Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Greetings & Other Missed Opportunities

By not sending out holiday cards this year, you could say we are going green or saving money on printing/postage. Or maybe we're just that lazy that we FORGOT.

The truth is far less exciting though. I can't put music on a photo holiday greeting. Plus there are character limits on holiday greeting. Photo limits. Printing deadlines.

I'm not incredibly eager to start 2011 on a deadline for a holiday card most people throw away anyway. Not to be a drag or anything...

That being said, it is time to celebrate 2010! I don't care how wonderful or awful it may have been. The truth is that it's over. Finished. Complete.

So. While we each eagerly await for 2011 to peek around the corner, please enjoy our short holiday greeting:

(Music found through Scary Mommy. Hey - credit needs to go where the credit is deserved!)

All of these photos are available on this blog (yeah!). Here are a few key posts featured in the above movie, in case you want more information:

(Note: There were two Denver trips and each "day" has it's own blog post. Just sayin')

As for the blog...there are a lot of fun posts coming up. I'm getting in touch with my Mennonite heritage and getting down with the Menno-food. My sister-in-law April gave me an awesome book of Mennonite recipes, which has prompted me to wonder how hard it would be to contact Mennonite churches and get copies of THEIR cookbooks (because we all know that churches love to put out those cookbooks!").

More on that later.

So...until we meet again...

Happy holidays!
Merry Christmas!
Hope you had a great year!
See ya in 2011!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Adventures The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

I guess the best way to start this is by could have been worse. This could have ended differently, and the end results could have been worse. The weather could have been worse. Our house could have a different roof.

It still doesn't make up for the fact that Jack fell out of his window.

{The Story}

Days like Thursday never start out like anything but an ordinary day. We had played outside with trucks before heading to bed, at which point everyone was told to be "quiet" and rest. That's nothing abnormal. Jack even came out of his room several times to use the bathroom. That's nothing abnormal either. It was so normal that I even went to our bedroom to rest a bit before doing more baking/cleaning.

Then the doorbell rang. Knowing that Jack rarely sleeps and would like to see a delivery truck (my only guess), I went into his room first.

He wasn't there.
The window was wide open.
He just wasn't there.

I ran downstairs, opened the door...

And there he was.

Sobbing. With two women who had found him at our neighborhood "safe" house, pounding on the front door (they were not home at the time).

What makes this story so terrifying?

His room is on the second floor. He slid down the roof WITH two blankets, three books and a pillow.

My initial reaction? Terror. Fear. Was my boy okay? He was walking and talking just fine, but did he fall on his head? Did he have internal bleeding? I thanked the women and tried to wrap my head around what happened.

I rushed Jack inside and was already thinking of how to get to the nearest doctor. Urgent care? ER?

At the same time, I grabbed a phone and called Trav to ask him to come home. Then I called my parents because I was hoping against hope that my dad would be home. I figure my dad has worked in the OR, worked call in the ER enough to know a thing or two. At the same time, Trav was racing home and calling Jack's doctor for info. I also tried to figure out how he was able to crawl out of the screen without taking it off. I can't even put the screen in!

MEANWHILE, I was trying to get everyone dressed, pottied and ready to go. I put Zoey on the potty and tended to Jack. Thankfully it was just a scratch, but the moment I told Jack that we were going to the doctor, he freaked out. At this same time, the doorbell rang.

{Lights & Sirens}

I answered the door to find two police officers. Apparently I looked "out of sorts" when the women dropped him off. (Translation: I didn't freak out. My parents always taught me to NEVER freak out in emergency situations because freaking out will never make a situation better.) Of course Zoey at this time came downstairs to join us with out any pants on.

That' pants. No underwear. In other words: if I didn't feel like a terrible parent before, I sure felt like one then.

At the same time, Jack is still freaking out and I was just trying to stay composed.

That failed once the officer called an ambulance. And made me feel like an awful parent because I wanted to drive my son to the urgent care/ER by myself.

(Side note: I trust & respect police officers and what they do to protect us. I'm not complaining about officers nor the actions of this one. It was just a REALLY rough time emotionally to being with!)

