Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

Yesterday, as I was writing a check, I dated it December 30th and was astounded to notice that 2011 is coming to a close. I opened up my December 31st post from 2010, and realized how much things have changed since then.

In December of 2010, I had a two-year-old in diapers and a baby on the way. This year, I have a two children in diapers, one walking and one crawling. I'm sure my answers will be quite different for 2011.  I'm going to use the same meme I posted last year, with the answers changed, and interspersed with more Christmas pictures of the kids, of course. Happy New Year!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

I started teaching ESL certification courses for a graduate school. I interviewed for the job back in May, when I was very, very pregnant, and my first class as an adjunct instructor started in August. It's contract work, but I do like it, and I'm hoping they keep asking me to teach courses from time to time. 

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions for 2011, and will you make more for 2012?

Yes, I definitely had 2011 Resolutions, and I kept some of them. I said I wanted to spend more time playing with Nick, and I think I haven't done too badly, considering. There are two boys and four jobs taking up my time, though, and I probably could have done better. Instead of meeting my goal of getting rid of stuff, I added tons of baby stuff to the mix, but that's what happens when you have a new baby. I also didn't have nearly enough dates with my husband. We'll have to work on that, but it's hard to get out when there are two boys sucking up all of your energy. I did a great job of keeping up with my houseplants, with only a few exceptions, but my outside gardening was largely abandoned when Henry was born. I have NOT stopped feeling guilty--in fact I think that my parental guilt has increased tenfold this year. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 

Yup. Me. June 9th. To this guy. I've been told he looks like his Grandpa Mike.   :)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, Greg's Grandma Marie passed away in February. She lived to 96, and her death wasn't a surprise, but it was still sad. 

5. What places did you visit? 

We went up to Northern Wisconsin in February for the funeral, and again in September for a graveside memorial. Greg and I also had a trip to Milwaukee in August, where we had a belated anniversary celebration  as well as our only real vacation of the year. 

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? 
Clearly, more time to spend with the kids. I'm hoping that will happen. Greg has started with a private practice firm and is seeing clients at night as a therapist. He's hoping to leave his daytime job and stay home with the kids, though he'll still work part time. If this works, both of us should have more time with the kids. 

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 9, 2011. Why? This guy. 

8. What was your biggest achievement this year?

See #7. Henry is a pretty big achievement, especially now when he weighs in at 17 pounds, 11 ounces.  ;) I suppose I could also say that losing all of the Henry baby weight is pretty remarkable for me, as well. I now weigh about eight pounds less than I did when I got pregnant with Henry. However, I still weigh about twenty pounds more than I did before Nick. Oh, well. I'd rather be happy than thin.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Potty training. Sigh. I had such high hopes, too.
Oh, and a lack of exercise and still not losing the baby weight from Nick. The last few months, I haven't been eating as healthy because of the whole working four jobs thing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Since we now have two kids, the germs have increased almost exponentially. All of us have been sick at least four or five times since summer, even Greg, who used to never get sick. No serious illnesses, though. Just colds, sinus infections, flu viruses, and the like.

11. What was the best thing that you bought?
Probably the new dresser/entertainment center/tv/dvd player that I bought for Greg's Christmas present. It finished off our living room renovations. I would also say my Nook, but that was a birthday gift from Greg.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Just like last year, I would have to say my husband's. He equally parents, and has changed nearly as many dirty diapers as I have through the year. Greg also does nearly all of the cleaning, all of the dishes, and probably half of the cooking.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Comcast. I don't want to talk about it. The tale is too depressing. Let's just say we have a satellite right now, and would gladly change our internet provider if we could find someone else.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Bills. Boring answer, I know. If you mean discretionary spending, I spent more than I care to admit at Starbucks. Caffeine has become even more of an addiction this year.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Henry! We also got excited every time Nick went in the potty. We'll be even more excited when he goes on a regular basis.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Adele's Someone Like You. Nick and I like to sing along to that one.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder? Happier, definitely.
thinner or fatter? thinner, but then again, I was pregnant last year.
richer or poorer? Poorer! Daycare costs are killing us.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Playing with my kids. Not that I didn't play with them, but I wish I could have spent more time with them overall.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Working. Between my full-time teaching job, the adjunct position at the university, freelance writing of college textbook chapters, and tutoring, I worked too much. Hopefully next year that won't be as necessary.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Click back a few posts and you'll see. We spent it in a sea of wrapping paper and little kid joy.  :)

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Yup. With Henry, my littler man. Greg and Nick already had me.

22. What was your favorite tv program?
I actually didn't watch much tv this year. We watch The Daily Show, if that counts. I love Glee, Modern Family, and documentaries, but I haven't had time to get caught up on tv shows at all.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Not a person, no. But I do hate Comcast.

