Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful New Year! We had a nice time visiting with Grace and her mommy and daddy and friends today. Grace is just a little older than Vanessa, and playing with her makes my mind so boggled to realize all the language and reasoning that Vanessa will acquire in just the next few months.

And we've really enjoyed having Brian and Joanna and their dog Kyra staying with us for a little while. Vanessa will be so sad not to see Kyra tomorrow morning when she wakes up.

I also think Vanessa is sad to learn that today is the first day of 2009, because she just recently learned that the year was 2008! Oh well, she'll adjust soon enough. Time flies, Vanessa, and even more so for your parents!

Here are some pictures from our very busy Christmas. Our families were kind enough to come to us this year, so we didn't need to travel anywhere.

Here are the stockings that James hung by the chimney with care. My grandmother ("Oma")Phyllis made the three on the right, new to us this year, but James's is from when he was a little kid. I'm so excited about our new stockings. Aren't they beautiful?

This is probably the only year that Elizabeth will let me open her stocking!

Vanessa had a great time opening her stocking. I think Santa put just the right number of gifts and snacks inside.

I wasn't sure if Elizabeth would enjoy unwrapping gifts, but she definitely was excited about tissue paper! Noisy and easy to grab! Here she's getting some new bath books from her Grandma Lou, which she has already decided fit her taste in literature (yum!).

We saw a little bit of sibling rivalry this Christmas. I guess it was just a matter of time until Elizabeth got a toy that Vanessa really wanted for herself!

I love that we've needed to use the dining table so much just to accommodate all the family members we've had over! Vanessa is enjoying one of the bagels that Grampa brought for Christmas breakfast.

Vanessa just loved all the Christmas trees on Nana's sweater (it probably helps that Vanessa loves Nana so much!). Oh, that's one more thing that Vanessa will really miss when we have the time to take it down -- the Christmas tree.

Here Vanessa is having a rare moment of sitting still on Christmas. Grampa's lap is a cozy place to take a little rest. Most of the day, Vanessa was running around, opening everyone's presents, and generally pouncing on Kyra!

Elizabeth has been just, well, really pleasant lately! Smiley and cuddly. Here she is having a wonderful time with her Nana.

And Elizabeth just loves to hang out with her buddy Grampa.

Thanks, Kalena, for getting Vanessa some beautiful blue clothes! I think it's helping to have some new clothes (especially blue ones) to encourage Vanessa to get dressed in the morning.

Vanessa loves her new blue blanket from her Nana. She pretty much won't let anyone else cuddle with it.

Exept Kyra, that is. But Kyra holds a very special place in Vanessa's heart! Kyra does, after all, let Vanessa sit on her!

Vanessa also loves to give Kyra big hugs!
I think that Elizabeth likes Kyra too. It's kind of tricky to tell because she squints her eyes when Kyra licks her all over her face, but she doesn't cry, and she looks around to see where Kyra is. I'm not sure, but she might have actually signed "dog." In any case, though, Elizabeth does love Uncle Brian, that's not so hard to figure out!

Uncle Zak is always lots of fun to have around. Vanessa loved playing with him.

Uncle Zak also wrapped Vanessa's present in about 25 feet of brown paper! It was so funny to see Vanessa unrolling and unrolling it to finally find the present.

Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry are always great fun to have over. I can't say enough how spoiled we are to have them so nearby.

Well, so Vanessa would rather run around than pose for a picture with her family, I guess! I suppose it takes a lap like Grampa's to entice her to sit still!

Grandma was a tremendous help to me around Christmas. We had some very mild weather and the girls could swing and play outside. Vanessa LOVES swinging, and I usually cause a tantrum when I tell her that swinging time is over and it's time to go inside, but Grandma negotiated the transition perfectly. I guess Grandma just has a special way about her! Vanessa and Elizabeth love their Grandma so much!

And Grandma spent some time helping Elizabeth play the piano. It wasn't so long ago when Grandma was helping Vanessa have some of her first experiences with the piano.

Elizabeth has made some big strides in development over the past week or so. She is mastering grasping and eating Cheerios and she'll walk all over the house holding onto my hands.

Vanessa is making some developmental strides of her own. I was wondering if Vanessa had a "block" against stacking (pardon the pun), because she never wanted to stack blocks if they didn't match the color of the other blocks in the stack, and we never seemed to have a large number of blocks of all the same color. But, she seems to have overcome that recently and has been doing more stacking.

My good friend Rachael invited Vanessa to be a flower girl in her wedding next summer. When we read about a flower girl in a story recently, I let Vanessa know about those plans. Well, Vanessa wanted to practice! So we dressed up and marched all over the house.

Vanessa's been trying to make letters and even simple words lately. Here she wrote "Hi." She's also been doing a great job reading, and she can read most of the words that she knows how to say.

So, if you were wondering what kind of trouble a two-year-old could get into while her mom was on the phone for ten minutes... (Yes, those are Nerf darts stuck on Elizabeth's fingers, and two pairs of socks on her head.) I'm just surprised Elizabeth slept through this!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas everyone! Here are a few pictures I took of our girls being adorable in their holiday outfits. Getting two little girls to smile and look in the same direction is sort of like trying to get a picture of a shooting star and a UFO in the same shot (I won't say which was the UFO).

I very much enjoy the Christmas season, especially the part about seeing so much of my family.
Of course, there are some parts of winter I could do without. We've battled colds and ear infections all season so far, and last night James and I had our first experience of being up all night helping Vanessa while she hardly slept due to needing to throw up every hour or so. Sometimes I lose sight of how remarkable it is that both girls, although having mild infections of one kind or another, have really been pretty healthy so far.
Healthy, and so loving of one another! That's all I could wish for them.

