Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Little Family Christmas

Alex knows that Christmas is about Jesus. If you ask him to say Jesus, he says "Maywee" for Merry Christmas. He's too little to really get it, but we've worked very hard to make sure that Alex knows the true meaning of Christmas as best as he can at his age. I want to make that the first & most important focus of Christmas in our home.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we read Christmas stories from Alex's Bible and from a book I picked up at Toys R Us. (I love this little book because it doesn't include the wisemen at the stable!) We played with the Fisher Price nativity (from Grandma P) and a window cling nativity (from Grandma S).

On Christmas Eve, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus with candles in Grandma P's yummy brownies. Birthday cake for Jesus is a family tradition from Keith's growing-up years. THANK YOU for rescuing us, Grandma, when I ran out of time to make a birthday cake for Jesus!

I want giving (not getting) to be the focus of Christmas. God so generously gave us His son, and Christmas is the time to celebrate His amazing gift. We kept coins in the car, making sure that Alex got to give money to every Salvation Army bell ringer we saw. We filled a box for Operation Christmas Child, and we sent that with presents for a boy in the 2 - 4 year old age range. We sought out a few people with needs & made sure those needs were met. I don't say that to boast or brag - I say that because I hope we're setting a good example for our boys of what Christmas is really all about.

(picture taken by Grandma & Papa P's tree)
We tried to keep Christmas simple, but still make it fun. When he woke on Christmas morning, we took Alex and Max to our stockings. We asked, "Alex, who brought us presents in our stockings?" With the sweetest little voice, he answered, "Shanta!" (It's so cute to hear him say that...)
Our living room tree on Christmas morning

stockings on Christmas morning

Max actually reached in & pulled out a present without help!

Santa brought Max two new cloth diapers, bath soap,
and a Baby Signing Time DVD.

Alex loves his new (well, from a garage sale...) train table.
He thinks he should get in with the trains, though! :)
Alex also got a small toy loader, a Tag Junior,
a tractor shirt, M&MS, and ABC magnets.

my cheesy husband with a Wii remote charger
(We got ourselves a Wii this fall as an early Christmas present to each other)

Keith surprised me with the new Kutless CD! :)

I read about a neat Christmas tradition that I plan to try next year. Melissa individually wraps Christmas stories, and her daughter opens one book a day as a Countdown To Christmas. Isn't that neat? We only have about 10 Christmas stories now, but I'll collect more on Paperback Swap this year.
I'm also thinking that Alex might be big enough to understand a Jesse Tree next year. It's an Advent countdown to Christmas with devotions & an ornament for each day leading up to Christmas. (Allison - don't you do this? Do you have a suggestion for good age-appropriate devotions?)

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions with little ones? I'd love to know what other families do! Please comment! :)

I really want to point this out, but wasn't sure where it fit in the post: Keith's aunt made his stocking for him when he was little. Keith's mom made stockings for Alex, Max, and me. The time & the love that go into making these stockings is just amazing. Thank you for completing our family stockings! :)

Moving Up

Alex's last time in our high chair...

Alex said goodbye to the high chair this week, and Max moved up in the world . Max was fussy, and I was busy. I was desperate to keep Max happy while also doing some Christmas cooking/baking. My last attempt (before pulling out my hair) was to recline the high chair for Max. He LOVED it!

We've now sat him in there several times, and he enjoys it for 10 - 15 minutes while we eat or I cook. Alex thinks it's pretty neat to see his brother in the high chair. Max isn't eating any foods yet, but he'll know the chair pretty well by the time he is!

Max isn't the only one moving up. Alex got a booster seat for Christmas, and he's proudly eating at the kitchen table now. He loves his new placemat, and he's been "counting" the cows, sheep, pigs, and 'meows'. (He can only correctly identify up to the number 3, but he likes to pretend he's counting.)

Alex isn't the neatest eater on the planet, so the table is usually messy near his seat. He is very determined to use his fork and spoon properly. We went out for lunch today, and even the waitress commented on how well he uses a spoon. I don't know what we should expect from a 2 year old, but I'm impressed by how well he can handle a spoon full of soup or applesauce at his age.
I'm a little sad about this moving up "stuff" means both of my babies are getting too big! It's neat, though, to watch Alex growing and changing - even in the little things like moving to a big boy seat. He thinks it's pretty special, and we do, too.

Christmas Cookies

Keith was able to (with vacation days/holiday days) take off the last 2 weeks of 2009. He tries to do this every year, and we LOVE it! Before his vacation could begin, he had to work a half day from home on the Monday before Christmas. I was looking for a way to get the boys out of the house to give Keith some peace & quiet.

Grandma P invited us to come over & decorate Christmas cookies. On Sunday night, I tried to quietly make the dough without Alex noticing. My little baker caught on in about 12 seconds, and he pushed a chair up to the counter to help Mama "tir, tir, tir".

Moving on to Monday morning...just like playdough, we made shapes in the dough. Alex's little attention span meant that Mama did most of the cutting of shapes.

helping Grandma make the icing

stirring the coloring into the icing (Max supervised...)

