Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010: The Video

For anyone that would like to view all of our family's holiday photos while listening to several classic holiday tunes, check out this video. You can change the settings to view it in HD if viewing it full screen through You Tube. Enjoy!

Christmas 2010: The Good and the Bad, the Happy and the Sad

Christmas 2010 was unlike any Christmas we've ever celebrated before, for both good and bad reasons. I will probably remember this one as bittersweet, because there were moments of true joy, but for me there was some sadness too.

The holiday season started off right. We got the tree at Lowe's, and had a blast decorating it. For the first time Emily was also allowed to help put up ornaments, although she had more fun standing back and watching Nora and I trim the tree. Ryan hooked up his old i-pod in the living room so there was a good three week period in which our favorite Christmas songs filled the air along with the scent of pine.

As Christmas day approached, I began to stress out more than in the past, and unfortunately this quelled some of the excitement I had been feeling earlier in the month. First, work became a nightmare. I'll leave it at that for now, but don't be surprised in the next few months if there's a post about how (1) I've run away to become a farmer or (2) I've found a new job.

Second, this was the first year where I really felt I had to make sure Nora got what her heart was set upon. You see, last year Santa failed to bring her a pillow pet, and she was really down and out about that for the last 12 months. I had a heart to heart with Santa and asked him to please make sure she didn't have to feel like that again! Santa secured a pillow pet in early October (smart move Santa!!!) but failed to realize that Zhu Zhu Pet Princess accessories were going to be impossible to find. After many many trips to the store, Santa's elves managed to score both a Zhu Zhu Princess Palace and a beauty salon around December 22nd. Phew!!!! But also Wow!! I never imagined myself to be one of those moms who could get hung up over a toy!

My stress levels, and excitement levels, really started to rise as the day approached. I was so excited because for the first time in Emily's life, I was hosting Christmas dinner. When I was growing up, Christmas Eve was spent with family feasting on seafood, and on Christmas day we went to my Grandma Esther's house for even more amazing food. As we got older, that tradition changed. I spent Christmas Eve with Ryan's family, and my sister began hosting Christmas day. This has always been fun in the past, but as the family is growing and changing, I felt it was really important for Nora and Emily to celebrate some of the holidays in their home with both sides of the family present. That's what we planned for this year. I was so excited to see everyone, Ryan was excited I was making Chicken Stew (not quite the Italian feast but dang its dairy-licious). The kids were just excited, and continued to run around the house singing Jingle Bells.

And then my kids got sick with the snot-nosed virus of 2010. You all know what I'm talking about, the cold where everyone's head was filled with boogers. What a nasty nasty bug. It took whole family with it, draining us of energy and probably brain matter too with the amount of nose blowing that occurred.

The major fallout of this was that my mom, who is still undergoing chemo, couldn't come to the Christmas celebration. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Then Xander got sick with the aforementioned snot-nosed virus, so he and his dad couldn't come either. So there were some moments of disappointment from my point of view. It wasn't the Christmas I had planned, and I must have been more attached to those plans than I realized, because for the first time in my life, I cried--aka freaked out--on Christmas day.

Luckily for all of us, the freak out didn't start on Christmas Eve, didn't delay Santa's visit, and didn't affect those who were able to make it to our home. And it did turn out to be a lovely holiday. We had some laughs too because

---I forgot to defrost Christmas Eve dinner so we had to order take out sushi. Or maybe I forgot on purpose, because I'm always looking for an excuse to order Fushi Yami!

---Nora chided me for not wrapping my gift to her (I redecorated her room! How the heck was I going to wrap a bedroom??? Goof!)

---On Christmas morning, Ryan and I awoke to the sound of feet thundering from the girls room to the tree. One could tell a plan was being hatched by the continued sound of feet, and then Emily entered our room. After telling me a bunch of nonsense, she took a deep breath and said in a hushed voice, "presents!!!!". When I asked if Santa came, she said just as seriously, "Yes". Wow!!! Emily understood Santa! Best present ever.

---Santa was so silly. He hid the pillow pets in the TV cabinet! Nora didn't discover them right away, what a wonderful surprise!

---I discovered on Christmas Eve that I donated all of my Christmas dining stuff to charity at some point in my life I no longer remember; so I set the table with a beautiful new gold tablecloth and paper plates.

---My Dad played trivial pursuit on the i-phone. (This is funny if you know how tech literate my dad is).

---Dinner wasn't funny but it tasted great!

---I left Stephanie and Jessie's presents under the tree, so they drove for hours and hours and didn't even get a gift! Then I thought I saw Jessie wearing the gloves we bought her, so I returned them only to find out on NYE she still wanted them. Ah well!!!

