Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

Good morning Christmas. Even with all of the anticipation and expectations you somehow always manage to deliver. There is something to be said for consistency. 

We woke up earlier than normal. In fact we could have watched the sun come up. The girls were first to make it downstairs. Charlotte was kind enough to finish off the crumbs that Santa left behind. (Luckily he drank all of his milk so she didn't have to worry about that)

Aside from cookie crumbs Mr. and Mrs. Claus also left behind some pretty cool stuff including mermaid blankets and a fully stocked gum ball machine. 

For the second year in a row we also opted for opening presents throughout the day rather than all at once. In between we played with new toys and gadgets, made breakfast, and napped. 

Oma helped celebrate, the girls watched TV in a box, and Charlotte performed on her new ukulele as is also tradition. Building memories. That's what we do best. 






Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

The cookies are baked and the (almond) milk is poured.
We've opened our new Christmas pajamas and read "The night before Christmas".
Oma has the Santa Claus tracker at the ready and the girls are cuddled on the couch.

We're ready!




Monday, December 21, 2015

Visiting Santa Clause


We waited in line. Excitement peaked. We talked through the whole process...you can see evidence below of how the preparation paid off...or didn't.

As the girls climbed down I looked back to see Charlotte start breaking into tears. When I asked what was wrong she said she hadn't gotten a chance to tell Santa what she wanted. 

For the few key moments that they sat on his lap she worked her very best to console her sister. Because Grace was upset Charlotte made sure to tell Santa what her little sister wanted. 

I suggested she quickly run back to tell Santa quickly what she was wishing for (the people behind accommodated). A quick whisper in his ear and the world was once again in balance.

Full disclosure, while I did have my camera, these photos were captured by the talented photographer there that day. If I can dig up her name I'll certainly post it here. 

Full disclosure #2 - Charlotte does not have make-up on. I have no idea why her lips are so red and cheeks blushed. 





Friday, December 18, 2015

Cookie Day!!

I've lost count now, but this must be close to 10 years of cookie baking tradition. And what a fun tradition it is.

Nicole and Paul fought traffic to make the drive out to your place for the day. Troy stopped at the library and picked up a stack of movies for the boys, and we made a last minute grocery store run to stock up on everything we need for the day.

Charlotte was excited for days, starting the countdown earlier in the week. It was torture asking her to wait. She was a great helper this year. Stirring, dipping, spreading, and the most important....testing.
She's an expert here.

Grace stayed close to me wanting to dump everything she could into the bowl...there's likely extra sugar in every batch. As it turns out, Grace is also an expert at tasting.

I had the chance to catch up with a dear friend which hadn't been done in far too long. Troy enjoyed relaxing on the couch. We talked our guests into staying for a casual dinner, enjoyed some cocktails and wonderful conversation.

Really great day....so great that I forgot all about pulling the camera out with the exception of the one picture below.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tea Time

A rare day with just Charlotte and myself. And not just any ordinary day.

After breakfast at home, we dressed and headed to the train. We got a seat on the top per Charlotte's request and watched out the window as the city grew bigger the closer we came.

We spent roughly an hour and a half strolling around downtown. Charlotte insisted on bringing money and asked me to put two quarters of hers into my purse. As we walked past a homeless man she asked for her money, took one quarter and gave it to the man. He looked at me, smiled, and said thank you. "You're welcome. It was her money and her choice" I replied.
He then looked at Charlotte with a sincere look of appreciation and said thank you. We talked a little about it as we walked away. About how fortunate we are for what we have. How that man did not have a home, and the many ways that people need help. Really, what we talked about was kindness.

We walked a bit further hand in hand. She jumped up on the benches we passed, and stopped to look into windows. We wandered over to the Macy's windows and spent time looking at the holiday decorations.

Finally, we headed to the Art Institute where they put on a treasure hunt and tea party each year. Two families from our old school in the city met us there to make 4 girls 3 adults. The whole thing was a chaotic, but Charlotte had a fantastic time, and far too much sugar.

We headed home on the train. Tired and happy.








Monday, December 7, 2015

Milestone - Naughty Words

Not all milestones are good ones.

We were sitting down at the dinner table tonight. We were having edamame and I had placed a bowl on the table for the shells. Charlotte had been tossing hers into the bowl when one time her toss fell a bit short and landed just in front of the bowl.

"Ahh, damint" said the 4 year old sitting on her knees with a bow in her hair.

Troy and I exchanged glances assuming we had heard her wrong.

"What did you say?" we asked nonchalantly.

"Ummm...nothing" came the reply. And then we knew. We had indeed heard correctly.

Awesome. So among learning the state bird, the fact that the statue of liberty's crown is made of windows, and why she has 7 points on her crown, our daughter managed to lean some new vocabulary as well. I guess on the bright side at least she learned this one at school rather than at home....

