Saturday, January 23, 2010

Christmas Came Early in December!

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Yup, that really truly is a picture of a positive home pregnancy test.  And not just any ole positive home pregnancy test…its MY POSITIVE home pregnancy test!!! 

Seems that the Monday after Mary’s Nutcracker performance (Dec. 7), I realized that a certain “visitor” was late…like really late.  Like 10-days late.  And so I thought to myself…hmmm, maybe all that exhaustion and weepiness that I’ve been experiencing since Thanksgiving isn’t PMS, but baby-itis!

The irony here…after a year of trying unsuccessfully, and turning 40 in August, I agreed to throw in the towel and make peace with my family of four and two adorable blessings.  Who needs a 3rd child anyway?

DSC00099 Mary Catherine at 1-day old.

Apparently God thinks I do because almost one year to the day, Chris and I found ourselves once again staring at an early ultrasound screen.  Only this time, instead of being told our baby had no heartbeat, we saw the most beautiful fetal pole and flickering heartbeat with little bean measuring 6w1d.  Three weeks later, a follow-up ultrasound showed beautiful growth (they even moved my due date up 3 days) and baby had a strong and steady heartbeat.

Oh joy of joys!!! 

Today, I officially begin my 2nd trimester.  Oh I know what you’re thinking…how in the world could she not share this news sooner?  Well it’s not for lack of excitement, but  I guess that we have had so many losses (5 in all) and so much drama with our in vitro baby (Mary Catherine) that I just sort of felt like I had used up all of my sympathy quota with folks.  (It’s just so darn depressing telling people we are and then we aren’t!)

Missing picture of baby Benjamin at 1-day old!

NOTE TO SELF…Must find external hard drive!!!

So that’s our big announcement!  Baby Kueter is due on or around big sister Mary Catherine’s birthday (08/04), but due to my history with gestational diabetes and AMA (that’s ADVANCED MATERNAL AGE for all you young’uns out there!) I will probably be scheduled to deliver (3rd c-section) the last week of July. 

And while I don’t know that I will ever quite feel “out of the woods”  with this pregnancy (I know I’m letting the devil work his power here!), I have decided to enjoy this last pregnancy for all it’s glory and for as long as God wants me to carry and mother this new life within me.


Friday, January 22, 2010

All Nutcracker-ed Out!

IMG_1859Mary as one of the Mice in The Nutcracker 2009

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While I wish I could take credit for this post title, it is actually the headline of a newspaper article/commentary that my mom shared with me.

Apparently, I’m not the first mother to question her sanity after encouraging her preschooler to audition for the Nutcracker! Sometimes, as mothers, we cause our own stressors in life!  LOL

IMG_2009 Mary as one of Mother Ginger’s Children in The Nutcracker 2009

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Anyway, as I shared back in the fall, Mary’s dance studio puts on  The Nutcracker every other year and Christmas 2009 was the year of The Nutcracker. Not knowing what I was in for, I eagerly encouraged Mary Catherine to audition.  She made it (as did all the little ones, I think) and weekend practices began in October.

For approximately two-hours every Saturday and Sunday  October through November,  I dutifully sat in my car reading or did some grocery/Christmas shopping while Mary rehearsed with her fellow mouse companions and Mother Ginger children.  

The actual performance was on Saturday, Dec. 5th.  Friday, Dec. 4th was a long night for the little ones with stage rehearsal lasting from 6 PM until 10 PM…Mary’s usually in bed by 8:30!!!  Saturday found us at the high school auditorium by 12:00 noon and we were there for the duration.  With dress/costume rehearsal, individual and group photos, and multiple revisions, etc. we never left the high school.  Fortunately,  a seasoned “show mom” gave me the heads up and I packed the Disney Princess backpack with snacks, drinks, and card/board games. 

IMG_1906 Can you spot Mary…she’s in the middle of the line, right in front of one of the rats!