Happy Holidays 2010. Thank you for the good memories, thanks for the not so good ones too. Life isn't ever going to go according to plan, thanks for the reminder! But all that really matters is that Nora and Emily had a magical two days of gifts and family and great food, and hopefully they will remember the moments that mattered with fondness as they grow up.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nora's 6th Birthday Bash

When I started making plans for Nora's birthday, she still had a cast on her arm, and the doctor said it would be there until the end of the year. Being worried about a second broken bone, I tried to come up with a plan in which a number of 5 and 6 year old children could gather without a lot of commotion. I asked Nora if she would like to bring some friends to the movie, and she thought that was a fine idea. Especially since Disney, on the heels of the success of the Princess and the Frog, decided to release another princess movie. So Nora invited her friends to see Tangled, starring Princess Rapunzel. She was very VERY excited.

In order to make it a proper birthday party, I went and got the Tangled invitations, stickers, napkins, plates, cake, etc. It seemed like all was in order...all except when the party was actually gonna happen. What I didn't foresee when I hatched this plan, and what could have ruined the whole thing, is that theaters don't really release what time the different movies are playing until a few days before. So when Nora handed out the invitations, there was a note to the parents to call me to see what show we were going to attend. The problem? No one called. This was an even bigger problem because Nora assumed everyone that was invited was going to be thrilled to show up to her birthday.

Luckily, the party was saved from certain failure because Nora's two best friends, Miles and Ian, happen to have very cool moms whom I consider friends, and they made sure their sons would be here for Nora's day. Thank goodness they did, because I couldn't bear the idea of telling her the party was cancelled. The morning of her party, she did seem slightly disappointed that some of the girls from her class and her cousin weren't going to make it, but as soon as she had her dress on, along with her Tangled birthday ribbon, she was as happy as any other little girl on her birthday. Both Miles and Ian showed up, and off to the theater we went.

It was also a special day for Emily, because it was Emily's first ever trip to the movies. I am glad to report everyone, boys and girls alike, enjoyed the film. Even though it had a princess it was anything but a sissy movie. There was action, adventure, and silly songs (in addition to the lovey dovey kissing stuff, which made Ian smack his forehead in disgust. So funny, exactly what you'd expect from a 5 year old boy!) My favorite part was actually during a scary scene, because Emily climbed over all the other kids to sit in my lap. The ending is a tear jerker, and Nora began to cry a little, but luckily there was a happily ever after so we could go home and actually enjoy the cake and presents.

All in all, it was a successful birthday. I was happy because Nora got to feel special, she got to see a movie she now loves, and she spent several quality hours playing with her two best friends. Because there wasn't a house full of people, they kids never got overwhelmed and I felt they all behaved really well considering I fed them tons of sugar and junk food. The adults had a great visit too, and that's really nice when you can take a breather and enjoy the company of your peers! I would definitely like to do this again, but with the lack of turnout for this year, I might not be able to do so. Oh well, that's ok. I have 11 months to think of something else!

Nora's 6th Birthday Party

Random Silly Pics

Well, there are a number of headings one could write for this photo. All I can say is I'll bet Steve Jobs did not envision the i-pod as a potty training device. I like to think of it as the "i-pood". Feel free to include your own inappropriate jokes in the comments.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jingle Bells Video

The girls REALLY got into the Christmas spirit after we put up our tree. Here is just a little sample of how they acted for the majority of December!

And if you're wondering, yes this video is on its side. I just got this phone for my birthday, and I was holding it, well like a phone rather than a camera. I'm learning, give me a break!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Oops, I did blink, and there went the rest of December!

My effort to have an unbusy 2010 was, I can now say with some certainty, unsuccessful. However, since the many disasters of the last post, I can also say with even more certainty that things are improving, and will hopefully continue to improve until the next set of disasters!

First, to start at where I left off, Ryan did purchase a new car. I am now the proud owner of a new-to-me 2007 Mazda Five. It is not quite a car and not quite a van...its a "sports wagon". To call it a station wagon is not cool I suppose, but you know, a rose is a rose is a rose. And this ride is sweet. Did I mention its PURPLE!?!? So Ryan came home with a highly rated, safe family vehicle AND its pretty! I've been driving it for a few weeks now, and while I'm still not quite used to its smooth handling and zoom zoom, I must say I like this so-called sports wagon. I like it a lot. I've named her Violet. She is my third car, after Lil' the Escort and the Mom Van. Nora and Emily also approve, because (1) their windows fully open and (2) it has a sun roof and (3) it has a DVD player with headphones for the kiddos. So now on the long ride to Grandma's house they can watch movies, and I am saved from endless choruses of "are we there yet?". Oh Violet, you're the best!

