Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Looking back at the old one, there's a lot that has happened to us.  I know Chopper and I both would like this year to be a little less hectic but we can't really complain.  There may have been a lot of trials but there have also been a lot of blessings.  And since both of those are good for us, it's been a great year.  Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

They beat me to it . . .

Chopper and I have decided that one of our family goals for 2011 is to get our food storage going.  It is really pathetic (I'm too ashamed to even give numbers) and since he keeps up with the news I get horrible reports on what's going on in the world on a regular basis.  Some scary stuff really.

So I thought -- ok I'm going to start a blog to track my progress and report on recipes and methods -- the whole 9 yards.  Nope.  Someone else had that fabulous idea first.  And I'm not too upset because it means that all the work has already been done!  I've been browsing on this blog and it looks fabulous!  If you're working on your preparedness -- I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where does the time go?

Yesterday Abby had her 9-month well-baby check.  Other than the fact that I didn't like the doctor and am on the hunt again, it went very well.

Her stats for 9 months are:
Height -- 27" (25-50%)
Weight -- 17 lbs. 1 oz. (10-25%)
Head -- 17" (25%)

Despite being perfectly normal, and after seeing her fat rolls, my doctor informed me that given the average height of both Chopper and I, hopefully she will grow some more and get a little taller.  I'm not kidding.  Just one reason why I am not going back.  She also told me it's good to marry a tall person so that short genes are averaged out.

At any rate, Abby is cranky from shots and teething (the bottom ones are really poking through now), but is still my sweet little baby.  For now.  As fast as things are going, it won't be too long before she's not my baby anymore!  At 9 months she's gotten pretty good at a few things too.  No crawling yet, but she's pushing up onto all fours.  Those darn legs just keep sliding out from under her and backwards she goes!  She claps, or really she brings her hands together.  And she does it when you do it.  She also is getting her da-da-da's down and her ma-ma-ma's although mostly we still just get spitting.  She can definitely squeal -- between her and Megan it can be pretty piercing around here!  She loves to fall backwards voluntarily and her favorite place to do it is in the tub.  She'll play and play and then the moment you get near her to start washing, backwards she goes to kick and splash up a storm.  She really loves Megan -- she looks for her when she gets up from naps and when she nurses.  She also loves to dance with mom and watch me make a fool of myself dancing for her.  Megan always liked that too.  She's not feeding herself quite yet either -- we've got the catching down, just not the delivery to the mouth.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Her Father's Daughter

Just in case you wondered, yes, Megan is sitting on the couch watching TV with a drink in one hand (no it's not Dr. Pepper though) and a very large Slim Jim in the other.

Chopper offered her a taste and then she took it from him and ate about half of it before she would give it up (to save it for later presumably).  

This is the same girl who won't eat pasta of any kind, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oatmeal, any kind of red meat (except hot dogs), and ice cream. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Merry Christmas to you!

A fabulous holiday was had by all here in the Whittacre household!  Ok, maybe not by Chopper -- poor boy is really really sick!  But it was still an excellent Christmas -- 1st one in our own home!  That's a present in and of itself.

