Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!!

We didn't get to make our usual trip to California this year, so we made Christmas at home, just us. It was definitely sad at moments - missing the rest of the family - but mostly it was really fun making great memories with the kids.

Earlier in the week we tried our hand at making Christmas cookies. I am no baker, so it was interesting! It all worked out quite well, and I must say they were delicious! Gregory enjoyed helping at every stage and did all the sprinkles himself. He really let his creativity shine!

We decked our halls and even though we didn't get a white Christmas, it felt quite homey and festive. Well what Christmas tree and mountain of presents doesn't feel festive? Gregory could barely wait until dawn broke before getting started on the unwrapping! Many thanks to all those that sent gifts - each and every one is truly appreciated! Your thoughtfulness made us all feel so special!

Hope you all had as lovely a Christmas as we had!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Four Months in Pictures

I'm not even going to try to make excuses for why I don't update this blog more often. Sorry, I wish I could to better, but its pretty low on the priority list. Its not that I don't want to share pictures, its just that I barely get any computer time at all these days. Not to mention, we forget to take pictures most of the time too. The kids move too fast, and most of them turn out blurry anyway!

So, without further ado, here's what we have for summer and fall!

My garden! Deer ate the beets and chard, but thankfully a lot of that grew back. The summer was too late and not hot enough to make very many decent tomatoes, but we got plenty of cherry tomatoes. Asher ate every last one of them - he wouldn't let anyone else have any! The squash and zucchini didn't produce, but we did get plenty of little carrots and green beans. I learned a lot and will do things differently next year, for sure!

A great picture from Dan's birthday. I love how even the dog is smiling!
From 2011-07-28

Gregory painted his face at the Children's Museum
From 2011-08-04
From 2011-08-04

We found a wonderful bike for Gregory on Craigslist! He loves it and is able to ride it all the way to the park and back - still with training wheels but he is getting better and better. When he started he could barely figure out how to pedal, or steer, let alone both together. So he has really come a long way! I bet next summer the training wheels will come off pretty quickly. Of course, Asher has to do everything big brother does, and doesn't like to miss out on any fun!

Asher took his first steps in California back in July, but it took him until about the first of October to really start walking! Of course, he is still climbing everything, and now running around too. Here are some pics of him enjoying his food. He loves to use his utensils and eats almost anything you offer. He often eats more than Gregory at any given meal! Now he is doing a lot more communicating, using signs, nodding yes and no, and even saying some words, so he likes to tell us what he wants and doesn't want. He is obsessed with apples and repeats "apple, apple, apple" when he sees one. Its so fun to know some of his thoughts! He clearly understands everything we say, and we can get a lot of information from him by asking yes or no questions. Maybe I should get some video of that, he is so cute!

We have a simply enormous oak tree in the front yard, and 3 more in the back. The amount of raking is kind of ridiculous. I think Dan and Gregory must have filled over 50 yard waste bags through the course of the season. At least they had fun, and the weather was mild. It didn't really turn cold until Thanksgiving!

Fall is apple season, especially in the midwest, and there are a plethora of harvest activities. We took the boys to this orchard festival, where they had all kinds of fun. Train rides, face painting, places to climb, haystacks to jump off of, a musician and kids musical instruments, apple cider, hot dogs, apple donuts, etc. etc.!

I was a doula for several births this fall, but I did get a chance to escape to Omaha for a few days in between clients. Wow it was so awesome to see those dear friends again! Then we took off for 10 days to California for Uncle Benny and Tita Liz's wedding. Asher instantly took to Grandpa Nick, and was glued to him whenever he was around! It was so cute! His hair was getting pretty long - lots of lovely baby curls - but with the wedding coming up, we decided it was time to tidy it up, so I gave him his first haircut. If anyone recalls the disaster that was Gregory's first haircut, you'll understand that I insisted on doing it myself and made sure he kept some of those sweet curls!

The wedding was held at Las Rocas Resort in Rosarito, Mexico. We loved the old charm of the hotel and had a great suite. The weather was a little chillier that we would have hoped for, but we still had a great time. Just a little less swimming that we thought. The food was amazing, and thankfully no one got sick, which was one of Dan's biggest concerns. In fact, the Lobster dinner we had the night before the wedding was one of the best meals we've ever experienced! The fresh tortillas were absolutely huge and the soup was amazing. Not to mention the fresh lobster, and margaritas! Everyone looked beautiful for the wedding, of course, especially Liz! It was truly a weekend full of fun!