24. What was the best book you read?
The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Adele. I love her voice.

26. What did you really want and get? My Nook. I dropped HUGE hints on that one.

27. What did you really want and not get? A minivan or SUV. It's so hard to find space with two kids in the backseat.

28. What was your favorite film this year? The King's Speech. It was also one of the only films we saw. We had a baby, you know.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 33, and went to my mom's house for cake. We also went to the store to buy my Nook.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A real vacation. I'd love to fly somewhere on a plane and have a real vacation.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? After I had Henry, I went out and bought ten pairs of dark wash jeans that are nice enough for work. I'm much more comfortable that way, and they look better on me than dress pants.

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Santa Visits

Nick really understood about Santa coming this year. He was super-excited when he went to sleep on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning at our house was full of joy. . . as well as plenty of plastic packaging and cardboard.

Nick's 2011 haul from Santa included a "Cars" rug  with roads to drive on and a set of the character cars, a set of Lincoln Logs, a wooden fruit-cutting kit, and a set of lacing beads.

Santa must have thought Henry was a very good boy as well, at least for the six months he has spent with us. Santa brought him a penguin to knock over. He has balls inside of him, and he sings and taunts you until you whack him good. Henry loves him, but I think Nick likes Mr. Penguin just as much. Santa also brought him baby cookies, several teething toys, a toy airplane that vibrates and has a propeller that spins, and keys to chew on that make realistic car noises (so realistic  that you'd think he has a baby BMW or something). Henry now has three or four sets of keys, which is excellent, because he's always losing a set. He takes after his mommy.

Nick loved eating candy before breakfast. I'll admit that I stole a few pieces myself.

Christmas morning was very memorable, and I'm so glad Nick will remember it this year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

I want to share some pictures of our Christmas Eve celebration at my mom's house. It was a flurry of wrapping paper, excitement, lots of cookies, and joy all around. Henry was very excited about the ribbons and wrapping paper. Nick stacked presents in a nice tower.

This was Henry's first Christmas. Six months is a good age. He was awake the whole time and helped pull on wrapping paper. Henry also drooled on everything and smiled a whole lot.

Nick loved his presents, but he liked Henry's presents, too. I think he got double the fun this year. This ball was Henry's present, but Nick loved playing with it, too.

I love Christmastime. It is so much fun to watch the kids having fun.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

My boys are loving this whole Christmas thing. Our four-day Christmas extravaganza began yesterday and will continue until Tuesday. We started things off by exchanging our family gifts.

For Christmas, since Santa usually brings toys, I've decided to start a tradition of buying books as presents. Greg and I bought the boys books for Christmas, and since they were the first Christmas presents of the year, Nick absolutely loved them. He was especially excited about the Shel Silverstein book, Every Thing On It.

Henry got a cute board book called Otis. I think he cared more about the wrapping paper, though--he kept trying to eat it. Henry has also been drooling all over the place, and the combination of baby drool and wrapping paper means that when I got into bed last night, damp wrapping paper stuck to my leg.

Greg received his real Christmas present early this year: a new TV and DVD player for the living room. The boys bought him new pajamas and slippers, too. They bought me a book light for my Nook. I guess you'd call it a Nook Light. I keep waking up my husband by reading under the covers with a a giant mag-light flashlight. This light is far less annoying.

I think my husband felt the need to impress with my Christmas present this year. He followed the rule that says you can never go wrong with jewelry. The picture below is the only one where you can kind of see my beautiful new necklace.

Here's a closer view:

I think he did well.  :)

I will write more tomorrow about our multiple celebrations. I promise lots of cute pictures, plenty of Nick smiles, and oodles of Henry drool.

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you are enjoying this special time with family. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookie Baking 2011

Every year, my sister and I get together at my mom's house to bake cookies. This year, Nick was able to "help*." He even wore an apron and a hat for the occasion.

*For anyone receiving cookies this year, let me just say that while Nick did indeed make cookies, none of those cookies were given as gifts. Most of them looked exactly like what they were: cookies made by a three-year-old.

Nick also got to use the cookie shooter to make butter cookies. I had been telling him all about this cookie shooter during the car ride up, and he was absolutely enthralled with the idea of a special shooter that shoots delicious cookies. I suppose that would be a little boy's dream.

Meanwhile, Henry tried his first few cookies. He still doesn't have any teeth, but he gave it his all and ate a few.

The verdict? He liked them. A whole lot.

We worked really hard all day, and our end result was a ton of cookies and candy. I think we worked hard enough to negate any calories from all of the cookies we tasted. Because, of course, if a cookie breaks, you can't just leave it there. We had to do taste testing, just to make sure everything turned out okay, you understand.

I love baking Christmas cookies. Unfortunately, they're mostly gone now, so it looks like Nick and I will be making more cookies tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Very Determined Henry

This boy really wanted to play with the bells. I can understand why Henry was so interested. These bells are colorful, and they make a neat sound when you shake them.

