Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quick Carsonisms

Me: Carson! You need to be QUIET!
Carson: Mom, that's just who I am. People NEED TO BE who they are.
Carson, playing with new little kitchen, pretend-sipping a cup:
"Aaaah. This is a good cup of joe."
"Dad, I want Mommy to read books to me. I love mommy, 'cuz she's a girl. I just LUV girls. Love, love, love them. I can't stop thinkin' about 'em."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Crazy blessed--photo log.

Oi! We had a crazy 4 day stretch of Christmas, from the Christmas Eve services to an extended family extravaganza yesterday. It was a marathon of fun, food, family and I feel completely overwhelmed with how blessed we are. The easiest way to demonstrate that is with the piles of presents we came home with, but the most important aspects of those blessings are in the people we celebrated with. People we actually ENJOY spending time with, if you can imagine that. People that live within driving distance of our house and we don't have to fly to visit. People that somehow we are fortunate enough to be related to. Here's a little photo-log of some of the Christmas-y time.
After our "all dressed-up" Christmas Eve photo (see last post) I thought it only fair that I took a "first thing in the morning" photo with all of us in our pj's (and no make-up for me--quite proud of myself for being willing.) I think this is the first year I've remembered to do this.Trent and I set a pretty small budget for each other, but I used some of the money I made designing Christmas cards (for some of you readers! Thanks!) and got a little help from my in-laws so I could give Trent a GPS unit he's been wanting. He's usually the one who sneaks in a surprise gift, so it was fun to be on the giving side of that surprise.
This was THE GIFT of the season. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty bummed to let Santa get the credit for it. (But also? Not once has Carson said "Santa brought me _______." I think when the gift is finally in his hands, he doesn't care where it came from!) It has been a huge hit so far, and he got a few games from other family members to use with it. I like that they are mostly learning games that are perfectly suited for his age level. I haven't had to explain a game to him yet. He is able to figure them out from the verbal instructions. Fun stuff.
Carson was very into getting gifts this year. My friends & family keep reminding me not to be too hard on him (or myself) for him having a case of the Christmas greedies. I know it's age appropriate, but I feel it will be a constant struggle in years to come to keep the focus of Christmas in the right place. Although once the gifts were all open, he stopped focusing on "What am I going to get?" and we did see a calmer, kinder side of him as he shared his toys with his sis, said thank-you, and continued to act excited about them--which is kind of like gratitude for a 4 year old, right?
I made Sydney a sparkly tutu, which, of course, I made her put on right away. I'm rethinking the self-adhesive rhinestones, however, which are un-adhesing and popping up all over the house.
But her favorite gift? $1 sunglasses in her stocking. This was, in my opinion, the best look of the
day. After our morning at home, we headed to the 'berg (that's for you, AJ) to be with fam. Before gifts, Mimi read the Christmas story to the kids. This is Hadessa, basically our adopted cousin. :) She and Carson play fabulously together. Landon was there too, but he didn't make it into this pic. I love Linda's expression in this one. Looks like she's saying "Yup! That's what really happened!" Carson's thinking "I hope I don't get any frankincense or myrrh."
I didn't get any great pics of Carson, but he was showered with gifts--lots of legos, lots of dinosaur stuff, and lots of Leapfrog stuff.
Requisite father/daughter pic. Next to requisite de-icer spray from the stocking.
My FIL has become quite the wine connoisseur! (Yes, I had to look that up to spell correctly.)
Sydney got a new little kitchen, which is a total delight! Of course, I did not think it was a delight when Trent and spent over 2.5 hours assembling it. (Since he will read this, I will confess he started a good 45 minutes before I started helping.) So. Many. Little. Plastic. Pieces. My hands were raw! But now both kids are loving it. All morning today, they've been making food and pouring pretend ketchup into my coffee.
Sydney, too, got so many wonderful gifts, I almost feel bad highlighting only a few! But she did really take to this dolly and baby stroller--once she realized she was not allowed to sit IN it.