So I told my brother and sister-in-law I would post these, 1.  because it was very artsy of me, and 2. because I am tooting my own horn about this wonderful idea I had that I am going to continue in year's to come!  And I'm tooting the horn not for me but because it worked for Megan!  So the story is that I knew simply reading the Christmas story from the scriptures would not keep Megan engaged.  My family has always acted it out but we don't really have enough people for that and honestly, I didn't know how that would work with her either.  So instead, this is what we did:
 A few days back, I "drew" a mural of Bethlehem -- rolling hills, square houses -- you know, really complex stuff.  Megan did the coloring and together we put lots of star stickers in the sky (and a few in the hills too).  Yesterday, we made an inn and a stable out of boxes that were super easy and that Megan also helped with:
 Megan painted the awning of the inn and glued the windows on.  She also helped me stick strips of paper on the glue-laden box for the stable.  She loves the little crafty projects.
 Last night I told the Christmas story and in the telling used key scriptures from Luke, Matthew, and 3 Nephi (ancient Americas not pictured) and while we told the story, we added pictures to the mural.  All of the pictures of people come from the Primary Visual Aides cutouts -- Christmas, nature, and people of the scriptures packets.  Love these things.  It went so well because Megan was involved in helping me find pictures of everyone (tell part of the story -- "and then there were shepherds, Megan where are the shepherds, let's put them in the field) and she had ownership over the design as well.  I really do think we're going to do this every year.  And maybe I'll get lucky and have children with artistic ability that will take it and run as they get older.  It just worked really well.
 Don't you love a tree with presents under it?  I had to add in a few more to fluff ours out -- mostly wrapped socks . . . hey, having warm feet is a definite gift.
 Last year, we decided Megan not liking to open presents was her age.  This year, I think it's her personality.  She really doesn't tear into them unless you encourage her.  And once they're open -- she's done and wants to play.  Well, if anything, Christmas isn't over in 15 minutes.
 Abby really enjoyed the curling ribbon . . . that's my girl!
 Isn't she just sweet?
 Chopper is excited about his leaf blower.  Yes we do have leaves.  On one tree.  In the backyard.  And they fell off last week . . . 
 Ahhh, the Christmas explosion.
 Both of my girls surprisingly loved the Melissa and Doug cupcake decorating set.  That is not surprising for Megan (it's cupcakes, markers, and little all rolled in to one), but Abby's reaction was crying that she couldn't have it.  Hmmm, future baker already?  Or indication of sister fights to come?
 Megan is fabulous about sharing though and gave Abby a cupcake.  She's better about that sort of stuff than I ever was . . . or am.  I do tend to sneak treats rather than share them . . . 
All her duckies lined up in a row.  When she's not playing kitchen, she's playing duckies.  It's hard to see but there's a "mama" duck, a "daddy" duck, and 3 little babies and they've had quite the day.  Already they've been down several waterfalls (holding on tight), slept in Megan's bed (Megan was not sleeping of course) and have been upside-down numerous times.  I love the mind of a toddler!

We had a great day that was actually very relaxing and peaceful.  After the copious amounts of sugar that Megan had, I don't think tomorrow will be the same!  It's ok though.  I love Christmas and watching your children love it is a gift itself.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Santa, We're Ready . . .

We have tacos for you and carrots for the reindeer.  And one very excited girl.  See you soon!
Love, The Whittacres

Christmas Lights For Grandpa

Frisco Sqaure is a area in Frisco where the library and city hall are at one end and then flanked by large buildings with shops on the bottom and residences on the top.  The whole square does a synchronized light show every year that includes about 100,000 lights and is sync'ed to music that plays on the radio.  So as you drive through the square you're watching this light display that is really fabulous.  We've been a few times but last night I took some video.  The reason it's for Grandpa is that Trans-Siberian Orchestra is quite possibly his favorite Christmas music ever and those are mainly the songs I recorded.  And then Megan really got into the spirit of things and kept wanting to say Merry Christmas so there's a little bit of that too!

I actually took some great video that's about 2 minutes long and includes the strands of lights that stretch over the street between the buildings but it all takes so long to download I don't know if I'll include it.  Besides, you really just have to see this to get the full effect I think.

Ok I know that this video is dark but like I said, Megan really got persistent about saying Merry Christmas for the camera so here she is one last time (at least you can hear her!):

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last-minute Christmas activities

My advent calendar has completely fallen apart.  Not literally -- the calendar itself is great!  But doing something every day has just ker-plopped.  Maybe it's because I'm getting sick.  Maybe it's because toddler-hood is so unpredictable.  If Megan's mood swings one way or the other I'm either cancelling an activity or scrambling to get it out because it's a good time.  Well, we'll try again next year.  But we have done some fun things.

