Cookie Decorating Party

We had a cookie decorating party last weekend with my friends that I worked with at PwC (and some at Monsanto too).  The party was supposed to be at our friend Stephanie's house - she had even rented kid-sized tables and chairs - but she was on day 3 of a fever, so we decided to relocate to our house instead.

Rebecca and Christa had made all the cookies in advance, then we just whipped up some icing and everyone brought sprinkles and decorations.  I put a throw-away tablecloth on the table and another underneath, which caught most of the mess.  The kids loved it!  Every one of them got into it, at least for awhile.

After the cookie decorating, the kids played and Jack showed off the train under our tree.
And Jack pulled Caroline around in the Cozy Coupe.  Fun times!
Of course no play date is complete without a kids-on-the-couch photo shoot:
Kaitlyn Stebe, Evan Chancellor, Caroline Presson and Jack

plus Ben Stebe, Graham Presson, Charlie and Braeden Hood

Graham helping Charlie out with his paci (these two are 6 days apart - too cute!)
It was a fun party that I'm sure we'll repeat in the years to come!

First Slumber Party

Jack had his first slumber party a few weekends ago.  His cousins Mia and Lily are always asking him to spend the night and he's too nervous to give it a try, so we decided we should start with them staying at our house.  The kids had a lot of fun playing together - they all get along so great!  Charlie went to bed at his normal time then we set the big kids up in sleeping bags in the living room to watch a movie.  When they were all awake after movie number one (Toy Story) we had to start enforcing keeping heads on the pillow and no talking.   Lily fell asleep shortly after the second movie (Cars) started, but Jack and Mia were still going strong.  FINALLY they both fell asleep but it was probably close to 10:30.  Phew!
Jack slept the whole night in the living room with his cousins, which shocked me - I thought for sure he'd want to move into his bed.  In the morning they all woke up and came in our room.
Jason's under there somewhere too!
Jason went and got us donuts for breakfast so that was a fun treat.
Yes Mr. Big Shot had to sit at the table with the other kids

I'm not sure if Cyndi and Todd will be jumping at the chance of future slumber parties at our house because we returned both kids broken.  Lily had a black eye from wrestling with Jason, Mia and Jack.  It was strange because they were all playing pretty rough but she never so much as said "ow" and next thing I knew she had a bruise on her face.  I asked her what happened and she didn't know.  As the night progressed it looked worse and worse and we saw her a week later and it was fading but still there.  Ouch!  And Mia woke up in the morning and told me her throat hurt but she thought it was just dry from sleeping so I gave her water.  Turns out she had strep throat.  Luckily no one else got it, but I sure felt like Aunt of the Year for not even noticing she was sick!
This was early - it just got worse and worse from there
I'm sure we have many, many more cousin sleepovers in our future and we look forward to it!

15 Months Old

Our Charlie Man has now surpassed the 15 month mark.  He's a (mostly) happy, silly, lovey, easy little guy.  He is talking more and more with each day that passes.  Just this week I learned that he is starting to make animal noises (woof, moo and roar that I've witnessed) and Grandma Lang tells me he can say his cousin's name (Bar-Ber), which he finally demonstrated for the rest of us last night.  He can also say Mommy, Daddy, Jack and ball very clearly and lots of other words not so clearly.  I even got him to say Ho Ho Ho the other day, but now he won't repeat it (he has 2 more days to master that feat).  He loves a book at Grandma and Grandpa's house where he can point to a ball, dog, shoes, etc.

Charlie had his 15 month check-up on the 10th.  Daddy took him since I am still so crazy at work (and not happy about missing milestone doctor appointments).  He said Charlie is on par with all the questions the doctor asked about him....starting to experiment with utensils, understanding ~50 words, starting to say some words, climbing a little (though he's not as daring as some other boys in our life - Ethan Asher will climb ANYthing he sees - gotta keep an eye on that little guy!), following instructions, etc.  He apparently despised the whole appointment from the moment Jason set him on the scale (what is it about that thing that gets kids all worked up??) until they left the building, but they survived nonetheless.  He had to get two shots: MMR and Varicella (chicken pox).  He's still going strong in the growth stats:  weight = 26 lbs, 4 oz (88.5%), height = 32.25" (85%) and head is still large at 19.76" .
 He hasn't gotten any new teeth lately, but one of his eye teeth is on the verge of poking through any second now and I think the other three are closely behind.  Here's to hoping it's not too painful for the little man!!

Charlie loves to give big open mouth sloppy kisses and hugs.  One of his favorite things to do is play on beds or couches.  He'll stand there until he has your attention and then say "aaaaahhhhhhhh" and then "fall" down to his knees.  Seriously cutest thing ever.  He'll do it over and over again as long as you keep paying attention.  Mark my words: this one is going to be a class clown.  He LOVES to make people laugh.
He is still pretty shy with strangers but opens up pretty quickly (a little more outgoing than Jack was at this age).  Back on our Rochester trip in early October he mastered blowing kisses and he can also wave, give high fives and do some sign language, especially more (and please, though not as consistently) and help.