Of course, Alex also got tired of decorating after a while, so he came up with his own unique activity - how many toothpicks can you stick in one cookie? I suppose it's good fine motor skills practice ;)

Here are some of the finished cookies. They won't win any awards, but they're cute in a kid-friendly way & pretty tasty, too!

I suppose it comes without saying, but our boy devoured a lot of cookie dough, icing, and sprinkles that morning. Since we don't give him many sugary treats, he was one off-the-wall kid that morning! Ah, well, what's Christmas without a little sugar, right?! :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

4 Month & 2 Year Doctor Visits

Now why couldn't they have smiled like this
for the Christmas card picture? Go figure.

This morning, the boys had their 4 month & 2 year well-baby checks. I know Alex is a big boy now, as he doesn't have another well-child visit until he turns 3. That sounds so far away!

I had my hands full of little boys, so I didn't take any pictures at the pediatrician today. Not a great loss. We all know what the mustardy-colored walls look like by now! ;) Instead, I'll put a few recent pictures of the boys in this post.

We made fudge last night, so Alex presented Dr. Brewer with a plate of homemade fudge this morning. He was eyeing it hungrily, so she kindly shared a BIG piece of fudge with my boy. I was surprised at how big the piece was, but I let him eat it. It turns out she thought she was giving him a brownie - not a big chunk of pure sugar - and she apologized after having a taste. Oops! ;)

Alex went to the doctor healthy & uninjured, and he left with an injury, but at least we were in the right place to get it checked out! Somehow, he tripped over his own feet in the examination room. He fell flat on his face, and he gave himself a nice bloody lip. Oops! After some Mommy-comfort, Dr. Brewer confirmed that his teeth are just fine.

Anyway, both boys are doing well. They survived their vaccinations. Alex didn't even cry except for one quick whimper. Wow! (Max, on the other hand, was very angry about being poked!)

Max is now 13 1/2 pounds and 25 1/4" long. His head circumference is 17". Dr. Brewer said Max will probably follow in his brother's footsteps, becoming another skinny kid. We can start solids at any time we'd like, but I think I'm going to hold off a little longer. He's doing exactly what a 4 month old should be doing, and she has no concerns. He does have eczema, just like his big brother. Sigh. We'll be going through a lot of eczema cream in this house!

Alex is now 23 pounds (down from 24, thanks to being sick for the past month) and 32" tall. His head circumference is 19 3/4".

This is how Alex occupied himself while I got dressed
today. I think I ought to be watching him more closely!
If you can't tell, all of our spice jars are in the (unplugged) toaster oven.

Still no peanuts for Alex. I mentioned that Alex has had trouble with peanuts twice since his allergy testing last year, so she said just to hold off on peanuts until he turns 3. Then we'll test again.

We faithfully brush Alex's teeth every night before bed, but she told us what we already know - we should be brushing his teeth twice a day. Alex HATES to have his teeth brushed. It's a huge battle! I feel guilty for not doing it twice, and now I guess we'll have to do it. I nominate Daddy to take over the evening brushing. I'm not sure I can fight that battle twice a day! Dr. Brewer recommended a pediatric dentist, so the first dentist visit will happen sometime in the next month or two. (Hey, Aunt Deb - she recommended a dentist near you. Would you like to babysit Max?)

It appears that I never posted on the blog about Alex's 4 month visit - at least not in a post called "4 month visit". I'll have to check his statistics another time, then come back to edit this post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas! (but Bah Humbug to the photos...)

The cards are in the mail, so most of you will have it in your hands soon. I'm getting better at Photoshop, but I have a long ways to go. It's better than last year's Photoshop card. Now to work on photographing two boys together...perhaps if my Nikon was still functional, I'd have hope of capturing that perfect shot. I miss that camera!

Blurry, but cute...
I could NOT get a smiling picture of both boys for the Christmas card. What an adventure that was! I gave up when Alex (accidentally) whacked Max in the face and his cheek turned all red.

These three were the best...and they are not all that great. I finally gave in & settled for a non-blurry, semi-nice picture of the two boys together.

Don'tcha just love the cheesy grin for a Christmas card? ;)

Next year, I'm doing what my friend Kathy did. She has 3 small photo boxes on her card, with a picture of each smiling child in his/her own individual box. Much cuter, and I'm sure it's much less stressful, too! Oh well, live and learn!

The chosen picture - with flailing baby hands and an "I'm tired of this" face.
At least Alex is smiling nicely...
Oh, and I changed the blog header to a blurry image just for now...because I love their little heads snuggled together. I'll change it to something better in January ;)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Everyday Stuff

Another random photo post...sometimes, pictures just don't warrant a post of their own...but here are some little bits of our life in late November/early December.

We got a Wii! Techically, it's our Christmas present to each other. We opened it when Keith was off for a few days at Thanksgiving...and we had fun! Alex had been sick on and off, and this day was an "on" we didn't want to go out. Instead, we invited Grandma & Papa to come over and bowl with us.
I was trying to take a "thank you" picture of Max with his new handmade tag blankie and bib from my Aunt Shari. Alex just couldn't let me take a picture of Max in the big chair...he had to be included!
Oatmeal Scotchies with a few chocolate chips thrown in. Alex loves to "tir, tir, tir" with Mama, every chance he gets!