This first one is from Family Fun magazine -- of course.  Love that thing.  We made Christmas trees!  It was a simple craft to cut and glue Popsicle sticks into a tree (my job), paint them green, and glue sequins on (Megan's job).  Her attention span just doesn't last too long and I usually end up finishing for her while she finds something else to do.  Like throw sequins all over my kitchen floor.  By the way, have I told you how much I love my kitchen?  We have a nice big space in the middle that we can spread out and paint, glue, everything.  I can watch Abby playing on the carpet in the living room and keep the mess fairly well contained!  It's fabulous!

Today we made chocolate pretzels.  A few weeks back our Ward Young Women left a bag of goodies on our doorstep and that included some really delicious pretzel sticks.  Chopper and I have now been craving for weeks.  We who knew that it was the treat of the year -- I haven't been able to find pretzel rods to save my life!  So I got smaller sticks (not the itty bitty ones -- they're kind've in between) and melted milk chocolate chips to dip them in.  Megan's job was to sprinkle.  And she did well for about 37 seconds and then whoops!  There's a sprinkle stuck to her hand that needs to be licked off, and a few on the table, and one on her chair and then, well, there's a whole bowl of them right here so why not?  She definitely had a good time.

 They turned out to be a really good size for her (and the rest of us of course) to eat.  I think the large rods would've just been too big. 
Our weather has been really up and down with the past 2 days about 80 degrees.  Yup, you read that right.  I can't quite get used to it and I confess that I am wishing for a white Christmas, but in general, I don't miss the snow.
  I love this picture -- it is just too sweet!

 Abby loves her exer-saucer too -- in small quantities.  It's been really nice to keep her entertained while I do dishes or work on dinner.  It's funny though -- Megan never liked it because all she could (or would) do was sit and face once direction.  Abby stands and spins and chews on toys.  It's the best thing in the world to her!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Speech Development

One of my favorite things about this time in Megan's life is her speech development.  She tries to say everything and there's a lot of repetition in our home.  But sometimes she just can't quite get there . . . today when we started to watch Finding Nemo, the Disney logo with the castle came up.  We've recently watched Cinderella and I told her that was her castle.  Today after she saw it she said to me, "Look!  It's vanilla's castle!"  She also calls granola "granilla" so something's going on there . . .

Occasionally she also says something to me that's a common phrase I use with her.  Fortunately for me it hasn't been anything rude or sassy (not that I am ever rude or sassy!), so right now it just makes me laugh.  Today at lunch I heard HER familiar phrase -- "what you want?" which is her way of asking for something else.  I've been trying to break her of this by getting her to tell me what SHE wants but she's still not quite there and so I give her her options.  Today after several options were turned down, I offered her more cranberries.  She paused a moment and said "I can do that."  Which is what I say when she gives me options and I finally hear an acceptable one (you know, not cookies, chips, or cupcakes)!  I just had to smile to myself.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What do you get when you combine --

A spitting baby . . . 
 but a happy baby . . . 
 plus a happy toddler (I think it's the candy cane)?
 A fun day where we can stay up a little later to go see Santa Claus parachute in to Frisco Square.
So we're all bundled up -- and Santa can't come because of the wind.
We might just have to try again next week.

A Crafty Christmas

I love decorating for Christmas of course.  And thanks to some well-placed sales over the years, we can be quite festive at this time of year.  But of course, like a lot of people, I like to do more.  FamilyFun magazine had an idea for making a wreath from sandwich baggies and as I was reading it, I suddenly remembered that I have a bunch of red fleece I haven't ever used.  So I came up with this:
It's kind've wonky looking but also kind've fun.  Until I see that Joann's has their blank wreath forms on mega sale.  And their Christmas ribbon.  And throw in ornaments from the Dollar Tree (love that place), and I did this: 
 A little more sophisticated I think.  Others can (and have) done better but I like our little wreaths.  And now the evergreen one is on the front door and the red fleece one is hanging on our fake ficus tree.  (Is that how you spell that?)  So we're festive inside and out!

