Yes, it is!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas week went well. The beginning of the week was very cold and reached into the single digits. It gradually got warmer leading up to Christmas Day. Jackie had the week off from school this week and she does not return until January 5th. I think she misses school but I have been enjoying this time with her. A couple of days before Christmas, Jackie experienced her first date with Daddy to do a little bit of Christmas shopping. I think Jackie really enjoyed that time with her daddy as she came home and excitedly told me that she got me a surprise. She was so excited about picking out this surprise. We went to church on Christmas Eve where we enjoyed music and listened to scripture reading. After church, we came home and allowed Ben and Jackie to open one present. Jackie received a doctor set from "aunt" Pam and Ben got a toy truck.
Then it was bedtime for the kids so Santa could pay a visit. After eating breakfast on Christmas morning, we gathered in the living room to open presents. Jackie really got into it and when she opened all of her presents, she asked for more. She just loves to unwrap things. She even "helped" Ben open all of his presents. Jackie was treated very well by Santa this year with a Leapster 2, AquaDoodle mat, games, puzzles, a camera, and more. Ben was also treated well with a Busy Ball-tivity Center, more toy trucks and cars, his first footballs. Tim did well, too, with receiving a new motorcycle helmet, Zune MP3 player, the Civil War dvd series by Ken Burns, and a few other things. Tim's mom got him a really nice down pillow. I got a Wii from Tim and my surprise from Jackie ended up being a butterfly necklace. Ben was a little overwhelmed by all the activity but he seemed to enjoy his new toys. Jackie is really enjoying her Leapster. Thank you to "aunt" Pam and to Grandma Stewart for your presents to Jackie and Ben. The day after Christmas, I went shopping for a couple of hours with my friend but we really did not find deals that we considered worthwhile. The weather warmed up quite a bit and Tim went dirt-biking after I came home from shopping. We did eventually get some rain. Today brought even warmer weather, high 60s. But it rained and stormed all day long. I had volunteered to make chili for the homeless ministry that our church helps with and just before I was to leave to take it to the church, the tornado alarms started going off and tornado warnings showed up on the news. Tornados in the middle of winter? Imagine that?! Crazy. I did venture out, though, to take the chili to the church and by the time I made it back home, the tornado warnings were over. It is still raining hard, though. I hope the weather does not get too cold again this coming week so I can do something with the kids. Since Jackie is off from school for another week, I would like to get out somewhere with them. I should also use this week to get our house back in order. Wow, I did not realize that Christmas with 2 kids can wreck a house up. Ughhh!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santaphobia

I took Ben to playgroup on Wednesday where Santa was scheduled to pay a visit. All was well until Santa walked in the door. I was holding Ben and as Santa came closer, I noticed Ben's lower lip gradually start to pucker out until he finally broke out with a fearful cry. Santa sat down and I moved closer to him so that Ben could watch the other kids sit in Santa's lap with the hope that Ben would become less afraid. He watched, but not with cheer. I finally said, "Let's go see Santa, Ben" and I sat Ben in Santa's lap. As you can see, Ben was not happy. But we got a picture for the memory book. After Santa was done visiting the playgroup, he walked with me over to Jackie's classroom where the kids greeted Santa with glee. Except for a couple of the kids, Jackie being one of them. She saw me and whimpered. After seeing the other kids become so excited about Santa's presence, Jackie did start to warm up to him and out of the corner of my eye, I caught her stroking the fur around the bottom of his suit sleeve. Cute! Santa wanted to read a book to the class and Jackie chose one for him to read. By the end of his visit, Jackie shook his hand but she still cautiously kept a little distance between her body and his. She has gotten so much better this year, thank God. I have had some embarrassing moments with her in regard to characters. I was reminded of an incident that happened last year which I will share in a moment.