Since I've posted last, Nora also had her Christmas sing at school. She has been practicing the songs for a few weeks now (including Jingle Bells. Those of you on Facebook have seen the video; will post her shortly). The morning of the Christmas sing she was very very excited, but when she came home that afternoon she began to get nervous. She was actually acting more like a young adult than a little girl, and I admit I was really surprised at how much thought she had put into her case of nerves. She was worried she had nothing to wear, she was worried because she didn't know where her Bump-it hair piece was, she was worried about remembering her lines, she was nervous we would be late, she was nervous to be singing in front of a group of strangers! My goodness that is a lot of worry for a 5 year old, and she ended up sick in the bathroom.

I did my best to calm her down. I gave her the birthday outfit I had purchased for her early so she would have new clothes, I found the Bump-It and curled her hair, we practiced her lines over and over, and I distracted her from thinking about the crowd by wrapping Christmas presents. It seemed to work well, although once in car ***pardon me sports wagon*** I had to shush Ryan from mentioning the masses of parents we were about to encounter because Nora was still sick to her stomach. But, like a true performer, once the show started you couldn't tell she had been queasy. Her lines actually opened the program, and while it was hard to make out what she was saying into the mic, she did a good job. She stood next to her best friend at school Ian for the singing portion, and had a lot of cookies afterwards because she was feeling better. I was so proud of her! She looked beautiful and she sang her heart out.

The following day was the last day of school for the three of us prior to Christmas break. Well, its been a break for them...I've had more work than ever! Stay tuned.

And for those of you that are wondering, yes, I took the title Blink from my favorite episode of Dr. Who.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A note for Nora on her 6th Birthday

Wow. Six years. Where did the time go? And yet its like it didn't go anywhere at all, because Nora is such a part of this family I can hardly remember what it is like to not have her with us. Nora was born three weeks after we moved into our house, so basically began our lives as adults with Nora's birth. There are times in life when you can look back and realize that a moment changed everything; one of those moments was when Dr. Cathy handed me a tiny, red, screaming little girl. It was the most amazing thing I ever saw.


Nora, you are without a doubt, the most beautiful and intelligent six year old I've ever met. Our house is a home because you are with us. Your dad and I didn't really become a family until the day you were born. As you've grown, we've grown into strong and loving family. And we will continue to grow, and you especially will thrive, may even more than the average child. I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say that you will have the smarts and the drive to do whatever you want to do with your life. Your interests are so varied, I think if you have any trouble at all it will be simply choosing a few things to focus on...after all, you're already a fantastic artist/super model/scientist/mathematician/author/comedienne. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, there's so much for you to still discover!

I think the best part about seeing you go from a baby to a six year old girl has been watching your personality grow. You are so funny! And you never ever ever stop talking. Ever! Ah, the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree. You are such a girlie girl too, and I revel in watching you dress in head to toe pink and purple, in watching you dance around in tiaras and gowns, and how much enjoyment you get from fairy tales where everyone lives happily ever after. Just yesterday I was listening to you sing the love songs from Beauty and the Beast. And you weren't just singing, you were so there in that poor provincial town. You had no idea that anyone else was around! I have to apologize though, sweetie, I think you got my singing voice, so a record deal may not be in the future.

I am so excited, and quite honestly, honored to spend this time of your life with you. Six is so much fun! The little girl in you is ready to shine, and I will help you do that to the best of my ability. Now is the time of your life where you can hang out with me and its still cool; and I want to do arts and crafts and tea parties and dress-up. I like helping out with your homework, and this is the year we will be able to start reading chapter books together. There are so many new worlds to discover and literary friends to meet...Laura Ingalls, Ramona Quimby, and of course we will continue to follow Jack and Annie in their adventures through time.

Happy Birthday Nora! I love you so much. Thank you for letting me be your Momma.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Update: Comedy of Errors

Went to the doctor today and yep! I had a cyst, it really did burst, and its infected. I'm on antibiotics now, but if it doesn't clear itself up, I will have to have what is left of the cyst removed surgically. The area between my skin and my muscle will also have to be cleaned. Eeeww. But I'm on the road to getting better.

Ryan did get the van rolling; today the temps are above freezing. He is at the car dealer now and I'm waiting for him to come back. I couldn't go with him to help choose a vehicle since Nora is still so sick, and besides, my driver's license expired a few weeks ago and I haven't had a chance to update it. I can't test drive anything. That's ok though, I trust his judgment. I tend to gravitate towards cars that are pretty rather than reliable. It will be very interesting to see what he drives home!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Comedy of Errors...

