Thursday, December 25, 2008

The calm after the storm....

I feel like I can finally breath. It's Christmas day, Ian is tucked in bed and Alex is close. Sean's parents made it here safe and sound, the shopping, the food gathering, the cooking and baking is done. And NOW I'm on vacation. 11 more days until I go back to work and although I know it will fly, I'm going to savor each one. The best news about this Christmas is unlike the last two NOBODY was puking. We've had the stomach flu the last two Christmas and thank goodness we were left to enjoy this one bug free. YAhoo.

The last week has been a whirlwind! The weather here in Portland has been unbelievable. 16" or more of snow including a 1 inch layer of ice in the middle. It's slow to melt and has caused issues with work, Christmas shopping and resulted in a cancellation of a Linfield College Girls reunion. I spent the first few days loving it, hoping and anticipating that somehow just like all the school kids, I too would get to stay home for a snow day. I made the drive to work for several days until the storm really hit hard. And now I've been home for days, the snow and ice closed Nike WHQ and although I've been dialed in, checking emails, and available by phone I'm in the groove here of not going to work....and I think I like it. It always takes me 3-4 days to get used to not being at work, to forget about it, to get in this 'home life' lifestyle of really truly being in tune with my kids and to interact with them rather than just meeting their needs as quickly and efficiently as I can. I wonder on Mondays if I'm cut out to be a stay at home mom. What I've realized the past few days is those Mondays are packed to the brim with appointments, doctors visits, errands, laundry and any other thing I can't get to Tuesday-Friday. But here, today after days and days and days home I have a clean house, the bills are paid, there is food in the fridge, my kids are happy and so am I. I could do this. Now, the mortgage wouldn't get paid but I suppose we wouldn't be unlike a lot of people out there.

The kids were once again spoiled rotten this Christmas. I will surely need to hold a garage sale for all the old items that will never be touched or looked at again. Alex's most prized gift was her Sleeping Beauty vanity table. Google's hideous. But she asked Santa for it and luckily-Nanna & Pop Pop prevailed. Second runner up was her V-Tech camera given to her by her Granmom & Pop and unfortunately for me, the gift I couldn't wait to give her and I thought would be her best (an overpriced collectors doll) evidently scares her and has 'weird eyes'. It's not allowed in her room at night...when it's dark. Nice.

Ian raked it in too. Sean and I got him a train table and Nanna & Pop Pop gave him a train set. He's now the proud owner of a rocking horse that due to operator error already caused an enormous egg on the back of his noggin. He'll learn soon enough to hold on to the handles and not the mane.

After days of being cooped up and lacking new and interesting things to do, I decided I needed a puppy. Now hold your horses, NO we don't have a puppy but for days I thought I wanted one NEEDED one. I researched breeds, debated on sizes, scoured the want ads and the Humane Society listings. I was sure I wanted it and I have to admit I was even a LITTLE disappointed after all the gifts were open this morning and there was no puppy but darn if right now, as the house is still and quiet that I'm not so relieved. If I were sure our puppy wouldn't grow up to be a barker, a chewer, a biter, or shed 4 lbs of hair each day I'd be in. But as I step over toys and run into my furniture constantly and curse this 1600 square foot, crammed to the max, lacking a bonus room hacienda-I fear a dog might break us. Maybe in May when it's nice and the dog can be outside? I figure I'll continue to find that perfect bread which I think is a Golden Doodle (google it) which will take me 9 years to save up for as they evidently cost more than my monthly income. And let's not forget according to Sean, are the 'ugliest dog he's ever seen'.

Overall we've had such a nice Christmas. Despite the roads, the travelling issues, the stressing over flights coming in or not it's just been really nice. There was a very important person missing this year. To not have my grandfather at Christmas Eve dinner was difficult. I missed his extra helpings of red wine and dessert. I missed his witty comments. I missed watching him watch my kids. As we all sat down to dinner and joined hands in prayer, my dad recited the prayer my grandfather always said at his dinner table and despite the loss we all felt inside my heart smiled with those simple words, heard a hundred times before, and it brought comfort. Merry Christmas Everyone...and to all a goodnight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day(s)

Arctic Blast 2008 has hit the Portland Metropolitan Area. The 'dramatic' coverage and STORM TEAM updates are getting old, the cabin fever is setting in and the kids...are restless.

I'm working from home today. Evidently, 'Stormageddon' is hitting us again and Sean took the good car leaving me with 'BALDY' our Accord with treadless tires. I guess if I go get in line now at Les Schwabb I just may get new tires and get home tonight in time for 'Private Practice'. Sean and I have tickets to a Blazer game tonight which makes me so MAD! They are great tickets and we've been looking forward to this for weeks and here we find ourselves 'playing it by ear' in hopes the roads don't turn into one giant ice cube.

