Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why I Love Facebook

Last night I spent three hours hanging out with old high school friends. It was a really good time. And the whole meet-up was organized through the glorious world of Facebook.

I have to confess that high school was not my favorite time of life. Sure, there were good times, but I was a typical teenage girl who lived amidst ridiculous teen angst. From body issues to self-esteem to the always present desire to "fit in," I was your very typical teenage girl. I'm not really proud of that, but it is what it is. How many of us wish that we could go back and tell our teen selves that none of that mattered? That in twelve years, no one would really care what you were like at 16? In the grand scheme of life, high school is so very small, but didn't it seem so big back then? So, admittedly, it was with a little trepidation that I went to the meet up last night. I just didn't know what to expect. But you know, it's amazing what a little maturity will do for a group of people. Of the twenty or so people that were there, I really only knew two of them. The others I remembered but can't say I had any sort of relationship with outside of the school walls. And yet we all sat there, talking like dear old friends, not judging or gossiping, but genuninely enjoying one another's company. I was pleasantly surprised. And I stayed much longer than I thought I would. I was amazed at how many people were doing really cool things. One guy works for the Grammy's, another lives and works in India. There were a couple of New York arcitecht's (I cannot figure out how to spell that word!) and a girl who was one of Bush's appointee's in his transportation department. There was an engineer who was in the process of building a robot and a writer for Hallmark. It was really fascinating to hear what everyone ended up doing with their lives.

I love Facebook for the way that it reconnects people like this. I love Facebook for the same reason that many people hate it. I love getting "friended" by people I went to high school with even if we were never actually friends in the first place. Perhaps it's a little voyeristic of me, but I like to see what people are up to. I like to see who's married and who's got kids. I like to catch a glimpse into the lives of these people that I knew so very long ago. I like to see if the class clown is still a goofball and what the guy I had a secret crush on is doing these days. And I am assuming that since they friended me, they want to do the same thing. They simply want to know who I've become. It's curiosity. It's the reunion without the awkward conversations. So, in general, I rarely ignore a friend invitation unless I just absolutely cannot remember the person. If I have no idea who you are the novelty of peeking into your life wears off. Do I communicate with all the people I am "friends" with? No. But, to me, that's not totally the point. I communciate with the people I want to communicate with and that's been a great joy. Today I am going to lunch with three girls that were dear friends back then and we just lost touch over the years. But now, thanks to Facebook, we will be enjoying one another's company. What a great thing! The others who I don't communicate with are just a satisfaction to my overwhelming curiosity.

So there you have it. Is it a little weird? Yes, I belive it is. But in the age of social media, where everyone's lives are playing out publicly, it's a new norm and I, personally, think it's a little fun.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who's the Bigger Kid?

We got this new camcorder for Christmas from my parents and I'm busy trying to figure out all the fun features. Sloan also got a new Nerf gun, which means we now have two...which means that Lee and Sloan have had some mean gun fights the last couple of days. So, what's your vote? Who do you think is having more fun?

video

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I'm afraid I have a confession to make. I don't believe in you - or, at least I didn't until last night. But you, my roly-poly friend, were the originator of a Christmas miracle unlike one I've ever before seen and today, I say with full conviction - I believe.

Sure, Lee and I were the ones who actually bought the gifts. I may or may not have used psychology on my kids to manipulate them into asking you for gifts that I had already purchased for them. Lee and I happily munched on "your" cookies and gulped down the nice, cold milk last night before we went to bed. And, okay, I wanted it to look authentic, so yeah, I messed up the fireplace and wrote a phony "Thank You" to the kids. Just because I don't - er, didn't - believe doesn't mean they shouldn't experience the thrill of your myth right?

But then, the true magic happened. My kids, who have been a nightmare to put to bed for several months since they began sharing a room, were perfect last night. On any given night, dear Santa, they have been known to get out of bed 5 or 6 times and goof around for up to an hour. We've resorted to putting Tia in our own bed until she falls asleep just to protect our sanity. But last night? Perfection. Not a peep. They so anticipated your midnight visit to our home that they immediately shut their eyes and drifted off to sleep. And Lee and I sat in wondrous silence, unsure exactly what to do with ourselves.

And so, after last night, I do believe. I believe in you, Santa. But *ahem* I have a tiny request. Since it's still Christmas and all, I figured I could ask one small favor. Could we possibly tell them you're coming to our house every night? Could we take full advantage of your magical powers and bring a little holiday cheer into our home nightly around 8:00? That would really be great. If you would be willing to fly to St. Louis on a daily basis for us, we would be forever grateful and I will be your strongest advocate for the rest of my life.

Think about it...