We had a casual discussion about how some words are reserved for adults, and how they aren't nice words.

I'll give her credit for using it in context.
I'll give us credit for not busting out in laughter when it happened.



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Beginning to Look Like Christmas

It's starting to look like Christmas in Iowa and Illinois. We have now helped decorate 3 Christmas trees and hung stockings at three different homes. We're on a roll.

We put Oma and Grandma's trees up while we were back in Iowa and we've just finished up putting the star on our tree. Our record player paves the way with Christmas carols both new and old. Each year we manage to add new special ornaments to our collection leaving more of the generic box set in the package. It's a collection both old and new and some of our favorites continue to be those brought home from school from the girls.

Charlotte is particularly enamored by the nativity set this year. She has added her own gifts to the collection including Christmas light bulbs, pine cones and batteries. More than once I've found baby Jesus missing.

Grace, on the other hand, continually swipes the toy stuffed puppy that barks "Jingle Bells" and walks around the house bringing holiday cheer wherever she goes.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....welcome to December!






Saturday, November 28, 2015

Milestone: Potty Time

Sianara diapers!

This 2 year old is moving up to the big time.

We decided to tackle this big milestone over the Thanksgiving holiday while we had some time off of work.

32 pairs of underwear. Zero diapers. Lots of stickers. 1 bag of M&Ms. A sprinkling of prizes. One package of juice boxes. Most importantly an unlimited supply of patience and understanding.

Day 1: Went as expected. Lots of accidents. Lots of running to the potty. Lots of praise.

Day 2: A handful of success stories and a new love of stickers. We tried candy and prizes. It turns out this girl is fueled by praise and gold stars.

Day 3: She's getting it! The majority of the time she jumps up and says 'potty' then proceeds to slowly saunter to the bathroom. We try rushing her and she'll stop and pick up a toy or a book or go the long way. Eventually she'll make it. And on day 3 I call this a win.

I'm once again amazed at how well this method has worked for us. We still have some work to do on the overnight bit, but until then we'll keep the water proof mattress nearby.

This little baby girl of ours is so very proud of herself. Almost as proud as we are.






Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving

We packed up the car and headed back to Iowa to celebrate Thanksgiving. As is usually the case Troy and I used the holiday to spend time in kitchen. Any chance to entertain or cook for a group and we'll take it. This year though we had a special family friend join us. Unfortunately for her she has a number of allergies. Fortunately for her we love a challenge. 

We said our thanks around a table full of gluten, egg, and dairy free grub. A little extra work but man did it pay off....I may even venture to say that this was our most delicious Thanksgiving to date. 

The girls clocked in some quality time with Grandma and Oma and the Mister and I managed to find some quiet moments for R&R. 




Friday, November 20, 2015

Snow Cones

When life gives you snow...you make snow cones. And eat them in your jammies while watching a movie. In front of the fireplace to keep warm of course.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

1920's

Mr H. and I took a night off to last month to attend a 1920's themed dinner at the arboretum.  It was rainy with a chill in the air. A good setting for a murder mystery dinner.

It was amazing to see everyone dressed in pearls, boas, and facinators. A glimpse back to the past into an era so different than the past. Fairly certain we could have owned the 20s when it comes to cocktails and fasion.

We took advantage of the photo booth along with the top shelf cocktail bar. We solved a (rather obvious) mystery, enjoyed some good conversation, and really great food.





Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Sunday to Remember

Troy has been studying lately for a work exam so the girls and I packed a lunch, a bag full of gloves and hats, and made our way over to the arboretum.

We parked by the pine tree "forest" and made our way in and out of trails. We parked the trailer a number of times and went further in to explore. Finding all kinds of leaves, abandoned trees and "treasures".

Highlights of our adventure: the tee pee, a dead tree that had fallen just right to create a teeter totter, and sword fighting.

A beautiful fall day with excellent company.









Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween!!

My only hope for this Halloween was that the weater was better than last. It's hard to enjoy Halloween when you can't hold your bucket of candy because your hand is so cold you can't feel your fingers around the handle.

This year was great. It was rainy and misty, but the downpour let up around 5pm so we took advantage and headed out with our super hero (Hawk Girl) and pirate.

They went hand in hand to the first door while we waited back on the sidewalk. Grace watched her big sister and followed like a pro. We had a great turn out this year. A lot of visitors stopped by, and we covered a decent amount of ground going door to door.

Hawk Girl for anyone who doesn't know is part of the original Justice League....Charlotte's Saturday morning cartoon of choice.










Sunday, October 18, 2015

Some Time to Ourselves

W'eve been running around for months playing catch up. Between house projects, work projects, and just general life we haven't had much time to simple "be".

