Friday, November 21, 2008

James at 18 Months

(blogger thought it would be funny to post this picture sideways):My dear boy, you are a handful these days. Well, more like an armful, or a wrestling match, a slobbery kiss framed with dirty little hands. Here are 10 things I never want to forget about you at this age:
1. You love me. I am your favorite. You love it when I hold all 24.5 lbs of you. You give me very kind and gentle pats on the back for it, which I think I deserve because you are getting really heavy. You also tug on my hair, fiddle with the mole on my cheek - which I am rather sensitive about, and kiss the cross on my necklace.

2. When you wake up in the morning you love to watch a little news on the couch with me and snuggle in a blanket. You still like to have yogurt before breakfast, which reminds me of Hobbits and their frequent meals. You say "Jooooooos" to let me know you'd like some and you always ask if I'm going to have tea by pointing at me and saying "Teeeee?" But sometimes I have coffee and you still call it "teeee" and ask for sips.

3. You are so messy. You randomly strut around the house like a tornado busting up neat piles of books, purposely spilling cups of juice or milk on the floor, and spreading toys through out the land. We know you are done with your dinner when you randomly fling your plate onto the floor. This is so frustrating to me - you have no idea. I have to take lots of deep breaths, and your dad has to take even more. Your sister only gave us a mere glimpse at this type of behaviour. In fact when we told her something was yucky, and not to touch it, she obliged, but when you hear that something is yucky, it intrigues you. It draws you in with a magnetic force that boys must be more vulnerable to. Please control yourself, for heavens sake.

4. You're a guy's guy. You have no problem going up to a group of young men hanging out at church and making small talk. They really like you too. You have several buddies that you let hold you and rough house with. I'm pretty sure you'll be really good at making fart noises with your armpits one day.

5. You do have a softer side though...Occasionally you like to play with your sister's dolls. You've even fought her over them. You like to get them blankets and cover them up. Sometimes you'll hold one around the house while you play. I think it's pretty cute, and I'm hoping when your new sibling comes you'll be nice and gentle to him or her too. Although I have seen you trying to pluck out one of the doll's eyelashes. Please don't do that to our baby.

6. Your smile melts my heart. It's so cute. It looks just like my Grandpa's - who has a wonderful smile. You even have dimples. Could you get any cuter?

7. When daddy gets home, you run to the door as fast as you can with your big grin, shouting "DADDA!"That's gotta feel good after a long day at work. If I am your favorite, your dad is a very close second. You two are a good pair. Your dad really loves having a son, and lets you dip your crackers in his ale. He carries you around the house while I make dinner and you look so satisfied up in his arms. Sometime you guys go to Home Depot together. And because your dad is a brave man, he never brings a diaper bag, as he tells me that you guys prefer to travel light. For some reason you've never soiled yourself on these outings or caused a need for a baby wipe to arise. This slightly perturbs me, but it's good for you and your dad, and it gets you out of my hair for a hour or so.

8. Moooo! Baaaaa! Oink Oink! You have a large vocabulary of animal noises. Nothing excites you more than seeing an animal, whether in a book or in real life, that makes a fun sound. I've never heard a more committed oink nor a convincing neigh from a toddler.

9. You're a very nice brother to Hannah. While you do sometimes try to get into whatever she's doing and bug her, you love her so much and follow her around like a lost puppy. If she gets hurt or sad and cries, your face immediately expresses concern. You wrap your little arms around her her and give her a kiss and pat her head. Despite the squabbles between you that I have to referee, many times while I'm busying myself around the house, the two of you will be found playing and I can hear you both laughing heartily. I hope you will be friends forever.

10. You are a joy. You make all of us laugh with your antics. You are curious, loving, affectionate, big-hearted, noisy, energetic, cranky, healthy, and everything we could ever hope our little boy to be. I know when you get older and turn into a big kid, and eventually a young man with hair all over your body and an adams apple, I will wish I could go back and hold you once again when I could still lift you up and tickle you on your neck and ribs. Thank God for you, my son. A big chunk of my heart belongs to you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Advent Calendar

For Monica or anyone else looking for one:

We got ours from our parish bookstore but I found a website on the back of the booklet and you can find it (though it's not identical to mine) HERE.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the....Already?