Can't exactly remember which gift this was...by the shape it was either my new favorite pink hoodie that I've been wearing for 3 days straight, or my new hat which makes me feel oh-so-trendy-and-young. Pictures to come? Oh, you better believe it. Jess went off-list and totally scored.
Aaaand...lapse 24 hours to the other side of the family. We usually celebrate on Christmas Eve, but Trent had to work, so my family kindly showed their flexibility and we celebrated on the 26th. Didn't get many pics of Auntie Beck, so here she is with my favorite redhead.
Jack the cuz got "Jack" the...uh, not sure what exactly he is, but he is part of the Thomas collection. But seriously, how can you look at anything in this picture other than those adorable curls? I love my nephew so much. Have I mentioned that?
Continuing with the dinosaur theme, Carson got a great set of dinosaur puppets, which have created some very interested puppet shows so far. Also? Been used as silly slippers.
Here Syd is giving a kiss to her new dolly.
Trent got the "go look in the back of the truck" certificate and found a new ladder! He immediately started planning new projects around the house.
But the total star of the week was baby Kaitlyn. We were all donning our hand sani so we could hold her. She was barely 2 weeks old on Christmas day!
Here Uncle Trent is teaching her some pirate moves.
"Aye, matey!"
Here's Jojo with her 2 granddaughters.
Bapaw Roy.
Sydney actually seemed very interested (in a good way) in Katie and wanted to pet her head and give her a few kisses.
Can't wait to get a pic of these two in their tutus!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Glory to the newborn King! Much love to all our friends & family today as we celebrate Jesus' birthday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I love traditions! Maybe because I come from a sappy, sentimental, love-dovey family--and I wouldn't have it any other way! I love that my dad prays before we open gifts, that my mom makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast and minestrone soup for lunch. I love how when anyone in my family gets a BIG gift, they are actually given a tiny little box with a message that says "Go look in the garage!" or something like that. I love how I now experience traditions from my side of the family as well as the Tompkins' side.
We're at a great point in our family where the kids are young enough that we can easily begin traditions in our home that we want to continue for years. Some of you may remember last year that we began a tradition of counting down to Christmas with our very own advent calendar. I strung this garland and added 25 little boxes. Each day, we take out a piece of paper that tells us something we're going to do as a family that day. We haven't been quite as intentional this time as last year (sometimes Trent and I decide that afternoon what our evening activity will be) and we missed several days when we were on vacation, but for the most part we are sticking with it. Here's a close-up of the little boxes.
One classic is hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles.
It's a big hit.
We started a new tradition within the tradition: each year I've tried to buy the kids a Hallmark ornament representing something about their stage in life. Last year Sydney got a Baby's first ornament and Carson got Buzz Lightyear. (The year before he got Elmo.) This year, instead of just giving him his ornament (Bolt--the dog from the Disney movie) I set up a treasure hunt around the house with clues. The "treasure" at the end was his and Sydney's new ornament. It was easy to do and fun for Carson, so I definitely plan to do it again. Here he is posing his dirty little hand with the ornament. :)
Another wonderful tradition we are apart of is with Trent's mom, Linda. Each year in December, she takes each of her 4 grown children and 2 daughters-in-law out to lunch--individually--to spend some quality time and ask how she can pray for us in the coming year. There have been a few years when one kid or another can't make it work into the schedule, but she is consistent in asking and in praying. She brings her notebook of last year's requests and finds out how the Lord has answered those prayers. Since having my own kids, this tradition has impacted me even more greatly, and --surprise!--brought me to sentimental tears the last few years. I'm so blessed to have married into such a godly family, and this is one tradition that I can't wait to start when my children are older.
What are your favorite traditions? I may want to borrow them. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Toddlerville, population: CRAZY

