Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas: Many Photos, Few Words

I think that this was the first year that Tyler really understood Christmas. In the past, he knew that Christmas meant frosted sugar cookies, presents and a long stretch of "at home" days. And he knew that if mom asked what the day was REALLY about, he better answer with "Jesus." But, he never got all that excited about it.

This year? Completely different story. December 25th could not come soon enough.

A couple of days before Christmas, Tyler decided that he wanted to make homemade ornaments. Once again, thank you Pinterest; you never let me down.  

That same afternoon, we whipped up an extra large batch of oats and glitter Reindeer Food. Tyler wanted to be sure that Rudolf would guide his buddies our way so he hand delivered some to each of our neighbors. He wasn't taking any chances.

We woke up (very early) to a letter from Zippy Charlotte. He had gone back to the North Pole, but assured us he'd be back for more mischief next year...

Apparently the Reindeer Food did the job because Santa delivered! I'm not sure who was more excited about opening gifts...Ryan or Tyler. Either way they were all opened and being put to good use by 7AM

 If I was forced to choose, I'd say Tyler's favorite gift was his fancy new RC car. Matty's? The wrapping paper. 

After an egg bake breakfast (that is quickly becoming a tradition for our little family), we spent the afternoon with Ryan's parents and siblings, eating far too many cookies and watching as our children were spoiled rotten.

A Christmas success? I'd say so!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Elf Central

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law Molly and I took the boys to Macy's 8th floor holiday display. The theme this year (which I believe was a repeat of last year and maybe even the year before that) was "A Day in the Life of an Elf." 

It had been a while since I took a day off of work to spend with Tyler that didn't involve refilling sippy cups of Pedialyte and disinfecting doorknobs, so I was really looking forward to it. I bundled up the boys, gathered what was likely the entire contents of our house (minus the Garmin) and made the 40 60 minute trip to pick up Molly. We may or may not have missed our turn and taken a 20 minute detour, but all was well as Matty napped and Tyler chatted about how excited he was to see the real life home of Zippy Charlotte.

We made it to Molly's and after a quick diaper change for Matty and a not so quick "re-bundling" for everyone, we were on our way. I would love to say that we strolled into Santa Land twenty short minutes later and learned all there is to know about elf education and candy cane making, but that would be a complete lie. Long story short, we circled a four block radius no less than 12 times, got stuck in an underground parking garage straight out of a horror movie, stopped for directions to the skyway (not even kidding) and had to carry Matty in his stroller up a flight of stairs in order to avoid the one man death trap they called an elevator. 

Nevertheless, we made it.

We watched as Zippy's pointy-eared counterparts baked cookies, wrapped presents, delivered Christmas letters and trained Comet for his upcoming adventure. 

We even made a quick stop to see Santa. Tyler recited his Christmas list while Matty tried with all of his might to get ahold of that beard. Oh, so tempting.  
Tyler dropped a quick note in Santa's mailbox for good measure. You never can be too sure.


It was pure magic minus the snow filled two hour commute back home.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Matty: 10 Months!

I used to find it incredibly annoying when parents referred to the ages of their toddler children in months. “She’s 26 months old!” No, no she is not. She is two. Two YEARS old. She is not a baby; she’s a toddler. A tiny human being who runs and jumps and who traded pureed sweet potatoes for Mac & Cheese a long time ago. 
I still find it a bit annoying, but I get it now. I understand the desire to count the months and avoid the years. It is a means, for me at least, to reside in baby land  just a little bit longer. You have to wrap your arms around those months and hold on tight because they slip by oh so quickly.

Sweet Matty, I cannot believe it, but here we are. Another four weeks have passed and you’ve reached the 10 month mark. 10 months? How did that even happen? It’s as if we rang in the New Year, took a cat nap and woke up to Halloween. It’s ridiculous, really.

You’re getting around much faster these days and you’re into absolutely everything. The artwork that adorns our refrigerator has gradually moved to higher ground and I find myself running to beat you to the cat dish several times a day. And if I happen to be a second late? I’ll inevitably find you with a tiny fistful of kibble and will be forced to spend the next five minutes fishing pieces from your mouth. I told you, you’ll eat anything. 

You have two little teeth now, both on the bottom. I don’t check for new teeth nearly as often as I once did because the ones you do have are pretty darn sharp. They come in handy for all of the cat people food you are eating these days. You’ll eat most anything; chicken, cheese, lunch meat and veggies. We still give you the occasional container of baby food but somewhere along the line you realized that spewing it all over mom and dad is much more entertaining than actually consuming it. 