All these little girls were hidden inside Mother Ginger’s dress.  It was so cute to see them all come tumbling out when Mother Ginger clapped her hands!IMG_1986

The show was at 6 PM and lasted about 2 hours.  NEVER ONCE did Mary Catherine whine, complain, cry, etc.  She was a total trooper and loved being on stage!  All in all, The Nutcracker was a great experience for her and while she has expressed disappointment that there will be no Nutcracker in 2010, Mama is breathing a big sigh of relief!  Ha!!!

IMG_1853 My little ballerina watching the “big girls” perform one of the other numbers during Act 1.

IMG_2071 Mary and Mommy after the production.  Daddy bought Mary flowers.

And that’s it!  While I have about 300+ other photos from the show, I refuse to bore you with pictures of the other ballerinas (although they were quite magnificent and very professional)!

AND, be sure to come back for a visit tomorrow when I make one last CHRISTMAS post that is sure to be a big ANNOUNCEMENT!!!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Last Day of School/St. Louis Christmas

WARNING:  LONG POST…Lots of pictures!  :)

The nice thing about finishing up these Christmas posts in January as that I get to take a bit of time to reminisce about all that we did over the holiday season.  So much goes on between Thanksgiving and New Year’s that often I don’t have a chance to appreciate all the little things that occurred.

Mary’s last day of school was on Friday, December 18th.  As one of the room mothers for her preschool class I was invited to read a story out loud to the little ones.  This was so much fun for me to do…one of my favorite parts of the school day when I taught 3rd grade was read-aloud.  (I really get into doing voices and making the different characters come alive for the students!) 

In addition to treats and party games, the PreK-ers serenaded the parents with Christmas carols in both English and Spanish.  (Mary’s school offers Library, Spanish, and Music classes as part of her preschool programming in addition to religious education.)

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Christmas gift exchange.  Each students was asked to bring a new, wrapped book under $5.00 suitable for either a boy or girl.  Mary donated Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs                                             and received Snowmen at Night.

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Mary and her classmates singing Cascabel or Jingle Bells in Spanish.

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Class Picture, Christmas 2009

That same afternoon, after school let out for Winter Break, we loaded up the car and headed to St. Louis to celebrate Christmas with my family.  This was such a treat. Typically, we celebrate after the holidays (due to Chris’ fire dept. schedule) and honestly, by January, I’m all Christmas-ed out!

My sister and I planned a special surprise for the little ones.  Since the Macy’s Department Store, “Breakfast with Santa” happened to fall on the Saturday that we visited, my sister made reservations for us to attend.  It was such a wonderful time!  There is something so magical about going to a huge downtown department store, seeing the windows dressed for Christmas, and getting to eat breakfast with Santa, Rudolph, and of course all the elves.

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Benjamin would NOT walk past the red rope.  Rudolph was greeting guests and Ben would have nothing to do with a giant-sized reindeer even if it was Rudolph!

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The Balloon Elf made the rounds to the table.  I think it’s hilarious that the elf visited my kids first and I suggested animal art and when he returned to make balloon art for my sister, her boys wanted swords.  So of course, Balloon Elf had to return to make a sword for Benjamin…gosh mom, get with the program.  (I am so more natural at parenting girls than boys!  LOL)

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Mary’s Macy’s Christmas Wish List. 

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Nope, no Benjamin to be seen.  He was hiding behind me as I snapped the picture.  I told you it was a giant-sized Rudolph!

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There’s our miracle “heart” baby.  It has been 3-months since his open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect.  He is now a wild man and doing great!!!

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This is Eli’s big brother, Alister.  I got them these cute personalized cups for Christmas and decided to bring them to the breakfast.  Needless to say, the didn’t have a personalized Alister cup so he got a cool race car water bottle.

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Santa visited each table.  Once again, Ben is no where to be found.  I’m not sure if he was crawling up the back of my shirt at this point or screaming hysterically on my mom’s lap!!!

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I love this sweet angelic face getting painted with a reindeer!

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We’re all smiles now…now that momma’s given in to allowing a weapon!!!  LOL  By the way…I just noticed how dangerous this situation really was…no, not the balloon, the electrical cord and HOT COFFEE behind the spastic 3-year old!!!