I have yet to get a picture of Jackie sitting in Santa's lap, crying or not. I do have a picture of her with Mrs. Claus holding Jackie and they're standing behind Santa. There was no crying but Jackie was eyeing Santa with the evil eye of hers. Fast forward another year when she was two years old. We took the Metrolink over to the St. Louis USO where they set up for a Christmas function for the military children. So all was well until we started walking toward the back of a room where Ronald McDonald was sitting. Jackie saw him and started pointing and giggling and she gave me no indication of any fear whatsoever. As we got a little closer, Ronald started to speak and that is where the trauma began. Jackie screamed bloody murder and all eyes turned toward me. Jackie was choking me and trying to claw her way into me. Poor Ronald fumbled with the little toy he was going to hand to Jackie and I profusely apologized and then Ronald tossed the toy to me to give to Jackie. Jackie was having none of it. We quickly ducked out there. When it was time to see Santa, I thought since he did not have all that face paint, Jackie would be okay there. Well, all was not well there either. And all was not well until recently. If we were out in public and Jackie saw anybody even resembling Santa, she screamed. If we walked into a McDonald's that had a Ronald figure, she screamed and would not walk past it. The most embarrassing incident happened last year when I went to have my fingerprints taken for a teaching job. As my fingerprints were being taken, Jackie was standing next to me. All of a sudden, I heard her scream and she ran from me and backed herself into a corner. I looked up and there was a man who did look very much like Santa; hair, belly, and all. For a moment, Jackie stopped screaming but she was frozen and she still had that look of terror on her face. Then she started to scream again. I started to apologize profusely and he said to not worry and that it was not the first time and then he quickly left the room. A couple of the female employees brought candy to Jackie to try to help me calm her but she was not going to budge from that corner. It was not until we finally got out the door that I realized why Jackie stopped screaming for a moment. It appears that this Santa look-alike literally scared the mess out of her. It has only been recently that Jackie has become less afraid although still cautious. So I promised that I would get her one. Well, she does not forget anything. If you say you're going to do something, you better carry it out. So, yesterday afternoon (Thursday), as soon as she got home from school, the first words out of her mouth were "Where's my Santa hat." She absolutely loves it and wore it to school this morning where she wore it the entire time. It does look cute on her.
On Wednesday evening, all of us went with a group from church to sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home. It was so touching to see how much the residents enjoyed the music. A couple of people in our group were wearing Santa hats and Jackie insisted that she wanted one.
I baked most of the day yesterday to give baked goods to Jackie's teachers, therapists, and a couple of friends. Jackie made picture frames for her teacher and her assistant and she also made bookmarks for them as well as her therapists at school. She did a wonderful job on them. Jackie had a Christmas party at school today and she brought Christmas cupcakes and cookies to share. There were little games set up with a Christmas theme and all the kids excitedly opened their presents from their teacher. Thank you, Mrs. Wafer and Ms. Lisa, for the cute book and the candy. Jackie also brought home her ornaments that she made in class.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy Weekend

Wow, what a busy few days this past week. My mother-in-law came into town last Wednesday and as cold as it was here, we still managed to get out and do a few things. Jackie thoroughly enjoyed having her grandma here to visit. I think Jackie wore Grandma out.
Thursday afternoon, we had our family pictures done. I made the appointment to have Ben's 1-year photo, Jackie's 4-year photo, and then our family photo. I was not very pleased with our photographer and we did not get any good family pictures. And Jackie was having a little attitude problem during the family photo session and refused to smile. Finally, during the birthday photo session, Jackie cooperated and we got some really nice shots. My favorite one is of Jackie and Ben lying head to head. I think it is so precious. Last Saturday, Tim took all of us to Springfield, Illinois to go see Abraham Lincoln's house. That was so neat. As I walked through each of the rooms, I could not help but imagine the Lincoln family going about their daily routine.There is 4-block area of houses and other buildings that is part of the tour but it was so windy that we did just a part of it because Jackie kept fussing about the wind. From there, we tried to find the Executive mansion. We kept seeing signs pointing the way but we never found the house. Oh, well. Hopefully, it will be vacant soon of our corrupt governor. We went to a pizza shop called Gallina's. I met a