Tuesday, December 21, 2010

All the Pretty Lights

If you ask Brooke about where we went Friday night or where we saw The Grinch (more on that later), she says "At the pretty lights." So cute. Where we really went was to Overly's Country Christmas at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds. Joe and Cole have been before, but Ryan, Brooke, and I haven't. We were supposed to come out last year and go with them, but the weather was crappy that weekend, plus my van was broken down at the time. It was fun, but C-O-L-D. Brrrrr! Definitely worth it, though.

First you drive around to see the lights and then you can park and walk in and it's like a little village. They have some places to buy food, a building with a train display, a Nativity, a bonfire, horse and carriage/sleigh rides, a train for the kids, and of course Santa! The kids loved driving through and seeing the lights. Then of course we parked and went in to walk around. We went to see the train display and the Nativity and the kids mailed their letters to Santa and went to see him again and they got to ride the train.

Now, how about some pictures? :o)

King Friday and Lady Elaine's castle (Mr. Roger's Neighborhood)

Wish all the pictures had turned out this good!

The horses actually moved up and down...very neat.

Hehe....wish I would've gotten the giant milk jug in the picture, too.

Neato (yes, I really just said that)

Those 3 circular lights in the background were like fireworks. They were definitely the kids' favorite light display.

The fireworks "exploding"

Brooke LOVED the train.

A talking tree....and it's not just a recording. There is a little booth behind it where someone stands and makes the tree talk, so you can have an actual conversation with a tree...haha.

You would think the highlight of the evening would have been Santa Claus.....but no. It was actually.....

The Grinch! (Ok, I just noticed how Ryan is looking at The Grinch...TOO funny.) We were getting ready to walk in to where the train display was right after getting there and The Grinch was on his way out. I spotted him before Brooke did and wondered what she would do because she normally loves anyone in costume. She was a couple feet ahead of me and as soon as she saw him, she turned around and ran to me and wanted up. I wonder if she would have been as freaked out if we hadn't just watched the Jim Carrey version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas a couple nights before. The boys weren't bothered at all and wanted to talk to him, but as The Grinch got closer Brooke started whining and trying to climb over my shoulder to get away. She did calm down and actually reached out to touch his hand. She kept saying, "Hi, the Grinch" in this trying-to-sound-brave-but-actually-really-freaked-out kind of voice. We saw him several more times while we were there and each time she got braver and braver. The first few times we saw him, she would run to me and want up as soon as she spotted him, but the last time we saw him before we left, she actually walked up to him instead of running to me for safety before talking to him. It was super cute. When we were waiting in line to see Santa, she told me she wanted to see The Grinch. I would say she has a sort of love-hate thing going on there. Joe showed her this picture on the computer this afternoon and she said to me, "I scared of him, Mommy." Hehe.

We came home from Overly's that night and ordered some pizza and wings (which they forgot to send our order to the kitchen and when Joe got there to pick it up, they hadn't even made it yet, so we got it 1/2 off plus two free 2 liters of soda!). Joe's parents came over and we ate and watched the Muppet Christmas Carol movie.

It was another great Christmas-y night!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday - Ornaments

Flashback Friday Button

Today I want to share some pictures of some older ornaments that are hanging on our tree and also a couple newer "old" ones that are special.

This one is my My First Christmas Ornament. The drumsticks got broken out of the teddy bear's paws at some point, but other than that it is in great condition. You can even push the train around the track.

Next is my ornament with my baby picture in it. I believe I'm 4 months old in the picture (sorry, it's blurry...I tried) and I was 9 months old for my first Christmas. I had the Rudolph ornament, my sister had a teddy bear, and my brother had a snowman.

And here is Ryan's ornament with his baby picture in. He was still in the NICU then (for going on 4 months at the time). I really wanted a little Santa suit sleeper for him to wear and the smallest I was able to find was 0-3 months. He wasn't even 4lbs. yet, so he needed a preemie size one at best, so he swam in it. But it was still adorable. He was on oxygen at the time, but was able to be without it for a little bit at a time. They let us take him in the NICU hallway and lay him on a pillow under the Christmas tree, so that's where this picture was taken. I believe it was taken one week before Christmas. My best friend, Jess, gave me this ornament and I put the picture in.