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My mom (Mimi) with Mary and Benjamin.

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Me with my kiddos. 

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, a couple of pictures from Saturday night when we celebrated Christmas with my parents, brother and sister and their families.

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My sister, Joy, with my kiddos.  Yup, she’s a December baby!

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My sister, an ICU nurse, gave Mary a pink medical kit! A girl’s gotta look fashionable when practicing medicine!

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And finally, my favorite picture of all, my sister got my husband this totally cool floating cooler for our boat.  NOT that we condone boating and drinking, but a girl’s gotta have a way to keep her Diet Coke on ice!!!  We decided that Joy got the award for best presents this year!!!

So that’s it!!!  Thanks for bearing with me as I posted all these Christmas holiday pics.  Next post up….Mary in the Nutcracker!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

All the Single Ladies…

Non-Christmas related post here…

The Chipmunks

Yesterday, when I went to pick up Mary from preschool, her PreK teachers had to share with me the funny thing she did on Wednesday afternoon.

Apparently, the class was doing a review of numbers, 1-30.  Each child picked two number flash cards.  The object of the lesson was 1:1 correspondence and so each child was give a few minutes to come up with a hand or body action that represented their chosen number.

Well, having number 1, Mary had to go first with no prior examples to work from.  Never fear, theatrical queen is here!

Without skipping a beat, Mary Catherine stood up and said, “I’d like to sing one (1) song for you.”  The next thing the teachers know, Mary is breaking out into song with “All the Single Ladies” in her best Chipmunk voice!  At times she would mumble through words, but then when she got to the refrain, she would belt it out including those “uh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh…”  Apparently, the hand motion (showing the missing ring) was included!

Now before you scream “bad parent”, Mary has never seen VH1 or MTV and has no idea who Beyonce is.   This was purely from the Chipmunk Movie, The Squeakuel!  AND, the entire PreK class joined her in song…I guess that was a popular movie over Christmas break!  Okay, and MAYBE, I’ve been known to belt out a few Top 40 hits a time or two with my little ones in the car!!!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day

I am bound and determined to finish up my December posts (in January!) so that:

A)  I have some type of documentation to the 2009 holiday season and

B) If I ever get around to actually scrapbooking these lovely events I might actually have some memory of what happened!

So here a couple of shots of December 24th and 25th.

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(Note to Self:  If the kiddos can handle it and you are not wanting to put in some cheesy Santa pic with Christmas Cards, go see Santa at the mall during the day on December 24th.  NO WAITING IN LINE!)  Once again…Ben was not a huge fan of Santa.  Has screamed and cried every year…no tears this year, but he was still trepidatious.

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As you know, our family has embraced the “less is more” philosophy and we began putting it into practice with the holiday season.  Unlike previous years (read: when mama was employed) where the kids got tons of gifts from both mommy & daddy and Santa, Chris and I agreed to limit the spending to just a few big ticket items that we knew the little ones would really love even if they didn’t ask for them.

Case in point, this STEP 2 kitchen.  Mary and Ben love to play kitchen and have a wonderful hand-me-down kitchen from my good friend Erin over at The Little Things in Life. But like all hand-me-downs, parts are lost or worn over time.  My little ones didn’t know any different, but since this is a beloved toy in our house, Chris and I decided that the “big-ticket” item from Santa this year would be a new kitchen.  Of course, little did we know the ELVES would forget to include a whole package of parts that included the clock, telephone, burners, spice rack, etc.  THOSE ELVES!!!  (I must note here that the Customer Service Dept. at the 1-800 number for STEP 2 was most helpful and sent out the missing parts package immediately, no questions asked, no proof of purchase necessary…thank you STEP 2!!!)

 

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Finally, one last pic…we celebrated Christmas with Chris’ family here in Kansas City on Christmas Day.  This is a cute cousin pic that I snapped during a relative moment of calmness.  When these 6 get together chaos ensues!!!  The oldest grandchild, my sweet niece Ashley, is 15 and the youngest is Megan, age 2 1/2.  Collin is 12, Noah 7, Mary 5 and Ben 3.  Quite a cute bunch! 