friendLora, there with her husband and almost 1-year son. It was nice to catch up. Then from there, we went to the Lincoln museum. Now that was awesome. I am so not a history buff but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tim's mom enjoyed the day, too.Sunday night brought ice and some snow. We woke up Monday morning to ice-covered roads and cars. School was cancelled. Tim took his mom to the mall for some mother-son time while I stayed inside the warm house with the kids. After Tim and his mom came home, Tim's mom put her hair up in rollers. Jackie insisted on having rollers in her hair, too, so Ima put a few in. That did not last long as it soon became somewhat uncomfortable for Jackie. After dinner, Ima took a few pictures of us in front of our tree. That is a nearly impossible task. First, Ima does not really know how to operate a digital camera and then second, neither child would cooperate for the picture. They were looking every else but the camera. If one finally did look at the camera, the other was either crying, going after something, or just plain not looking at the camera. Nobody ever warned me that it is impossible to get good pictures when more than one kid is involved. We woke up this morning to some more snow. Tim took his mother to the airport for her flight to New Hampshire and it was quite treacherous. It took him twice as long as normal to get to the airport. Ima's flight was delayed due to the weather but once they got on the plane to Chicago for the connecting flight, it went more smoothly. In fact, she arrived in New Hampshire a little ahead of schedule. It was a very nice time with Ima and the kids seemed to really enjoy her company. Ben, being quite the momma's boy, took a day or two to get used to his Grandma but by the end of her visit, he was sitting on her lap and letting her old him. Jackie came home from school this afternoon and immediately asked where her grandma was. She already misses Grandma and wants to go to her house soon.
Ben has another tooth. This one is the top left central. I noticed it this morning.
We have a very full day tomorrow. Ben has playgroup after which Jackie has physical therapy. After Jackie's PT appointment, the kids have their well visits in the afternoon. I am anxious to see how much Ben has grown. I will also be getting all of Jackie's specialist referrals updated. After the well visits, Jackie has her dance class. Then we will come home for dinner after which we will be going to a nursing home to sing Christmas carols with a group from church. Jackie loves to sing and she is excited about going to sing. She has been singing Christmas songs for the last several days. It warms my heart to hear her sweet, innocent voice singing. And she is good, too.
Well, it is official. I've been holding off on this announcement until Tim got confirmation of a start date. Tim is starting a new job on January 5th. Unfortunately, he will be starting at a salary that is nearly half of what he is making with his current job. But it is a government job and the opportunities for advancement are better. So for the next year or two, we will be living with a very tight budget. With his retirement income and the new salary, he will be making less than he did with a single income while active duty with the Air Force. It was a very difficult decision to give up his current salary and start out as entry level but in the long run, we are confident that it will pay off with the benefits and opportunities. Government jobs are difficult to obtain but now that Tim has his foot in the door, he will be able to go after better positions in the future. It is exciting, yet nerve-wracking. Exciting because of the potential for moving up but nerve-wracking because of the near-povery salary. But we will make it. I plan on doing something part-time during Jackie's school hours to help make ends meet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ben's First Birthday

We had quite a busy day today, Ben's birthday. I took Jackie to Wendy's for lunch before her physical therapy appointment. Jackie's physical therapist gets a kick out of Ben because Ben is all over the room climbing onto things and trying to do the same stuff his sister has to do for therapy. He just makes himself at home there. From physical therapy, we came home where Ben took a short nap before we had to take Jackie to her dance class. While we were at dance class, Tim went to pick up his mother at the airport in St. Louis. Then we came home to change Jackie into her regular clothes and then we all headed out to eat at O'Charley's. I love their rolls; they are the best. And it is so nice that kids eat free there all the time. So, Ben got his first real kid's meal all to himself. Then we came home for presents and birthday cake. Ben seemed to really enjoy his new toys. We gave him a Fisher-Price Little People circus train ride-on and Grandma Stewart gave Ben a Crayola beginning color set. Thank you Grandma Stewart and thank you cousin Christina for the cute memory book card. Oh, and thank you to my parents for the thoughtful card. It was just a small family affair here with just us and Tim's mother but it was still a fun time for Ben.

Happy Birthday Ben!!