You’re sleeping a bit better and spitting up a lot less, both of which make us very happy! What else? We introduced you to cookies, snow and Santa! When meeting the big guy, you didn’t even cry. In fact, you did exactly what we knew you would—gave him a big happy grin and a tug of the beard. While so many things about you have changed, that has not. You still LOVE to pull hair and grab people’s faces. You also still suck your thumb and yank on your ear when you’re sleepy…that one melts my heart. 

When you wake up, you grip the railing of your crib and scream until somebody comes to rescue you. There are rarely tears; you simply know that the louder you scream, the faster we respond. You are sweet to your core and you have the most infectious giggle. And your brother? He is completely smitten with you. Have I mentioned how much you lucked out in that department? Last night, as he wallpapered his bedroom in artwork, you sat on the floor and rifled through his books. I suggested taking you out into the living room and away from his things but he stopped me, saying “no mom, I like having him in here with me.” I realize that might not always be the case, so I’m soaking in that morsel of sweetness while it lasts. 

We are still learning so much about you, sweet Matty, who you are and who you will become. Granted, it's bittersweet, but it has been such a joy to see you grow and watch as your little personality evolves. Sometimes, in the midst of a cheerio tornado, after half a dozen dirty diapers and 4 wardrobe changes, I find myself losing sight of how very fortunate we are. But we are. We are so very blessed. 

Love you to a thousand planets.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Kindergarten

From the moment Tyler was born, Ryan and I have done everything possible to keep him safe. As a tiny, 5 pound newborn, he was always buckled snuggly in his car seat, with no more than one finger width of space between his shoulders and the two strategically placed straps that covered them. His food was cut into microscopic pieces, each and every outlet was plugged and small objects were off the floor and out of his reach.  At three years old, Tyler may not have known his middle name but he knew exactly how many smoke detectors we had in our house and he could recite a detailed escape plan in the event of a fire. 

In the summer, one of us is constantly reminding Tyler that he needs to wear his helmet and in the winter, his hat and mittens. There is a neon yellow sign at the end of our cul-de-sac warning incoming cars of children at play. The tag inside Tyler’s backpack lists our contact information in the event that he gets lost and if he doesn’t happen to be carrying it? He can recite his name, phone number and a good portion of his address. He looks both ways for cars and we remind him often to wash his hands before eating. Each fall we bribe him with a toy in exchange for a flu shot.  

In May, Tyler turned 5. Ryan and I had just 4 short months to decide if we would be sending our little boy to Kindergarten. We had many conversations about bullying, bus rides and our child’s attention span. We wondered if Tyler would make friends easily, listen attentively and make the right choices, even if his best buddies made the wrong ones. We weighed the pros and cons and waffled back and forth but ultimately, we decided that he simply wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready to board the big yellow bus, to spend 8 hours a day in a classroom or to have some kid burst his bubble by telling him pink was a “girl” color.

During all of those hours spent discussing kindergarten, our expectations and concerns, there was one thing that NEVER crossed my mind: my child’s wellbeing in the classroom. I certainly thought about how difficult it would be to drop Tyler off that first day and whether or not he would be able to navigate the bus in the days thereafter, but I never, ever considered that he wouldn’t be safe after he arrived. Ryan and I have spent a great deal of time talking with Tyler about fires, tornadoes and strangers, but I was unaware that my five year old needed to know how to escape a bullet. The unthinkable tragedy in Connecticut has changed all of that. The loss of all of those little ones who look far too much like our own child has shaken our foundation and put a fear within us that we didn’t know existed. I cannot even begin to understand how the parents of those innocent children feel and I selfishly pray that I never have to. Nobody should have to. 

Next September, Ryan and I will be faced with the Kindergarten dilemma once again. Nine months will have passed, but the Connecticut tragedy and the fears that stem from it will undoubtedly be at the forefront of our thoughts. Despite the uncertainties, we will hug our little boy tightly and then step back and watch as he hops aboard the school bus; eyes glistening with anticipation and a tummy filled with nervous butterflies. 

The heartbreaking truth is that malevolence will always exist in our world. Tragedies of all types will continue to occur and we will struggle to comprehend the senselessness of it all. In spite of all of that, I refuse to let the malice outshine the immense amount of good. People who are honest, caring and selfless; those who give without expectations and are kind to their core. People, just like those kindergarten teachers who, without a second thought, put the lives of their students before their own. 