Sincerely,
A weary mom

P.S. We had a wonderful Christmas. Here are the gifts "you" got them. Tia loves her dollhouse and Sloan was thrilled with his excavator set. You did good, Santa!

The much anticipated excavator set that came with a million tiny pieces. Say it with me (and make sure your voice is laced with sarcasm) - awesome!
Here is Tia's super fun, tricked out dollhouse. We will log a lot of hours in playing with this house. It was a supreme investment.
The family. Mommy is sitting at the picnic table while daddy grills her some grub and also pushes the twins on their swingset - they're a modernized family.
I had to include this picture because it makes me laugh. That's Tia in her new pirate costume and Sloan dressed as Darth Vadar sneaking up from behind to slay her.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My head hurts

I'm sorry for my lack of posting lately. Even when I do post, it's very blah. I have a serious case of blogger's block and I'm tired and I've had a headache for three days now. So, that makes for poor posting. But, if you'd like some information regarding the Soviet Christmas and New Year's celebration, scroll down and read the 5th comment on my last post. My friend, Sveta, lives in Kiev (for the time being, she is currently preparing with her family to move back to her home town of Dunaivtsi) and she is a dear sister across the pond to me. She gave a brief explanation of the fun, interesting traditions that Russians and Urkainians alike celebrate. So scroll on down and learn something new. Merry Christmas...again!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why I love Russians, a Tea Party and a homemade hair-do

We had our first of two Christmases this weekend. The in-laws came in and we had a lovely time celebrating with them. The kids got some really fun new gifts. Sloan has not taken this outfit off since he got it Friday night (except for church, at which point we told him he absolutely had to wear regular clothes):

Landon hates Sloan's new outfit, though, along with the Star Trooper helmet that he got so everytime Sloan comes out with one of the masks on, Landon scampers as fast as his pudgy little legs will take him into the arms of the nearest adult and holds on for dear life with this look on his face:

Sweet Katya got a cheerleader costume and a wedding dress costume. She has no idea what a cheerleader is (which I'm fine with) and when she opened it, she pulled out the poms poms and held them up and said, "It's eyeballs!" Lee doesn't like the idea of his little girl playing the bride and refuses to call this a wedding dress - he calls it her princess dress. I can understand and respect that. It weirds me out a little too to have my little girl playing "wedding." Yikes!

I took the kids to the Dollar store and let them pick out their own presents for the grandparents this year. I tried to guide them toward the practical while still giving them the freedom to choose the gifts themselves. Sloan did a pretty good job picking things out. Tia tried, sweet thing, but was very insistent on giving her Papa a small ceramic Zebra and her Bebe a wildly tacky vase. It truly was the thought that counted...

On Saturday, Sloan had his russian school New Year party. Russians don't celebrate Christmas the same way we westerners do. Their big celebration is on New Years with the Slavic Christmas being observed on January 6 (Sveta, correct me if I'm wrong). They do have a Santa Claus figure called, Dyed Moros, or Father Ice - which is very appropriate for us given the ridiculous temperatures we are experiencing right now. Dyed Moros also has a granddaughter named Snyegurichka who helps deliver the presents. I love russians and the way that they party. They have so much fun and it's so carefree. The adults get into it as much as the kids and laugh and sing and dance around and just all around have a great time. And, where else would you have a man dressed as some sort of forest witch pull out an accordian and start dancing and singing? Oh, and Dyed Moros came out singing and dancing as well. It was awesome. I just love that culture. (Incidentally, Sveta, I think I need some schooling on who the little forest witch and her sidekicks are that seem to be trying to foil Dyed Moros's New Year plans. It's a little confusing.) Another fun tradition they have is the kids dress in costume for this New YEar's party. Again, I don't really know why, but Sloan was thrilled because he didn't have to take his Power Ranger costume off. You know, because nothing says holiday cheer like a blue Power Ranger (or Optimus Prime - it might be a Transformer costume, I'm not 100% sure...) Anyway, here's a picture of the whole crew, minus the accordian playing forest man:

Afterwards, my mom, my mother-in-law, Tia and I went to a tea party at the Ladies of Lucerne Tea House.

I've mentioned before my love for tea parties and I was so thrilled to take Tia to her first. She did alright. It's a lot to ask of a near three year old to sit properly around fine china and enjoy scones and finger sandwiches, but she did very well considering. This tea was geared toward kids too so they had gingerbread cookies and p,b&j sandwiches and hot chocolate. It was a fun little girly afternoon. Of course, before we left, Tia decided that she wanted to fix her hair...without asking me for help...which as we all know leads only to disaster. A half a jar of hair gel later she walked out looking like this:

Needless to say a bath was necessary and after it was all said and done, she looked like this:She's my little doll. She's rotten, but she's a doll. Merry Christmas everyone! Have a blessed week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We've Gotten Better at This

For years, I have been begging Lee to get our home movies burned onto DVD. Yesterday, something came over him and he decided to get the new DVD burner that we needed in order to accomplish this task and got two of our videos burned last night. It's like a Christmas miracle!