By the end of it, the ambulance came. The firetruck came. We had lights and sirens galore.

I kind of wished I would have taken a picture. Jack would have loved to see all of the commotion that was focused on HIM!

In the end, he had fallen more than 6 feet and needed to be taken to the local Children's hospital - Children's Mercy. They would take him in the ambulance.

Meanwhile, the officers came clean - they didn't believe me. How could this 5-year old get out of the window and NOT take out the screen? Had I placed it back in? The truth? I have no idea how it happened.

{The Hospital Visit}

Amazingly, Trav reached our house at the same time we were headed out of the neighborhood, so he was able to pull in behind the ambulance to allow me the ability to drop Zoey off with my in-laws who had agreed to watch her.

I don't really know if I should have been driving, honestly.  Between crying, wailing and just plain frustration, I don't think I would be what you would call a safe driver.

When we reached the hospital, here's what I saw:

Thankfully, Jack was in great spirits. In the end, he had two rounds of blood work, 12 x-rays and a ct scan during that 4 hour stay in the ER. Aunt April and Grandma Suzie even were able to visit, which was nice for US to have a bit of a break too. 

All were normal. He was okay. If you want a Christmas miracle, this would be it. He had fallen between between six and 10 feet onto either dirt (best case scenario), rock (the not-so-great scenario) or pavement (the worst-case scenario). He could have landed on his head or tush or arm. It could have raining or snowing or icy. We could have been dealing with broken bones, a bleeding brain, internal damage.

But he was fine. 

Not even stitches or an overnight stay in the hospital. 


So, why did Jack even try to get outside? Take any one (or all) of his explanations:

1) He opened the window because he was cold and the cold air outside would make him warm. 
2) The wind pushed him out, and the birds helped.

My best guess is that he wanted to go outside to read his books and then became very scared by being on the roof. Either way, we have child-proof locks on the window to prevent him from doing this ever again, and I can tell you that we made sure to give our thanks for our Christmas together. 

We told Jack that when he first came into this world, he spent 17 long days in the NICU:

After this trip, I think we can say that we're done with unexpected, emergency hospital trips for a long time.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Clever!

I'm not someone who is blessed in creation - you're never going to see me build an invention. Heck, most of the time my "great" ideas turn out to be flops.

Let's just say, I'm not someone who comes up with those great time-savers. If I ever did, you would see it more on late-night infomercials than in a store.

ANYWAY, so here are 5 "clever" tips I've picked up in the past few weeks to save time...or energy...or sanity.

1) Combine the peanut butter and jelly before making PB&Js. By combining them, you are making it difficult for your kids to only eat the jelly, avoiding the nasty jelly lumps and of course eliminating that pesky jelly drop (you know - when jelly globs drop out of the sandwich and onto a shirt. Or table. Or floor)

2) Have a girl who likes nails polish? I do. I am asked no less than TWICE a day to paint her nails. And, if you haven't noticed, the quick-dry formulas at the store cost $5. I don't know about you, but I'll stick with the cheap wet-and-wild instead. ANYWAY, kids don't get that it doesn't dry instantly. So, grab a glass of cold water (no ice, please!) and stick their hands in it for 30-60 seconds. Amazingly, it really does makes the polish dry quicker and doesn't take any of it off.

3) At your store, by the little 3-oz bathroom cups, you'll find disposable travel cups for kids. Or at least, in our store that's where they are located! I believe some stores keep them by the regular disposable cups. Regardless, these little babies are awesome. They make it easy to go on a picnic and still have a covered drink. We use it when we go to the mall or on a long walk. After you're done, just throw them away! Added bonus: they look like cute animals!

4) Don't order milk for your kids at a restaurant unless it's 1) included in the price of the kids' meal and 2) has free refills. Some places will charge as much as $3/cup for milk, which means it's far from worth it. If you bring your own cup of milk, you aren't even obligated to buy a kids' meal and can share with your kids from your dinner. Considering that kids' meals are generally expensive anyway ($5 and no toy? Seriously), it's a great way to save some cash.

