28 December 2009

Christmas in the Desert

I did not miss having a white Christmas one bit! It was so nice to talk a walk around the neighborhood on Christmas Day without putting on boots and scarves. I think I'd settle for palm trees and the Arizona desert every year.

Our Christmas celebrations started with watching my parents play the Christmas Eve church prelude music on recorder and cello. Blake clapped exuberantly after each song, and was content until he found the Toys for Tots pile of toys in the foyer. How do you explain that the toys are being saved for the less fortunate to a two-year-old with googly eyes? We came home and unwrapped our traditional matching pajama pants, read "Twas the Night Before Christmas," and played a few games which are too embarrassing to reveal. I will say that our annual Christmas march around the house put Blake into hysterics, as did quickly passing presents around in a circle. Another Christmas tradition that my brother and I kept up this year was hanging odd items on the beautifully decorated tree. In the past we have adorned my mom's perfectly color-coordinated tree with items such as kitchen utensils, yarn, sticky notes, and stamp pads. This year, we threw all of Blake's blocks and small toys onto the tree. In the end, the tree didn't even look that tacky which was our original aim. It just looked very bright with primary colors.

Blake was such a delight on Christmas morning. We ate a big breakfast before tackling the piles and piles of presents. Blake was really shoveling in the food and asking for seconds, thirds, and fourths, until we asked him if he wanted to open presents. He immediately ripped off his bib and exclaimed "All Done!" He not only unwrapped his huge stack of presents, but most of our gifts as well. His birthday was great practice for this grand event because once he got started he wanted to tear off every last shred of wrapping paper! It took us 3 long hours to get through the unwrapping. I don't know how we are going to fit everything in the car to bring back home, but we are sure enjoying our presents!

I had some time on my hands so instead of posting a plethora of pictures and video clips, I combined them all into "Our Christmas in Two Minutes."


23 December 2009

I Sure Do Like Those Christmas Cookies

We have had some time since arriving in Arizona to slow down and enjoy the holidays. We spent an afternoon baking and frosting Christmas cookies. Blake was completely absorbed in the process. All of that pretending in his new play kitchen must have affected his attention span to measuring cups, spatulas, and rolling pins. He also enjoyed building towers with the cookie cutters.









20 December 2009

Christmas Greetings 2009

I had grand ideas for family photos for our Christmas card this year, but Troy vetoed all of my ideas. I decided that I was ok with not including a photo of all of us since I am pregnant and not overwhelmingly loving my butterball face and belly. We'll have to work on a picture for next year though. We literally only have two pictures of all three of us from this year, and they were taken on Easter and Halloween. Neither were really Christmas card quality, so at the last minute I snapped some boring traditional pictures of Blake in his holiday get-up. He was actually surprisingly cooperative and I was able to take a decent picture to send out. It has definitely not been my most proud Christmas card creation; but I ran out of time and just had to let that area be sub-par this year. Plus, I think that Blake still looks cute regardless of what format the Christmas cards are in.


We had a few outtakes as well.



Blake has been mesmerized by the Red Sox ornament on the tree this year. He continually begs for the "Sed Sox." His dad is proud of his son's early MLB team of choice.



17 December 2009

The Road Trip From You Know Where

Maybe I'm being a little overdramatic. Let me start by saying that on our road trip from Utah to Arizona, the following made us very grateful:
  • We did not get in any car accidents
  • Our car did not have any breakdowns
  • There was very little traffic and no inclement weather
  • Everyone made it to the destination alive and in one piece
  • It could have been a LOT worse
That being said, we encountered many setbacks. To begin, a road trip that in the past has taken as few as 10 hours to drive took us 16 hours. It started out just fine. We took our little lunch pit stop after driving all morning, making great progress. We let the toddler run around the landmark moose at the gas station. He enjoyed several movies on the laptop in the car and was content and happy.

Then, nap time rolled around and of course Blake didn't fall asleep. He takes a solid three hour nap every day at home, but when he is put in a moving car with freeway white noise in the background, there is no luring to dreamland for this child. Instead, he performed one of the most projectile throwing up episodes I've ever seen. Blake has the worst gag reflex ever. He throws up a handful of times each month just from coughing, gagging on his toothbrush, or not chewing up his food completely. In this case, he was simply eating a pretzel and completely lost the entire contents of his stomach. He has thrown up 4 times in his carseat before and let me tell you, it is about the worst situation imaginable. It leaks into all the crevices and the entire carseat has to be disassembled, hosed down, and soaked to remove the contents. It's about an hour process just to disassemble and wash the various parts let alone put the thing back together.