We sat down to watch them and had a jolly good time watching the first few months of Sloan's life once again. We both got a good chuckle at how young Lee looked. I know it was only five year ago, but it's still noticable. I mean, there's a big difference between 28 and 34. Lee looks like a baby. I, however, look as youthful today as I did then and that's the way it's gonna be, got it?

Of course we have just over three hours of videotape of Sloan's first nine months. I think we're approaching 45 minutes of videotape for Landon's first year - and he's not even in a lot of that video. Poor third baby. Watching these movies of our interaction with Sloan gave me great insight into why he is the way he is. Sloan is a typical first child, fun loving, meticulous and always needing someone to entertain him. To watch the videos, I see why. We made him that way! We coddled that sweet baby, always entertaining him, trying to make him laugh, talking to him and playing with him. Most of the video of his first couple of months, we are trying desperately to get a smile. Until about 6 months, Sloan was such a serious little guy and you had to practically move a mountain to get a smile. Either that or you had to make a gigantic fool of yourself, which we were doing in every frame of this video. Good grief, the poor kid just wanted to be left alone. Half the time he looked exhausted, but you know as a first time mom, I had to stick to the schedule and if it wasn't naptime, then by God he wasn't going down for a nap.

Then there's the video of him trying cereal for the first time. He hated it, but I kept shoving it into his wide open, screaming mouth, determined to get him to give it a try. Meanwhile I'm looking at the camera with this overwhelmed, bewildered look and saying, "I don't think he likes it!" Lee said I looked like Britney Spears - I think I should be insulted, and confused because... huh?

Anyway, thank God we've gotten better at this parenting thing. Not that we're experts by any means, but we have figured out a few tricks of the trade through trial and error - most of which occurred on Sloan. It's amazing that first children make it at all. How do any of us grow into well adjusted adults? But we have loosened up a whole lot. I'm no longer such a nap stickler - unless it's the afternoon nap, which is like gold for me. We aren't quite so anal about what "bad" words are - poor Sloan wasn't aloud to say anything for awhile. I let the kids have McDonalds, eat sweets and drink rum in the morning - just kidding! That's not true, they are only allowed to drink at night...

Oh and incidentally, I hereby publicly apologize to my husband for the fact that I apparently never showered that first year. In every video I'm wearing sweats and my hair appears to have swallowed a bucket of Crisco. Geesh.

The point is, we still learn something new every day and while I'm sure both Tia and Landon will also be products of our parenting mishaps, we have gotten a better handle on some things. How about you all? What are some things that you've learned through raising children?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Someone is One!

My precious Landon -
One year ago today, you entered this world. What a blessing you are. We are so grateful to God for giving you to us. You are pure joy and have been from the start.I will always consider you my miracle baby. I'll never forget sitting in my doctor's office, looking at your perfectly formed, tiny little body on the ultrasound screen and hearing him explain to me that the possiblity of spontaneous abortion was high. I could see you kicking your feet and moving your arms and it broke my heart to think of losing you because my body was unable to house you properly. But God was faithful - He always is - and my body healed and oh how grateful I am because I adore having you as my son.From the beginning, you've been a snuggle bug. Of all three, you are the most likely to sit in my lap at this age and just snuggle. You love hugs and often come toddling over for a quick hug before rushing off to play some more. That just melts my heart.I love your sweet little face and those precious chubby cheeks. From the beginning, you've been a beautiful child with a sweet disposition to match. You have stolen my heart sweet one!You are a very funny little guy. I picture you being a bit of a class clown when you grow up because you do like to make people laugh. From the time you were teeny tiny you were giggling and laughing out loud. It's a sweet sound that usually cracks the rest of us up as well.You've already had many adventures in your short life. You've ridden on an airplane twice, taken several car trips, been to Six Flags, skinny dipped in the ocean and crawled naked through the sand. What a life!As you grow, my prayer for you is the same as my prayer for your brother and sister. I claim this verse over you: "You however, continue in the things you have learned and become convicted of them, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood, you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads you to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."(2 Timothy 3:14-15)You have become very playful and interactive lately. You love to "race" with Sloan and Tia. We'll say, "Ready, set, go!" and you squat down, then take off as fast as your chubby little legs will take you, snorting and laughing the whole time. So cute... I love you so very much, Landon. I thank God that He decided to let me be your mom. You are a joy and a blessing to all of us. Happy Birthday, Landon Lee!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Birthday Party "Fun"

We had Landon's birthday party last night. These one year old parties get more and more stressful the more kids that we and our friends have. But it was still a nice time to visit with friends and celebrate my little man's life. Here are a few pictures from the shindig...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Memo

Sometime last week, Landon received a memo that I'm certain read something like this:

Landon, the information contained in this brief memo is of the utmost importance.