Charlie can identify his body parts - so far I've seen him point to his hair, belly, nose, eyes, mouth, hands and feet.  Every time I've asked him where his ear is, he points to his hair, so we're still working on that one (though I haven't asked him in a few weeks, so for all I know he's mastered that one too).  I also discovered this week that he knows some motions to songs.  I was at his holiday party at school and the Wheels on the Bus came on and like four littles, including Charlie, stood near each other and did the "open and shut" and the "round and round."  We also discovered the other day that he will put his finger to his lips when we say "shhhh," which we're also assuming comes from that song (Mommies on the bus go shhh shhh shhh).  He's always surprising me with new things he knows!!
Enjoying a cookie at his class holiday party

Yum! Red icing! (notice Jack in the background baring his undies)
Charlie recently decided that high chairs are not for him.  After Jack did this at about the same age and we gave it and struggled getting him to stay still to eat for the next year or so we swore baby #2 would stay in a high chair until he was 5.  But alas, he is fighting us and we find ourselves giving in to avoid screaming and struggling.  I'm not giving up on the high chair or the booster seat just yet!!  However, this big chair (no booster, just sitting at chin-level with the table) has worked for about a week now - I think he thinks he's hot stuff.
Another new development: little man can officially open the doors at our house. That's what we get for going with lever door handles - we like the look, but toddlers can figure them out so much more quickly.  So much for keeping him out of closets, bathrooms and the laundry room by simply closing the door!

We have so much fun with our little Char Man and are enjoying each day that goes by!


Wild Lights at the Zoo

Early in December we had some great weather, so we decided to check out the Wild Lights at the Zoo.  It's basically just a chance to visit the Zoo at night with lots of Christmas lights everywhere.  Not all the exhibits are open, but many are.

We went with Uncle Todd, Aunt Cyndi, Mia, Lily and their neighbors.  We had a bit of a rough time because Charlie didn't want to stay in his stroller, especially if we were standing still (when we were waiting in line, for example).  Jason ended up taking Charlie with him with the intent to take him back to the car and drive around since it was nearing his bedtime.  Of course as long as they kept moving, Charlie was perfectly content, so instead the two of them just walked laps around the zoo.

Jack and the rest of us rode the carousel and checked out some of the animals.
Charlie enjoyed the penguins

It was a nice time, but one of the highlights was after we left and Daddy surprised us with a trip to Ted Drewes.  Unfortunately a very large bus was unloading when we pulled up so the lines were crazy long.  We decided instead to get Dairy Queen (since we had already promised ice cream) and then followed through with the rest of Jason's secret plan: driving by our old house in the city and driving through to see some Christmas lights.  It was a really nice way to end our night.

Christmas is Coming

We have started a few traditions this time of year.  The first (and most consistent) has been getting a real Christmas tree.  We've gone to cut one down the past several years and have had some interesting luck.  Let me refresh your memory before we get to this year...

2007: First year in our house.  Sadly this debacle is undocumented but I will try to paint the picture for you.  We chopped down a tree and it was HUGE.  As tall as the plant shelf in our vaulted living room.  One night we came home from a bar with some friends (Greg, Melissa and Adam to be specific) and noticed that the sheet under the tree had gotten into the water and wicked it all out.  Since we couldn't leave a wet sheet on the carpet we decided the best course of action was to lift the gigantic tree and pull the sheet out.  Well, that was actually successful, then Jason started sliding the tree back into the corner.  Next thing we knew the whole tree was tipping over!  Yep, shattered ornaments, much more water on the carpet, the whole shabang.

2011: Last year we severely misjudged the size of our tree when we were cutting it down and ended up with this:
Jason had to do some MASSIVE trimming to make the tree fit in our toy room - this is the portion he cut off:
2012: We went to the same place again to cut down a tree.  The boys were great and we found a tree we liked.

THEN we got it home and Jason trimmed it up.  Turns out the tree was pretty bare, to say the least...

Yikes!!  So, we ditched tree #1 and went to a tree lot and got a much more respectable tree.  Tree #1 will be reincarnated as a fish habitat in one of the lakes Jason frequents.  Ah, when will we learn?

Here's the good tree:

This is also our second year of the Elf on the Shelf tradition.  Last year we named the elf Petunia and this year Jack determined that he was boy and named him Spidey.  (The boy is obsessed with Spiderman despite never having watched the movie.)  Spidey is pretty good about keeping Jack in line since he's reporting back to Santa each night while we sleep!

We've also continued last year's tradition of opening one wrapped Christmas book each night in December.  Last year it really helped with our bedtime routine: we would pick a present, brush teeth, get in bed, open and read the book and call it a night.  This year we're opening and reading the book a little earlier in the evening so Charlie can participate and it's been pretty hit or miss whether Jack is really interested in reading the book.  He loves opening the presents, that's for sure!

Our visit with Santa was really fun.  We went to a Habitat for Humanity event at the Foundry Art Centre, where Jason and I got married.  The whole way there we talked up sitting on Santa's lap and telling him what he wanted for Christmas.  You may recall Jack has not been a huge fan of Santa to date:
Jack was unsure but seemed willing to give it a whirl after he suggested that he could stand next to Santa rather than on his lap and we agreed.  When he and Charlie had their turn, Charlie immediately freaked out and lasted about 2 seconds on Santa's lap before squirming away..

I love this last one because of Jack's giant smile
Jack, however, was so brave!!  After Charlie got away, Santa asked Jack if he'd like to sit on his lap and he said OK.  I couldn't hear everything they were saying, but I did hear Jack tell Santa he would like a train and Spiderman.  Seriously so proud of my big shot!
After he was finished, he looked like he was going to cry.  When I asked him what was wrong he said "Well, I told Santa that I wanted a train and Spiderman and he said those were good ideas."  I said "Good job, Buddy."  And he said, "But...he didn't give them to me."  Oops!  I guess in all our pep talks about talking to Santa we neglected to explain that you ask for presents that Santa brings later on Christmas.  Poor little guy.

He recovered from his disappointment though and had fun doing arts and crafts and checking out the train display.

Notice the homemade bead/pipe cleaner necklace that we made at home earlier in the day.  Love that he wore it to this event.  He made some jewelry for Daddy too (see below)
Sadly, Daddy decided not to wear his new jewelry to the event

Addi & Jack

We've had a lot of fun preparing for Christmas this year.  I think Jack understood a little bit last year, but this year he is really excited and we are too!