Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Graydon!!!!

Our little guy is one today! First birthdays are always bittersweet. While we are excited about him reaching this milestone, there's always a little bit of sadness as he inches further and further away from the tiny little baby we met one year ago. The day of Graydon's birth was surreal. I think meeting your child for the first time can't help but be. Those first moments of hearing him cry and finding out that he was a boy were priceless. Watching him grow has been a joy. Not always easy. But we've always been thankful for this precious gift of life that God has given us. Happy Birthday Graydon!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


The festivities began earlier in the week with Christmas cookie decorating. Bella really looks forward to this and I didn't want to let her down. . . even though I was feeling completely miserable that morning. The cold that hit the kids latched on to me. And it still lingers with all of us. Back to cookie decorating. . . here's Bella armed with some frosting!
She's becoming quite the pro.
All finished! I think we had a few minutes to lay down on the couch before Graydon woke up from his nap. Christmas Eve! After the church service, we got the kids changed into their jammies. Poor Bella started to break out into hives that evening. I'm pretty sure these are the result of the cold virus that we just can't seem to shake around here. Thankfully I haven't seen any on Graydon for a couple of days. Since Bella was not feeling so well, we had Graydon finish his bottle on the floor. He's starting to get whole milk once in a while. We're still working on a sippy cup with him. When the stopper is in, he won't drink from it. When it's out, there's a huge mess. The bottle is just right. And, I have to mention his shirt. It says, "All Mommy wants for Christmas is a silent night." I bought this over a month ago and it was very true at the time as Graydon was not sleeping well at night. Turns out it was even more true now as our house has been overcome with the sickies and no one is sleeping well.
On Christmas Eve they can open one present. Bella was so impatient. The anticipation was about to do her in. After the kids were in bed, we put the presents under the tree. There are quite a few there. We only get three gifts for each of the kids, and then a gift for each other. If it were just us, then there'd only be eight gifts under that tree. But, the kids get spoiled from church friends and that's what makes up the remainder of the presents. Christmas morning! Bella's first reaction when coming down the stairs and looking at the tree.
First, each of them checked out their stockings. They were filled with snacks for our road trip to Wisconsin in a couple of days.
Before opening any presents, we lit our Advent wreath. Graydon beginning to open a gift. I think the most he did was rip it a little. It was probably a waste of time and paper to wrap his gifts. Oh well. Bella was more than happy to help him out.
Our two kiddos. I was going to try to get a better picture of the two of them, but then I decided not to bother. Both were feeling kind of sick and this was just our reality this Christmas. Helping Daddy open up his present from me. I got him some snacks for our road trip as well and his big gift was a new robe. He got me the Peanuts DVD set that contained the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas specials. I love those movies!Graydon liked the boxes.
Baby's first Christmas.Playing with Daddy (all snug in his robe).
And a close-up of that smile because we just haven't seen much of it during this past week of illness.
Once the presents were all unwrapped, Andy made some pancakes for breakfast. While Graydon napped, the rest of us watched 'Snow White,' one of Bella's presents. Andy and I pretty much fell asleep at that point as well. Eventually, we all got dressed and headed outside to play in the snow.

Graydon stayed put the whole time. He was either unsure of the snow or unable to move in all that get-up. Either way, it made him very easy to keep track of as this boy rarely sits still anymore.
Here's the beginning of our snowman!One of the gifts for the kids was this snowman kit. Very cool!
Bella put the face on all by herself.
The hat was the final touch.
All finished!With the snowman complete, we moved on to sledding. There's a little hill just off the church parking lot that is the perfect size for Bella. We tried to get her a sled, but every store was sold out. Some friends from church let us borrow theirs for a little while.
Even Graydon took a turn.

Our Christmas dinner that evening came from a local Chinese restaurant. We know the owners pretty well and since we're heading out of town, we didn't want a huge meal with leftovers. I can't begin to describe how good this food tasted. So delicious! I think this will become one of our Christmas traditions.

Our last plan of the evening was to drive around looking at Christmas lights. It was all going well until Bella's hives flared up again. She was in itchy. They didn't seem so bad the night before and went away pretty quickly. That was not the case this time. She was crying and wanted to go home. We stopped at a CVS and picked up some Benadryl for her. The meds and a bath really did wonders. She hasn't had any hives today and has seemed fairly healthy.

With sickness lingering in our family the whole week prior to Christmas and then raging up again on the actual day, the holiday didn't go necessarily as planned in every part. But we still celebrated the birth of Jesus and spent quality time together as a family. That's a Merry Christmas to me. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowed In!

I almost forgot that I had a blog to get to this evening. Doesn't feel like a Sunday. The reason? Church was canceled. Why was church canceled? We were hit with 24 inches of snow!!! The snow started falling in the early Saturday morning hours and continued into Sunday morning. I haven't seen anything like this since we've been living in New Jersey. In fact, the news said there hasn't been a December storm like this since 1966! We're finally going to have a white Christmas!

Bella excitedly looked out the window that morning. "It's Christmas!" she said. The previous 24 hours hadn't been so good for her. It began with her waking up just after midnight the previous night. She was crying. She felt warm. She started coughing a lot. I brought her downstairs to lay on the couch where she proceeded to throw up on her blanket. She then watched Cinderella while I laid on the other couch, attempting to get what sleep I could. Unfortunately, sleep was not easy for me to come by that night because. . .

