Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Tonight we attended the Ulven's annual "It's Midnight Somewhere" family New Year's Eve party. It's a fun time with good food and lots of kids. I think I counted 11 of them Emily's age and younger. We rang in the new year at 8:00pm and everyone was out the door by 8:45pm. We literally had to carry Emily to the van kicking & screaming because she didn't want to leave. Mieke has a mini trampoline that Emily loved. Julie got it for Mieke to burn off energy before bedtime. Somedays I think we need one of those, too. :o) Mieke also has lots of other fun toys. I think I was the only one who stayed awake on the way home, which was good since I was driving. Below are some fun pictures from the evening. The one of Austin is for those of you who know how he feels about cats. ;o)


Emily really enjoyed doing a Jesse tree for Advent and still asks if we can put something else on it. She also enjoyed playing with her Little People nativity set. I think she's starting to "get" the Christmas story. This is how I found the nativity set on the couch after she went to bed...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

38 months old

Emily has sure grown up a lot over the last month! The biggest milestone, of course, has been potty-training. With the exception of a few bad days, she has been doing great--especially overnight. She was perfect the whole time we were traveling for Christmas and went at everybody's house. Her reward for staying clean & dry all day is bubble bath and/or an animal sponge capsule in the bathtub. She talks about not having an "axe-a-lent" (accident) so she can get bubbles and a sponge.

Another growing-up step is insisting that she always dress herself. If you try to help her she pushes your hand away and declares, "It's my turn!" This has lead to lessons in finding tags and putting them in the back. The only problem is that so many clothing items these days are "tagless" and just have barely detectable printed words or nothing at all. I still have to supervise underwear since it's so easy to get legs in the wrong holes. Self-dressing has also continued the streak of interesting outfit combinations. Emily's Christmas dresses did not make it in the suitcase to Hull, but she has made up for it by alternating between them every day we've been home since Christmas. Since she only has one pair of black leggings, and I really don't want her wearing out her tights running around the house all day, she has resorted to leaving on her pajama pants from the night before. Besides the big picture above, another example is on the right along with the stack of hats she attempted to wear with it.

A milestone I was starting to have concerns about was surpassed when Emily experienced a magnificent bloom socially this month. All of the sudden she moved from mainly parallel, independent play to interactive, imaginative play with other kids. She is doing quite well with taking turns and being polite.

Something that is still a little unnerving to me is the fact that Emily started calling us "Mom" and "Dad" instead of "Mommy" and "Daddy" abruptly one day. It makes her sound so much more grown up (and me feel so old)!

One not-so-grown-up, but very normal, development has been jealousy over toys involving Lincoln. If he starts playing with something she'll often stop playing with whatever she was playing with, declare, "That's mine! I fink Lincoln doesn't want it anymore. Here's a toy for Lincoln," and gets a different baby toy she doesn't care about at the moment and shoves it in his face. I foresee many lessons to be learned in this area in the near future with all the new Christmas toys and as Lincoln grows more mobile by the day.

Of course, there are always funny quotes when you have a 3-year-old around the house. Right now whenever I raise my voice in the slightest, Emily looks at me forlornly and observes, "You're bery angry." Sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not, but it always makes me laugh inside. Sometimes when Emily starts crying/fussing about something she announces, "I'm sad." That also makes me laugh inside.

Lastly, a fun thing Emily likes to do lately to entertain Lincoln is run around or twirl in circles until she gets so dizzy she falls down. She then announces, "I think the house is tipping over!"

The December Winkflash pictures will be uploaded at the end of the month and the December video player is below. It will likely have some additions from the end of the year.

Foyer floor

Back at home meant back to work on the house. Austin spent part of two days tearing up the old tile and sub-floor in the foyer. What a mess! The foyer/stairwell also received a 3rd coat of blue paint. The color is more of what I was aiming for, but there are still blotchy/streaky spots. Austin has declared himself to be done painting (which I don't blame him), so we'll see how it looks once things get hung on the wall.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter on the farm

While we escaped the epic snowstorm with a lot of rain and just a couple inches of light snow, my parents bore the brunt of the storm in NW Iowa. They received a total of 20" of snow and blizzard conditions. I took Emily to the home farm while we were in Hull to take some pictures and visit Grandpa Boote while he was doing chores.