After the wedding we had a few days to hang out, and had planned on mostly helping Ben and Liz move into their new home. But my Grandma Juanita's condition quickly deteriorated and she passed away on Monday, October 17th. Plans changed and it was decided that Asher and I would stay through the weekend to be with the family and attend the funeral, and Dan and Gregory would return to Minnesota as planned. It was sad to realize that Grandma was gone and wouldn't be with us for the holidays, to play games and share emails online, or to visit with. She was a month shy of her 90th birthday. But she was blessed by a relatively quick and painless end to her long and productive life, and she gave us all the gift of being able to be together a little longer and share our memories of her. Cousin Sarah and her little son Alex came out, as did several other family members that hadn't been able to come for the wedding. We shared many meals and many hours enjoying each other, playing with the kids, and helping to organize Grandma's belongings. Claire, Sarah, and I took the little ones to the pumpkin patch, where they had a great time. Asher even insisted on going down the giant slide, and he loved it. Alex wasn't too sure about the carousel, though!

After a red-eye flight home, the rest of October disappeared with me being gone to a 4-day birth! We had a couple of normal weeks in the beginning of November, then took off again. This time to North Dakota for 10 days, for Auntie Kim and Uncle Troy's wedding and Thanksgiving. Kim's wedding was lovely, but somehow I didn't manage to get our camera out for that at all! Thank goodness for photo sharing on Facebook! The week of Thanksgiving didn't go as smoothly, though. Asher suffered a dislocated elbow on Tuesday and we were in the doctor's office for several hours. There, we all caught lots of wonderful germs. By Weds night, Asher was vomiting everywhere. Dan and I took turns going to family Thanksgiving dinners. Poor little Ash! He and I also ended up with a sinus infection from that lovely doctor's office too. Ah well, we still had fun! Grandma Bonnie and the boys played and played. They even went over to the Hogan Pioneer Farm on Thanksgiving morning and rode horses and visited their 1-day old puppies! Then on Saturday morning we were all feeling decent enough to go visit Santa and go for a covered wagon ride in Mandan with the Hogan cousins.

Finally headed home and looking forward to nesting in now that the weather has actally turned cold. When we got home, we found out that we had been exposed to the chicken pox, so we waited a few days and sure enough, Gregory broke out in spots on Tuesday. First one, the next day 10, the next day maybe 20-30, now they are pretty much all over, but its not a terrible case. He sure feels just fine - it hasn't really slowed him down at all. Asher amazingly doesn't have them, but that is not unheard of in kids who are breastfeeding - the mom's immunity gets passed to them so they don't get it. I guess we'll have to get him his own pox when he's older! Lots of kids came by to catch them from us - its definitely best to try to get them over with before kindergarten and we do have a lot of preschool age friends! Of course, then I came down with the stomach flu on Thursday night - we are hoping our little friends didn't catch that as well! So here I sit with extra time to update the blog - because I'm too sick to get up and do anything else! Ah well, I figure we are getting all our winter sickness out of the way at once and can look forward to several healthy months. That's the plan, anyway! We'll be staying home for Christmas this year - a rarity since we always go to California. But after 2 wedding trips there this year, its not in the budget. Still, it will be kind of special to have our own Christmas here at home. We've already got some decorations up inside, and will hopefully feel up to getting a tree and putting up outside lights this weekend. Pictures to come, I suppose! Hopefully I won't wait until April to put them on the blog!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July California Trip

We went to California for a week to celebrate Claire's wedding. We also had the rare chance to spend time with my cousin Sarah and her family. (By the way, she used our camera to take a lot of the following photos...mostly the good ones!) She has a new baby, Alex, who we met for the first time, and the last time we saw her daughter, Beka, she was just over a year old. Of course, they hadn't met Asher yet either! We hung out quite a bit at my parents' house, and enjoyed a visit to the neighborhood Farmer's Market for a train ride, pony ride, and petting zoo.

