Friday, December 30, 2011

Making Days Merry and Bright

A couple of things that I was so excited about this season were being able to frolic in tons of snow with our little girls, and to feel an overwhelming Christmas spirit, where you are so excited you can't stop your toes from wiggling.

Utah has kind of let us down in the snow department.  It has not been a very beautiful December, unless you love a sky covered in smog so thick you can chew on it and dead, yellow grass everywhere that snow should be.  I was getting used to all of that and had accepted it, but then we were able to escape for a day.
Adam, my sister Erika, and I went up into the mountains and enjoyed a day of skiing. 
Just to be above the smog was incredible and I felt like I could finally breath.  That would have been enough.  We were not expecting a lot regarding the skiing because we thought the snow would be terrible.
We were pleasantly surprised by a perfect fresh layer of snow from the night before, and mountains of powder near the top of Snowbird.  It was like we were floating on a sea a Cool Whip.
It was a cloudy in the morning, and then the sun broke through.
The sky was bright blue the rest of the day, it was glorious.  There was no one on the mountain, we had no lines and no obstacle course of people to maneuver through.  We didn't want to go back to the shadowlands, but it did have to end at some point, but we are glad we found a bit of snow.
The thing that topped my Christmas spirit chart this year was going caroling.  It was the most touching thing that our little family did.  My cute sister-in-law and brother set it up and we went to a little home that cared for not only elderly people, but for many with disabilities. 
We were a small group, but it didn't matter.  As we sang Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger and other festive songs, the residents chimed in loudly with their cheery voices. 
I couldn't think of a place better to spread some holiday cheer than right there with those sweet folks who see the same walls day in and day out.
Buddy the Elf was right when he said, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

When we walked outside after, real magic had happened too.  It was snowing and Caroline and Olive were thrilled!  Olive is not in the picture because she was trying to catch snowflakes.
She had to have caught a few because she was definitely providing plenty of surface area for the flakes to land.
We snagged her for this picture, but she did not give up.  She wanted to enjoy the snow while it was coming. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another little Sparkler

A few months ago, I picked Adam up from the metro and this greeted him in his seat:
Not only did I find out that lovely day that we were expecting, but the due date was estimated for Independence Day, my favorite holiday!

So, we were giddy about the news, and then the next week I had some spotting.  I had a mix of strange emotion and feelings.  I was of course sad again at the thought of what was possibly happening, but I thought, well if it's going to happen, now is better than at 3 months along.
I called some dear friends who took the girls because I was advised to go to the ER.  I wsa 5 weeks and 5 days at this point. 

Adam and I had actually a good time during all the waiting in the ER.  Have you looked at Vogue magazine lately?  It was hilarious seeing all of the people they say are models, we just didn't get it.
Blood work, ultrasound, more waiting later, they thought that things looked fine due to a healthy yolk sac. It was too early to see a heartbeat.  They also found a small cyst that had ruptured and thought that was part of the bleeding, as well as residual from the summer D&C. 

The next step was follow up in two days.  I went to this new doctor who was kind of difficult to understand.  He didn't think that drawing an HCG level was of any help (but this is what can help you know early on if things are progressing or have stopped).  It should have doubled in 48 hours. 
After he saw the desperation in my face, he said to draw the lab.  Then the nurse said she already had included it with the bloodwork.  This guy was killing me!
Then as I was leaving he said, "If you want things to be good with this pregnancy, then just think good thoughts, it will be ok."  My first thought was, "Are you friekin' kidding me!?"  I might be having another miscarriage and that is your advice!? 
Later though, I actually found comfort in his simple statement.  I kept trying to think good thoughts.

Well, the spotting stopped, then we ended up leaving for Utah a week earlier than planned.  The nurse called that Friday and said the HCG had doubled!  I was so grateful.
At the airport though, more spotting came and it seemed like it was a more serious problem. 
All I could do was get back on the plane in Chicago and continue to Utah and think good thoughts.
At this point, the good thoughts were really sparse.