Emily tried to "help" feed the calves in this video

The icicles on the milk barn were incredible.

All the trees are heavy with snow.

I don't think my parents will be grilling any time soon.

Sunset over the snow

Christmas in Hull

After the snowstorm blew through we packed up and headed to my family in Hull on Sunday morning. The roads still weren't great, so it was an extra-long trip, but we made it to my Grandma Boote's house in time for leftover lunch and presents. Lincoln loved his new tractor and wagon of animals.
Then we spent the evening with my family. Emily got to open two gifts so she'd have something to play with the next day. The Little People amusement park and stacking clowns were lots of fun. Lincoln also got up close & personal with Milo, Auntie Abbie & Uncle Wade's dog.

We had my family's official Christmas celebration on Monday night. After the traditional soup & bread bowls Emily opened presents. Literally. There were 8 adults, 2 babies and Emily. And she got to open almost every single present for everyone. It was funny to watch and listen to her continuous commentary. I just missed recording her declaration of "I made a terrible mess!" on video at the end. Lincoln sure enjoyed rolling around in (and eating) the wrapping paper. Emily will definitely have more competition next year, but it was fun for her to be the star this year. That's one of the privileges of being a firstborn! ;o)

Here are some other quick pictures...

Emily holding Cousin RyanFamily shot

Best attempt of the grandkids

Best attempt at the kids/grandkids (Uncle Wade has an ugly Christmas sweater contest with himself every year. This picture does not do it any justice.)We swung through LeMars on our way home on Tuesday to visit with all of Austin's grandparents and eat lunch with his sister and her family. It was a full three days, but it was nice to see everyone again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

After the excitement of opening gifts it was back to painting. Austin put a second coat on the half bath and we both worked on the foyer/stairwell. It was quite discouraging. Even after two coats the bathroom is still splotchy--especially around the edges. The edging in the foyer is unbelievably tedious with all the rounded edges. Plus it turned out a very bright Royal blue, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid. Although the color I picked is called "Deep Royal" it's supposed to be more of a darker, navy shade to match my Dutch decor. There is some hope where there are overlaps in paint that a second coat will turn out darker. I don't know if it's because of the dark color in general, the fact that it's different brands of primer/top coat, the fact that the wall has never been painted before or it's just the brand of paint (Behr). Whatever the case, it's not exactly turning out as expected. At least all the white woodwork looks beautiful!

It's probably a good thing we were home all day because Emily had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad potty day. Dealing with that, plus the painting fiasco, plus Lincoln's increased night-wakings again made for a bit of a tired, crabby rest of the day. At least the snow storm turned out to be a dud for us--mostly rain with only a dusting of new snow. We have rescheduled or altered our family Christmas gatherings, so we still have something to look forward to. :o)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

It was fun to spend Christmas morning at home, too. Emily was up at 6:30am, but not because she knew there were presents. Those didn't come out of hiding in the basement until after the kids were in bed last night. She had her Christmas dress on again before she even made it down the stairs. (We have been alternating between two of them for three days now.) She eventually noticed the presents under the tree and started jabbering about them non-stop, but we distracted her by letting her help make blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Then she put together puzzles with Austin until Lincoln woke up.

Watching Emily open her presents (and narrate the process) was such a joy. Christmas is definitely more fun with kids! Lincoln was pretty much only interested in pieces of wrapping paper and the ribbon that tied up his new pajamas in his stocking. Emily made up for it, though. The dollhouse we got her was a hit, along with a beanbag chair for her room, the tent/tunnel combo that was technically Lincoln's gift and a few other small things--including new pajamas. :o) There is a long video montage in the December video player.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

We decided not to risk driving to Des Moines and back today with the epic winter snow storm forecasted for the whole holiday weekend. Instead, we spent a nice day at home as a family. Austin hung the new vertical blinds in the living room with a little help from Emily. ;o) He also put on the first coat of red paint in the half bath. All he could say was, "Wow--that's really red!" :o)