Troy and I mentioned to each other a few nights ago that it would be the worst case scenario if Blake threw up on our road trip. There is no easy access to power wash hoses or washing machines on road trips, and do I even need to mention the smell that accompanies such disasters? Of course Blake threw up during the first half on the trip, leaving us with many many hours of enduring the smell.

If I had acted quicker in the situation, I would have stuck a bag next to Blake's mouth, but all I was thinking in the moment was "Crap, crap, Oh NOOOOO! The next 8 hours are going to be AWFUL! This is the worst case scenario!" My brother who was driving almost lost it himself so the pregnant lady sucked it up and cleaned as much as possible. Luckily we had clean clothes and a lot of baby wipes in the car, but the entire trunk had to be unloaded to get to these items. Jorden took Blake on a 45-minute excursion in the middle of nowhere while I cleaned up the damage to the best of my ability. The two of them climbed a small mountain and then we were once again on our way. Jorden sprayed a body spray aerosol every few minutes to alleviate the smell, but it was all about enduring from that point on. There was no turning back and Blake had to be safely buckled into the cleaned up but smelly carseat; so, we set our minds on the final destination.

Or so we thought. There are two routes that can be followed on the drive from Salt Lake to Phoenix. One route goes through Vegas and is slightly longer but includes more major freeways. The other route is more direct but involves a lot of winding two-lane roads through reservations with no cell-phone access. We decided to take the Vegas route and make a "quick" stop on the strip where I knew Blake would absolutely love to watch the Bellagio fountain. To make a long story short, with missing the first intended show, trying to navigate through downtown traffic, finding a place to park, and walking back and forth through the casino to the fountain, our "quick" stop turned into a two-hour venture. And, poor Blake was so overtired and hungry from losing all of his food that he was only mildly amused by the fountain.
Jorden, however, was absolutely enthralled by the experience and was really glad that we stopped.
At that point it was dark out and we were only to Vegas; about the half-way point between Salt Lake and Phoenix. Blake was starving. We settled for some crappy fast food, hoping that Blake would eat and then be out for the night from exhaustion. Oh, but that's right, this little boy does not sleep in the car! He dosed off a few times throughout the evening but basically just took little cat naps and was wide awake with complete exhaustion when we pulled into our destination at 1am.

The 1am part is right about where I lost my cool. Due to some lousy directions (thanks a lot, Google maps), we added about 150 unnecessary miles or 2 extra hours to our drive. We should have easily gotten to my parent's house by 11pm had we taken the direct southeast route that I've always taken. However, I didn't realize that the directions were poor until it was too late. I was driving and didn't want to turn on the light for map verification for fear of waking up Blake during one of his said cat naps, so I kept following the written directions until the mileage math didn't add up right in my head.

I kept thinking that the mileage signs must be wrong because of course my written directions would take us on the fastest route. I was so upset when I realized how much time we were needlessly adding to our already too-long trip (did I mention the smell?). I wanted to swear, hit things, and cry out of frustration all at the same time. Thankfully, Jorden took the wheel for the last hour because after driving for 5 hours straight, feeling bad for my miserable two-year-old, having a baby pushing up very violently against my ribs, and experiencing many angry emotions, I wasn't in the greatest driving state.
Happily, we are all now in our destination safe and sound. I've had some sleep. Blake is making up for his lost sleep. I power washed the carseat and cracked open the car windows. I scrubbed the outside of the car in 75° sunshine. I lounged in a chair on the deck while making holiday plans with my mom. I didn't have to cook dinner. We decorated my parents' Christmas tree. Blake's grandparents ate up every word he said. Life is good and the awful road trip will soon become a distant memory. We are moving on, enjoying family at Christmastime, and hoping for a better return trip.