Time went on and luckily my sister works on Labor and Delivery. I knew I could go check what was going on in a couple of weeks.  I waited because I wanted to have a for sure yes or no of how things were.  It is really tricky to hear a heartbeat on my babies early on.  I had felt sick, but Olive had been ill and I thought I just had an adult mild case of what she had.
At 9.5 weeks I went up to visit my sister.  I had not let my hopes soar high, I was trying to be realistic and had almost talked myself into things not being good.
Then my sister says, "There it is, there is the heartbeat!"  I looked and could not believe it, I was so surprised and beyond excited.
She grabbed one of the doctors who measured the baby and the little peanut was growing right on schedule.

Immediately I felt so connected with this little one, and we have had another ultrasound and I was 12 weeks and the happy little one was bouncing around in my tummy.  I also think there was a wave to Adam with the little arm. 

Ice cream sounds good, sometimes egg sandwiches, I am blowin' up here people.  Bring it on and bring on the sickness because we are thrilled to be having a baby!  It has been the best Christmas gift to us.  It has also been a strong feeling with Adam and I that his dear mom is helping our little ones not give any more false starts!  The timing has been so tender.
Hooray for 13 weeks!!

Date Night Times 2

I so look forward to date nights with Adam.  I love the anticipation of just knowing we get to go out and do something besides just be at home.  It's so nice to make the effort to go and be together, even if it's just on a run.
We discovered this month how special date nights with our little girls are as well.  We took each one out individually and it was fun to be with just one of their adorable little personalities on each date.

Caroline had wished (on the turkey wishbone) that she could go see the Nutcracker.  She loves the music and is always dancing to it.  Well, Adam surprised us and got the three of us tickets.  Santa left them on the doorstep as an early Christmas gift.  Caroline was jumping up and down when she picked them up from outside.

On the way to the show a couple of weeks later, Caroline said, "We should call Santa and thank him for the Nutcracker tickets."  We adore her grateful little heart.
During the show she couldn't wait to see the Mouse King and Mother Buffoon.  She kept trying to whisper, in her one volume voice, "Is that the Mouse King?" anytime a mouse came out dancing.
She was so into it and clapped whenever people did, it was the most energetic little clap!
When the Sugar Plum Fairy came out she said in awe, "Wow!" and just gazed at her.  The dancing truly did give me the chills, they make it look effortless.
I told her that I tried out for the Nutcracker twice and never made it, but that it was ok.  She said, "That is ok mom, you just need to keep practicing!"  I hope that she remembers her own wise words when things don't go her way, and also that even with more practicing, it sometimes just doesn't work out.

Tonight she said that for her birthday she wants toe shoes, I hope she can be really patient because that won't be for a while.  She lasted for almost the entire show.  At the end, she was leaning over her seat to hold her Mike & Ike's up to the light to see what color they were before she ate them.
We had such a fun time with our little (growing up at lightning speed) care bear.
Olive got to hit the town with mom and dad and head to Zoo Lights.  Caroline had already gone another night with my family when I was home hugging the toilet with the flu.
We went with Adam's family and we loved letting Olive just walk all over looking like the kid from "A Christmas Story" all bundled up. 
She really wanted to talk to this gingerbread girl, but she just kept staring at her and wasn't responding to Olive.
We rode the carousel and she chose to ride on the zebra.  She is way into playing with model animals right now.  She especially loves the horses and the zebras.  Whenever she plays with them she makes them gallop and says, "Ride horsey ride!"  She didn't disappoint that night as the carousel moved around she said, "Ride horsey ride!"
It was FREEZING, but she was so happy and walked most of the time.  She basically thinks she is ready to move out on her own and always says, "I do it myself."  She adores any independence that she feels she has!
This picture I love because she is laughing at herself here and saying, "haha Olive is funny!" and then chuckles more.
She is such a lovable, animated doll. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

{Shoe Party}

Usually a shoe party is given to some 40-something-year-old fashionista who has countless pairs of shoes.
Well, for our dear Olive, it was the only way to go this year for her birthday party!
Between wearing her own shoes, Caroline's shoes, and mommy's shoes, she has an overwhelming
amount that she feels need to be worn. 
When we are at home she changes her shoes at least 8-10 times a day, sometimes mismatched, and she finds so much joy in doing it.

