Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh Yeah

So I kinda forgot to mention our BIG NEWS this week...

Literally. She is huge.

On Friday, January 20, we welcomed our sweet niece, Briscoe Elaine, into the world. All TEN pounds, TWO ounces and nearly 22 inches of her. In my world, it is legendary that my sister-in-law could give birth to a baby this size. (As in, GAVE BIRTH. She. Is. Amazing.) My babies were that size at four months!

I hear the nurses were flocking to their room to bear witness to the toddler that was born that day.

I can't wait to meet this girl!! Who knew being an AUNT could be so fun??

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Miracle

I recently joined Pinterest. That is not the miracle. But the wealth of information and inspiration are absolutely overwhelming.

For YEARS I have been perplexed about my dishes. It's no secret that food looks best served on white, and I still love the color and pattern I chose seven (??!) years ago. However, white also shows everything, and in addition to enamel chipping and crackling, I have had horrible silverware marks for what seems forever.

I FINALLY found some new dishes that I liked enough to replace the old ones. Enter Pinterest...and a tip someone posted about removing silverware scratches from dishes. This may be old news to some, but I've talked to at least three people who have all been thrilled to know this I thought I'd share.

Here it is:

Yep. That's it.

Sunday afternoon I decided to give it a try. Check out the results:

Granted, quite a few of mine were too far gone for help due to enamel issues...but the ones that were OK look almost new!

So that's my fun-filled tip of the day. Well, three, really...1) go get yourself some Barkeepers Friend, 2) don't buy Pottery Barn dishes, 3) join Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holiday Black Hole: Part Three

Part Three: Christmas

For the past several years I have been longing to spend Christmas at home. The experience did not disappoint.

I loved everything about Christmas Eve...from going to our church's Christmas Eve putting the last-minute touches on gifts and arranging everything under the watching Gary put together Maggie's going to bed anticipating the next morning (in a different way than I did as a child).

Ironically, I have very little documentation considering the day's events. I think it must have been because I was either holding a child or holding a cup of coffee. Or both.

There are also very few (read: NONE) pictures of Howard. He was sick. Again. Shocker.

The tricycle was more of a hit than we could have ever imagined. She IMMEDIATELY got on it, put on her helmet and demanded that someone take her around to do "laps." She cried when (after at least 30 minutes of this) Gary told her she had to get off so we could open the other presents.

Doing the obligatory scribble on her easel...she was not nearly as thrilled about this as the trike.

Christmas brunch with Mimi and Bops. Are you asking yourself why there are TWO things of yogurt? I am.

Because you cannot have eggs without syrup.

Christmas day nap hair. Inspired by the Whoville I think.

After the novelty of her own gifts wore off, she naturally resorted to Howard's.

You would think we lived in the South by the number of smocked dresses I put this girl in. Just counting the days until I can add a huge grosgrain bow to her hair. (Looks a little ridiculous now...) My sweet grandmother sure knows me well!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, we're just plain classy people.

Gary and Mags (read: GARY) taking advantage of H's trains.

I will always remember this as being a very special Christmas...our first at home...hopefully not our last. It makes me excited to anticipate future matter who is here or where we are - how wonderful to be able to celebrate together as a family and remember why the day is truly so special to us!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holiday Black Hole: Part Two

Part Two: The In-Between

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas went very quickly - mainly due to a week and a half spent out in Chicago to visit and celebrate with our friends and family out there.

Loved having a tree in the playroom this year...and Maggie loved having one that she could decorate/sort ornaments all on her own. (Not that the ornaments on our regular tree are anything special)

The first day of the advent house and the little elf were a hit. That was about it.

Every year I think, "certainly. THIS is the year we will replace our $16 mascara-brush Target tree." And every year it goes up. I took this picture after I put it up just to remind myself we have NO MORE ROOM for ornaments from any post-holiday sales.

Watching Finding Nemo on YouTube. In Japanese, naturally.

Prepared for snow...which we STILL have not seen much of. (Do not read this sentence as complaining)

One of the reasons we were in town was because Gary had some meetings for work in the city. We decided to make the most of it and spent our first night downtown with the kids. After dropping off our stuff we took advantage of the gorgeous December weather (really!) and went off exploring. Walking - or rather riding in the stroller - is exhausting...definitely needed to take a load off and refuel.

While we had dinner with some good friends downtown, my sister Laura was kind enough to stay in the hotel with Howie and put him to bed. I hear they had a great time.

