Sunday, December 30, 2007

What have I gotten myself into??

As promised, it is now "after Christmas," and The Great Room Exchange is underway. To be honest, we've barely begun, but the house is in a state of complete disarray, and I feel the need to take a break, *pause*, and...uh...panic.

Call it what you want, (type A or whatever), but I'm the kind of person who likes things to be in their place. Not to say that my house is always white-glove clean, but I don't like clutter much, and I'd prefer for us to only have in our house what we currently need at this point in time. The rest can be thrown out or given away, because I don't want it taking up precious space. The only problem is that this takes a great deal of organization and work. And frankly, I'm pregnant, I have a toddler, and I'm tired.

Right now Brian is cleaning out the small bedroom that has been his office since he bought this house in 2001. You can imagine what this means, especially for an IT guy. The closet is spewing cables, printers, laptops, keyboards, hard drives, out of date computer books, floppy disks and CD-Rom's from who knows when. Not to mention all the file cabinets that haven't been purged in 7 years. So while he's keeping busy in there, I'm feeling the need to reorganize in other areas of the house to make room. My own desk space in the attic could use some rearranging, I need to organize and store Katy's old clothes to make room for little boy clothes, and in the midst of this, I've convinced myself that we've gotta do something about the main bathroom (something = new floors, new sink, accessories, and possibly paint). I also realized while closet-digging that I started a scrapbook of Katy's "first year" and didn't get very far. *deep breath* The trick is talking myself out of the mantra repeating itself in my head: "All of this MUST be done before New Baby arrives."

This is reminding me of the advantage of moving every year. Between graduating high school and getting married, I had 14 different mailing addresses (in 10 years). While it was a pain to move that often, of course, (it always seemed necessary, though now I'm not sure why), the greatest thing was the annual purge of everything you owned. I only kept what I needed, because I certainly didn't want to move anything extra. And my papers, books, music, and clothes were sorted through annually, too, and the extras gotten rid of. Now I've lived here for 2 and a half years, and Brian for 7, and we've managed to accumulate some stuff. Ugh.

But the one thing getting me through all of this work is how great it will be when it's all done. I can't wait to post before-and-afters, and be able enjoy the sight of organized closets. And it will get done, one way or another. But for your sake, I hope you don't have to come to my house anytime soon, because eeesh...what a mess.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Five days of Christmas

I know that Christmas is more fun and special when you have kids, but I think I only really just got a taste of what that means. We just finished five days of celebrating with our families, and I can't imagine how Katy could have enjoyed it one bit more. Of course, she had no idea what was coming and didn't completely understand the concept of the presents, but she enjoyed having so much family around, and she absolutely loved every single present she received. Here are the highlights, in photo:

I think almost every member of the family, including New Baby, got Buckeye gear in some form.

Katy liked to pass out the presents, and then help the person "uh-pin" it.

For the past few years, I've made everyone pose for a group photo at each place we celebrate. Sometimes there's a little resistance, but I always tell them they'll thank me later. And I think it's nice to have these pictures. This is at my Dad's house, our first stop.

Katy and cousin Gabe had a blast on their new ride-on toys from Great Granny. Uncle Neil even raced them across the living room, to which they replied, "more! more!"

This group of my mom's family has gotten together on Christmas Eve since I was born. We've added some spouses and some babies, and the location has changed, but it still has the same feel. Christmas wouldn't be complete without it.

Katy got a lot of new books for Christmas, and she had a lot of people available to read to her. As a matter of fact, she had a lot of people to entertain her in general, which is a nice break for me. Of course, she still checks in with a whiny, "Mommy, up!" quite frequently, but I don't mind that. :)

Christmas PJ's and a new rocking chair from Oma. There's no better way to enjoy your "nilk."

We've been seeing alot of this face lately, and I'm not sure what to think of it.

Back at home for Christmas morning, these stocking stuffers, which cost all of 75 cents, were among Katy's favorite gifts.

Another big hit from Grammy and Papa John. She's already leaving tracks on the floor from the kitchen to the living room.

This was the big finale of Christmas morning (even though we got this for free - shhhhh). She was soooooo excited to see this, moving dishes and pots and food from sink to shelf to microwave, etc.

Here's the crew who joined us for Christmas at our home. They were all brave enough to have Christmas dinner here, and we managed to fit around our table and everything. It was really such a nice day.

Finally, we went to see Katy's cousins for the day today (and of course, our brother and sister-in law, too.) More excitement, more playing, more food, more good conversation.

One more family photo. Strange to think that next year these photos will include another little guy. What will he do with all these girls?