I think he's a little big for this...

I really hate this picture. I need a haircut desperately. But it's a picture of me with my boys...and those are few & far between.

It's probably pretty obvious that this tower has some symmetry...Alex didn't build it alone. He did insist that his sippy cup be included in the tower, though. Alex got hold of my camera when I was busy with Max one afternoon. I didn't even know he did it until I was loading pictures onto the computer, but we have close to 50 pictures of this snowman.

Here's why we gave up on a smiling portrait of Max.

Don't you usually empty the dishwasher while wearing a winter hat?
Alex is very into "fixing" baby's swing with his toy screwdriver.

Hey, who's that cute baby in the mirror? (By the way, this cute baby started rolling back-to-belly last week Monday, November 30th. He's growing too quickly!)

Max gets in on the holiday fun...

Daddy put up the front tree with the pretty colored lights and fun ornaments. Mama has a pretty snowman tree with white lights in the living room. Alex loves both, but he's most fascinated with Daddy's tree.

Mama constantly encourages him to keep his fingers off the ornaments. When you tell a little one not to touch the tree, but to "use his eyes" out. He might take you literally & actually touch the ornaments with his eyes! :)

Happy Thanksgiving! (The S family is a big bunch, and we even had a few extra guests this year.)

Uncle Dave & Aunt Jan's foster puppies (Alex is sitting with me right now, and he says, "Puppa! Puppa! Woof woof!")

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alex's First Haircut

Alex got his first haircut today. Before Max was born, Daddy & I trimmed the back. This time, though, it was time to get a nice cut. Erica cuts my hair, so we decided to ask her to cut Alex's hair too. We love her, and she's good with kids!

Unfortunately, my camera screen stopped working, so I couldn't see how the pictures were turning out. I uess it's not any different from film cameras, come to think of it. I'm just so used to seeing the pictures as I take them.


Alex was very nervous about sitting in the chair, and his eyes filled with tears. He sat still, but he wasn't happy. We tried to talk to him and keep him calm, but it took a sucker from Erica to make it all better.

He was fine from that point on, although I don't think he really enjoyed it. Erica used the razor around his ears. Alex handled that better than I thought he would, but he always admires Daddy's razor, so maybe that's why?


Erica asked him to smile, and Alex gave us a nice (but quick) grin!

We left with a "first haircut" certificate that has a cut-out for that first clip of hair. Erica did SUCH a good job with a nervous little boy, and she (very sweetly) only charged us half price.

Grandma came along with us to see the first haircut, and she watched Max for us so Mama could have her hands free for Alex. Thanks, Grandma, for your help! We appreciate you! (Oh, and thanks for the McDonalds, too!)

Now I'm off to give some M&Ms to the little boy who is just waking up from his nap. After his haircut, we offered him M&Ms as a treat for being such a good boy, but he fell asleep in the car on the way home!
I plan to take Christmas card pictures tomorrow, so hopefully we'll show off some REAL "after" pictures soon!

Sorry, Santa...

Call me Scrooge, but I had no intentions of taking Alex to see Santa. I figure, if he's big enough to ASK to see Santa and sit on his lap, we'll go. I don't feel the need to drag him to sit on Santa's lap if he doesn't care, though. I did have intentions of taking him to the Christmas open house at the local John Deere store, though. I knew he'd just love it! Somehow, despite reading the ads in the newspaper, I missed the fact that Santa would be at the open house. But there he was, sitting in his sleigh, being pulled by eight tractors. (Did you expect reindeer?!)

Alex only recognizes Santa because there's a Santa statue about the same size as Alex by the pharmacy counter at CVS. He loves to look at that statue, just staring at it while we wait for our prescriptions. (With the sickies in our house, we've definitely visited that pharmacy enough recently to get Alex very well acquainted with the statue!)

Well, going to the tractor store was a HUGE hit! Alex loved checking out all the tractors - big and small - toy tractors, real tractors, tractor puzzles, tractor shirts. I think it was kind of like DisneyWorld for a tractor-lovin' boy.

Alex had explored the store, sat on real tractors, driven toy tractors, and stared at Santa from afar. We decided we'd offer him a chance to sit with Santa. I picked him up, plopped him down next to Santa, and Alex just truly didn't care. He turned away from Santa (not out of fear) and held out his arms to me, climbed down, and tried to climb onto one of Santa's sleigh-pulling tractors.

So, that was this year's visit with Santa.

After that, we thought maybe Alex would like to go to the cookie-decorating table. Our child never turns down a good cookie. Nope. He saw the cookies, didn't care, and went straight back to the tractors. He played a little more, and then (since Max was fussing) we headed to the car. Poor Alex. He didn't pitch a fit about leaving, but he cried all the way home. Just sobbed. He was sooooo sad to leave his beloved tractors. I guess it's a good thing he's having a tractor birthday party, huh?

I'm thinking maybe we need a tractor sweatshirt for the occasion...Alex sure wouldn't mind a return trip to the John Deere store!