Sunday afternoon on the 17th was the wedding at Heritage Park. It was a really nice day, Claire looked perfect, and the ceremony was lovely. Some of the choir members from Claire's high school sang some beautiful music. My sister Kayla and I sang a little part also. Gregory's job was to help Ariana (his cousin) walk down the aisle. But at not-quite-17 months old, she wasn't too sure what she was supposed to do. He took his job very seriously though, and did his absolute best. After the dinner, we all danced into the night. Gregory was quite the party animal!

After the wedding was over, we had nothing but free time to play and have fun! We went to Santa Monica Pier, walked along the shops, rode a ride, and played at the beach. It was the first time the boys had really had a full beach outing at the Ocean. No one got sunburned except poor Dan. That night we went to the Music in the Park with the Long Beach Municipal Band. I have so many memories of doing that when we were kids, it was really fun to go as a grown up with our little guys. El Pollo Loco made the perfect picnic. Even Great Grandma Juanita and Aunt Karen came along.

We spent an afternoon at the Orange County Fair, another favorite childhood experience my mine. In the morning, Gregory, Dan and I fed a few ducks over at El Dorado Park while Asher was napping. Then we met up with most of the Aunties and Uncles at the Fair. We petted the animals, watched a circus act, ice sculpting, and the Peking Acrobats, and ate too much fried food. We did not take enough pictures, at least with our camera!

On Thursday, our little family plus Auntie Audrey, took an excursion down to the San Diego area. We visited the San Diego Botanical Gardens. What a fabulous place! Amazing gardens, including 2 children's areas. The boys played for hours. Asher even climbed up a 5 ft high cargo net and back down again all by himself. We were amazed. He knew he could do it! We might be in trouble with him and the climbing, considering he isn't even walking yet! Afterwards we had dinner with Dan's cousins, Julie and Angie, and Angie's new baby Enzo, who was adorable! Again with the camera fail - we forgot to take pictures of them!

Towards the end of the trip it seems like we did get a little tired of taking pictures, but we got a few of our trip to the Cabrillo Beach, Marine Aquarium, and Point Fermin in San Pedro. Gregory seemed to really like the Touch Tank and the Tidepools. And the face-cut-outs. You know, the photo-op ones - he kept insisting that we take pictures in those! And did I mention that he and Ariana are totally infatuated with each other!?! They were hugging and kissing each other the whole week - we had to curb the kissing to cheeks only - but how adorable! Gregory really loves HIS cousin!

We did a lot of other things involving playing with the Aunties and Uncles, and a good time was had by young and old alike. There was a lot of foosball, Wii Rock Band, rolling in a giant inflatable ball, and building with Tinker Toys. On Friday night, Dan and I were finally able to sneak away to see the Harry Potter movie - thanks Audrey for babysitting! Late on Saturday night, Asher actually took his first steps! It was so fun for that to happen with the family all around, just like we witnessed Ariana's first steps back at Christmastime. And we were able to get in a last minute goodbye with Great Grandma Juanita on our way to the airport on Sunday morning. The traveling went really smoothly too - we kind of have it down to a science now. It was a very full trip, and we are really looking forward to visiting again for a week in October for Ben and Liz's wedding. 3 days in Mexico, plus visits with Michal and family, and Angela and Galiano all the way from Germany. Oh what fun! Can't wait! But I do promise to make at least a couple of blog posts here before then!
From 2011-07-24

June Catch-up

I am so sorry I didn't manage to post before we went to California last week. So we have a lot of catching up to do!

We have been really busy and distracted since May, with the new house. All throughout May we were working on construction and yard work. We finally moved in the third week of June. This was our 3rd move in 2 years, and it was by far the worst. We still haven't gotten fully settled, but since we don't plan on going anywhere for a long time, I guess there is not a huge rush. Sometime soon I will have to post before and after pictures of the remodeling.

At the beginning of June, Grandma Bonnie, Auntie Kim, and her fiance Troy, and his three kids, Joey, David, and Eden, came to visit for a few days. We had a lot of fun with them. Outings included a couple of pools and the Como Park Zoo, and the Minnesota Zoo. It was great making memories with the soon-to-be cousins - we really look forward to having them in the family officially after Kim and Troy's wedding in November.