Now that you are walking and are just days from your first birthday, you are officially given the title of toddler. With this title comes some added responsibility. First, while I understand that being the baby has its perks, (i.e. a lot of positive attention, no responsibility, someone to wipe your rear and carry you around, etc...) you must now begin to assert yourself more. Because your vocabulary is limited to grunts and squeals, this will require some creativity on your part.

Effective tools used by others are: kicking your feet, arching your back, screaming (this is particulrly effective in public places), falling to the floor, crying incessantly, hitting your siblings (this will require that you work on your coordination a little), throwing your food or cup down on the floor, etc...

The point is, you should assert your desires and stop at nothing until you get what you want. You don't want to sit in your car seat? Arch your back and throw your head into the seat. Your mom won't be able to buckle your belt and it'll make her a little crazy. You want to eat the dog food but they tell you no? Shove as much into your mouth as possible, then kick and scream when they dig it out - that'll teach 'em! Also, it is imperative that you become a little pickier at the dinner table. Stop making it so easy on your parents. They need the excitement of a challenge. I know they're up to their ears in the discipline of your brother and sister, but come on, you need to get in on that action!

Finally, start exploring the land around you a little more. Climb things, knock down large items, make a mess whenever you get the chance. Climbing up that complete set of stairs yesterday was just short of brilliance. It gave your mom a small heart attack and you set the new standard. Let her know that life is not going to be peaches from here on out. Thus far you've been complacent and sweet - a model child. It's time to spice it up a little. Get out there and go for it, kid!

Now, this memo was left unsigned, of course, but Landon took it quite seriously. I have my theory as to who could have sent it. My guess is either his brother and sister, who are likely tired of being in the hotseat and want someone else to feel mom's wrath, or the little booger in the mirror who is constantly laughing at Landon and giving him kisses, like this:

No matter who it was, I don't like it. I was diggin' the sweet, complacent, easy going baby. And just as a reminder, I already have a strong-willed 5 year old and a stubborn, independent 2 year old. I'm due for the "easy kid," right? Wait, what? All kids have their own set of issues? There's no such thing as an easy kid? They all take work? Really? *sigh*

My sweet Landon turns one on Tuesday and I just can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. This time last year I was as big as a house and totally unprepared for the transition. This year, I'm in full swing, we're already done with bottles (sniff), walking, eating table food, and yes, throwing tantrums. How does it go by so quickly? I'm really glad I started this blog after Landon was born because this year just feels like a blur. I'm so grateful I can go back and remember those days, or at least read about them because apparently I checked out for the first several months of his life!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seeing Santa

I took the kids to see Santa yesterday. We haven't been to see Santa Clause since Sloan was 18 months old and responded like this:
He was terrified after that year and I just didn't have the heart to force him to sit on Santa's lap again. And because he was so scared, Tia was scared and freaked out if we even got near a guy in a big red suit. So, it's been several years. This year, however, Sloan is very into the idea of Santa. He's so concerned about our fireplace and tells us everyday to make sure and turn the fire off on Christmas Eve to make sure Santa doesn't get burned. And yesterday, when I told him that we were going to see Santa, he was thrilled. And, of course, Tia followed his lead and got excited too. They both leapt up on Santa's lap and told him what they wanted - Sloan an excavator set, Tia a dollhouse - then smiled bright for the picture. Poor sweet Landon, however, did not enjoy it as much as they did...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our First Christmas and a Few of My Favorite Things

We braved the 26 degree weather Friday night and went shopping for our Christmas tree. You know, because nothing says holiday cheer like frostbite...