5) My kids (namely ZOEY) love chocolate. I mean, love it. I keep all of my chocolate in the freezer to 1) protect them from melting in the summer and 2) keep the kids from finding them. I've even started to put marshmallows in the freezer to prevent any little fingers from finding them.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Christmas Story, According To Zoey

A few details I think we missed:

1) The shepherds were watching their flocks while drinking chocolate milk.
2) Jesus was born in the vet hospital.
3) The lambs were eating the manger hay
4) Joseph built the manger

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Jack's First Christmas Program

I'm so far behind. For realz.

Jack's first Christmas program was two weeks ago. TWO WEEKS!! E-gads! I'm late.

Now, I have to warn you of a few things:

1) It's long. You've been warned.
2) There were tons of kids at the performance.
3) We were in the balcony with a camcorder that doesn't have much of a zoom.

So, as a help...

So, without further adieu, here is the program:

This first one is with Zoey commentary as the kiddos walk in...

And this is the actual singing performance...

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More Christmas Music

Had too much of the holiday songs?


(I'm totally singing "The First Noel" as I put these pictures up...)

Born is the King of Israel!


And just for the heck of it...

(Gotta love it when a 4 month old, a 2.5 year old, a 3 year old and a 5 year old look somewhat at the camera!)

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas In Kansas City

{is the best!}

You have carriage rides

Smiling faces

And a great way to spend the holidays with family!

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Welcome To The Mommy Olympics!

Ladies, start your engines!!

The events:

1) Cookie Making -- Make 2 dozen cookies (homemade, of course!) by tomorrow for Jack's Christmas program

2) Office Organizer -- Be sure to buy, label and send 2 more glue sticks to preschool by Tuesday (and ensure that little preschoolers actually bring them to the teachers)

3) Grocery Challenge -- Buy and send a big bag of gum drops to preschool by Thursday. Ask yourself if gum drops even still exist.

4) Clothing/Distraction Test -- Iron Jack's "Sunday best" for Sunday's performance while the three-year old plays around your feet

5) Santa's Helper -- Take Jack out to check off a few Christmas gifts off the list and pray he doesn't tell anyone what they will be receiving this year.

6) Model Mom -- While doing all of this, remember to change into "real" clothes and wash your hair at some point to maintain some sort of order.

Think you can do it time?

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My Rock Star

Last night, Jack was in the shower.

And he started to sing. Actually, correction. He started to rock out. Here's a sample of his song:

Jesus Christ is my friend in the United States of Americcccccccccca
Jesus Christ is my friend in the United States of Americcccccccccca

{Drum solo}
{Guitar solo}


Jesus Christ is my friend in the United States of Americcccccccccca!


Needless to say, Trav and I were laughing pretty hard at Jack's creation. It's not every day that you get to rock out to a five-year old's tunes!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out, Martha Stewart!

When I cook with Jack, he's methodical. He listens. He understands.

This is when he was two - Zoey had JUST been born.

He's always been good about stirring when I say "stir," dumping when I say to get the picture.

Zoey's a different picture altogether. Just like everything else, she's not Jack and never will be.

Last night I was making peppernut dough. Oh, don't know what that is? It's okay - I have the recipe here.

It's a huge recipe (10 cups of flour, anyone?), but it's also tradition. I love it. So, while the wet ingredients were mixing, I prepped the dry ingredients.

Zoey helped:

Don't assume that she's so innocent. She wasn't understanding that when I say "stir," I don't mean "stick your finger in the flour mix and enjoy!"

So...I gave her a bowl to use herself. A bit of flour later, and she was having a blast!

What was Jack doing? He was playing with Christmas "stuff."
Now that you've seen her cook...wanna try a bite?

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Faces of Unemployment

This is my family.
One year ago to the date, I was laid off. Actually, I was corralled into a room with many of my coworkers and told by strangers in suits that we would be joining the masses of the unemployed.

It was three weeks before Christmas.

Now, twelve months later, we are no worse for the wear. We've weathered some strong currents and have come out victorious, wiser and grateful to still have our home, our health and each other.

