Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Our House to Yours!

Merry Christmas everyone! We hope that you had a wonderful day surrounded by your loved ones. We spent the day at home in Kansas City grazing on Christmas goodies, opening presents, taking naps and enjoying life's two greatest blessings!

Christmas Eve Meltdown

Have you ever experienced this at your house on Christmas Eve? LOL

After a very long and exciting day, we returned home from Grandma Kueter's house around 8:00 PM. The kids fell asleep in the car on the ride home and were groggy upon waking, but insistant on opening "one more gift". An ill-fated promise made by Mommy earlier in the day!

The kids received footie jammies from Mommy and Daddy. After changing into their new jammies, Mommy wanted to capture "just one more photo". Again, a bad idea. This is what we captured on film. Merry Christmas everybody!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Man in the Red Suit

At Mary's classroom Christmas party, Santa made an appearance. Since Benjamin would be in attendance at the party, I began prepping him for Santa's visit. I had a sneaky suspicion that he wouldn't be too excited about seeing the man in the Red Suit. I was right. The minute he heard, "ho, ho, ho" Ben made a beeline for Mommy's leg. He didn't let go of me until Santa departed for another classroom.

Mary, in the meantime, had a completely different reaction. Mary is our creative child. She mainly gets excited about art, dance, music, etc. Nothing else matters much. She could have cared less that Santa was in the room; afterall, she was still COLORING. She was asked three times by her teacher to put her crayons and holiday worksheet away! Mommy finally had to intervene and TELL her to put her crayons away and join the other students who were surrounding Santa and taking turns sitting on his lap.

Once we got Mary in line, she was fine, but boy was she mad about the crayons. When it was Mary's turn to tell Santa what she wanted, she had quite the laundry list going! I kept giving her preschool teacher the "cut" signal, but she just kept letting Mary talk. I finally caught Santa's eye and we were able to end Mary's verbal litany of requested toys!!! If she even gets half of what she wants she'll be sittin' pretty! Ben had absolutely nothing to do with "ho ho". Wouldn't even sit on his lap with sissy! Oh well, maybe next year.

Holiday Party Treat Bags

Since I am fortunate enough to stay home with the kids this year, I have taken full advantage of opportunities to be involved at Mary's preschool. Her classroom Christmas party was on Friday, Dec. 19th. Mary and I signed up to provide the treat bags. We found these adorable party favor bags at Target, and along with some cheap goodies from Dollar General we assembled the bags in short order! Mary, aka Santa's helper, was such a doll putting together each bag. She loves anything to do with craft projects, decorating, design, etc. so this was right up her alley! Mary, Ben and I had a great time at the party and the kids really enjoyed the snowman bags.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ear Tube Surgery, Take 2

So our little man had to endure a second ear tube surgery (bilateral myringotomy or BMT). He was such a trooper!

Ben's first BMT surgery was done in April of 2008 after an extremely long winter (Fall/Winter of '07 and Spring of '08) with chronic ear infections. It seemed that the minute he finished a round of antibiotics, he was quick to pick up another viral or bacterial infection that led to the ear infections. That surgery was relatively simple and first. Ben had a great Spring and Summer with no ear infections. Of course, it was also warm out and he was home for the summer because school was out.

Unfortunately, our good luck ran out in late September, early October. Even though Ben was home with Mommy this fall, he still managed to pick up several infections; probably from sister who is now in preschool. In October, he developed a severe ear infection that he just could not get over. The infection was so bad that it caused his body to reject and push out his ear tube that was in for less than 5-months! After several WEEKS of follow-up visits, rounds of antibiotic ear drops, and the last resort-oral antibiotic, it was decided that Ben was a good candidate for a second set of ear tubes.

This time, however, the surgery would be a bit more complicated requiring not just a 2nd set of ear tubes, but removal of his adnoids as well. Ben's ENT seemed to think that since he did not respond well to ear tube surgery alone, he would have more success if they removed his adnoids which just seem to harbor bacteria.

As I said, Benjamin was such a trooper. He endured full intubation for this surgery which took about 30 minutes longer than the first. He didn't cry, (even though Mommy had to hold back tears) when the operating room nurse took him from my arms to go to surgery. Post-op was bit rougher; lots of tears, the refusal to drink, and the inability to calm himself down. The hospital finally just sent us home as he seemed to be more agitated by the nursing staff than the surgery itself!

Luckily, Mimi came from St. Louis to help out with the recovery. Benjamin was so excited to see her; even in his discomfort he was crying for her on the drive home. He had a great weekend getting lots of one-on-one with Mimi! Thanks, MOM!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mother/Daughter Shopping Trip

This year, Mary was introduced to her first "Black Friday"; a rite of passage that every young girl should experience with her mother! After dressing up in our "shopping finest", Mary and Mommy headed out to Oak Park Mall at about 9:30 AM. Our first obstacle to overcome was finding a parking space-sheesh, I thought this economy was in a recession! Several obstacles to follow included standing in incredibly long lines at every store we purchased from.