13 December 2009

Fa la la

We have been so busy with birthday and Christmas preparations the last couple of weeks. In between the preparations and celebrations, we've had to squeeze in four doctor appointments between the three of us. We've been cramming it all in because Blake and I are leaving on Wednesday to drive down to Arizona with my brother. So, the shopping has to be done, the Christmas cards mailed, the neighbor gifts made and delivered, the decorations up, the lights on the house in tact, the gifts wrapped, and of course the gingerbread house decorated. This is a fun tradition that my mom² and I started a few years ago.

Blake learned quickly how to both decorate and un-decorate the gingerbread house.

The final product; nothing too fancy but I enjoy looking at it every day!


10 December 2009

Play Kitchen Tutorial

I have received a lot of requests for a tutorial on how I made the play kitchen. I didn't take very many pictures throughout the process, but I can tell you what I used and give you a general outline of the steps involved. Of course there are many variations and substitutions that could be made, but this is how I built my Ikea-based kitchen:
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First, I assembled a RAST nightstand and built off that. I cut out the hole for the sink before I put the nightstand together. I used a jig saw to cut the hole and cut it just slightly smaller than the diameter of the BLANDA BLANK 8" serving bowl.

Next, I cut pieces of wood to make the backboard, shelves, and cupboards. I found a few pieces of scrap wood for 99¢ in the as-is section of Ikea. I brought the scrap wood to Home Depot and had them cut the wood (for free) into the dimensions I needed (except when I got home I ended up re-sawing a few pieces that Home Depot messed up). Here is a diagram of the dimensions:
I painted the pieces that were not the same color wood as the nightstand base as well as the sides of the nightstand. I covered the backboard with black and white checked contact paper that I had lying around. To assemble the pieces, I just went to town drilling holes and adding screws. I used small corner braces to secure the shelf in the cupboard and the shelf on top of the GRUNDTAL towel rail. A few BYGEL s-hooks were perfect for hanging the pots and pans.

For the oven door, I mounted two cabinet hinges to the bottom of the door and put a KOSING handle on the front. The door under the sink was attached with two cabinet hinges on the side and a KOSING handle was put on the front as well. I later added double roller cabinet door catches (hardware section in Home Depot) so that the doors would stay closed and not fall open.

Finally, I used PANNA coasters for the stove burners, a RIGEL hook for the faucet, and a pack of $1.29 wooden knobs from JoAnn's for the stove knobs. I painted the knobs and screwed them to the black board just above the cabinet doors.

None of these things were used in the construction of the actual kitchen, but here are some of the accessories I used:
If you are willing to tackle this project, I would love to see pictures! It was kind of trial-and-error for me as I played around with the placement of things, so it definitely was a longer project. I am happy with the end result though, and so is my two-year old! If you have any questions, feel free to email me.


07 December 2009

Two

"The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother's watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would would say, "This kid is driving me CRAZY!" But at night time, when that two-year-old was quiet, she opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor, looked up over the side of his bed; and if he was really asleep she picked him up and rocked him back and forth, back and forth. While she rocked him she sang:

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."
-Robert Munsch, Love You Forever