As I waited in a parking lot for Jason to pick up some snacks for his Sunday School class, on a very warm, smokey Sunday morning, I couldn't help but feel completely annoyed by the huge and beautifully adorned Christmas tree displayed in the middle of the strip mall, standing there like a desperate plea for us to buy something plastic and/or from China. I can't stand it. Can we please wait until after Thanksgiving, people?
However, the Nativity is on my mind, as the fast has begun. I'm learning to love the rhythm and cycles of the Liturgical year. I'm also trying to make it more tangible for my children. Today I broke out our Advent calendar that has a saint to read about for every day from the beginning of the Nativity Fast to Christmas. Last year, Hannah really enjoyed doing this and would say every evening, "Whose feast is it today?" I'd like to plan ahead better this year and make or do something special for some of those saints like make spruce tree cookies for Saint Herman of Alaska's feast day, and find a good Saint Nicholas book to read and then decorate the house for Christmas on that day. I don't want the season to be gone in a flash, and then feel guilty that I didn't really take advantage of it.

An Orthodox Christian is encouraged to use times of fasting (though it is always good to do so) to replace tv or other distractions (ahem...internet) with spiritual readings, good for the soul. This year I am reading Wounded by Love by Elder Porphyrios. Jason recently read it and really enjoyed it. I honestly think it has made him a more gentle and patient father since reading it. He's read some excerpts to me and I found them quite captivating. So far, it's been an enjoyable read.

For the kids, we're still reading out of Hannah's Children's Bible every evening. I normally will read some of that and then one other kid's book, or a chapter of some children's literature. We read Little House in the Big Woods, and then Little House on the Prairie back to back. We debated on reading Plum Creek next but decided to start The Chronicles of Narnia instead. I just love Lewis, and reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has been a treat for me and her. Reading some of his books such as The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters really prepared me for Orthodox Christianity, as a friend of mine has said before as well. Lewis is such a wonderful Christian author, and I'm so excited my kids get to read/hear these gems.

Jason and I have made some Christmas gifting plans I'm looking forward to as well. We are going to make the majority of our gifts this year, and I found some really good and do-able ideas out of some books at the library. It's so nice having a handy husband (though he dislikes the word handy - he really is). We've got most of our supplies ready, but I can't tell you what we're making because it's a secret. :) It involves wood. Should be fun. Jason and I have also decided to buy each other's Christmas gifts from a thrift store. I hate feeling worried about money and it always gets tight at Christmas, so rather than running up credit cards and giving ourselves ulcers, I think we've found some thoughtful solutions to no presents at all.

On Saturday we had an ultra sound of our little butterbean. He or she is doing just fine in there. We've decided to keep this baby a surprise and asked to not find out the sex. So I'm eagerly awaiting the birthday and the joy of finding out what we are having as we have him or her. We waited for Hannah and that was so much fun. Nothing like it. Any guesses?

Finally, here is a picture of my mom and I (sorry Mom, this was the only picture that came out) when we went to see Wicked last week at the Pantages Theater in LA (which is a gorgeous venue btw) with some of my mom's coworkers. It was a very impressive production and I thoroughly enjoyed our evening out. We also had a lovely dinner at The Stinking Rose, and I think I've just now recovered from the garlic overdose!

And one last thing - my prayers are going out to everyone close to the terrible fires that were creating havoc. Everyone I know is OK, thank God. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and belongings.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Menu Plan....Saturday?

I've got the time and desire to plan today, so here I go. The Nativity Fast is coming up and this is our last week for meats and dairy until Christmas. Since I'm pregnant, I'm still going to have eggs and dairy, and so will the kids. I will most likely stay away from meat. Which will be harder than normal, because this pregnancy is having me crave meat, not something I usually do. So for this week, I'd like to gorge myself on comfort food.

L - Leftover City. We got spaghetti and meat balls for dad, lentil and egg burritos for the kids and I, and some Asian style rice noodles with vegetables and garlic sauce from last night if we are still hungry!
D - ??? I'm undecided and not really in to mood to go to the store today.

D - Pizza and Salad

B - Yogurt and apple sauce
L - Macaroni (I have a package of Annies begging to be cooked) and cheese with ham and spinach
D - Roasted Chicken, acorn squash, sauteed greens (kale, spinach)

B - Acorn squash pancakes
L - Chicken salad sandwiches
D - Chicken tacos with all the fixins+ rice and beans

B - Berry Green Smoothies and toast
L - Bean & rice burritos
D - Potluck something or other

Thursday (the last day before fasting starts)
B - Bean and egg scramble
L - Salad with whatever chicken is leftover, cheese and veggies.
D - Lasagna - and I'm tempted to buy some from Costco.