In fact, I learned a few things along the way:

1) The only difference between a working parent and staying at home with kids is that I can stay in my PJs all day and never shower when I'm at home.

2) When you interview, treat the company like a date. Maybe they'll call you for a second date, and maybe not.

3) You can't always change the circumstance. But you can always change your attitude.

4) Don't underestimate the power of baking bread. You get the satisfaction of tackling something not everyone can do AND save money in the process!

5) When in doubt, clean.

6) Your kids may never be able to understand the frustration or stress you're under, but they will always be there to offer a hug.

7) If you're unemployed for more than a few months, revamp the resume and the attitude. If you're unemployed for more than a year, you're looking for the wrong job.

8) Homemade spaghetti is cheaper than fast food...and feeds a family for much longer.

9) I have experience and a college degree in a thriving area where unemployment hasn't been as bad as it could be. It took me six months to find a job, and I consider myself lucky.

10) Don't take naps in the afternoon. Businesses don't let you take naps so don't get into the habit.

11) Remember to thank those who help you, even if it's something as simple as listening to you vent. Those people are priceless.

So in the end, here we are. I have an AMAZING job, and I couldn't be happier. I was waiting for doors to open, and they did.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

{Insert Holiday Music Of Choice}

It's been a great weekend, and yesterday we spent the morning with my family, ate some great food and made our way back home. We arrived by 4:30, raked leaves until the light disappeared and then...

...decided to put up all of our Christmas/holiday stuff.

And yes, Walter loves the tree too. It's his new favorite sleeping place!

So are we ready for Christmas? You better believe it.

Bring. It. On.

And for kicks, here's our tree from last year:

Note to self: fluff the branches a bit more.

Side note: Trav and I are going to do the whole live-tree thing in a few years. I'm somewhat allergic to the real-deal, so it becomes a month of watery eyes and sneezy. Total blast! Until then, our fake tree is perfectly capable of making us happy!

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Baby Business

If you don't want to catch baby fever, stay away from this post! Shield your eyes and wait until a new post comes along.

My nephew, Christopher, is cute.

I mean, cute.

Gerber baby? Anyone?

Either way, this little squirt is making my ovaries hurt!

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Easter Vs Thanksgiving

It sounds like two weird things to compare, isn't it? Two holidays - different ends of the year - potentially similar, potentially different weather - two different celebrations.

It's funny how pictures tell the story though.

Easter 2009: 40s, drizzly, cold

Easter 2010: 70s, sunny

Now, for Thanksgiving!!

Thanksgiving 2009: Pleasant, maybe mid 60s?
See? No coat.

Thanksgiving 2010? Low 50s, chilly

Crazy how the year turns out sometimes!!

The most depressing change for me comes with the portraits. My in-laws have an amazingly green, a lush yard. See?

Isn't the lighting just awesome? And the green! I'm still swooning.

Now, for last week's portrait:

Hair changes aside, the green already looks bleak. Other pictures really show...well...the bleakness that begins in late-autumn.


I guess you could say I'm very much NOT a winter person!

How many days until Spring begins again?

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkins & More!

We're going to skip around a bit.

Because I can.

Anyway, back in OCTOBER, we headed to a FREE pumpkin patch with Grandma Suzie, Papa Don, Aunt April, Uncle Steve and of course cousins Audrey and Christopher.

This was the FIRST weekend of Zoey's potty training, so we ended up leaving super early. We had a little time to play around!

THEN the party started!

We saw cows...

Took our measurements next to what I'm sure will become a yearly tradition

And we played in a tunnel! 
Hi Audrey!
Next we actually made it into the pumpkin patch:

These pumpkins were HUGE!!! 
Jack found his! 
Zoey did what she does best - play in the dirt. 
Could she actually be picking a pumpkin?
Yes! It appears so! 
Just a grandpa with two of his four grandkids walking in a pumpkin patch on  beautiful, clear Kansas day. 
"Where did everyone go?"
Next we played in a little playground and had a blast (yet again): 

Alas, it was time to go. One last shot...

I can truly say that I can't wait to go back next year! 

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