And last, but certainly not least is Brooke's baby picture ornament, which also doubles as her Baby's 1st Christmas ornament. She was one day shy of 9 months old. I could not get her to smile for anything. She was probably traumatized by that time. As I was getting ready to change her diaper that morning after she woke up, she was crying and crying and wouldn't move her right arm. She screamed when I would touch it. I had just read about nursemaid elbow online and suspected that was the problem. So her dad took her to the emergency room while I stayed with Ryan. They sent her for x-rays, but everything looked fine. It seems that while they were maneuvering her arm for the x-rays, her arm popped back in to place. I was nervous about it happening again because apparently it can become an issue after the first time, but she luckily hasn't had a problem since!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas

Last night was a great night. I think it was the first night this month that all five of us were home at one time. It's been hectic with Joe working some overtime since one of his coworkers is out on maternity leave and Cole is only here Tuesday night through late Friday afternoon (and one weekend a month, which is this coming weekend). Anyway...

We started off with helping the kids with their letters to Santa. His mom had bought these really cute Santa letter kits at (I think) Pat Catan's for the kids. We had some of the store toy books here and sales ads for them to look through and we helped them cut things out and glue them on the paper. They are all done and sealed up and ready to take to Overly's Country Christmas with us tomorrow night to mail.

Then we had homemade beef stew for dinner that Joe made. It was yummy. There were no problems getting the kids to eat their dinner last night. Do you think Brooke liked it?

She's such a goofball. She does this often lately and it drives me nuts. I probably shouldn't have taken a picture and reinforced the behavior, huh? Oh well :oP

After dinner the kids and Joe decorated a (pre-assembled) gingerbread house (I took all the pictures, of course). I figured this would either go really well or really badly....and it went really well. The kids loved it and had so much fun. They were warned ahead of time that the candy was for decorating and not for eating (they had sampled it earlier). I thought I would be fighting with Brooke about that the whole time, but she only licked one of the peppermint candies. This is definitely something we will do with them again.

We have a folding table here that Joe's parents bought for us before Thanksgiving. Joe had the idea of just laying it on the floor and decorating on top of it. It worked out great! (I cannot wait until we are rid of the carpeting in this kitchen!)

Joe had the idea to make little snowmen out of marshmallows (with gumdrops for eyes) to stand in front of the houses. They looked so funny.

See? Cute, though.

This was the only picture I got of them that wasn't blurry...of course, Ryan's hand ended up in the picture.

I love him!

We finished off the night with watching the Jim Carry version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It was a very Christmas-y evening and I loved it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trade Off

She is so stubborn. Or maybe it's not stubbornness...maybe it's something else.

I posted last week about letting her run around naked from the waist down since she was going on the potty every time (this after pooping her pants every time for weeks). Well, her poor little bottom didn't like being exposed 24/7 and she got pretty raw/chapped (dang cold weather) :o(. So when she got home from her dad's Sunday, I decided I would try her in underwear to see what she would do.

She has pooped on the potty every time since then, but she's been having quite a few pee accidents. Grrrr. I don't get it. What is so different about having underwear on that makes her not get to the potty in time? Some of her accidents have been her completely emptying her bladder, but other times she just starts to go and then finishes on the potty. I guess I will just cross my fingers and hope that she gets it soon! I would much rather clean up some pee than deal with poopy messes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa Photo 2010