My good friends Angie & Brian stopped by for a couple hours because they were in the area. The weather also held up long enough for us to make it to a Christmas Eve service at Orchard Hill Church--something we would usually not be able to do because we would normally be out of town. It was a beautiful service. I thought Emily might enjoy the music, lights and candles, but she begged to go play in nursery and threw a fit when it was time to go home. Go figure! Here are the kids dressed in their Christmas best...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Lincoln is riding in style...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

7 months old

Lincoln is 7 months old today. He weighed in just shy of 17 pounds. He must have gone through a quick growth spurt recently because all of the sudden one day last week none of his remaining 6 month clothes fit. His hair is also filling in nicely on the sides, so he isn't really sporting a mohawk look anymore. The new hair is lighter even though it looks dark in the picture. It's funny because you can see a distinct line in the longer hair on top where the dark baby hair color ends and the lighter infant color hair begins.

Lincoln can almost sit up unassisted now. He still needs some supervision to prevent major face plants when he leans too far or gets too excited. Lincoln is also quickly increasing his reach and range. He happily rolls both directions and pivots on his belly. He can even sometimes push himself backwards on a hard surface. I caught him up on his hands and knees once this week. It won't be too long!

One of Lincoln's major goals in life right now is to catch the teddy bears on the mobile above his crib. He reaches for them whenever I pick him up or lay him down. Sometimes I hold him standing up in his crib and let him play with them for awhile. Lincoln also loves standing up along the bathtub during Emily's bath time. I wouldn't mind starting to do baths together, but thus far Emily has been quite adamant and unaccommodating in that area, and I have chosen not to push the issue.

I am thrilled that as of the last 2 weeks Lincoln has started consistently sleeping through the night--meaning he goes down around 7:00pm and I don't have to get out of bed until 7:00am. However, he is working very hard on cutting his first tooth/teeth. That has thrown a couple nights off. Thank goodness for Tylenol!

I don't know if it's teething or what, but Lincoln has been a bit of a bugger lately with eating cereal. It feels like an uphill battle to get and keep anything in his mouth a lot of days. I tried feeding him green beans and squash, but he since he's not eating cereal consistently I'm going to hold off on that for a bit longer. He has definitely figured out how to get water out of a sippy cup. It's just a matter of whether or not he swallows it. ;o)

Thanks to some leftovers from Cousin Seth, I gave Lincoln his first finger food yesterday--a Baby Mum-Mum. It's a vegetable-flavored "rice rusk". Basically, a wafer cracker that dissolves almost instantly. Lincoln liked playing with it and gnawing on it, but I'm not sure if he actually consumed it. I can't imagine it tastes very good. :op

Prep & Painting

The walls in the foyer, stairwell and half bath got textured this week. I did the prep work on the woodwork and Austin spent the day priming everything. It looks so much cleaner and brighter even with only primer. It will be really exciting once the wall color goes on. Oh yeah--I should probably pick that out. ;o) I did get the tile ordered this week and bought new light fixtures.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Experiment update

Remember my little cinnamon roll experiment? It still took two days for Austin's office to finish the pans of cinnamon rolls--even with one missing from each pan. Seriously, people. I don't understand. I made another pan for my former co-workers to deliver on Monday. Because of the weather (again!) I had to delay my trip until Tuesday. It took a ton of willpower not to eat half the pan all by myself over the course of 24 hours. I love to bake and love to eat it even more. With a husband who barely eats any sweets/desserts at all it's a bad combination!