Tyler will be going to kindergarten next year. He will have the opportunity to spend his days learning to read, write and to raise his hand before he speaks. He will make new friends, learn the rules of the playground and overcome those butterflies. Above all of that, my son will undoubtedly have the opportunity to be surrounded by good people…an opportunity that I want nothing more than for him to experience. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Life in a Snow Globe

Tyler has been asking me when it is going to snow for the past 5 months. Yes, since the hot, sticky one-hundred degree days of July. He loves everything about snow. Sledding, snowmobiling, packing it into a waffle cone and calling it ice cream.  He’s silly, that one.

I however, love exactly two things about it. The first day the snow appears and everything is a coated in a crisp, clean layer of white perfection and the glorious day when the last little flake melts.  Bundling up each morning and driving 12 miles an hour to work only to sit down at my desk (late) and realize the bottom of my pants are soaking wet? I’ll pass, thanks.   

Anyways, on Friday night, we finally got that much anticipated snowstorm. I happened to be driving home from downtown Minneapolis with the boys and it took over two hours to travel 30 miles. Typically, this would equate to my own personal version of hell, but Matty slept almost the whole time and Tyler? He didn’t complain a bit. He sat patiently in the backseat making idle chit chat with me while pressing his tiny little nose against the window and watching the flakes fall. He was over the moon. If I could have bottled his excitement up, I totally would have because at that moment I realized that seeing the snow through the eyes of a 5 year old makes winter suck a whole lot less. 

Saturday morning came and the snow just kept on falling. By Sunday morning we had  a billion inches of snow and there was nothing left to do but put on my big girl snow pants and get outside.  And you know what? It was incredible. I felt like we were living inside a snow globe. And not the cheap Anthropologie inspired mason jar  type that currently adorns our mantel. More like a fancy kind that snow globe collectors everywhere dream of {those people do exist you know.}

Tyler and I spent the afternoon building this guy.

We used rocks for his eyes, mouth and buttons and we included some winter appropriate apparel for an added touch. Unfortunately neither we nor our neighbors eat vegetables so an orange ball had to stand in for the carrot. We were proud of our work, can you tell?

We put our architect skills to good use and created an igloo. No, I’m not kidding. Tyler got the igloo cubes for Christmas last year and considering we got exactly one snowfall, they got no very little use. We were happy to make up for that. And so were these other helpful little people. Another perk of living in a neighborhood jam packed with sweet kids.

We introduced the little man to the delight that is the first snowfall of the year! He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but he also didn’t cry, so that’s a win in my book.

And, we finished off the day with a batch of Christmas cookies. Because really, why not?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas has Arrived

Around here, Christmas officially begins 6 seconds after the Thanksgiving turkey is digested. Ryan hikes into the woods, locates the perfect tree and chops it down Paul Bunyan style assembles the Christmas tree while I climb under the crawl space in hopes of locating the decorations before the spiders attack. We turn on holiday music, throw some cookies in the oven and bedazzle our whole house in a matter of 45 minutes. 

Ok that's the way it used to go down. 

This year? It's safe to say that while the the tree is now assembled {lopsided}, the banisters are wrapped in garland and artificial icicles don the gutters, it took a whole lot longer than normal to locate our Christmas A-game. I am going to place full blame on the germs the besieged our house and my own personal fear that the two newest members of our family would band together and make it their mission to destroy as many decorations as possible. I was right, at least on the latter. Honestly? I'm not sure if I spend more time prying ornaments out of Matty's mouth or trying to fish Harley out of the Christmas tree without toppling it over in the process.

Anyways, the holidays have arrived and they are in full swing. Need proof?

The tree is decorated.

Matty finds pure joy in grabbing the nearest ornament...and then repeatedly smacking Harley in the head with it. 

Tiny pine trees have found a new home atop the mantel {And that embarrassingly large collection of video games? Since banished to a bookshelf in the corner}

The Christmas village has been unpacked. However, Thomas Kersey's Coffee House {and the rest of the village} remain dark as it didn't take long to realize how tempting all of those cords were to two tiny little hands.

Christmas pajamas? Yep, they've made themselves right at home in the top drawer of the dresser

Good Luck Charlie has been replaced by Charlie Brown. Well, maybe not Charlie Brown, but other holiday classics...Elf anyone?  

No, Ty does not wear glasses...but he IS a pretty big fan of lense-less yellow spectacles. {Have you noticed, he's awesome?}

Finally, driveway bonfires? They're no longer enough to keep us toasty outside...hats are once again a necessity. Hello, Minnesota. 

I'm guessing that we'll have no problem getting into the spirit for the remainder of the's jam-packed with fun festivities. I'm just hoping there are many quiet moments in between. Moments to soak in the season and just...enjoy my little guys.