Over the boys' birthday weekend we went on the annual API camping trip. You may recall that my labor with Asher began there last year! This was the first time we tent camped with the boys and it was a damp, rainy weekend. It really was pretty fun, though, and we look forward to doing more camping. I am sure with a little practice, we will get the hang of it and it will run more smoothly. Still, we gorged ourselves on S'mores, potluck food, good company, and of course, birthday cake. We don't indulge in too many birthday presents but the Grandparents never fail in that department. Of note this year were the amazing fabric art pieces that Grandma Mary made of their names. Hopefully I can incorporate them into some custom headboards or something like that.

It might have been insane, but our moving day was actually the day we came home from camping. But we managed to get things sort of presentable enough to have a great party on the 4th of July, complete with the big fireworks show around the corner at the park. I snapped some photos of the boys looking adorable (i.e., before they got all dirty and sticky!)

Otherwise, we have been spending our days at playgroups and splash pads, trying not to make too much of a mess at home! Gregory is taking gymnastics, which he loves. Asher finally got some more teeth, so now he has 6 on top, including 2 molars, and just 2 little ones on bottom. It doesn't slow down his eating, though, he is voracious! He weighs a full 2 lbs more than Gregory did at a year. He also took to sign language really quickly, within a couple of days of starting to show it to him. He really loves being able to signal some communication of his opinions. His dexterity isn't too good yet, but I can usually tell what he means contextually. Sometimes he tries to say a few words too, though its mostly a lot of adorable babbling. I have heard him say Mama, Dada, Ga (or GaGa or GaGee, meaning Gregory), Hi, Bye, Bug, Bird, Tweet, and Doggie.

July update to be posted momentarily...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring Fun Update!

We have been chugging along here in lovely Minnesota, experiencing a rather cold and wet spring. Aside from a day here and there with decent weather, things have really only warmed up the last couple of days! Ah well, the boys have continued to grow and blossom even in spite of the chill.

We enjoyed a trip to the Children's Museum at the end of March with a friend. Gregory really had so much fun and even Asher was entertained in the baby room. He was just starting to really crawl and pull up on things at that point. Now he is really fast and cruising around the furniture too.

Asher has been ramping up on eating solid foods in the last 6 weeks or so. He really kinda took off with it and is now eating a lot of most things that we eat. He hasn't really met a food he doesn't like yet! He gets an adorable pathetic look on his face when we are eating and he doesn't have any. Then he yells at me until I give him some, or at least something that he can have! He is pretty efficient, especially considering he only has 3 teeth! He finally cut the first one at the beginning of April, and it was the top one, which is unusual. He is pretty cute with those little pearly whites, though!

The boys had a pretty laid back Easter this year since we had all suffered with the stomach flu for the previous week. But we did manage to pull together some baskets and do a little egg hunting.

Grandpa Mike and Grandma Coralie were in town for Mother's Day and we went to a nice brunch. However, the weather was dreary, and the boys were rowdy, so it was rather humorous to attempt taking any nice family pictures...

I try to get the camera out sometimes when cute things are going on, but both Asher and Gregory get weird and distracted by it, so I am not usually lucky enough to catch the best moments. Here are some of my attempts though!

One more thing and then we are pretty much caught up for now. Last Saturday, Gregory had his first dance performance! It was an informal class showing for his Creative Movement class, but it was at the U of M Dance Center, with lots of people there, so it was pretty neat. He had such a fantastic time this past year in Dance Class and we are really thankful to Miss Denise for her wonderful teaching!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Spring has definitely been creeping in over the last few days. We had over 80 inches of snow this winter, and it is all but gone from the ground. Today it is raining. Soon the buds will start swelling on the tree branches and tiny leaves will sprout. The sunlight is stronger and longer each day - its hard to believe we are at the vernal equinox already! All I have to say about all this is 'Bout Time! I am ready to start hanging out at the park! Or maybe digging around in a garden box at our new HOUSE!

That's right, we bought a house! We will be closing in May, doing a little work, then moving in June. We absolutely CANNOT wait, we are so thrilled! The new house is on a cul-de-sac street in a lovely quiet neighborhood in a first ring suburb, so its minutes from all the things we like to do in the city. We will have a lovely guest room, so come visit us!