Christmas is coming

Has Christmas snuck up on anyone else as much as it has on me this year? I am feeling so far behind and unprepared. On Wednesday, Emily & I actually got around to frosting the cut-out cookies we baked last week during the snow storm. Along with the usual bread, milk and bottled water, there apparently was a run on Christmas sprinkles last week before the snow storm. I went to 3 different stores and got the last bottle of Christmas sprinkles at Super Target in Waterloo on Tuesday. They weren't even very exciting sprinkles, but Emily didn't care. She was just excited to be in charge of putting them on the cookies. I'm pretty sure that just as many sprinkles ended up on the counter and floor as on the cookies, but that's okay, too, because they went nicely with the glass of OJ Emily spilled on the floor at breakfast. If you have to mop--you might as well make it worth it! ;o) We definitely won't win any cookie decorating contests, and for many reasons these cookies will only be consumed by our family, but it's a fun tradition and activity.

I also had to enact a "no touching the Christmas tree" rule this week. After cleaning up the remains of 3 broken ornaments (none of which were at all sentimental to me) and finding more ornaments scattered around the floor and house than still left on the tree I decided that that was enough. So far, Emily has pretty much stuck to the new rule. Maybe she just got bored and is ready to move on.

After several late nights and a little help from Emily, I FINALLY have all the Christmas cards ready to drop in the mail. This is one of my favorite holiday traditions--both sending and receiving cards/letters. I'm usually the type of person who has my cards ordered by Thanksgiving and everything ready to drop in the mail by Dec. 1. This year I totally procrastinated after deciding I really didn't care for the photo card I ordered. Oh well. If you happen to receive a card with a slightly crooked stamp or address label you'll know why. ;o)

So now I should probably concentrate on putting together and wrapping gifts. Maybe I'll get around to dipping the holiday pretzels by New Year's. Maybe. :o)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lincoln Laundry

Every kid needs a picture in a laundry basket. This is Lincoln observing load #4 of 7 in the dryer today. I used to not really mind the chore of doing laundry, but it is starting to become overwhelming at times--especially on Mondays when I do sheets & towels. That's when it would be extra nice to have first floor laundry. I am very grateful for the new washer/dryer that came with the house, though!

Also, this picture confirms that it's time to purge Lincoln's closet/drawers again. He must have just had a growth spurt because all of the sudden a bunch of his clothes really don't fit anymore.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bathroom Demo

Austin spent Saturday doing more demolition work--mostly in the small half bathroom. This is what happens sometimes when you start messing with 60-year-old pipes...

After removing the blue sink, he discovered quite the eclectic sampling of former generations of wallpaper. Seriously--what were they thinking?!? It made the tan paper with small country blue & cream flowers (at the bottom) that he tore off seem not so bad.

Austin also discovered an old, dusty coin purse stuck in the radiator. The two pennies went in Emily's piggy bank and the rest went in the trash.

In addition to the bathroom, Austin also prepped the foyer and stairwell walls for texturing. He removed the wood panel opposite the top of the stairs to reveal the largest attic fan ever. This thing is 4' x 3' and isn't going anywhere any time soon even though it doesn't work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Day #3

Okay, so it wasn't really a "snow day" since it was sunny, the wind was relatively calm and we went to Denver for playgroup in the morning. It was still bitterly cold. However, we still had a fun afternoon at home. Today was "Craft Day". I had lofty ideas of making all kinds of cute cut-out snowflakes to hang up. I got as far as cutting out two before Emily totally lost interest and decided she'd rather eat a banana. She's not quite ready to cut through multiple layers of paper or in patterns. Maybe next year. ;o)

The activity Emily really enjoyed was putting together some of the "bird balloons" from a kit she received as a birthday gift. Each bird came in a separate package with the balloon, all the necessary stickers/materials and a picture to go off of. Emily ran around in circles, banging the balloons around for quite awhile. It was a good way to burn off some energy! It will be interesting to see how long the balloons last and what happens when they start to deflate. ;o) Good thing there are four more in the package!

Snow note: I think we got close to the foot of snow they predicted with some pretty significant drifts. Austin finished the third and final round of shoveling last night. He said he won the award for the most time spent shoveling in his office. He was out there for 2+ hours last night alone in the bitter wind chills. It turns out the sidewalk in front of our house is pretty long! I still don't think Austin is convinced that it's time to get a snowblower. What do you think?!? At least I bought him a new $12 snow shovel on clearance last spring. ;o)