Oh, my sweet little bird. She still melts my heart a dozen times a day. She can be such a snuggler, and such a little tease. She loves to play games with us and make faces, and she is just getting into wanting to have books read to her. Of course, as soon as she crawls up in your lap and you open the first page, she slams the cover back down and slides back down to the floor. I heard a quote (TV? Movie? Someone help me out.) once where someone says "Your mood swings are giving me whiplash!" That's how I feel with Sydney! One minute she'll be all sweet and coy and giggly, and the next she'll be shrieking her "SOMETHING IS NOT GOING THE WAY I WANT!" shriek and through my bleeding ears I'm left helpless to figure out how to remedy the situation. Really, her 6-7 words of sign-language and dissatisfied grunts are not getting us very far. I can tell we're both frustrated. The week after we got back from vacation was especially exhausting. This is what I saw for MUCH of every day:
And I was missing seeing this:

Of course, I know a lot of it is because she was not feeling well and tired. For all of our language barriers, she's pretty clear sometimes what she wants--or at least what she needs! Fingers in mouth = getting sleepy.
Fingers in mouth, pinky minky in hand, laying head on the floor = getting really sleepy.
Fingers in mouth, pinky in hand, entire body relaxed on the hard floor = "Mom, just forget the nap schedule you're striving for and put me in my crib for crying out loud!"
Fortunately, Sydney is feeling significantly better in the past few days. We've had a lot more smiles and fun interactions. And there are a few things that almost always cheer her up. A bath is one of them. (although if she has to share with Carson, The Shriek is often heard if he gets too close or they want the same toy.) I'll leave you with some pictures of happy bathtime and you can see how her hair is really starting to grow--she's getting quite the little side-wings. I do love my little Birdie!
(Playing peek-a-boo with the shower curtain.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vacation Pics

Well, since I can't invite you all over to my living room to show you slides, this blog post will have to do. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or energy to give this the full Jenbunch blog-treatment as I would like. There were several long and hairy moments that would now--a week or so later--make some pretty funny stories. They are mostly due to the blizzard that hit us the day we needed to make a 50 minute drive to our the Polar Express. A drive which turned into about 2.5 on the way there and 3.5 on the way home. I'll just say that maneuvering through the day and night was some of the most stressful moments of parenting I've had in the last 4 years. So, ask me about it when I see you and I'll describe standing in the sub-freezing temps at midnight, wind and sleet pelting me, trying to get my screaming child out of his carseat and into the cabin whilst he is FaREAKING OUT with shrieks, shakes, then stiff-board body that there is a snow dinosaur next to the 2 foot snow-drift I was standing in that was going to eat us all. It was a hoot. But while I was dealing with my own snow-drama, some of the other families had it much worse--like getting stuck by the side of the icy freeway and stuck in a ditch. PTL we all made it out safely!
But, let's back up! We first flew into Phoenix, where it was a balmy 50ish. We spend a day with our hosts, the Wooldridges, and their 3 adorable daughters. They have a play-house in their backyard that my kids fell hard for. They loved it! Then we drove up to a little resort-y town outside of Flagstaff where it was significantly colder. The Lyons met us there first, and Uncle Kipp brought a kid's size snowboard. Fun!

This is a fun little toy. It's a "ranger" and is basically made for off-roading. Plenty of seatbelts, Mom. We all took turns getting rides.
Random alert! This is a classic Sydney expression. "Not amused, Dad. Put the camera down, take these things off my head."

OK, back on track. We took the ranger down to the local park. For most of the week, we had temps in the teens, but no moisture. It was BITING cold, but easy enough to get around! Here's Sarah and Peyton, aka: Princess Peypey.
Here's Miss Syd all bundled up and enjoying the swing. I swear it really was moving.
Old college roomies: Ashley, Kipp and Trent. Carlee is obviously taking after her mother in this picture. I think she was singing a song from Oklahoma....
Mommies and babies are ready to go back inside the warm house!
Here's Sydney with the youngest Wooldridge, Avaree. She's such a cutie!