Adam and I made the invite before we left D.C. so the colors totally don't match the party, but I thought I was going to go with some bright colors.
Those who know me though will not be surprised that I ended up using red as one of the main colors.
I am trying to branch out, but it's hard!
Usually I get so stressed out planning parties and getting all of the finishing touches together.  I don't know why, but this time I was totally relaxed and had just as much fun preparing as we did during the party. 
Caroline and Olive were so thrilled to help decorate and arrange things, we had a lovely time.
She was bursting with happiness all day, she knew something was up, and that it was all about her.
The decor was simple with accents of red, silver, and black.  Besides the sweet treats of cake, ice cream, and Peppermint Joe-Joe's (that I brought boxes of in my suitcase from D.C.), we had the strawberry topiary.
At the base of the topiary there was a dip of sour cream, sprinkled with brown sugar.
I am sure most of you have tried that delicious and simple delicacy, but it is an old family favorite of mine!
I found a pattern for paper shoes online and modified my favorite pom-poms to add a little
glitz to the toes.
"Olive" brand shoes were the cake topper, and they were made out of gumpaste. 
Luckily I watched a tutorial about a month in advance so I knew I needed at least 10 days to get the shoes made so they could dry.  The shoebox is just marshmallow fondant which I have loved working with since my first experience for Caroline's tea party.  It's super cheap to make and tastes way better than regular fondant.
Our girls have 9 boy cousins ranging in age from 1 to 13, so I decided to make two different age appropriate party favors.  For the older nephews, I just put some candy in a shoe.  Now, the shoe they didn't really care about, but they liked the candy.  I think little girls would die for a tiny paper shoe.
And for the younger ones, I just got some Melissa and Doug lace and trace animals because they came with a "shoe" lace.
Olive knew just what to do when the singing began.  Adam came in with the cake and she grabbed the cake tray and got ready to blow out the candles.  She has been carrying around fake candles for weeks and singing "Happy Birthday" to all of the family members.
She was showered with love and it was so nice being with everyone during such a magical season.  After opening each present she would give out a cute little gasp and slowly say, "Oh my mommy!"  She melted everyone's heart.
Besides being into shoes, she adores Mickey and Minnie Mouse.  She often wakes up and just sings, her favorite song being "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" with actions.  She is a little parrot and copies anything you say and do, especially what Caroline does. 
Her dance moves are originals and I don't know if anyone has cuter little hip shakes.  When we say goodnight and are shutting the door she always says, "Sleep well mommy" and it makes everyday worth all the work and any tantrum seem minute.  She adores dogs, nail polish, Cheerios, and leggings.
And darling Olive, we adore you sweet baby girl!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Building some holiday cheer

A couple of years ago when we lived in New Hampshire, there was not a whole lot to do right in Concord during the winter with Caroline and a brand new baby.  We discovered a wonderful gem at Lowe's, a kids craft that they let the kids build every other Saturday morning.
We were regulars and Caroline constructed all sorts of wooden projects like a transformer, mini basketball hoop, jewelry holder, and more.
Home Depot also does the kids craft, but they only do it the first Saturday of every month.
We have not been for quite a while, but we went here in Utah and it was a hit!
Every child gets an apron (at Lowe's or Home Depot) that they wear during the project.  (At Lowe's they also got work goggles that looked adorable on little 2-year-old Caroline's face.)
After each project they do, they get a pin or a patch that you can put on the apron to represent each project.
You get a kit with all of the wooden pieces, the small nails or screws, and often stickers.
Then the kids get to work putting it all together.
This project was a snowman napkin holder.
At Home Depot they provide paint to finish your project.  We used to just take them home and have a fun painting project for later!
It is kind of nice to keep the mess at the store though :)  The girls were quite excited about their pink snowmen.
Santa happened to be visiting last time and Caroline let him know that she and Olive would like some Tinker toys and a Barbie.
Hopefully little Olive and Caroline can continue to be little dolls and their wishes will come true!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Festival of Trees