We took them on November 30th to the Westmoreland Mall. It was the day after Ryan got tubes in his ears and my mom was still here so she got to go along. We had them go one at a time and talk to Santa and then we had them all get in for a photo. I threatened Ryan beforehand that if he didn't smile he wasn't going to get to ride the train (mean mom...but it worked!). Ryan smiled great (and Cole always does), so of course Brooke wasn't looking at the camera. I'm not really sure what she was looking at actually. It turned out pretty good. I like the Santa better at the Galleria Mall in Johnstown and I also like their photos better. Look back at my post here to see last year's, taken at the Galleria. I think the background is nicer. I am not a fan of this ugly green chair and the back is ridiculously high. They also make an effort to get a nice photo at the Galleria, instead of just snapping away. I vote next year we go to Johnstown to get the Santa photo :o). We went to the Westmoreland mall for the Easter Bunny this year and that photo turned out horrible. I'm not even sure why I bought one. It wasn't even centered. At least this one is. And the bunny was scary, unlike the Galleria one which I think is adorable. I'm voting for the Galleria for the Easter Bunny, too, next year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Maybe It's Time

Brooke stopped taking a pacifier and started sucking her thumb not long after coming home from the NICU. Once she got to where she would reach for things, she was grabbing anything in reach to hold while sucking her thumb, usually the bottom of her shirt or a nearby receiving blanket. When she was 6 months old, I decided to get her a little lovey. It's the same one in the picture to the right. I found it at Walmart and I've probably bought 4 or 5 total since then. It all started when one night she spit up all over her blankie at like 9pm, right before bedtime, so we had to put it in the washing machine and then the dryer and she refused to go to bed without it. So we figured it was time to get a spare. And of course some went missing here and there, so I would buy another to replace it. She has slept with it at naptime and bedtime every time since then. She likes to have it when she's tired. There for awhile I only let her have it at naptime and bedtime instead of using it throughout the day (only when she was having TV time would she want it, really). I used to never leave the house without it because it would usually curb any meltdowns, but I've even slacked off with doing that.

Her and Ryan were with their dad this weekend. I was talking to their dad on the phone yesterday morning and while we were talking, Brooke found her blankie that was at his house that had apparently been missing. So she slept without it Friday night. And he said she slept fine. Today when I met him to get the kids, he said she still hadn't had it at all and that she slept fine again without it. She asked for it once in the car on the way home and I told her she's a big girl now and doesn't need it and the Blankie Monster took it...hehe. She laughed and yelled "No!" at me, but she hasn't asked for it again yet. I'm hoping she goes to bed without it tonight without crying. It would be great if she can be done with it before she gets much older and even more headstrong and stubborn, but I also don't want it to be traumatic for her. It would be even greater if she would stop sucking her thumb, too!

Crossing my fingers!

Click here and here if you want to take a walk down memory lane and read about the first time I posted about Brooke and her thumb sucking (and taking after her mommy) and about when she got her first blankie.


As soon as she got in bed, she started asking for her blankie and cried when I told her it was all gone and she was a big girl. I talked to her for a couple minutes and reassured her and reminded her she slept without it at Daddy's house. I got her to stop crying and told her I would be back in to see her after I got Ryan to bed. Joe came upstairs while Ryan was getting in to bed and after he was tucked in, Joe and I went in to Brooke. She wasn't crying, but she wasn't happy. We told her goodnight again and came downstairs and turned the monitor on. She whimpered a couple times and then was quiet for a few minutes. Then she started really crying. Joe went up because I was in the middle of cooking and he came down and said she was trying to hold the tag on her comforter to suck her thumb with (something Cole does - hold on to tags and suck his thumbs when he's tired or going to sleep - and something she will mimic) and she got herself uncovered, so it seems that's why she was crying. He covered her up and showed her the tags on her stuffed animals that are in her bed. She was quiet after that and a few minutes later Joe could tell by her breathing that she was sleeping. I ran up to check on her and I'm not even sure if she sucked her thumb to go to sleep. Her hands were both up by her face, on her pillow, but her thumb was bone dry. I thought it would still be at least damp if she'd sucked it to go to sleep...but I could be wrong. Either way, I'm so happy that she did so well! Maybe she will stop sucking her thumb now, too....