The last few days we've kept mostly indoors. We've taken the kids out in spurts but they are still a bit young to really truly enjoy frozen hands and noses. Alex despite some good fun with the sled and making snow angels has taken issue with snow getting between her gloves and her coat. Ian, whom we've bundled up to look just like Randy from a Christmas Story enjoyed it for 5 minutes and then resorted to crying, arms stuck out, with a snotcicle forming on the tip of his nose.

I think I've exhausted all options for indoor play. Play-Doh, art projects, blocks, coloring, Memory & Candyland. I yearn to run errands, finish my shopping, or to drive around needlessly as the kids sit content in their carseats.

I became so desperate, I organized the toyroom and got rid of the old to bring in the new. I threw away McDonalds happy meal toys (obviously brought over by other children as our kids never eat there) and any other worthless, bottom of the foot puncturing items that I'm tired of picking up. I even tore apart my downstairs, re-arranged some furniture only to realize my house is too small and my furniture too big for any changes. I'm now on a mission to sell my couch for a smaller more practical item for this cramped space I've evidently spent too much time in this week.

We had an injury of note this week. Sean slipped and fell. Now you may assume this was done outside, on the icy terrain while taking out the trash cans or checking the mail. Well no. It was actually done the kitchen...while teaching our accident prone 1 1/2 year old how to run and slide in his socks. I took it upon myself to clean my floors on Monday and evidently it created a smooth and dangerous surface free of dried encrusted cheerios and flung dinner parts by Ian....which resulted in this tragedy. Sean is fine, he suffered only incessant laughter and teasing from his wife who is known to find falling ridiculously hilarious.

This morning I came to the realization that there may be a varmant living in our dryer vent and Ian yanked on the dishwasher rack, pulling the entire unit out of the counter. I'm now going to go start the dishwasher in hopes that water does not spray everywhere. Evidently our kitchen floor is already slick enough.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

General Kiddo Update

Well, here's a post I've been working on for awhile. I'm having a moment here where I'm feeling utterly overwhelmed with deadlines, work, Christmas prep, lists and lists of things to do, un-finished home projects, and what Sean referred to this week as 'the most cluttered house ever'. Nice. So here I go. Finishing something that has neither a deadline, timeframe, or really any business getting first dibs. But here goes.

A quick (or not so quick) update on the kiddos.

Alex is 3 1/2 now. What I've learned about the half ages from experience and friends is that it's nothing short of difficult. It's like this mid-age transitional period where they go from being 3 to figuring out how to be 4. She's developed a bit of a temper and at the word 'No', will scream and hit something in anger. This leads me to believe she doesn't get told 'No' enough. She's been fighting her evening bedtime routine a bit. Probably because Sean and I have been fighting the elimination of DUN DUN DUN....nap time. Last week when Sean went into her room for the kazillionth time she said, "I keep trying to go to sleep dad, but my eyes...they just keep opening."

I remember over 4 years ago when the doctor proclaimed my due date with Alex. I believe it was May15th or 16th and I was hit with the frightening realization that she would in fact be a Taurus...just like her daddy. For all you Taurus's out there, this is not to be taken as an insult but the two Taurus's *I* live with, the good also comes with power struggles, stubborness, & a built in defense mechanism.

97% of the time, Alex is sweet natured, loving, affectionate, polite and just an overall joy. She loves to read and be read to. She LOVES art and has taken to 'cutting' know, with Scissors. She cuts up magazines, coloring books, & paper. I think I've strained my back in stopping every few feet, leaning over and picking up small scraps of paper but it's keeping her occupied. She's currently in both Swimming lessons and Gymnastics. Her Gymnastics instructor claims she is the star pupil and takes it VERY seriously. She pays attention and does whatever is asked and always has big stories to tell when she gets home. I have a feeling she's going to be an excellent student just like her dad. Speaking of big stories and tall tales, she's also begun to 'embellish' the truth here and there. In other words, making up stuff for shock value. I'd like to think this is only a sign of a nice and healthy 'active imagination'. It's partly cute, partly scary for what's to come down the road and partly makes me so dang nervous as to what she tells other people when we aren't around to defend ourselves or call her out on these 'fibs'.