Happy First Birthday my sweet boy. Ben is one year old today. Where did the time go? It passed by so quickly. We have a busy day today. Jackie is off from school this morning and she has physical therapy this afternoon. Then her Grandma Stewart arrives for a few days. Tim is going to pick up his mother while I take Jackie to her dance class. Then afterward, we will celebrate Ben's birthday at a restaurant and then come back home for cake and open presents. I will update with pictures later.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pray Nothing Happens to Me

Please pray that nothing happens to me while my children grow up. Tim needs me in a bad way. He does not tolerate diaper duty or vomit duty well at all. I can probably count on one hand the number of messy diapers he has changed on either of our children. But I can tell you this, he has never cleaned up their vomit. That is solely my job. Okay, last night Jackie was acting like her normal self when she went to bed. Well, at around 10:30, I heard her cough and I recognized that unmistakable sound. So I run to her room and there she is vomiting all over herself and the bed. So I call downstairs for Tim to get me some towels and help me get Jackie into the bathroom. I got Jackie into the bathroom and Tim sat with her until I quickly got the bed stripped of the linens. The comforter and sheets as well as the mattress pad had to be removed. Thankfully, I had the mattress covered with a vinyl protector. I got that removed and then went to get Jackie washed off and dressed with clean pajamas. While I am tending to Jackie, I realized that Tim is sort of pacing around. From previous experience, I knew better than to ask his help with cleaning up so I told him to get lost downstairs. I got Jackie settled back into bed and within a half hour, she was vomiting again. All over the bed and herself again. So, I quickly got Jackie back into the bathroom and then I quickly stripped the bed again. Tim came back upstairs and this time he lost it. I told him to just go and that it would be more helpful to me if he just went back downstairs. There is no way on I was going to take care of 2 vomiting people. It was enough to deal with a child. Sorry but Tim was on his own. I got Jackie cleaned up and changed yet again. This time I had Jackie lay on a bunch of blankets and her pillow in the bathroom. I did not know what else to do. It was a good thing, too, because she vomited again. I pray to God that nothing happens to me because Tim just cannot handle this job. I can see him now. He would just take the entire bed and toss it and start anew. Forget about cleaning. Finally Jackie fell back asleep again and a short time later, Ben started crying. He kept crying so I went to check on him. Since I did not want him to wake everybody up, I picked him up and tried to rock him back to sleep. No such luck. By this time, it is almost 1:00 in the morning. Ben was wide awake and ready to play. He was not going back to bed. So, I gave in and took him into the computer room to play while I finished putting together a package that I had to send out the next morning. After about 45 minutes, I was able to put Ben back into his crib without a problem. For some reason, I guess Ben decided that it was recess time in the middle of the night although he has been sleeping through the night for several months. Hmmm. I finally made it to bed after 2:00. Whew what a night and what a mound of laundry that developed in less than 2 hours. It ended up being 5 loads of laundry of which 2 loads were comforters with one in each load.
The rest of the week went well but it was busy. Tim and I stripped the hideous wallpaper from the master bathroom walls. Tim finished painting it today and it looks so much nicer. Now I am anxious to get the hall bathroom done. That bathroom wallpaper actually looks okay but I just do not like wallpaper and I want it removed. Illinoisans seem to really like their wallpaper here. We saw one house that even had wallpaper on the ceiling. The ceiling!!!
Jackie is excited about Christmas. She keeps saying that Santa is going to bring her presents for her birthday. Her birthday is November 1. Okay Santa, do not forget. Jackie is still asking for a purple camera. Well, I cannot find a purple camera and I sure do hope that she will be happy with the blue one that she is getting on Christmas.
Jackie is also excited about her grandma visiting next week and sleeping in Jackie's bed. Grandma Stewart (for whom Jackie has a very unique pronunciation for) is arriving on Ben's birthday next Wednesday. Jackie is very excited.
Jackie's newest favorite phrase: "What you doing?" It was cute at first. Tim says at least she doesn't say "Why?" Actually, I don't which one is worse.
I got Jackie's hair cut shorter. It really is cute. I took her to a school of cosmetology over in O'Fallon. The girl did a really nice job and the best part is that it cost only $3.00. It is just $7.00 for adults but I don't know if I am brave enough to let a student experiment with my hair.
I just love how my children love each other. Ben adores Jackie and his face just lights up when he sees her. I just love it. I am attaching a couple of videos.