The holidays just get me giddy.  Not just the Christmas holiday season but every holiday!  It's nice during the Christmas season though, that there are so many festive and delightful things to do.
The Festival of Trees is a favorite, especially with kids.  My sister and two of her boys came, our sister-in-law Kate, and me and the girls. 
We were just mesmerized over some of the trees and gingerbread houses.
The Up tree had us stop dead in our tracks.  I just loved how colorful and bright it was (sorry it's a bit blurry.)
The girls kept going for all of the pink and sparkly trees, and Olive continued to walk under the chain to pick up some of the toys that went with the trees...dress up shoes, M&M's, Barbie's.
I think she thought we were at some sort of incredible toy shop with everything within her reach.
Looking at the gingerbread houses is so inspiring and you can get some really good ideas of what to add to your own.
Now, the National Capital building is not one that gave me a whole lot of ideas, but just had us in awe!
The same group did this Madagascar one and we were wondering who is this group!?  They have some serious skills.
Caroline loved this one because she has already assigned our family to dress up like them next Halloween.
I don't know if that's going to happen, but it's a sweet idea!
The Tangled tower blew us away with the purple licorice roof, the detailed grass and candy stones.
The Kids Korner was full of little crafts and activities for the kids to do.  The giant bubble encasing booth was a hit.  Kids would try to blow a bubble from the giant bubble.  Caroline tried a few times and was blowing so hard, but just couldn't get a bubble out.
Both of the girls got manicures and Olive took it very seriously.  She kept saying, "Nail polish mommy!  Nail polish!"  And she didn't want me to wash her hands the rest of the day. She would say, "No, polish" because she thought it would wipe off.
This is the most still I have ever seen her sit.
This was the perfect event to lift our spirits after Adam left for D.C. to finish the semester.  I was in a total funk and couldn't shake it.  Thanks Corinne and Kate for the best day!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Feast

Thanksgiving is pure bliss.  It is a day to just enjoy the company of family if it be while cooking, digesting, or laughing about good memories.  We have not been with family on Thanksgiving for 2 years, so this was especially sweet.  It was one of my favorite ones on record. 
It was perfect because we spent Wednesday evening feasting with the Beckstroms and then Turkey Day eating with my family.  We didn't have to run all over and split time between parties, we just ate and laughed as we compared our "food babies".  They were very impressive!

I don't know if I can give the food proper credit for all it did for us on those days.  I was too busy eating to take pictures, but look at these rolls!  I love to make rolls, but they sure don't look like this.  Way to go Erin!I almost could have just had rolls for dessert, but I did sneak some pie in :)
Adam and I had our second go at brining a turkey.  It is definitely worth a try, they turn out incredibly moist and flavorful.  We laughed as we gathered all of the ingredients to mix for the brine.  It seemed like we were concocting some sort of witch's brew- candied ginger, 4 sprigs of rosemary, allspice berries, leaves of sage, eye of newt...just kidding about the eye of newt, but the list does go on and on.
Olive just couldn't believe how much food there was!  The turkey, whipped potatoes, brie and cranberries in puff pastry, sweet potatoes, mixed fruit, rolls, it was all pure delight.
Bingo is a fun tradition that we do with my family.  Everyone brings a couple of little prizes per person and then the games begin!  You can steal gifts from others instead of opening ones and it can get pretty intense.  Caroline was especially worried that her lip gloss and polish would be stolen, but luckily she was safe.
My cousin, Brian, was so dear with these sweet little ones.  They were all over him, as you can plainly see, and he just let them help him call out the bingo numbers.  They didn't care about playing a BINGO card, they just wanted to spin the cool wheel.
Aunts and uncles were there, cousins (one about to leave to Africa for his mission), an old family friend, and all of the joyful little grandkids. 
What a pleasant way to ring in the upcoming festivities!
(and with that, more to be thankful for because there is just so much if you want to read on below..)
I am blessed with my energetic, charming, and joyous little girls.  I am so thankful to have the best job in the world to be their mother. 