Ashley, by the way, is 6’1” and a bean pole!  She is a star volleyball player for her Junior High and made her first competition club team this winter!  Ashley is my husband’s niece, his sister’s daughter.  While my sister-in-law isn’t overly tall (5’8”) her brothers (my husband and brother-in-law) are 6’4” and 6’5” respectively.  I’ve asked our pediatrician about Mary growing to 6 foot and he said probably not.  While she will definitely be taller than her mama (5’4” ROUNDING UP!) she probably wont’ be taller than 5’6” – 5’8”.  That’s tall enough for me!!!  All bets are off with Ben!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simplify

A simple table and chairs has made all the difference at our house in mastering dinnertime chaos.

New Kitchen Table

“What,” you ask…you didn’t have a kitchen table and chairs?  Nope. 

Rather, we would eat dinner on Saturday or Sunday (depending which night Daddy wasn’t on duty) at the table in our formal dining room, and all the other nights of the week, breakfast/lunch/dinner was eaten at the breakfast bar in our kitchen.  Not conducive to family conversation or good table manners!

So, after searching for months for the perfect solution, I found this simple country-style round pedestal from Better Homes & Gardens.  Yup, I got this beauty at WALMART!  And better yet, the price dropped from $259.00 to $199.00 after Christmas with FREE ASSEMBLY. 

SIMPLY lovely in both beauty and functionality.  Wishing you a “simply” lovely week.

P.S.  I apologize for my lack of posting this past week.  I have been a bit under the weather, but am beginning to feel better!



Monday, January 4, 2010

Two Little Monkeys…

“Two little monkeys jumping on the bed…” so the nursery rhyme goes.

No bed jumping this night, but a couple of candid shots of our little monkeys on Christmas Eve.  (We have a family tradition of opening new jammies for kids on Christmas Eve.)

This year, Mama waited too long to get cute “Christmas” themed jammies, but the monkeys caught my eye and are just as appropriate! 

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good shot of Ben’s jammies…there’s a large monkey on the left side, grinning wildly and holding a banana!

The caption should read…”Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…in monkey jammies!”  Here’s to wishing all of you a good night tonight!  Sleep tight and as they say, “don’t let the bed bugs bite!”


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Simplify

Folk Art Star (Folk Art Star to represent the star that the Three Kings followed to find the infant Jesus.)

As I mentioned in a previous post, our family theme this year is “Less is More” which is going to require me to help my husband, children (and myself!) to purge, declutter, and in general “simplify” our daily living.  To  help me commit to this endeavor, I have decided to do a  Sunday post each week, simply titled… Simplify.

Today, I began the decluttering process in our Master Bedroom.  Oh there are certainly more “public” areas of our home that need to be tackled, but after some serious contemplation, I decided that our Master Bedroom should be the place to start as it should be our retreat at the end of a long, tiring, but productive day. 

I removed stuffed animals, Duplo pieces, and many many artistic renditions produced by our highly creative daughter.  BUT, the children are now aware that Mommy & Daddy’s bedroom is a “no play zone”!  By SIMPLY enforcing some boundaries (easier said than done!), my husband and I should now experience some peace and tranquility in our bedroom.

Today is also the day in the United States when we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany; the day when God was manifested to the world in the form of the infant, Jesus, to the Magi or Three Kings.  Could anything else be simpler?


Saturday, January 2, 2010

We’ve Been Having Snow Much Fun!

As I write this post, snow is gently falling once again.  Okay, maybe “gently” isn’t the proper adverb…it’s quite blustery out there, but the beauty and tranquility of freshly falling snow is still there!

Last year, especially where we are located in the metro, we hardly got any snow.  In fact my mother-in-law and sister/brother in-law got more snow than us and they live a mere 50 miles north and east of our tiny town!  So, needless to say, the continued snowfalls every couple of days since Christmas Eve has brought joy and excitement to our little ones, even if it means multiple shovelings for Daddy.

Tonight I leave you with just a few pictures of the snow fun that we have been having over the past 9 days.

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