We were successful in getting a good start on our Christmas shopping. Mary picked out adorable stuffed lambs (yes, "Mary had a little lamb") along with some antibacterial hand sanitizer for her preschool teachers and we got cousin Alister a reallllly cool gift (can't give it away, yet!). We also got both great-grandmother's little gifts.

After all of the standing, we were ready for some lunch. Since this was Mary's first serious holiday shopping experience, we celebrated at the very over-priced Rainforest Cafe. While dining, we sat next to a cute family with two kids. Several times, I thought I heard the father call his daughter "Mary". I finally asked him if I was hearing him correctly (it is very loud-elephants trumpeting, gorrillas screaming) and I was. Both Mary's at the tables were 4-years old! It was so sweet. You just don't meet many 4-year olds named Mary!

Finally, we returned home with tired legs and feet. After a quick snack of leftover pie, it was naps all-around. (Benjamin had quite an enjoyable day spent shopping with Daddy including eating at his favorite restaurant, McNahNoos (McDonalds).)

Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We sure did. Normally, Daddy's fire schedule falls so that he is on duty on Thanksgiving. This year, his schedule worked out so that he had both Thursday and Friday off! While we felt a little bit guilty about not traveling up to Liberty to spend the day with Chris' family, we definitely enjoyed spending the holiday as a little family of four. We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. Daddy smoked the turkey while Mommy made all of the sides from scratch, including sweet potatoe casserole and two pies (pumpkin and french silk). Everything was delicious.

After dinner, we loaded the kids in the minivan and went to see a holiday light display sponsored by Jackson County Parks and Rec. Benjamins kept saying "whoa" as we passed each display. Mary and Mommy loved the display featuring a frog whose tongue would catch falling snowflakes.

After the viewing of the lights, we returned home in time to watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving Special. Aaaaah, holiday with kids. I love it!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

It is hard to believe that our sweet baby boy was born two years ago today! Benjamin is our "bonus baby". After years of infertility and a miraculous in vitro baby ( big sister Mary Catherine), Benjamin's conception took us by surprise. But oh what a gift he is! Here are 24 things we love about Benjamin (in no particular order):
1. Beautiful blue eyes. 2. Natural curls in the back of that white blonde hair! 3. Night time kisses for your "stinky toes". 4. Bedtime ritual of "kiss-kiss". 5. Your sense of humor-you love to make Mommy and Daddy laugh. 6. Watching you drive your "car" around the wrap-around porch. You fill the "trunk" with Mommy's clay flower pots, sippy cups, binkies, etc. 7. Your pockets filled with "treasures." 8. Little boy blue jeans! 9. Watching you chase after big sister. 10. Listening to you call "sissy" as you try to track her down! 11. Your love of taking baths (thank goodness). 12. Your sweet little voice-we love to hear you using words and are so proud of the progress you made over the summer after receiving speech services! 13. Watching you sign "more" at the same time as speaking the word. It is so sweet when you sign "more" that Mommy can't deny "more" cookies, candy, juice, etc.! 14. Your love for your binkies, especially when going night-night. Everyone keeps telling Mommy that you need to wean off of them, but you look so sweet sleeping with one in the hand and one in the mouth! 15. Cuddling with you and your multiple blankies. 16. You are all boy like sissy is all girl! 17. Your appetite. From your terrific nursing skills to your love of table food starting at about 9-months old, you have always been a terrific eater! 18. Your "whoo-whoo" sound any time we pass a fire station or see a fire truck. 19. Recent love of reading, especially books about trucks or farm animals. 20. Watching you build "tall towers" out of blocks or legos. 21. Seeing your face light up when you receive a balloon. 22. How willing you are to go to bed, telling everyone "bye" and dragging blankie up the stairs behind you-is this kid for real? I guess when you play hard you rest hard! 23. Your love of McNahNoos (aka McDonalds) and how you start screaming whenever you see yellow arches from your carseat window. 24. Your love of balls-basketballs, soccer balls, superballs, etc.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Here are a few photos of our little "Wizard of Oz" characters. Mary was "Dorothy" this year (as if this is a surprise to family and friends), while Benjamin was the "Cowardly Lion". They had such a good time. Mary walked the whole route while Benjamin rode in the Radio Flyer wagon. Daddy stayed at home as he was assigned candy detail! Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Angel versus "Devils Food"

On Thursday, Oct. 30, we had a small Halloween party for a few of Mary and Benjamin's friends. Earlier in the day, Mary and Mommy baked Halloween cupcakes. As you can see, Mary thoroughly enjoyed herself-especially licking the batter!