Our night at the hotel was a huge success...although I was not feeling that successful when both kids were awake at 5:30 and Gary was already gone to work...

Baby in the bathroom. Because we're classy like that.

Maggie and Charlotte were SOO happy to see each other and play at the First Trust Christmas party. I love when something that you think will be great in their eyes totally blows away your expectations. They were beyond thrilled.

Sundae for two.

Our friend Stan has never quite gotten over the fact that Maggie has never responded to him very warmly. He was thrilled, as you can imagine, to hold an Anderson offspring that not only came to him willingly, but seemed to enjoy his time in his arms.

Maggie clearly feeling a little left out. And Charlotte clearly needing a baby in her life.

Howie experiencing his first "Christmas."

Markers + stickers = no-fail gift

Decorating gingerbread with Gramma.

ALL of us truly enjoyed our time with Gramma and Papa.

Here we are! A year later. WOW.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Holiday Black Hole: Part One

As much as I like this little blog to be a way for friends and family (near or far!) to connect with us, one thing I really love about it is the life documentation ability it gives me - yes, me, the "artsy" one who has not even attempted a baby book. For either child. In fact, our wedding album is only half done.

I love the every day things that end up getting recorded in this blog (my kids may not 10 years from now), but it struck me recently that I have posted ZILCH about Thanksgiving and Christmas 2011...both significant, no? It's like a two-month-long black hole sucked us in.

So here you go...the speed round.

Part One: Thanksgiving 2011

On a little hike.

I attempted at one point to do a little handmade garland with Mags help. But it never got hung. Harumph. Hoping that I can get my act together for it to make an appearance next year.

The infamous (at least around here) pajama party.

The makings of a KILLER stuffing. Really. You must try it. And this is coming from a person who rarely eats meat.

The Cleveland Zoo is free every year on Thanksgiving Day. And let me tell you, a ZOO it was! CRAZY! Maggie was thrilled with the entire experience.

Boy, does she get heavy, though!

It was a perfect day. On the bench with Uncle Paul, not to be confused with Uncle Paul, as well as Heather.

The dinner party! Minus Aunt Susan (photographer) and Howie. Let me tell you - after a day at the zoo and an afternoon cooking, the meal was literally inhaled...and everyone was exhausted.

The WHOLE family. I really enjoyed this Thanksgiving, knowing that as we all grow older and further apart that this will likely become more and more rare. What a treat to have everyone in town for so long! From left to right: Auntie Kirstin and Uncle Jay, Uncle Paul and Aunt Susan, Gary and Muggs (aka Mimi and Bops), our clan (yes, that is my hair Howie is eating, and yes, it hurt), Uncle Paul and Heather.

There you have it! A very full, but very fun week. It's always nice to reflect on what you are thankful for while with those you are thankful for. My heart was (and is) truly FULL of thanks this year. On so many levels.

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

This picture is currently sitting against the wall facing Maggie's bedroom door. (Yes, in the other pile of "gallery wall" pictures that STILL have yet to be hung)

It's one of my favorite pictures of Maggie as a baby, and as I left her room the other night I was struck by the reality of the fact that my potty-trained, speaking-in-paragraphs, ponytail-wearing, way-too-big-for-a-crib little girl is no longer a baby.

Even last night she and Gary were playing on the floor and he said something about Baby Mags and she said, "Dad, I'm not a baby. I'm a little girl." [Silent parent-glance exchange.] She's right. She totally is.

Even though this is something that I know has been happening for awhile, the past couple of weeks we both feel like she has changed a lot. Her looks are changing (she still has some baby cheeks, but I know those will go soon...), her conversation skills are evolving, her independence - both in spirit and ability - is soaring, and her understanding of herself and the world around here is exploding.

Every day is FULL of questions. Some more frustrating and/or nonsensical than others, but others as genuine, sweet and ignorant as can be. Lately she's been having a hard time falling asleep at night. Last night after I went into her room for the second or third time I said, "Maggie, you have to be quiet! What do you NEED?" Totally calm without a whimper in her voice she looked up at me and said, "I need YOU." [Reluctant heart melt] "OK, one more song." "Two more songs." "Fine. Two more songs." "Actually, ten more songs." "No, two."

It's a little strange for me the past week or so to realize that we're saying goodbye to Baby Mags. I have SUCH fond memories of her as a baby. It marked a new stage of life for me on so many levels. Her first year is probably one of my favorite years of MY life to date, so I think I will always naturally remember her baby stage as one of my favorites.