My baby turned two today and I have been feeling sentimental. We can no longer count his age in months; he is just two. He can no longer fly for free on airplanes or get free admission to the zoo and museum. My weekly developmental emails changed from saying "Your toddler this week" to "Your preschooler this week." How did two years go by so fast? Despite the things we are losing from Blake's 1st and 2nd years of life, we feel that with each passing day we get to know him a little better. We love watching his personality develop and seeing the attributes that define him. We look forward to the things that he will learn this next year. So that I don't get too nostalgic about Blake's baby years, here are ten things that define Blake on his second birthday.
  1. He is very polite. He always says please and thank you without prompting from us. He says bye-bye to all strangers and reverently folds his arms during prayers. He says bless you when anyone sneezes or coughs. Recently, after I put him down for his nap and he had been silent for at least 15 minutes, I sneezed in the room next to him and he sweetly called out "bless you" from his crib.
  2. His favorite books right now are the "I Spy" books. He points out the things that he knows on each page; balls, airplanes, trucks, buttons, babies, frogs, horses, blocks, and on and on. We "read" his I Spy books at least 3 times a day and he knows when we try to skip pages. His favorite song is "Popcorn Popping." We have to sing it every time we put him to bed, complete with hand motions. If we ever try to sing another song, Blake loudly repeats "OH!" over and over while frantically opening and closing his fingers to signal that he wants us to sing the Popcorn Song.
  3. Blake can be full of drama. Whenever he gets hurt and produces a few tears, he dramatically asks for a "tis-sue" as if he is dying. He also started calling me "mom" recently instead of "mama." I have no idea where he picked that one up, but I don't think I like it. I feel like he is a teenager defiantly expressing "MOM!" every time he needs something.
  4. He just cut his 12th tooth this week. He has been slow in getting all of his teeth, but I've heard that teeth grow in stronger and are less cavity-prone the later they come. It must be true because I got all of my teeth really late and I've never had a cavity. The only downside is that most children are done teething by age two and we still have 8 more to go!
  5. He is incredibly observant and has a good memory. For example, every time we pass the pool that we swam in over the summer, which is practically every day, he exclaims "pool!" and I have to remind him that it is closed. When I tell him that it is a church day, he replies, "balls!" because he plays with balls in the nursery. He always notices the apple on the Applebees signs on the freeway. When we get to the exit ramp for Grandma and Grandpa's house, he starts repeating "ball!" over and over because he knows that when we eventually get to the corner light, there is a cement ball on the welcome post. Once, when we pulled into the parking lot of a store that we hadn't been to in months, he began shouting, "dee-dee" (candy), because he remembered that there was a quarter candy dispenser inside the store. He also points out the car wash, the library, and the streets that are leading us home every day.
  6. He loves to take bubble baths. He thinks that the character on the front of the bubble bath bottle is Elmo (it's really just a red monster), so when I inform him that it is time to take a bath, he starts chanting, "Elmo! Bubbles! Elmo! Bubbles!" When he is finished with his bath he watches the bubbles drain and says, "bye-bye bubbles." Unfortunately, his whole body broke out in a rash recently from the bubbles even though I used the hypoallergenic kind. He has really sensitive skin.
  7. Blake learned how to open door knobs this week so places that used to be off-limits now invite free reign.
  8. He thinks that his dad's belly button lint is the most hilarious thing in the world.
  9. He loves to help me get the mail every day, set the table, and stand on a chair to toss laundry into the washing machine. He especially loves it when there is mail for him, which his grandma often sends to appease him. He carries his "mail" around for days at a time.
  10. He loves to be tucked in under a blanket in his crib. When we ask him each night after song, prayers, and kisses if he wants to be tucked in, he exclaims "YEAH!" about two octaves higher than his normal voice and promptly plops his little body flat on the mattress.
Blake is such a sweet boy. I have mentioned before that he tends to be cautious and hesitant, but we love that his cautious personality brings out his genuine sweetness. He has his difficult moments as all toddlers do, but I am happy to say that they are rare (so far). We feel so blessed to have this little boy in our lives. Love you forever, Blakers!


06 December 2009

Blake's Birthday Party

There is nothing better than celebrating your child's birthday. It is so much better than your own birthday. It is incredible to watch the anticipation in his eyes as he tears open the wrapping paper and discovers new toys. You laugh as he devours his chocolate cake, a rare treat, and delights in making a huge mess. You know that your child knows that he is the most important person in the world on his special day, and nothing else brings you more pride. You look around and see family members celebrating the life of the little being that brings everyone so much joy. If I could re-live specific days throughout my life, this would definitely be one of them. Blake's second birthday party was just perfect.

The theme was transportation; cars, trucks, buses, planes, and trains. I kept it pretty simple but I wouldn't be an indulgent mom or true to my craftiness if I didn't get a little carried away with the theme. I made some paper trains to hang from the light and found the most adorable bus and airplane bath toys to use as balloon weights.

Since there was just a small group attending the party, I filled the empty cupcake spots with cars, trucks, trains, and planes.

I made a transportation banner too, of course.

We decided to have a brunch birthday party since December is a busy time and Blake has the most energy in the morning. It was fun to plan brunch foods; waffles, mini-quiches, and my favorite; fruit kabobs.

The birthday boy probably could have played with the balloons all day and not even cared about opening his presents. Love this age :)


On to the presents! Blake carefully tore little minuscule pieces of wrapping paper off each gift, taking forever to get to the actual item. I have a feeling that Christmas morning is going to be really slow this year. He absolutely loved every present. He focused on and wanted to play with each item individually before moving on to the next gift. We even had to move some puzzles and a fire truck into the other room to get him to open the next present. It was really sweet how he was genuinely interested in every single item he received. He played all day long with his new toys as he discovered them over and over. Every time he wakes up from a nap now, he immediately asks for "toys?"