Monday, December 15, 2008

'Tis the season

So, you might wonder why, if I have a final exam tomorrow evening, I am staying up to work on the blog instead of studying. Well, besides the obvious procrastination answer, I figure, if I have pictures from three holiday seasons (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), I am really falling behind on the blog! And really, which is more important, school or blog? There you have it.

So I didn't get a picture of Elizabeth wearing her duck costume before Halloween, so here is a reenactment of a pre-Halloween moment. Vanessa still talks about how Elizabeth was a duck for Halloween (she even mentioned it today as a matter of fact), so I figured I should document how cute Elizabeth was! Vanessa of course had to be in her Tigger costume and pose for the picture too.

Vanessa is learning how to be such a good big sister now. She usually remembers to give Elizabeth something before taking away a toy that Vanessa wanted. It used to be that Elizabeth was in danger if she started crying, because Vanessa wouldn't know how to help her feel better and would try "burping" her very roughly, sometimes in her face! Now Vanessa will sing to Elizabeth or bring her a toy. And Vanessa knows that she should use "small burps" and "small hugs" for her small sister.

I meant to get a picture of James feeding Elizabeth, but she just seems to feed herself nowadays. Well, at least James was reloading her spoon for her.

Elizabeth actually ploofs us sometimes! (Some people call a ploof a zerbert I guess, but I like the word ploof much better.) She may have been trying to eat her daddy's belly button in this picture, though, not sure.

Vanessa did a great job of helping her Grampa rake some leaves over at Nana's and Grampa's house. We spent the night over there before Thanksgiving. Vanessa's bedtime always ends up a little later if there is anything different about her bedtime routine, but at least she is familiar with Nana's and Grampa's house.

Of course, one of the reasons she would rather stay up and play is Kyra. Have I mentioned how much Vanessa loves that dog? James caught a pretty cool action shot of Vanessa throwing Kyra's orange bat. Vanessa was so excited about playing fetch with Kyra!

Aw.... so gentle.

I neglected to bring my camera the first time Elizabeth met her Aunt Kalena and Uncle John, but I had my camera for their second meeting! Elizabeth seemed to be quite comfortable with her aunt and uncle!

And Elizabeth and Uncle Brian are starting to be good friends, I think!

Grampa and Elizabeth, as I mentioned before, seem to have a special bond. I think it might be that they both like being mellow and listening to music.

Here is Elizabeth's six-month photo of her with her special toy bunny. Elizabeth was 17 pounds, 26 1/2 inches at her six-month check-up. She's pretty big for her age. She outgrew most of her nine-month-old clothes before I even knew she was ready for them. Elizabeth is pretty stable at sitting up by herself, she stands holding onto my hands, and she is almost able to put Cheerios in her mouth. She's doing just great!

And you guessed it, if Elizabeth was going to get a picture taken, well, Vanessa was going to be in the picture too! Also holding a bunny, of course.

Here's Vanessa's 27-month picture with Miss Dee.

And another picture from the photo shoot that I thought was cute.

Elizabeth saw her first snow. (And Vanessa threw her first snowball the next day, with a little help from Nana.) The snow came just around bedtime, so we just stayed inside and marveled at it for a while.

See Daddy over there, Elizabeth? He was taking your picture while you weren't looking!

Vanessa's old enough now to hang ornaments on the tree, with a little help from me or Nana. I remember last Christmas, Vanessa was so excited about the colors of lights on the Christmas tree, she learned all of her colors. This Christmas season, every morning when she comes in the living room she shouts, "Christmas tree! Christmas tree!" and jumps up and down, smiling! Now she not only knows colors, but she has assigned them to people with a certainty that defies objection. Vanessa's favorite color is blue, Daddy's is red, and mine is green, so any objects she finds around the house are immediately classified to an owner according to color. Word to the wise, don't let Vanessa know what your favorite color is, unless you want a lapful of small objects!

Elizabeth has been getting her first tooth! I think her persistent cough is related to teething. The cough makes it hard for her to get enough sleep at naptime. One evening while preparing dinner, I heard bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, and then silence. Poor dear, all bounced out.

Vanessa is learning how to make tortillas in this picture. I think she's been getting some rolling and cutting skills at school. The other day while I was cooking dinner, Vanessa moved a chair to a kitchen counter, opened a pencil box that I thought was out of reach, removed a pair of scissors and some paper from it, and proceeded to start cutting (which I've never seen her do with one hand before!). I watched her do all of these things, thinking that it was keeping her busy while I didn't have time to entertain her, but it really got me worried about toddler-proofing my house to the next degree. I've done some work getting more things out of reach, but it does seem like a never-ending battle sometimes!

I think this picture provides its own explanation!

We hosted a Christmas party for some of James's coworkers. Here there are at least three children in the tunnel. The kids also had a blast bouncing on the BOSU's (like exercise balls, but only hemispheres) and playing with the toddler golf sets downstairs. When I went down to see, it was pretty much mayhem, except that even though it was past everyone's bedtime already, everyone was having fun and no one was getting hurt!

The kids built and decorated their own gingerbread houses. Kids seem to be able to do so much with only minimal help from parents.

Here are a couple more of the kids who made some really great gingerbread houses.

It's already been a fun holiday season for us. I can't wait to see how Vanessa and Elizabeth enjoy Christmas morning!