Graydon was also dealing with his own sick issues. For several days, he had a runny nose and slight cough. We also noticed a strange rash developing on his body that completely baffled us. He'd break out into red blotches and then an hour later they'd be gone. We tried to figure out what he might be allergic to, but couldn't think of anything new or different that he'd been exposed to. After some research, we determined that they were hives, which was later confirmed by the pediatrician. They can be caused by a virus, which may be Graydon's case. If they continue to reoccur, then we'll be seeing an allergist. The next day, Graydon's slight cough developed into a barky, croupy cough.

Two sick kids. Two exhausted parents.

By Saturday's snowfall, Bella was over 24 hours into her illness. She still had a slight temp, but she was up and moving around - a vast difference from the previous day where she literally laid in bed or on the couch ALL DAY. She was begging to go outside and since the fresh air would be good for her, we complied. She was happy. All bundled up and ready to play! Braving the blizzard. I happily took a few photos from inside the warm house. Notice our rake propped up against the fence. We still hadn't cleared the yard of all the leaves. Maybe we'll finally get to it in January. :) Bella made a snow angel and tried to put together a snowman, but the snow was too dry. Before all this snow melts, we really need to get this kid a sled!

And here she is inside and all warmed up, cute rosy cheeks and all. Sorry again for the lack of Graydon photos. Any picture of him would have been of a snotty, buggery, cranky, hive-y kid. Thankfully, both kids seem to be on the mend (though Graydon still has an icky cough). And. . . now Andy and I seem to have caught the colds. I think it's the kids' turn to take care of us.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Church Christmas Program

Our Sunday School Christmas program was yesterday during church. Each child gave a little recitation. Bella's was, "Jesus loves me this I know, the Christmas story tells me so." She did great!Each of the classes sang a few songs and then the whole group sang together. This is the whole group. You can tell from her smile that Bella was having a blast.Later in the service, the kids reenacted the Christmas story. Bella was an angel.
And she loved it! After the service, Christmas festivities continued. A group of us drove to Bethlehem, PA for the Christmas Vespers service. It was a lovely evening, but we didn't get back home until around 10 pm. I ended up falling asleep for the night while I was putting Bella to bed. That is why there was no blog post last night.

Ever since her birthday, Bella has been in the gift mood. We told her that there would be no more gifts to open until Christmas. Did that stop her? Absolutely not. She wrapped up a bunch of her and Graydon's toys in some blankets and put them under the tree. They "unwrapped" them right after they woke up this morning.
I realize that this blog has been picture heavy on Bella lately. The reason is, I just don't have many good shots of Graydon these days. He's in that difficult-to-photo stage where he doesn't sit still nor pay attention to me when I'm trying to take his picture. So this is what we end up with. . .
We did manage to get a good 11-month picture. . . though we had to work for this one. And he would not let go of that straw. We tried. He screamed. We gave it back.
Bella and I had dental check-ups today and I am happy to say that we are both cavity-free! Bella was such a brave girl. She went back all by herself while I had my cleaning. She left the office so proud of herself and really excited by the goodie bag filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, bouncy ball, and sticker.

Tonight, we all enjoyed cups of hot cocoa while watching "A Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol". I love that movie. And I love simple ways to soak in the season.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Birthday Festivities

Bella is four! And if she sees you on the street, she'll let you know it. Her first remark to anyone she's encountered this past week as been, "Guess what! I'm four!" This was a big birthday for her. She really feels grown up. A woman from church called her a kid this morning and Bella responded, "I'm not a kid. I'm a big girl!"

We started off the morning of November 30th with a gift from us. A Dora pop-up tent! Bella loves to make 'houses' out of chairs and blankets or she'll crawl under the table and make that her house. Now she has another house to play with!Later in the day, we made some cupcakes together. Generally, the birthday girl isn't responsible for making her own cake. But Bella always enjoys cooking projects, so I thought it'd be fun to do it together. And, I feel it's necessary to explain her expression here. Often times when Bella smiles, she squints up her eyes to where you can barely see them. I asked her to open her eyes up for the picture and this is what she did. I'd have taken another, but then things really started to get crazy with the frosting. A few birthday decorationsWhen Daddy came home, we went to McDonalds for a little dinner (Bella's request) and then spent a lot of time in the playland. When we returned home, it was time for cupcakes, candles, and more presents. She blew out all four candles in one breath!
This was the other half of our gift to her. I made her this doll. I meant to take a picture of the tummy, but I forgot. I wrote out a Bible verse on some fabric and sewed it on. I got the doll pattern here. I've never made anything like this before, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. And Bella likes it, so that's the main thing. Today, we had a little birthday party for Bella after church. It was simple and small. Two friends. One little project: decorate a princess crown and wand. Pizza, cake, and ice cream.

Here are the three little princesses (prior to fully decorating their crowns).Cake time! It took Bella two breaths this time since she decided to space the candles so far apart on the cake. Presents!Bella received so many wonderful gifts today and over this past week from family and friends. She is one loved little girl. Every gift was such a hit. Thank you so much to everyone!!!

And, we need to give Graydon a little love in this post. I've lost track of how many times I have found him like this. He loves to pull the photo albums off the shelf and look through the pages. A boy after my own heart. :)