I hope your Christmas was also enjoyable. Brian and I are collapsed on the couch, thankful for a few days to recover and come out from under the cookies and open boxes. We're feeling pretty thankful in general, because I think Christmas will only get better as the kids (weird to say that) get older.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dancing with Toddlers

We haven't listened to our Ralph's World CD in a while, so today we pulled it out. While Mom was taking a shower, Aunt Mel taught Katy what it truly means to "dance around the room," which reinforced Katy's new interest in actions songs from storytime. This was too cute for Brian to pass up...

And today she's 19 months on the 19th. Does that count as a golden birthday?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Santa and the world we live in

Considering Katy's recent extreme stranger anxiety, I knew that getting a picture of her with Santa would be a challenge. And although I didn't want to cause undue emotional harm to my child, I also really didn't want to skip a year. My mom has a picture of me as a kid every year with Santa, and I remember enjoying looking at them when I got older. Besides, crying Santa pictures are a rite of passage, right?

Well, in preparation, I had taken Katy twice to observe Santa from a distance: "Look! There's Santa! Doesn't he look like a nice guy? Look at all those kids sitting on his lap! Wouldn't you like to sit on his lap?" She was quietly respectful and somewhat interested. But actually approaching Santa - let alone sitting on his lap - that's a different story. So I guess I wimped out. I couldn't hand her over to a stranger and make her scream, so this is the best I could do:

At least the bench was large enough to accommodate the three of them...

I suppose for future reference I could do some creative cropping...


So the past few days have been somewhat stressful and dramatic. My sister Melanie is on break from school, but decided to stay in town for a while to work. She lives fairly close by in a house with 5 other girls. All these girls were leaving to go home, so Mel came to crash at our house rather than stay over there by herself. And good thing she did... within 48 hours of them leaving for break, someone broke into their house and completely ransacked the place. I've never heard of such a break in. They clearly knew the girls were gone for break, because they must've been there for hours. They were very selective in what they took. Only the best printers, the highest quality brand computer, clothes from the taller girls, etc. They searched every drawer to find the valuables. The only thing they weren't selective about was underwear - every pair of that was gone. Mel lost not only her computer, but something much scarier - her lock box that included her SSN card, birth certificate, and passport. Umm...hello? Can you imagine the headache that is associated with replacing these items - without the others? Not only that, but I had no idea all the security freezes and fraud alerts that needed to be put into place when you lose items like these today. Not exactly what you want to be dealing with the week before Christmas.

But what I don't understand the most is...who?...I mean...WHO does this kind of thing? I just cannot imagine the circumstances of life that lead a person to do this to another human being. Complete disregard for another person for my own gain. I just. don't. get it. I feel really sad about the whole thing. I feel that it's a reflection of how broken the world is, how messed up we are. And it makes me angry that we have to be scared of this kind of thing. A family should be able to feel safe. It just isn't fair. Of course, this could lead to a huge philosophical debate about our rights as humans, etc., but really I'm just blowing off steam.

So Melanie's ok. She's safe, not hurt, and doing everything she can to put the pieces back together. But it's upsetting. It'll take a while to move past this one.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Cookie Smorgasbord

Some of the ladies in my life group had the idea of getting together to make a whole bunch of Christmas cookies, and then assembling them in pretty boxes so we'd have nice gifties to give to neighbors and bosses and the like. So we tackled the task, and I was AMAZED at the results. We made SO much and got such cute boxes made up, and it didn't seem much like work at all. (Notice Beth sporting my old Bob Evans apron. *tear*) Mmmm... I don't know about you, but I would like to get one of these...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bring it on!!

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is the Christmas cards. Everyday in December (and even into the first part of January for some), I look expectantly into the mailbox to see who may have sent a Christmas greeting today. Many days there may be one, but today I got THREE!!! It was a good day.

I get especially excited when there is a picture or a letter. It's like an annual blog entry on paper (imagine that). My refrigerator is filled with pictures of family and friends, most of them are ones that I receive in Christmas cards. So the other day, I swept that white surface clean in order to have a fresh canvas for all the updated pictures that are gradually arriving. So there is a spot on my refrigerator for you and your family...bring on the Christmas cards!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Learn from my mistake - just go to Target

If you are one of the people who will recieve a Christmas gift from us this year, you will partially have my mother-in-law to thank for it. This weekend she came into town to visit, and what did we do? We left her with Katy for hours on end so we could get some Christmas shopping done. It was very much needed and appreciated. But she and Katy had some good bonding time, and Katy is now calling her something that sounds like "Grammy." She has been learning peoples' names left and right these days. She knows most of our family members, the neighbor up the street, and 2 of the kids in her playgroup. (Weed, she pointed to your Christmas card today and said your daughter's name). It blows my mind. And today we ran into one of the kids from playgroup at the library, so completely out of context, but as soon as she saw him she cried, "White!!" (His name is Wyatt, but I'm pretty sure that's what she means).