O Christmas Tree

My very favorite thing about Christmas (other than giving gifts) is the Christmas tree! As soon as it starts to get dark outside, I like to have it lit up. I just think it is beautiful to look at. It makes me happy :o).

Check out that amazing photo of the kids in front of the tree! I can't even believe we captured it and it only took a couple snaps of the camera :o). It is the perfect Christmas card photo. It makes me want to make up some cards to send out even though we weren't planning on it this year. We'll probably just do a few and send them to our closest family and friends. I better get on that soon!

I thought I would share our new ornaments we've gotten this year. One of Joe and Cole's traditions was to get a new Hallmark ornament every year, so we're continuing that. Actually last year was the first year *I didn't get Ryan and Brooke new ornaments :o/ (so it was sort of our tradition, too). But they all 3 picked out what they wanted this year.

Cole picked the Super Hero Squad (Wolverine, Iron Man, and Captain America).

First Ryan wanted Iron Man....until he saw Woody & Buzz. He LOVES the Toy Story movies.

And after a lot of screaming and crying (because we wouldn't let her terrorize the ornaments in Hallmark), Brooke chose Minnie & Mickey Mouse when given the choice between them , Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, and Tinkerbell. (There may have been more, I can't remember.)

We've also gotten some other new ornaments this year. Some that we bought and some that were bought for us.

This ornament is from a kiosk in the mall. I picked it out, but Joe's mom bought it for us. I LOVE it!

Joe's mom and dad bought us this one. Our first family ornament :o).

Joe picked this ornament. It's a minion, from the movie Despicable Me, making a snowminion...hehe.
He loves that movie and can't wait 'til it comes out on DVD on the 14th...too bad he's not getting it 'til Christmas :oP.

I saw this one at Hallmark the day we got the kids ornaments and immediately thought of Zachary. I didn't buy it right away, though. I have huge issues with spending money on something for me that I don't *need* (and even sometimes with things I *do need). But then I came a cross a $5 off Hallmark card in a magazine, so I was able to get it for just under $5.00. I got it home and read on the box that the angel's name is Daffodil and it supposed to be a girl....but I don't care. It doesn't look like a girl to me at all.

And lastly, Ryan was given this ornament at the surgery center after getting his ear tubes in. When you push the little button on the front, his nose lights up. It's really cute.
And then there's the little Pittsburgh Penguins hockey player to the left that Joe found at Walmart. I was going to crop him out, but it's a new one, too :o).

I also have to share two more photos. The kids did a really great job decorating the tree. (I haven't even moved any and I can be particular about things like that...lol.) They spaced them out pretty well and didn't try hanging them all in the same spot. Except for a couple clusters that Cole purposely hung together and they make me smile every time i see them.

This is a conglomeration of Nemo and Bolt characters, all hung on ONE branch ;o).

And these are all the sports players...hockey and football.
Too cute.

Check back on Friday for Flashback Friday, when I plan on sharing some photos of older ornaments (a couple as old as ME!). I think everyone should post photos on their blogs of their favorite ornaments. I would love to see!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Thursday evening, Joe's mom invited us over to decorate sugar cookies with the kids. His brother and sister-in-law and their one month old daughter and his sister-in-law's mom and 3 year old niece came over, too. It was a lot of fun and surprisingly not too messy! The kids all enjoyed it, but I think Brooke had the most fun :o). Of course I have pictures to share!

We only had one incident with the sprinkles. Joe's mom was putting them in little dishes for them to use and Brooke picked up one of the open bottles and dumped almost the whole thing on a cookie...hee.

I love how you can see Cole's and Brooke's reflections in the glass so clearly.

The boys ran off to play and Joe's mom (Grammy) took Brooke in the kitchen and let her help cut out some cookies and then Brooke was just playing with some of the dough for a bit. She had a blast rolling it out and using the cookie cutters. Now I have a good idea of a way to keep her occupied, once the carpeting is gone from our kitchen, that is!

And I had to include a photo of their pretty tree!