "Finish strong Jenny! C'mon Jenny! Lengthen that stride!" I am smiling now as I'm typing this, just thinking about it. We had driven together to the race that morning in my van and my friends had told me that Annie does that at every race. Sure enough :)

My legs have been a little tired today, but I am ready to go out running again tomorrow night with the girls. It is so fun to have such a great group of friends here.

P.S. My friend Leslee won the whole race.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Times It's a Good Thing They Are So Cute...








A few days ago Avery had her friend Anna over after preschool. They play so well together and on the rare occasion have been known to get into a little mischief. The spend a lot of time playing dress ups in Avery's room, which is how this play date was going. As James was napping and I was downstairs doing housework all of a sudden I was enveloped in a cloud of fumes. It took me just a second to place the scent...my perfume. The scent was so strong it was practically choking me now. I cautiously called upstairs, "Um, Avery? Did you get into my perfume?" She did hesitate for a second, but really, how could she hide the fact?! She called back down that she had.

I went upstairs and if I thought the scent was strong downstairs...wow. About this time Anna's mom came to pick her up. Then our friend called from the airport to tell us her plane had landed and they were ready to be picked up. By this time I am nauseated and have a pounding headache. I load the kids in the car, James screaming, and headed out. The smell followed us! It had already attached to our clothes, etc. I apologized to my friend, Kim, for the smell and for James' screaming, since he was still at it. She was super polite about both. But I think her husband missed my explanation about the perfume because about halfway on the ride home I could hear him say through the screaming, "Wow, Avery, you smell really nice." Poor Christian was sandwiched in the back seat right next to Avery.

After dropping our friends off we came home and I suddenly remembered that the exterminator was scheduled to show up at any time. James is still screaming and I was frantically running around the house opening as many windows as I could when Al called excitedly to say he was coming home early. He could hear the screaming in the background and the irritation in my voice was definitely on the rise as I was detailing the perfume incident...especially because while I was on the phone with Al for those few seconds James dumped his snack all over the floor that I had spent forever on my hands and knees mopping while James had napped earlier that day. AAHHH!!!

Al quickly hung up the phone, I am sure wondering if this was the day he really wanted to come home early. James finally stopped screaming and the exterminator showed up right as Al was walking through the door. Luckily things seemed to calm down at that point.

For 2 days, except for at night, I kept the windows open hoping the smell would go away. I would get used to it, but all it took was a quick trip to the grocery store and for me to walk in the door before I was knocked over again by the scent. I washed a ton of things in Avery's room, and of course bathed Avery. It has been 5 days now since it all happened and I think the fumes are mostly gone in the rest of the house. Avery's room still smells lovely, but at least not as strong. I attempted Febreeze a couple days back but I don't know that it worked, except to make the room smell like a Febreeze/perfume combo.