For Christmas this year, Alex is asking for a 'Dolly'. This as opposed to all the 'babies' she has. "It's different", she says. She's also had her eye on a plastic pink vanity set that includes a doll head and makeup tray to dress up. I wonder if she'll understand when Santa doesn't pull through for her leaving her only a nice little note in her stocking that says, 'Sorry kid, your house is too cluttered. Better luck next year'.

Ian is 17 months! His vocabulary has really improved over the last few weeks. He is routinely saying 'Momma' and can repeat most of what you ask him to say. He's currently working on his last few teeth which hasn't been at all pleasant. I will not be sad to say goodbye to the waking in the night, the constant drool and persistent whine "eeehhhh eeehhhh'. I feel for him, I do but now that the excitement has worn off, that he has teeth and oohhh, aren't they cute? I just want it to be over. He's all about Mr. Potato head right now. He'll sit and play alone for an hour putting an ear into the mouth hole or eyes where the feet go. He doesn't care what it looks like in the end, but I can see he's going to be highly mechanical like my Dad which I'm thrilled about. You can see it in his eyes, he isn't playing so much as he's trying to figure it out. If I need to distract him at any moment all I have to say is, "Where are your potatoes?" and he goes sprinting into the play room to dump out the large bin of potato parts.

The kid is obsessed with brushing his teeth, and is now climbing onto everything. He can scale the kitchen chairs, the piano bench, and the couch before I can even get to him. He's recently been mimicking his sister and while I'm cooking dinner, wants to pull a chair over and climb up to watch.

Those that know him won't be surprised when I say Ian is CRAZY. He's just a crazy person. Everything he does is big. He talks big, screams big, laughs big, smiles big, hurts big. His head is big, his hands (or paws) are HUGE and when asked how old he is people are shocked when I tell them he's 17 months old. Sometimes I feel sad for him because he still is very much a baby to me. Strangers assume by his size he should talk in full sentences or recite the alphabet. And frankly, the post pardum excuse isn't working for me anymore as I carry my 30+ pound (baby).

He's broken three ornaments so far, and massacred my favorite Santa figurine. This morning Sean emailed me the below photo with a caption along the lines of 'Won't be surprised if Santa doesn't visit Ian this year'. And oh, sorry about your blood (red paint) stained walls that also suffered from the beating of dear ole St. Nick. Just the other night, we found him charging at the tree with a roll of wrapping paper. He was either trying a go at pole vaulting, or saw a spider and was protecting his mommy.

This last weekend marks the first 'strip himself naked' episode of what I'm sure will be many more to come. I found him naked from the waste down upon getting him up from nap. Luckily no bodily excrements happened between the time he managed to get his diaper off and when I found him but surely that will only last so long. Whenever we get the kids ready for bath, and take off their clothes since they were wee babies I've sung a little diddy...'Naked body! Naked body!' Well, Ian has taken this ritual to a new level and now, bare naked will dance a number while spanking his behind. THIS he came up with all on his own and I promise to get a video soon. You won't want to miss it. He's quite a mommy's boy these days, it has Sean's feelings a little hurt but we all know these kids go back and forth. Right now, it just happens to be me. When he's hurt? Only I can soothe him and during a family tickle fest the other night Ian stood screaming in the corner pointing at Sean and demanding he stop 'tormenting' mommy. My little protector. His occasional tantrums include flailing, whipping his head back, hitting his head on things and throwing himself on the floor in fits. He's came close to breaking my nose twice and has left me with bruises that are surely leading my co-workers to wonder what exactly my home life is all about.
I can't believe how old my babies are getting. I'm happy & I'm sad. I love to see their growth but am beginning to miss that feeling of cradling them in my arms. I sometimes wonder if another baby is in the cards for me. I already have HER name picked out. But, at this point in our lives, I do believe the two of us are at maximum capacity. We muddle through our days the best we can never feeling like the best employee, house keeper, parent or spouse. It's in neither of our natures to be less than 100% at everything we do so it's a bit of an inner struggle but as long as we have these two people making us laugh like they do I figure we'll be ayight...cluttered house and all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Apparently, Santa loves my family the most because according to Alex, Santa already came to our house and hid boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments for us to find.

This weekend as I unpacked each box of sentimental bobbles, stockings & ornaments, Alex would exclaim with utter glee, "Look what Santa brought us!" She'd screech, pick it up and run around looking for a place to set it. After the 3rd or 4th box, and the 3rd or 4th time explaining that Santa won't come until Christmas Eve and all of these precious mementos are those than I'd been collecting over the years and OH, 'Alex, this one has your name on it', and 'This is the ornament we bought when you were in my tummy' were exhausted without comprehension, I gave up. And along with her, I began to thank Santa for the amazing boxes filled with 'never before' seen surprises.

