Sunday, December 27, 2009

Best "Nap Drive" Reads of '09

I am afraid that I am about to bid a fond farewell to a close friend the toddlers are quickly outgrowing: naptime. 2009 was the year of the nap drive. At the beginning of this year I quite blissfully discovered that if I drove the kids around for a while I could ultimately park and get up to a 2 hour simultaneous nap out of them, equaling 2 hours of quiet reading time for me. I can't begin to explain the impact this has had on my life, however, I will say one great perk was that it provided me the opportunity to read quite a few incredible books. Because I LOVE when people recommend books to me, I thought I would share my list of favorites by genre (but in no particular order):

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - Donald Miller
Prayer: Does it Make a Difference? - Philip Yancey
Mudhouse Sabbath - Lauren Winner
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
Same Kind of Different As Me - Ron Hall and Denver Moore

There is No Me Without You - Melissa Faye Green
What is the What - Dave Eggers

Racial Discussions:
I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla - Marguerite Wright
Why Are All of The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? - Beverly Daniel Tatum

Raising Cain - Kindlon and Thompson
Raising Strong Daughters - Mc Minn
How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen so Your Kids Will Talk - Faber and Mazlish
Mask of Motherhood - Susan Maushart
Einstein Never Used Flashcards - Golinkoff Ph.D., Hirsh-Pasek Ph.D., and Eyer Ph.D.
The Power of Play - David Elkind

Historical Fiction:
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Minister's Wooing - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Lineage of Grace - Francine Rivers
The Centurion's Wife - Oke and Bunn
A Thousand Splendid Suns - Hosseini

Now, it is your turn to post some suggestions for 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Twas the Week Before Christmas...

Amidst all of the excitement, sugar, nativity story-reading, advent calendar chocolate eating, and sheer pleasure over receiving interesting mail,* here are some of the happenings at our house over the last week or so...

*Note: Our kids are obsessed with holiday photo cards, they pour over them and trade them and look at them again. It's pretty hilarious. If you sent us one, be sure it was quite closely examined and prized!

Making letters out of peanut butter play dough (this was way more fun than I imagined it would be)

A fun visit to the Zoo with Grandma that was eventually rained out (Thanks SO much for the passes, Nana and Papa!)

McCormick Train Park Christmas Lights night with our fun friends, the Hedricks.

Baking a birthday cake for Jesus ( I am not sure why T suddenly is shirtless and angry in the frosting picture - but apparently a lot can happen while a cake is baking :)

And last, but definitely not least, one of the most special happenings this week took place while Daddy and Papa were out back staining some cabinet doors for us, and T ran through the wet grass which had unbeknownst to us turned some dried up red paint into fresh, perfect-for-running-through red paint. Then T ran, "really way fast" through the house in his red boots creating a very festive figure eight of red paint throughout the entire family room. Here he is showcasing (that's for you, Ry and Didi) it as I was cleaning (or rather creating giant pink blotches all over) the carpet. B tells a pretty great version of the story if you have a while :)

We are all pretty excited for Christmas and hope you and yours have a blessed one, too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

He's Back!

Daddy is officially back! We were so happy to have him home! He took off Friday and Monday giving us lots of time to reconnect after being away for so long. We caught up on the fun Christmas activities we had planned to do, and we took lots of long naps since he and I were both feeling a bit under-the-weather.

Our first activity was making gingerbread houses. I decided that maybe we would try a new kit this year which was made up of a "mini-village" of gingerbread houses. Last year, J had put on red frosting which dripped down all over the door of our other house making it look more like Passover than Christmas, and the kids had just focused on eating the frosting, so I thought maybe something new would be good. Well, that was not the case, since these things were tiny and impossible to assemble (who are these people kidding?) We ended up decorating one-dimensional pieces of houses.
Looks just like the picture, right?! :)

That night we made hot caramel apple cider and took it with us to see the Christmas Lights on Natal Street, which was a lot of fun!
B LOVED the cider and you can see her proudly carrying it with her.

The next morning, we continued our "sugar-fest" by cutting out, baking, and decorating sugar cookies. Then we consumed them in what must have been record time.
Our last special activity was our trip to the Science Museum where the kids saw their first planetarium show, which they enjoyed (once the guide started letting T push the buttons so he would stop asking to leave.)

Having J out of town sure makes us appreciate each other and our precious kids even more. It makes us excited for our holiday time coming up, too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

While You Were Out...

And so we are in the home stretch of J's latest trip to Africa. It was 10 days and 9 nights, but I can happily say that this was probably one of the least painful ones yet! That can completely be credited to my in-laws and my parents who very happily gave me lots of little breaks which literally saved my sanity. They were so amazing, the kids adored their time with them, and I had some time to recharge a bit. We also had some fun evenings and playdates with friends that helped pass the time right along. Anyhow, from our old youth ministry days, J and I still like to do "highs and lows." I thought I would post our list for Daddy with some accompanying pictures.
I'll start with the ugly :)

Missing J and wishing I could call him a million times

Waking up several times a night (once in a bed freshly wet by a toddler)

Trying to sleep while squished between two flailing toddlers

B's "Whine when you say anything" day

T holding a special week of tantrums anytime something was not done in his exact way (ex. the show-down with the lady at Hallmark because he wanted to put a card back, the battle in the parking lot of Ross when HE wanted to unsnap his stroller seatbelt even though he isn't capable of that, the fit when B got out of his door of the van, and the general grumpiness at the Tree Lighting we went to - see angry face in the background below.)

Watching a Christmas movie while snuggling with the kids in their fleece footie pajamas

Reading books by the light of a Christmas Tree

Making Christmas treats with the kids

Zoolights with my parents and brother

Family Christmas party with my in-laws and first gifts for the kids of the season

Grandparents babysitting so I could go to the gym and read an interesting book on Africa

Snuggling in bed with two of the most precious toddlers in the world.

Waking up to T saying "How was your day, mom? -Good T, I'm sleeping. -How was my day, mom? - I don't know T, how was your day? - Umm, cold. -Do you want to snuggle, T? -YES!"

Finding B alone looking at herself make faces in the mirror ("This is my happy face!, This is sad...)

Playdates with friends

Feeding Trout at Bass Pro Shop's Winter Wonderland

When T grabbed me by the face and said, "Mommy, you're a pretty girl."

Sweet Friends having us over for dinner.

Knowing Daddy will be home soon!