The boys have both been doing a lot of growing over the winter. Gregory is around 37 inches tall now, which means he is big enough to go in the IKEA ball pit play area, something he has been dying to do for the last couple of years! He's coming up on the 30 lbs mark too! Another milestone was his first emergency room visit for an injury. Twice in two weeks, actually. First a finger smashed in the hinge of a huge door, then a split lip from a fall on the concrete. Thankfully, neither required medical treatment and he has recovered nicely. We're pretty sure those won't be the last times we have to take a boy to the ER, but hopefully we can keep it to a minimum!

Recently Greg has had a lot of cognitive development too. He is a pro at complex puzzles, patterns, and block building. He can write all his letters and draws fairly identifiable pictures with lots of different colors. He can sound out basic 3 and 4 letter words and reads the first level of the Bob Books at preschool. He has been asking how to spell things all the time. He started asking a lot of questions about outer space and physics, so we have been explaining how the rotation of the Earth on its axis causes night and day, etc. He has a lot of imagination about outer space - its pretty funny! His balance and coordination have also been growing, especially through his Saturday dance class, which he loves. This summer he will do a sports class and swimming, and maybe gymnastics too, through community ed.

Asher turned 9 months old yesterday, and is slowly becoming mobile. He rolls all over the place now, and scoots backwards. He will surely be crawling forwards within a week or two. We can tell that he is quite pleased with himself! He is a cuddly little guy, with a pretty cheerful and laid back personality. He really loves playing with Gregory, who is a fantastic big brother! I think they really truly like each other, which is, of course, one of my greatest hopes as their mom!

Despite lacking any teeth, Asher has been trying out eating some foods. We follow the child-led approach, which means we don't use pureed baby food, and we look for the baby's individual signs of readiness. Basically, we let them tell us when they are ready to eat. Asher really enjoys playing with and tasting foods, but so far, he still has a fairly strong tongue-thrust reflex, so the bits that go into his mouth often pop right back out again. He does manage to swallow a little, though, and we see food as just for fun at this point anyway. So far he has tried bananas, butternut squash, apples, pears, green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, rice, quinoa, and egg yolk. He seems to like squash really well - maybe its the mushiness?

Well that's pretty much the update from us for now. The next couple of months will be really busy with the new house and moving preparations, and I'm sure especially Asher will just be changing so quickly this summer too. We'll try to keep up!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Christmas! Why not, its only the middle of February?

OK folks, I have finally managed to put together all the stuff from the Christmas 2010 trip.

Just before we left, we opened the presents from the Fix and Hogan grandparents. Gregory had so much fun ripping open all the packages! Thanks for all the wonderful gifts, Grandmas and Grandpas!

This trip was the first time we got to meet my niece, Ariana. She is about 4 months older than Asher, and she took her first steps while we were visiting! What a smart little sweetie! She had fun watching Gregory running all around the house! We also enjoyed spending time with friends of the Aunties, especially Erick, who entertained us with a lot of great music!

We had a great big party at Aunt Vicky and Uncle Brian's house for Christmas Eve, which was wonderful as always. Two more babies in the family this year made it extra fun!

Christmas morning at my parent's house we all opened stockings and lots more presents! Oh my goodness, there was so much! That evening Uncle Ben and Tita Liz brought over their Foosball table and we had an epic tournament!

The day after Christmas we enjoyed the Orange County swapmeet, where Gregory found several opportunities to cut a rug...

We had a very fun day at the Santa Ana Zoo on Grandma Mary's birthday!

We also visited the Discovery Science Center in Orange, and the Griffith Observatory in LA.

This year instead of Disneyland, we went to Knott's Berry Farm. I haven't been there since high school, and a lot of changes have been made since then. Gregory got to know who the Snoopy is, and Dan and I got to ride some big roller coasters. There was kind of a lot of waiting in line, but we had a great time anyway, and rounded out the day with a proper Chicken Dinner.

We did so much more that we didn't get pictures of! We had a wonderful visit as always. And there will be a couple of weddings in the coming year, so we are looking forward to going again sooner than next December! OK, so now that the Christmas stuff is finally up, we can start taking pics again!