I kept frustrating him by putting them just outside of his reach, but every time, Henry figured out how to scoot close enough to grab them.

This locomotion thing is pretty cool, isn't it Henry? I took this video of Henry's triumph over the bells.

Henry is not crawling yet, but he's definitely moving around a lot. Just today, I've seen him roll, scoot, and complete a near-perfect army-crawl. I am very proud of him.   :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

This Little Reindeer is Six Months Old!

I can hardly believe it. My baby had his half-birthday last Friday. Six months ago Henry weighed less than seven pounds. He was over sixteen pounds as of last week.

Henry doesn't seem to mind his reindeer suit, and it keeps him pretty warm. I was trying to take pictures of Henry, and Nick kept inserting himself into the pictures. He likes to be the center of attention. But today is all about Henry and his half-birthday.

Instead of a coat, this reindeer zip-up coat is what I got for Henry this December. Nick had one just like it when he was a baby, but it was in the newborn size, and Henry is definitely not a newborn. In fact, he is just a little bigger than Nick was at the same age. I found this picture of Nick, taken when he was exactly six months old. Do the brothers look alike?

I think Henry's face is slightly less round, and he looks a little more like Greg.

Henry is growing up so fast, and I can't believe how much he has changed in the last six months. Tonight he ate a jar of spinach and potatoes, a bowl of mixed grain cereal with formula, and a few ounces of blueberry-purple carrot baby food. My boy has an appetite.

Goodnight from my little reindeer, and his attention-hogging big brother.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nick learns about money

Last weekend we went to the bank. Greg and I finally opened a joint savings account. We've been married for three and a half years, so I guess it was time.

Anyhow, we brought both boys with us. Nick was extremely energetic and the account manager tried to entertain him with crayons and the like. What really made him excited, though, was this bank.

He did say "Thank you!" to the bank employee when she gave it to him, but then he was confused. "Where's the money?," he asked insistently. We made him earn that when he got home. All day, we gave him checks on his hand, and we counted them up at the end of the day and gave him just that many coins.

I'm pretty sure that Nick doesn't understand the concept of money, yet. But he sure does love that little bank.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Visit to Santa

Nick had his third visit to see Santa this week. For Henry, it was his first visit ever. Both boys seemed pretty happy to meet Santa Claus.

Yup. Both kids actually smiled. I always feel bad when I see those pictures of kids forced to sit in Santa's lap. I can understand why they'd be scared of a portly gentleman in a funny red suit. This tradition does indeed seem a little weird when thought about objectively. In what other culture do we encourage our children to sit on a strange man's lap while we take pictures of the event?

Since my sons do not seem to harbor any fear of the man, however, I will continue our Christmas tradition of taking them to see Santa and tell their wishes. I took Nick in 2009 and 2010, and he smiled both times.

Henry, though pretty happy to pull on Santa's beard, was only able to communicate through drool and baby smiles. Nick was able to give very clear guidelines to Santa Claus about what he wanted in his stocking. "Cars and a block!," he asked politely. "For building. And one of those chocolate candies," he said, pointing at the bin of chocolates next to Santa. (Santa ended up giving Nick two chocolates. Nick is just that persuasive. Perhaps he'll be a lawyer some day.)

It actually was a pretty nice visit to the mall. The day we went, it wasn't crowded at all, so there was no line to worry about. Nick absolutely loved the lights and decorations. His favorite decorations were the strings of lights hanging from the ceiling.

(Nick was pointing to the lights in the picture above.) When he saw the lights, Nick exclaimed, "Mommy, look! Glowworms are up there!" He jumped up and down with excitement. "Are we in the cave?" For a minute, I was totally confused.

"No, honey, we're in the mall," I replied.

"But look at the glowworms!," said Nick insistently. Then I remembered. Since we gained a DVR, I've been recording all of the Planet Earth movies. Nick's favorite is the one about caves. There's a cool and rather gross part in that one where they show glow worms that create sticky strings that glow. The light attracts bugs and when the bugs stick to the strings, the glow worms devour the bugs. This is fascinating to a little boy. Nick always says that the glowworms are having lunch.

Anyhow, I told him that the lights did, in fact, look remarkably like the glow worms. "But those ones up there are just lights," I told him. "No, Mommy. They are glowworms."

I gave up and agreed. "Okay. Fine. They are glowworms."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bubble Wrap

Nick discovers the joys of bubble wrap. Nick is happy. "Pop. Pop. Pop-pop-pop." Shrieks of joy are heard all around.

Nick decides to annoy his daddy with the bubble wrap. Greg looks angry because of the football game, not because of the bubble wrap. At least not yet.

Nick does something that makes him lose the bubble wrap. No more bubble wrap for Nick.

Poor Nick. Don't feel bad for him, though. I am doing most of my Christmas shopping online, so more bubble wrap will probably come in the mail this week. Now he knows what to do with it. Best toy ever.