This week has been like no other. It seems like every time I turn around, something else is wrong. But, on the positive side, we have burned up a lot, I mean a LOT of bad karma, so its got to get better. Right? I'm typing this I can hear Ryan trying in vain to get the van out of the driveway. But from the sound of it, he's just burning up the tires. I'll get to that in a moment.

MONDAY: On Monday Emily decided she wanted to regress to babyhood. I'm really not sure what is going on; its bizarre to say the least. She has been wearing underwear during the day with a pretty good success rate, but she peed her pants 4 times and took a number 2 to boot. The kicker was each accident happened within 10 minutes of me putting her on the potty! Even stranger, she decided she wasn't going to drink from a cup, and has been asking for bottles. Finally I gave in on Thursday because she was getting dehydrated. Honestly, I don't know what to make of it.

TUESDAY: I woke up with a raging fever on Tuesday morning. I don't know how high my fever got in the middle of the night, but I do remember floating over my body at one point. So my day wasn't great, but the worst part about it was lying there while Ryan ran around getting everyone ready for school. Mornings are pretty hectic since the girls go to separate schools. I usually get Emily ready for the bus, while Ryan gets Nora ready, and then he drives her to school. Somehow, though the miracle of coffee, he managed to get Nora to school early so he could be back here to put Emily on the bus. At that point he ran to work, but was on call in case I got worse. Home at noon, he was, to get Emily off the bus. Back to work, then back here again at 2pm with Nora. Then of course he had to get dinner ready after work (ok actually he drove to Burger King to get chicken fingers) because I was still weak to stand. So it was bad day, but Ryan racked up major brownie points in my eyes.

WEDNESDAY: All was going well on Wednesday! Woke up feeling much better. There wasn't much food in the house, so I decided to do a little light grocery shopping after school. The trip to Walmart was like any other until it was time to go. I couldn't get the van to move further than an inch or two at a time. Something went pop! and it was like the wheels broke. UGH. Keep in mind I was feverish less than 24 hours prior, and I've got two tired kids with me. After debating what to do, I called on Tim and Rachel, who came to our rescue. At first we thought perhaps it just needed transmission fluid, which had been seen on the driveway this week. Long story short; tried that to no avail. Tranny fluid doesn't fix a bad bearing. Anyways, Tim drove us home, and we've started car shopping online. The plan is to buy a new to us vehicle ASAP...maybe tomorrow.

THURSDAY: Over the past week I've noticed some changes in a cyst I've had for several years. Its always been small, round, and without change. No problem! Nothing to worry about. Well, to my surprise, the damn thing burst. I felt a pop, the bump was gone, and then there was pain. I don't know if you've ever had this experience before, and I hope you don't. Did I mention pain? I'm swollen, and am worried that it might actually be infected. (It is getting bigger, redder, and ouchier with each passing hour). If I can get the van to move I will have the doctor check it out tomorrow prior to purchasing a car. Because I didn't have enough lined up this week.

FRIDAY: Driving the van to work...a joke. Getting Emily to school and realizing she didn't have shoes, her water cup, or nap blankets...a joke. Having to show movies instead of lecturing because I can't stand for long periods of time due to cyst...a joke. Nora barfing her head off like never before in her joke. Apparently the health department contacted the schools today to alert everyone that a stomach flu is going around. Guess who got it first?

BTW Ryan came back inside. The van is stuck in the driveway. We will have to wait for tomorrow when the temperature rises to see if we can move it again. We have to move it, I need to get to the doctor and we need to trade that lemon in before the real cold hits. Oh geez. Coffee can't fix this one.

I try not to be a complainer, but had to get this off my chest!!! To end this on a positive note, because you never know what's gonna happen next, I'd like to share some words that keep me going during weeks like this:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
-- Buddha

Well, I'm not dead yet! And I always learn a lot from my girls. Even through her pain and fever, even with her head in the toilet, Nora was singing the Sponge Bob theme song till she passed out. If that's not a lesson in keeping spirits up, I don't know what is.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

100th Post!!!

Wow!!! Welcome to the 100th post! That's a pretty major milestone. I guess this calls for a celebration.

Well, it just so happens that today was the first major snowfall of the year. What better way to celebrate than to don the snow pants and moon-boots and go outside? We did, and it was fun. Nora is actually still outside as I write this; I spent a little extra money on ski-mittens for her hands, and the investment is paying off. Emily had to come inside because her little hands were so cold and so red. She's all wrapped up in her purple stripped blanket, as happy as can be.

Winter is here, the holidays are just around the corner. So is the end of the semester. Thank goodness! This is my favorite time of the year.

Here are the pictures from our adventure outside. You might want to make yourself some cocoa.

First Snow 2010