Yet, I embrace her entering into this new stage, too...knowing that her personality, companionship, intelligence, independence and faith will only increase, and she will continue to add to our lives and God's kingdom in ways we can only imagine.

After New Year's Eve Maggie was introduced to sparkling cider, which she calls "spicy juice," and insists on only drinking it out of a teacup and with another person. As she lifts her cup in the air and indicates that you must do the same she clinks the glasses and says, "Cheers!" So here's to you, Little Mags! Bring on the next stage!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WAY too much information

After much trepidation (on my part), I decided that THIS was the week to potty train Mags. I read a great book called Toilet Training in LESS THAN A DAY, and by Monday morning was feeling very confident.

A great deal of the strategy in this book is giving the child lots of liquids so that they have to go to go a lot, in turn giving them a lot of practice. Which, is a great theory. IF YOUR CHILD ACTUALLY GOES TO THE BATHROOM. Yesterday she was up by 8:30 (I know, I'm spoiled), and when I went to put her down for her nap at 12:30 she STILL HAD NOT GONE.

All I can say is we may not be getting a lot of practice, but I'm also not cleaning up a lot of messes. I'll take it.

Our big mantra has been, "Maggie, what do you do when you need to go pee-pee or poo-poo??" "RUUUUNNN to the pot-ty!"

Tonight my mom and I were downstairs playing with H-Man while (we thought) Maggie was upstairs with her dad in his office. Suddenly she appears from around the corner saying, "I went potty!" with her pants down at her ankles and a very proud expression on her face.

Astonished, we panicked, and rushed her into the bathroom. As I was lifting her onto the toilet she said, "NO! I already went!" I then looked down at her pants. Dry. "Did Daddy help you?" "No, I did it myself!" "Really?" "Yes! In mommy and daddy's bathroom. I wipe my hands, too!" "Oh good, you washed your hands?" "No, I have toilet paper and I wipe my bottom with my hands."

Perplexed, we trekked upstairs to find out how true her story really was. Well, folks, the proof is in the pudding. Flashback, anyone?

(What this picture does not include is the string of toilet paper from the roll to the toilet.)

Soooo...although there are many mysteries surrounding tonight's events, apparently she can go on her own. Next lesson? Toilet paper usage.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Baby vs. Grinch - Nine Months

So much of this last year is a blur to me. Amazing to think back to last January at this time when we weren't even sure where Howie would be born! And now - whoosh! - he's nine months old. NINE! Unfortunately for him (or maybe fortunately considering his temperment the first 6 months of his life...), his blog records leave much to be desired.

A LOT has happened in the past three months.

He is known as H man to nearly everyone...

...although his nicknames abound as much as his drool.

He eats like a horse. He only has four teeth, but chews and chomps like he has a full set.

Unless he's truly not hungry (rare), I still have yet to offer him a food he won't eat. Peas, carrots, beans, squash - he will not turn any of it down! If this is any indication of what he will be like as a teenager, I am in trouble! He is definitely a different child from his sister. (Who still will not eat any of the above of her own free will) He gets visibly angry if he sees someone eating something and he is not. This includes my morning cup of coffee...can't a mom get a break??!

He is into EVERYTHING.

I was thankful to take the Christmas tree down this weekend, and am finding myself discovering new ways I need to re-babyproof our rooms. Between army crawling and rolling he can get almost anywhere much faster than you can think.

He gets bored quickly, and between keeping up with him and keeping him entertained (and fed!) we are quite busy.

He loves watching the trains go by out the back window, and was very excited that Christmas brought him several CARS and TRAINS and other boyish things that we've never really had around here. Football is his favorite thing to watch on TV. (Not that I ever let my children watch TV) He never seems to mind when Maggie (accidentally or not accidentally) tackles him.

All in all, I am discovering every day the differences between raising boys and girls.

He has always been a little chatterbox, and continues to be as he adds more sounds to his "vocabulary." Lately his faves are Mama, Dada, Baba (just babbling, don't be impressed). He quite often says a combination that sounds like "Hi Dad," which I find so endearing...even though I know he's not REALLY saying it.

He LOVES his sister. He is generally a very friendly, smiley, social baby when other people are around, but nothing holds a candle to when Maggie enters the room. Her presence automatically elicits smiles and coos and giggles. It is really very sweet. Fortunately, she feels the same way. I am cherishing these moments where they love to be around each other...because I know there will be days coming where they don't think quite so fondly of each other.