One of the funniest things that Blake did was when he opened what was supposed to be a shopping cart, he immediately disappeared into the kitchen with this unassembled part. I guess he thought it was some sort of sliding toboggan because he tried to slide all around on it! We laughed really hard at his cleverness and at the fact that he knew that it would slide better on the hard floor than the carpet. He does now love his assembled shopping cart too, but I guess this toy is multi-functional.

And finally, the kitchen!

Blake loves it - just like I thought he would! Troy asked me the night before the party, "What if Blake doesn't get as excited about the kitchen as you think he will? Will you be crushed after putting so much work into it?" I said no, but thankfully he loves his new play kitchen. It surprised me how much he know how to do without me even showing him; filling up his cup at the sink, using the right utensils to cook with in the pan, and putting appropriate food items in the oven.

The adults liked the kitchen as well. I have to add that birthdays for children are just as much for parents as they are for them since we are also the ones who play with these toys day after day.

The funniest moment of the party was when Troy was comparing the proportions of the plastic food. I guess you had to be there, but we were just rolling with laughter when he was pointing out how the croissant and strip of bacon were the same size as the whole chicken.

Lastly was some singing and a candle to blow out for the birthday boy.

Unlike last year, Blake knew exactly what to do with his cupcake. In fact, he begged for "take" all morning.

Happy Birthday, Blake!!


04 December 2009

Birthday Present

Blake's birthday party is tomorrow. We are keeping it pretty simple with just a few family members because 'tis the season for everyone to be busy. I mentioned before that I made Blake's birthday present this year. Here is the finished product:

I know that play kitchens are generally more for little girls, but I am disregarding the gender-typing because I think that Blake will love it! He is getting into the stage where he enjoys pretend play, and he loves to feed his toy animals and "cook" with me. I don't think there is anything wrong with a little boy learning to use a kitchen at a young age. Or maybe I still don't know quite what to do with little boys because I also bought him art supplies for Christmas...

I didn't want to spend a fortune on a play kitchen especially since most of them are pretty girly, so I built my own. I am happy to say that I built this for under $30, using mostly Ikea components, scrap wood, contact paper, and paint. That doesn't include the cookware and food, but it's still not bad for the end result! Here are the hanging pots and pans, kitchen sink and faucet, and stove top.

In the cabinets are a little oven tray, silverware, and storage bins for plates, cups, and bowls.

I added a shelf on top to store food and utensils.

I am so excited for Blake to open his play kitchen and for us to make food together. I think that he is going to love it. Now I just have to figure out how to wrap it.

Update: Here is the tutorial as requested.


02 December 2009

The Final Stretch

28 Weeks With Baby #1

28 Weeks With Baby #2

Wowza! I am definitely bigger with baby #2! I remember taking that picture during my first pregnancy as the first real sign of a baby bump. I have had the baby bump this time around for a while.

I entered my third trimester this week with a violent round of throwing up and one of those awesome night-time leg cramps to which my calf is still sore 2 days later. Apart from the grand welcome I received into the final 12 weeks, I actually feel pretty great. I have constant heartburn, but I pop my Zantac around the clock and the heartburn is magically gone. I wish there was such a quick fix for the endless nauseated months. I am at what I like to call the pregnancy sweet spot; I have energy, I am sleeping wonderfully, and I'm not so huge that every position is uncomfortable.

I feel like this baby is coming right around the corner. Once the holidays are over, we will only have a few more weeks to prepare and enjoy our last days as a family of three. I don't think I'm quite ready yet for the changes that this baby will bring. We have our little routine down and I love that I can quickly load my one child in and out of the car with ease and spend all morning running errands and going on outings. Blake and I are buddies. We have a system and I'm about to be outnumbered. I don't know if I'm ready for all of the sleepless nights. However, as I feel the little kicks from the baby within, I am excited to meet him and to have a newborn to snuggle again. I am also really excited for Blake to have a brother and playmate. I am sure that we will adjust to having two children just as we adjusted to having one. But for now, I am going to enjoy these last 12 weeks of pregnancy and as a one-child family. Here's to the final stretch!