So the girls have to get in on the action -- or at least one of them does.  Megan has been fascinated with "candy houses".  Then I bought Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson as one of our advent calendar books.  At the end of the story, Mortimer the mouse moves in to a gingerbread house -- and that was the end of it.  Megan has been asking and asking to make "candy houses". How could I say no?  Ok, I have to tell you that Chopper and I have made one every year almost all our marriage anyway so it wasn't that big of a request.  Chopper and I like to do it from scratch, but not with a toddler.  Then I saw this Wilton kit at Walmart -- 5 miniature houses for 9 bucks!  Candy houses + they're teeny tiny (which Megan loves) + I don't have to slave away over the gingerbread = fun fun fun!
 We assembled the houses the night before so they would be nice and dry for decorating and then after church yesterday, the festivities began!
 Megan enjoyed it for a while, until she started "tasting" the candy . . . 
 And then Chopper did the rest in somewhat of a hurry so that she didn't get too sugar high!
 But they turned out cute all lined up on our half wall (or whatever that thing is).
And look how artsy I'm getting with the camera!  Don't get your hopes up too high -- it's not bound to last.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This is Christmas

Our stake is hosting a nativity display for the weekend and Chopper and I took the girls today as part of our Christmas advent calendar activities.  And that's a whole other story!  The cultural hall was beautifully decorated and there were so many nativities!  They had a scavenger hunt for kids to do (which we didn't), but some of the items on there were to find nativities made of walnuts, wooden blocks, and duct tape.  Very clever that one, it didn't even look like duct tape!  Of course I couldn't resist taking pictures of the myriad of nativity quilts that were on the walls.  Now I know what my mission is in preparation for next Christmas -- a nativity quilt!

 They also had a life-size stable set up in one corner that was really nice . . . 

And they also had a children's room with nativities that the kids could play with, a cute and simple manger craft, and a spot set up to sit and read Christmas books.  Of course Megan's favorite thing was the teeny tiny sheep.  She kept asking to go back to that!  
I love these reminders of what Christmas is really about!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A flurry of activity . . . but no snow.

On the contrary, we've had really beautiful weather this week.  Good thing too because Grandma Gasser came to visit from Michigan and it's pretty cold up there so it was nice for her to have a break!  But with only 4 days to spend together, we have been busy!
 We spent a day in Grapevine, Texas which is apparently the Christmas capitol of Texas and I have to say it just might be the Christmas capitol  of a lot more than that!  Every single store had a decorated Christmas tree outside and decorations inside.  Every single little park or square was decked out -- this one with various little houses featuring carolers, elves, polar bears . . . all things winter and Christmas.

 We had a great time browsing cute little shops and admiring Christmas decor.  In fact, we liked it so much that the next day we went back at night for the Christmas parade!  It was packed!  And actually really warm too.  I wish I had some better pictures of the lights and the floats but unless you have a darn good camera (which I don't -- not THAT good), those night pictures just don't come out.  But it was spectacular.
 Yesterday we went to the zoo -- yes in shirtsleeves.  I'm not trying to brag really, it's been quite the adjustment for me and so far I am loving it!  Megan actually fed the birds and got the biggest kick out of them eating the seeds off her stick.

 After this one bird pecked her clean, she tried giving the stick to other birds but they weren't fooled.  They knew there was nothing left.
 So we fed some fish instead . . .
 Made sure to pet the goats . . . 
 Took a ride on the monorail (with Abby going for the camera) -- and where were the ZOO animals you ask?
 Well here's one.  This giraffe really wanted Megan's leaf . . .
 But he couldn't have it.
 Of course we lions, gorillas, zebras, elephants -- all the good stuff, and not just on the carousel.  You've probably seen all of those things and don't need me to prove it to you with pictures.  But we had a good time.

 Abby is doing fabulous in the movement department -- still going backwards though -- but loving it just like she loves pretty much everything else in life.
 And we spent time wrestling and flying with Grandpa.  I think that Megan is winning.

We're a little sad to see them go tomorrow but really very grateful that they are able to come and visit us.  Especially at this time of year.  It has really started our holiday season off right!