This is the event I did blog about from AZ. The local police & fire departments send around Santa & Mrs. Clause on a totally decked out fire truck. If you sign up, they'll come to your house and bring stockings for the kids. Please enlarge to see Carson's giddy expression.
Please enlarge to see Sydney's "couldn't care less" expression. Classic Syd!
Here's all the kids that were there that night. Haley and Lexi joined us the next day!
Enjoying the loot.
Highchair row. Avaree, Sydney & Peyton.
Then? The snow came.
When we got up in the morning, there was about 1/2 inch of snow. This picture was taken about 11 am. It just kept coming and coming and coming...
We spent most of the day inside, trying to keep the kids busy and getting ready for our trek to the Polar Express. We had no idea how dicey the driving would truly be! Here's Trent and Ash and their baby girls.
It was crazy trying to get everyone in their matching pj's, cover them with snowbibs and snowboots and into the car with a few emergency things in case we had to spend the night in the other town. The long drive allowed for a few naps, but can you see the weather outside?
I know I have talked previously on this blog about how I tend to make unrealistic expectations and then get crushed when they do not come to fruition. This was a great example. We've had this Polar Express trip planned since March, so I was planning to take THE PERFECT Christmas card picture with all of our matching jammies! Well, Trent had been outside shoveling snow and fixing chains for hours, he was getting a migraine; I'd been frantically packing & caring for children during said migraine, shuttling screaming children in the snow and sleet--hadn't done my hair or make-up all day, Carson spent half the train ride in the train bathroom: THREE times (once for #2, which he needed to completely de-robe from the waist down), he refused to take off his snow-bibs to show his pj's, Sydney was snotty-nosed and snotty-attitude, our assigned seats were totally non-existent due to the blizzard, b/c they crammed anyone who showed up into the same train car--oh, and we had forgotten to buy Trent matching PJ's, so he had to borrow some. Let's just say, I had a pretty poppy attitude when this happy little picture was taken! I knew it would never get close to my Christmas cards. But the memory is blog-worthy!
But the train ride itself was fun, and the kids enjoyed it (at least, when Carson was actually in his seat and not in the BATHROOM.) They did have cookies and hot chocolate, just like the book/movie.

Carson finally took off his bibs (I mean, he had to when he went poop.) And I do think their pj's are pretty darn cute!
Even though they wore snowboots with them!
Here's Haley and Lexi watching out the window for the North Pole.

This is Carlee, Carson & Tanner.

When Santa got on the train, it was one of those moments where you are just snap, snap, snapping away with your camera, hoping that one of the pictures will turn out. This one is cute, even though it's a big blurry.

Santa gave all the kids a bell. Here's Carson and his buddy Tanner testing theirs out. Oh, also? The train BROKE DOWN on the way back from the "North Pole." The lights went out and everything. We just had to laugh! Well, we also had to listen to carols sung by our hostess. It was not pretty, people. Not pretty at all. Let's just say that the cacophony of a bunch of kids ringing their bells incessantly was a welcome relief from this version of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer.
Oh, but overall it was a great trip with old friends. We don't see them often, but our time together is cherished. To finish off the "can you believe this?!" theme of the week, Sydney screamed BLOODY MURDER for the final 45 minutes of our flight home. (And thank you in advance for all your well-meaning advice that I know you want to give it to me about flying with a toddler. I might be ready to hear it in about 2 years.) I was in tears. When we landed, Trent took her, I put my backpack on, and when the seatbelt light went off, he handed her to me and said "GO! GO! GO!" I carried her up the aisle and it was like the seas parted for me. The faces were filled with pity and irritation. (Well, that was only the 2 people I had the guts to make eye-contact with.) BUT, on the way TO Arizona, we had a pleasant landing! Carson even let Sydney sit in his lap as we taxied on the tarmac. This picture MIGHT be my favorite of the entire trip. It is precious, precious, precious, and makes up for every moment of stress and drama.
The End.