So anyway, while we were shopping I learned an important lesson. We went to Toys R' Us to buy for Katy and the other kids in our family, and we found what we needed, fought the crowds, and left. Then we headed to Target to look for stocking stuffers, among other things. While we were there, we decided to look and see if they had the same toys we had just purchased at Toys R' Us (this is always a bad idea, right?). Well they did. For about 30 - 40% less. I don't know if it was just the particular toys we had purchased, but I was shocked. I know I've compared prices before and did not find this same statistic. So this was a drastic enough difference that we proceeded to buy everything we had just purchased from Toys R' Us again at Target, and then go back and return the items to TRU. While I was slightly annoyed that we hadn't just gone to Target in the first place, I was also really glad that we checked and ended up saving money in the long run.

Grammy also got to experience Katy's swimming lessons. If you don't have a child under 5, you might be surprised to hear that they offer swim lessons for kids Katy's age, but OH yes. Once your kid is 6 months old, you can sign up for not only swim lessons, but storytime, Gymboree, Wee Joy Sing, and Baby Sign class. These kids have busier schedules than some adults! But we decided to attempt the swim lessons because I didn't want Katy to go all winter without being in the pool, since she enjoyed it so much this summer. Now that we're about to complete our first session, I think we'll wait awhile before signing up again. They don't really do anything in this class that Brian and I couldn't do on our own - it's pretty much just getting used to the water. But it's been fun.

We also got a visit from cousins Stan, Abby, and Gabe. Katy and Gabe had a blast playing together, and I was impressed with how well they shared with one another. Katy loves having other kids around: too bad her little brother won't come out in a toddler size (too bad for her, I mean, not that I would want that - yikes.)

This video is a pretty good sample of their time together. Katy is quite the kissing bandit these days, but of course she wouldn't do it in front of the camera. I also think it's funny that even though Gabe and Katy can both walk, crawling is the mode of transport of the day.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Snow Bunny

Finally, I did the good mom thing and bundled up with my toddler so she could play in our winter wonderland. Based on her reaction last year, I knew she would love it.

This is one of those times when I am so thankful to have hand-me-downs from my 3 nieces. It would seem quite expensive to buy a snowsuit and snow boots every year for as much as they would get used here, but free ones? Why yes, thank you! I was quite grateful for the Baby Bum snowsuit and the Polly Pocket snow boots.

The funny thing this time was watching her struggle to stay upright. She kept falling, and then even though I know she possesses the motor skills to get back up on her own, she would lay there and say, "hup, hup" (help).

She was also fascinated with all of her toys that had been buried in the snow. (yeah, guess I should've brought those inside for the season, huh?) I gave her the brush that we use on the cars, and she was attempting to brush the snow off of them with little success.

At one point I was brushing the snow off of the van while she played, and I heard her crying in a whiny voice, "boot, boot!" So I looked over and she was holding her boot in one hand, and her little stocking foot was stuck in the snow. It was a pitiful sight. We didn't stay out much longer after that.

Afterward, Aunt Mel came over for lunch, and Katy was begging for the cookies she had spotted on the kitchen counter (Brian and I gave into our sweet tooth last night and broke out the Nestle recipe). After she ate a pretty decent lunch, I let her have one, and she was in sugar-high heaven. Then she crashed and took a nap. Ahhhh....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Well, I'm feeling blog-rested after that month of November, and I'm ready to give it another go. I've been trying to use my time making a dent in the Christmas shopping list, starting to think about sending Christmas cards, and collecting items for the Great Room Exchange. We've completed step 1 (rearrange master bedroom furniture to accommodate Brian's office), and we may have the rest of what we need on the back burner. When it's all finished, I will show you some before-and-afters and fill you in on how it all worked out (because that's just as interesting, right?).

Today we've had our first snowfall of the year. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I heard the reports last night, "2-4 inches tonight and another 1-3 tomorrow." I agree with Kelsey, the weather people here have a tendency to way overestimate snowfall, especially for the first one of the season - it must have something to do with ratings. And after going to college in upstate NY, I'm amazed at how people get all freaky about a couple of inches. But I'm impressed - we actually have maybe 4-6 inches on the ground, and it's kinda pretty. I'm of the "I can't stay in this house all day" mindset, so Katy and I still ventured out to playgroup and to run a couple errands. I'll post pictures if I get her out to play in it...

But for now, a video: I've been trying to capture on film some record of Katy's extensive vocabulary, along with some of her hilarious mispronunciations. But it's really hard to get this, because as soon as she sees the camera the only thing she says is "CHEEEEEESE!!" So I had Brian record her and I looking at a picture book. It's still not exactly what I was hoping for, but maybe in a few years I'll enjoy looking back on this...