The kids had so much fun at the party. The weather was unseasonably warm, so the kids spent most of the time in the backyard climbing on the playset. Mary and her friends also did a craft project (they made spiderwebs out of black construction papers, glue, silver glitter and plastic spider rings) and played games.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Enchanted Forest

Last night, we took the kids to the City of Lenexa's Enchanted Forest. This is a kid-friendly event sponsored by the City of Lenexa that literally turns a city park into a Halloween village. We bundled up the kids (it was cold and spitting rain off and on) and walked the park trail which meanders through the woods. Along the way are various stops (puppet shows, magicians, carved pumpkin display, etc.) and "Halloween 101" facts. The kids enjoyed themselves. Upon returning home, we celebrated the approach of Halloween by having our first fire of the season and sipping hot chocolate.

Michigan Memories

Last week, we traveled with Mimi and Papa from St. Louis to Detroit, Michigan to celebrate Great-Grandma's 88th birthday. We had such a good time and did so many fun things! Here are just a few highlights from out trip:

  • We shopped and played at the new Partridge Creek mall. We especially enjoyed climbing on the giant fruits and vegetables at the playland sponsored by the Ford/Macomb Hospital system.

  • We traveled to Frankenmuth, MI where we shopped, ate, and visitied the world-famous Bronner's Christmas store. We purchased several unique ornaments for this year's x-mas tree.

  • We had a birthday party for Great-Grandma where we visited with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

  • We also took a side trip to visit Aunt Pat in China Township, MI where we explored the outdoors.
All in all we a had a wonderful time (exlcuding all of the carsickness both kids experienced on the trip to and from Detroit)!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who Wants Ice Cream...Me!

Over the weekend, the City of DeSoto celebrated the opening of the DeSoto Riverfest Park with the "Cookin' on the Kaw" blues and BBQ contest. (The Kaw is the Kansas River for those of you that are not locals!) The inaugural event featured several local blues and folk singers along with 49 BBQ contestants, food vendors, and a beer garden.

On Friday night, we loaded up the kids in their Radio Flyer wagon and toured the grounds before sundown. Once the sun set, we parked ourselves on our giant Winnie the Pooh blanket (thank you Aunt Julie and Uncle John) along the riverfront and listened to great blues music while munching on yummy BBQ sandwiches.

Of course the first food vendor that the kids noticed was the frozen custartd stand. After trying in vain to ge them to eat just a few bites of dinner, Daddy asked who wanted ice cream. Benjamin yelled the loudest with an emphatic, "Meeeee" including hand raised up in the air! (I snapped this cute photo of Mary next to the giant ice cream cone while waiting in line for a hot fudge sundae.)

Camping Fun

The first weekend in October we took the kids camping. This turned out to be quite the adventure! First, memory failed to serve us in reminding us of just how small our two-man tent was when sleeping four. It wasn't until we got the tent set up, and we couldn't fit in the pack-n-play for Benjamin, that we remembered that we had borrowed a friend's family-size tent the last time we went camping. Needless to say, the four of us were packed in like sardines for the night! The kids didn't really mind though-they love sleeping with Mommy and Daddy!

The other thing that happened is that in our rush to get out the door before sundown, we left a bag of cold item groceries in the refrgerator. So...we had no eggs, cheese, bacon or hash browns for the next day's breakfast. In addition, the hot dog buns had gotten thrown into that bag as well so we had to roast hot dogs and eat them w/o buns-yuck!

Foturnately, the bag containing most of the dry item goods such as the all-important smore-making ingredients did get packed. While we didn't have the most nutritious meal at dinner, dessert was delicious!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween Surprise

I am soooo loving this blogging thing! It has become like an addiction; one that is interfering with house cleaning and preparing meals for my kids (LOL). I just wanted to do one more post and thought it would be cute to show the kids in their Halloween costumes from last year.

Halloween 2007 was Benjamin's first. Since he was not quite a year old, Mommy required that he be dressed in a complementary outfit to big sister. As you can see we had Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

While I won't be giving away our costume choices for Halloween 2008, I will give you a clue. The kids will again be dressing in coordinating outfits and you might be able to figure it out if you study the song choices on our playlist. Hint, Mary Catherine will NOT be dressing up like Madonna!

Embracing Technology!

After doing a bit of research on blogging, and polling family and friends about the use of such blogs, I have decided to embrace technology and create a family webpage! For those of you that know me well, you know what an undertaking this will be for me since I tend to avoid the use of technology (even that which would make my life easier) like the plague. I decided, though, that if the almost-two-year old can operate a DVD player than the almost-40-year old mommy can figure out how to set-up a family blog. Chris and I look forward to reconnecting with family and friends that we have been remiss about keeping in touch with, and sharing with all of our loved ones both the exciting and mundane activities that keep our little family of four so busy! We have lots of fun things on the calender for the month of October so be on the lookout for lots of posts. Hopefully, my learning curve will be neither too long nor too difficult!