I love decorating the house for Christmas. I love listening to Christmas music, and transforming my house into something different for a month. I love the memories that come with each ornament. Some hand made by myself as a wee tot, some given to us by those lost, and others purchased to capture a particular time in our life. A Portland Trailblazers ball from the 90's (Go Blazers!), A Linfield College keepsake from where Sean and I met, Baby's first Christmas rattles for each of the kids, and for each year we've been married a hand painted ball with all our names on it given to us by Sean's parents. I was having a grand ole time until Mr. Demolition himself crushed my Linfield College ornament AND within minutes pulled his stocking, followed by the heavy stocking holder off the mantle.

It was then I knew that THIS Christmas I would be practicing mucho patience and would be forced to relinquish some ahem....control. This house will NOT be resembling any photo found in Martha Stewart Living.

I spent hours turning and adjusting the tree, making sure no bald spots were in the front. I took an hour to string the lights and another to place my ribbon and bows. And now, all my hard work is garnished with the help of Alex & Ian's ornament placements which have all the non-breakable ornaments front and center in a hap-hazard cluster. Some ornaments weren't even 'hung' but set on the branches.

Halfway through the 'decorating', Sean asked me how I was doing. He said, 'You okay? This has to be difficult for you'. I laughed because it was a big inner struggle and I was doing my best to be 'okay' about it all. He knows me so well. I have to say this tree is not the most meticulous, and the spacial arrangements of ornaments by size and color is not exact. But it's my favorite tree of all because to see these two kids place the ornaments this year, and really for the first time enjoy the process was such an amazing gift I will never forget. And who knows, maybe nobody will notice that each day I take one from here, and put it over there and although all the Santa's and Snowmen started out 'napping', by Christmas they all be in their proper erect positions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Livin on a Prayer

This post is 100%, wholeheartedly dedicated to the amazing Kolmer family. Sean and I had the awesome privilege of attending his cousin Kevin and his amazing WIFE Kelly's wedding a few weeks ago. As stated in my previous post, this was just as much some time away for the two of us as it was a chance to spend some good quality time with his family of whom we don't get to see quite enough as well as witness one of my favorite things...the marriage of two young lovebirds 'so happy together'.

It was a whirlwind weekend in beautiful Philadelphia which included a rehearsal dinner, some shopping, a Philly Cheese Steak, an amazing wedding & one of the best damn receptions since well, Sean and mine! We got to get dressed up, stay in a gorgeous hotel, sleep in, and order room service. Simple yet glorious pleasures for parents of two.

For Sean and I, who have been married now 6 years, have endured the ups and downs of life, lost loved ones, battled jobs, and have now muddled through the gigantic responsibility of children, this wedding in particular was especially admirable and endearing. The ceremony & vows in particular were amazing. A letter was read by the priest each had written to each other and the message that hit most home was around Love being an act of the will. As life gets busy, time together gets scarce & children take over your world it's so easy to forget that day and who you were many years ago as you stood together and said "You, always." It is a choice to love someone. You wake up each day and along with all the other 'to do's' and often times this list seems daunting, its so important to remember the most important. I really truly took something from the message and for that I am grateful.

(Here's a self portrait of us closing down the hotel bar)

The reception was amazing, great company, truly delicious food and wine! And let me just say THE BEST band that side of P-town. I remember one sort of euphoric moment when they began to play 'Livin' on a Prayer'. The room was electric, there wasn't a person in the room that wasn't smiling, jumping up and down and truly feeling on top of the world. I'd like a vote of those that were hoarse the next day from screaming "Take my hand and we'll make it I sweeeaaaaarrr WHOOOAAAA Livin on a Prayer!' Tally one for me. So many people all in one room, celebrating such a wonderful event. Aaaahhh I love weddings.

So to Kevin & Kelly, Congrats! I know you are two of my biggest blog fans. Sean and I are so truly happy for you and can't wait to see where your journey takes you both. By the pure quantity of toasts at your rehearsal and the wonderful messages they all had, you know you have a huge group of people who are just blissfully happy for you.

I do have one complaint, and that is that Christopher nailed his best man speech leaving poor Brent in last place. Poor. Guy. We are sure that the day will come that someone will trump his (self appointed) title of 'worst speech ever'.

And Kevin Sr. THIS IS FOR YOU. At the bottom of my post will be a '0 comment, or 1 comment' click on that and you'll be able to leave your message. I'm available by phone for tutorials ;)

Hugs to all you Kolmers out there! We are so happy we made the trip, we had a blast and can't wait to see you all soon!