Oma is here this weekend, and given the time of year we decided to head to the arboretum to check out the fall foliage. The place was a madhouse, but a beautiful madhouse. It felt good to get out for the day. So good in fact that we signed up for a membership. I guess we'll make more time for just "being" this coming year.

Movie night followed.




Saturday, October 17, 2015

Milestone: Grace First Hair Cut

Just like with Charlotte, we decided to do Grace's first haircut at home.
Charlotte sat close by watching in support.
The mister was armed with the squirt bottle.
I had the scissors. Eeeek.

She did great, and I managed to eliminate the rat tail.
I'll call it a win.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Moon Watching

No pictures, but man what a sight.

We took advantage of beautiful unobstructed farm skies to view the blood moon, not to reappear for another 18 years.

We sprawled blankets out on the front lawn of Oma's house, and just watched. Slowly the white of the moon faded away to be replaced by an orange-red color. The girls fell asleep. Grace in Oma's arms. Charlotte curled up between Troy and I on the blankets.

See you again in another 18 years.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Boat-iful Weekend

While back in Iowa celebrating September birthdays the Mister and I snuck away for an evening without kids. They stayed with Oma, had movie night and I'm sure popcorn - they were upset to see us leave I'm sure....

Meanwhile, we met up with a couple girlfriends of mine from high school and their husbands for a fun night away. One of the couples has a passion for sailing and invited us for an overnight sailing trip. No kids, beautiful weather, and we couldn't have asked for better company. We had a wonderful time. 

The next morning we stopped off to a small little brunch place and great coffee before heading home to all the kids. Refreshed and with a little extra spring in our step we went home to our little families. 

Maybe again next year....if they'll have us back. 




Monday, September 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Mister Haigh!

We picked up some cupcakes and celebrated at home. A serenade of "Happy Birthday"and a trio of cupcake flavors made for a perfect quaint celebration.

This guy. He's pretty incredible. He asks for very little. He deserves everything, and more.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Birthday Girl - Letter to Grace

My Dear Sweet Grace, 

You are in one word: strong. It's sometimes hard to believe that you are just now turning two. At times I have to step back and marvel at what a big personality resides in such a small body. You are fiery and stubborn and full of laughter. You are the complete opposite, yet so similar to your sister in so many ways. You constantly remind us of your uniqueness and I'm grateful for the ability to see the two of you in wonderfully different ways. 

This letter has had me stumped for quite some time. Each time I've sat down in hopes of putting into words what I want to say to you I'm flooded with an overwhelming realization that you are no longer a baby. I struggle with where the last two years have gone and how you could have grown this much this quickly. But then, as you are sitting next to me, you look up at me and grin. I see that the the folds around your ankles have all but disappeared. The curls in your hair are hanging on at the ends with all they have, struggling to be seen. As I turn back to type you get to your feet and put your arm around my neck. Unprompted, you lean over and give me a kiss on the cheek. And then you lick me. Sweet, ornery, unpredictable and most definitely not a baby. 

At the age of two you are already an extraordinary person and I am so incredibly excited to see the woman you become. Be yourself, continue to be be your own person. Keep that part of you that is strong willed so very close. Guard it. As hard as it is to contend with as a parent it will be the one single thing that helps you to stand up for yourself and keep ahold of who you are as you grow older. It will help you to be brave. Not bravery in the traditional sense, but bravery in the everyday sense. The way that allows you to stand up for those in tough positions. The strength to make the right decision and not necessarily the easy decision. Be brave enough to be you. Trust me, you're fantastically good at playing this role.  

Happy Birthday Love. 





Sunday, September 13, 2015

Texas

I need better post titles. Something more clever. Something less literal. Something that leaves something to the imagination. "Texas". I wonder what this post will be about?

Iowa! Kidding.

TSA has a rule. A good rule, but one that parents come to learn fairly early on. Children can sit in their parents laps (and avoid buying a separate ticket) until the age of 2. With one look at the calendar to see that Grace's 2 year birthday was weeks away and one quick text to our Texas family we had a trip planned.

We crammed in as much love, fun and memories as we could manage. Swimming pools, bike rides, baking, cocktails, tea parties, and the list goes on.

The pool adventure was our best of the year. Our friends have a local neighborhood pool with water slide and diving board. But because 85 degrees is too cold for Texans to visit an outdoor pool we had the entire place to ourselves. This meant that any applicable age or height limits for the slide and board were off the table - Charlotte was thrilled. The Mister and myself even took advantage.

We even managed to find time to have an early birthday celebration for the most ornery soon to be 2 year old we know.

I say it every time. And as the kids get older it rings more true: I wish we lived closer to one another. Maybe someday.

Until then, we have long weekend adventures...and skpe.