We came home, had hot chocolate, put the kids to bed and strung the lights, then Saturday morning let them help us put up the ornaments. One of the ornaments we hang on our tree each year is a time capsule that we got on our first Christmas in 2000. In it is a small scroll where Lee and I wrote the details of our first Christmas as a married couple. This is what it looks like:Inside it say: Our First Christmas it was - cold and icy in Dallas
We lived at - St. Charles at Stonebriar apartment complex in Frisco, TX
At that time the new was full of stories like - Presidential Election Controversy, crazy snow storms in the north, the Rams beat the Saints and sqeaked into the play-offs - then lost.
We shared lots of Christmas traditions like - opening stocking on Christmas Eve. Getting up at the crack of dawn (this is a family tradition of mine that Lee has grown to love over the course of the last eight years - it fills him with such joy to creep out of bed at 5:00 am)
We celebrated the season with special people like: Herb, Barbara and Zach Dec. 10; Richard, Candy, Brett and Jared on Christmas; Old Baylor friends on New Years
We got each other presents like: Lee got Kelli a Karaoke machine, Anna Karenina in russian and clothes; Kelli got Lee clothes, "Rich, Dad, Poor Dad," and an old LIFE magazine about JFK (that's so random - I don't know why I bought him that or where that magazine is now!)

Anyway, it's always fun to read that and remember Christmas 2000, our first together. And here are a few more of my favorite ornaments.
I have no idea where we got his ornament but it makes me laugh. It's a hula wearing Santa surfing on two dolphins and he kind of looks like he's making an obscene gesture. Of course, that only makes sense right? Bizarre.

My First Christmas ornament from 1978. In a few years I'm not sure that I'll like that one quite as much though - it's starting to make me feel old.

Here is a picture of Lee when he was around 9 or 10. The ornament it's nestled in is looking a little ragged, but he's old too so...


There is a story behind this one. When I was a kid, my mom bought a blown glass Statue of Liberty ornament at some hole in the wall shop in Wisconsin. She loved the ornament, the rest of us thought it was ugly and a little odd so every Christmas she would hang it front and center on the tree and we would move it to the back of the tree. Back and forth we moved it throughout the entire season. It became the family joke - until college when it was mysteriously lost forever and we were all a little sad. But, low and behold, my mom was, I think, in Pennsylvania a couple of years ago and she stumbled upon not one, but two more of these horrendous ornaments which she bought for me and for herself. So now I hang mine on the back of the tree and every time mom or dad comes to my house they move it to the front and the tradition lives on!
And here we are, freezing our tails off to get our very lovely, very piney tree. I love the smell of a Christmas tree!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Past

A few pictures from Christmases past. This is not an original idea - I stole it from Tiffany. But I thought it would be fun to walk down the holiday memory lane. Enjoy!
Christmas 2003
Sloan is five months old and quite the brute.


Christmas 2004
Sloan at 17 months old and quite the ham.

Christmas 2005
Sloan is 2.5 and anxiously awaiting a new baby brother or sister.


Christmas 2006
Sloan (3.5) and Tia (10 months). The only way I could get her to stand still was to shove food in her mouth. Come to think of it, that's still the only time I can get her to be still!

Christmas 2007
Sloan (4.5), Tia (22 months) and Landon (days old). My precious baby will be one in less than two weeks!




Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Maybe we need to show him Star Wars

The other day, Sloan came walking into the living room, Tia trailing quick at his heels. He grasped in his hand his new Light Saber, which he got as an early Christmas gift from his cousins over Thanksgiving. For some reason he is obsessively into Star Wars, which is a mystery to me because he's never actually seen any of the movies. It's not that we don't want him to watch them, it's just that I don't really know that he'll enjoy the movies all that much given the fact that they are a little slow and, well, boring.

Somewhere out there, I know there's a group of Star Wars addicts who are putting some voodoo intergalactic hex on me. Sorry, I just never really got it with those movies. Anyway, moving on. Sloan rounded the corner and held his sword up proudly.

"Mom," he announced, "I am Darth Vader."

"Oh," I murmered trying to sound impressed.

"Yeah, and Tia is my girlfriend. Her name is Melissa."

At this point I look up, my eyebrows raised, trying to figure out how in the world I should respond to this.

"Wow, Melissa huh?" I said.

"Yep, she's my girlfriend Melissa." Turning to Tia, he throws his arms out wide and she ducks slightly to avoid being whacked across the head with a light saber.

"Melissa," he exclaims loudly, "Bow down to me!"

Tia just stares at him.

"Bow down to me!" he repeats. And still Tia does not move.

"Tia, you're supposed to bow down to me. I'm Darth Vader."

"Uh-uh, Hol (Sloan)," Tia responds indignantly.

Turning to me Sloan throws his light saber down. "Mom, Tia is my girlfriend Melissa and she won't bow down to me."

Honestly, I had no response so I stood there silently for a minute before saying, "Okay, who wants a snack?"

I think it's time we showed him the movies...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The kids are at my mom's house today. I have Christmas music blaring and I'm putting up all our decorations. There's a dusting of snow on the ground and I think I'll make some hot chocolate! I'm finished with my shopping. We'll get our tree this Saturday and I'll put the wrapped gifts out. I love this time of year.