B - oatmeal
L - pb & j & fruit
D - Polenta with pasta sauce

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

How the Tooth Got Loose

It was Monday night, and we all decided it was the night we had to get that tooth out! When we took James to his appointment the dentist was worried about Hannah's gum becoming infected since there isn't a big permanent tooth to push the baby tooth out. It could of hung in there for a long time, apparently! We wiggled and jiggled it, I had Hannah bite into an apple. When daddy got home, she was sick of me and it became a father-daughter endeavor. After a few unsuccessful attempts with some floss tied around the little tooth and some yanks, some giggles and some whining, one last try with the floss worked. Hannah was a trooper and felt like such a big girl when I told her she looked like a six year old. Any upset due to bleeding was appeased with a nice little bowl of ice cream. I kinda like her new smile - but still undecided on what to do, if anything. I'm just glad that sucker is out!

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's for dinner?

It's nearly three o'clock and I'm really not sure. I 'd like to make a quiche but I've no pie crust (and I've never made one before myself, I don't even own a rolling pin). The fam has made it clear to me that if I must serve up quiche it must be with a crust. Picky, picky!

So, yeah, meal planning. Didn't get around to it yet this week. So for tonight? I'll think of something. We certainly won't starve. I've got a Costco fillet of Salmon, eggs, potatoes, asparagus and plenty of greens.

Life has been going well for us, Thank God. It has felt like Fall for the past couple of days which always makes me smile. We had a very conventional Halloween. It was quite possibly the cheapest one ever too because both Hannah and James' costumes were either borrowed or handed down. Here they are, aren't they cute?

I was a little bummed we didn't have an All Hallows Eve party again at church this year, but it ended up being a fine family evening for us as we went to a little downtown event and then barged in at my in laws to trick or treat in their neighborhood. They live on a cul-de-sac and know all their neighbors so we felt more comfortable with trick or treating there. Our street doesn't even have lights! When we came home we noticed some hooligans jacked our Prop 8 sign, as well as many of our neighbor's. Booooooo! That's REAL mature! Gash!

So the past couple of days, I've spent more time than I care to in waiting rooms. On Friday I thought Hannah's cap on one of her front teeth came loose. So I called the dentist, got her in that day, and found out that it's not the cap that is loose. It's the whole blasted tooth. They offered to extract it for her and give her some laughing gas, and I thought about it, and said nah. It's bound to come out somehow, right? Well I thought for sure it would come out over the weekend, but the bleeping tooth won't quit and persists to hang on, to what I don't know. On the X-Ray, you can see there is no root there anymore. Anyway, we left that visit glad that it was free and that she had no cavities - HOORAY. We still have to consider whether we want to have her get a kiddie partial or a spacer or do nothing. She's only four so she's probably got a while before her perm tooth comes. We left with a balloon, and a new toothbrush and other goodies, and even made a check up appointment for Jamesy boy.

Then. Then! On Sunday, we had a rough morning because James didn't sleep well, and was so fussy. I thought maybe his tummy hurt, but then when I changed his diaper his boy parts looked seriously not good. Without going into any detail, we all freaked out. We called the advice nurse, the nurse said to take him to pediatric urgent care at the hospital. So Daddy went with Hannah to church and I took James to the hospital. They were really great there and there was no waiting, because I learned something new here - if there is something not right with a penis you are rushed in. A PENIS problem? You mean a problem with his PENIS? You get to pass all the others in the waiting room with croupy coughs and bronchitis. The doctor will be right in. I am not kidding. All was well though - for your information, James is the picture of health and just had an exacerbated type of diaper rash that needed a special cream.

His dentist appointment went well today too, he was a good little toddler and let them brush and floss his teeth. His teeth are looking good too. Right now he is playing with his balloon and hasn't seemed to catch on that when you let go of it, it flies up, and then you can't reach it. So about every 20 seconds as I type this post, I hear a dull thud upon the ceiling, and shortly he comes to me and pleads with me, "Boo? Boo? Boo?" Oh all right. I'll get your boo. Again. That little boy cuteness is so irresistible.

I'm off to figure out dinner. I'm thinking pan fried salmon, some asparagus and baked potatoes.