I am grateful that when I miss Adam so bad that it hurts, the hurt eventually goes away after  a couple of days.  He gets back on Friday, way to babe, only one more semester!!

I love having a washing machine IN our apartment.  I could do wash all day really.  In New Hampshire we had to put on our winter woolies to go outside in 2 feet of snow and lug our laundry to the scary basement.  (Therefore, Adam did a lot of the wash because I didn't dare go down there at night.)

Also, I am grateful to have a dishwasher.  Handwashing all of your dishes makes cooking and your hands a real nightmare.  (this was also a New Hampshire moment without one.)

I am grateful that even though we are trying reusable diapers, I can switch back to disposable when Olive has uncontrollable cha-chas. 

I am humbled that I have been sick :)  Keep it coming.

I am grateful for past trials and experiences that have opened my eyes so much wider to see a bigger, better picture!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Forever Grateful

Here we are in lovely December.  The weeks have passed us by with all of our time being spent with family.  It has been bittersweet because dear Grandma B is missing.  A void is definitely felt.  I have felt kind of frozen as to what to post next.  There is not enough that can be said about our dear sweet mother Gae.  I would regret not putting down so many things that I am grateful for, although Thanksgiving has passed.

-I love that I really knew Gae.  We not only lived with them for a year, but she and Blake came to visit us whereever we were living be it Concord, New Hampshire, or New York City.  Adam was always very busy with school or work and so I had a lot of one on one time with his parents.  Boy am I lucky.  We had such a good time chatting, playing with the girls, exploring new places, and Gae especially loved cuddling colicky baby Olive early on.  She would send Adam and I out on a date, even though I was so worried Olive would cry the entire time.  Gae did not care, it was her love.

-I am grateful for all of the spontaneity, love, generosity, kindness, acceptance, fun, and charity that just oozed out of her.  You just felt it in the room when she was in it.  She welcomed everyone into her life with open, loving arms.  There was never an outsider or someone that felt unomfortable if she was around because she always reeled them in.  If anyone is ever confused about all that charity encompasses, come talk to me about Adam's mom.

-The precious memory of Caroline being able to attend her Kindergarten class a few times last December is so tender.  Adam and I went along separate times and we were the teacher's aide.  It was a blast and my jaw dropped several times that she could get 20 little 5 year olds to have all eyes on her and not make a peep.  Adam mentioned in his talk that she even took Caroline to get school lunch with her, which Caroline loved.

-I hope I can always be optomistic like her.  She was sick, really sick for a long time.  She was tired, and sore, and had burns from radiation.  Complaints were rare, truly I can't even remember any.  A lot of people didn't even know how sick she really was because instead of the focus being on her, she would turn it right around and ask others how they were. 
Even though she was dealing with wounds that were still trying to heal, she and Blake still came to New York just 4 short months ago.  We covered all there was to cover on Manhattan Island.  We walked miles and miles and fought the crowds to see the fireworks over the Hudson.  Ok, I better stop there, those memories are too tender.

-I am especially grateful that the Stake President said at her funeral that her legacy lives on through her children.  Adam and his sisters possess so many of Gae's incredible qualities that we are lucky to have.  We are also lucky to have all of the stories and good memories that were made that can be talked about over and over.  I have never felt stronger about the how blessed we are to have the plan of salvation and for the blessing of eternal families.  The comforter has helped everyone to keep moving forward without feeling a sting every inch of the way. 

There is so much more to be said, but it will have to come in pieces because I can no longer see the computer screen.  My eyes must be "sweating" as Caroline says whenever she catches me crying.