Saturday, December 31, 2011

favourite christmas photo

the rest you'll have to see on facebook...

Monday, December 26, 2011

the days leading up to christmas...

day 21: wrap presents with ben's wrapping paper

day 22: give a gift to our downstairs tenant, rebekah.
he was excited but shy when we got there. he had wanted to see her cat but didn't want to pet it when she brought him out. after we came back upstairs, ben talked about the cat for the next 10 minutes. haha.

day 23: give a gift to the garbage man
this was too funny because all morning, we listened for the garbage truck and it never came, never came. then we had friends over (see photos below) and while they were here, we forgot to listen and didn't realize the truck was here until it was picking up our garbage. in that split second of deciding if we skip it or if i make a mad run for it...i made a mad run for it. got ben's boots on, my shoes, present in hand, ben and i started running down the driveway. the truck was next door. we got to the end of the driveway and the truck was around the corner and ben was crying. i picked him up and start jogging around the corner. everytime the truck would stop then go again, ben would start to cry again. oh my goodness. we finally reached him about 5 houses down. he saw us and started backing the up the truck. we handed him the present, said merry christmas, and walked home. it was pretty funny. it definitely took me a few minutes to catch my breath.

playing with avery.

playing with friends from the island whom ben has not seen since summer 2010. he had SUCH a great time with the big kids.

ben talks

things i don't want to forget ben said this month:

when asked if he was going to be a fireman (because of his fire boots), he responded, "no. a fireman goalie." and then he jumped into goalie position.

singing to himself: "christmas lights. christmas tree. santa is coming. baby jesus is born."

when we passed a hospital, "ay-wee (avery) born at the hop-e-tal?" "yes, but avery was born at a different hospital. mommy was born at this hospital." (i'm all about saying things that i know will make no sense to ben. haha) then ben asked, "baby jesus born at this hop-e-tal?"

we were driving down the road and saw a man on a motorized scooter on the sidewalk. he had a big white beard. ben shouted, "santa!"

i am LOVING all the talking with ben all day. it's so great to be able to communicate and it's totally mind-blowing the things that he remembers that we have told him.

advent calendar: day twenty

"visit uncle matt at the fire hall"

after a week or two of early, early mornings with ben and cranky, cranky mid-day crashes, i wasn't sure how the pre-planned "drive-all-the-way-to-burnaby-to-see-uncle matt's-firehall" was going to go. (that's about an hour and a bit away - longer with traffic) but cranky or not cranky, we were out the door at 8:15am and on our way to make it happen. ben was great most of the way to burnaby. i armed myself with the desirable soother in case of emergency which was a good call on my part. when we got to the hall, matt was heading out to another hall to switch trucks so ben and i were on our way to a tim hortons to wait for them to return. ben pointed out the skytrain that we were driving under and i thought, "why not?". we parked and hopped on the skytrain to ride a few stops then come back. we probably spent about 25 minutes getting on and off skytrains and ben thought it was pretty great.

when we got to the hall, ben had this very reserved exterior as he tried to contain his excitement. i don't know how to describe it but while anyone who looked at him might have thought he wasn't all that excited to be at the firehall, i could see that he was unbelievably thrilled to be there. he's a funny, little boy. ben got to get in the truck, try on masks and helmets, and pretend to drive.

while we were looking at the truck, a call came in, and all of a sudden, all the firemen were in action changing from their navy uniforms into the yellow suits. i was trying to get out of there as fast as possible so that ben wouldn't be scared by any loud sirens or anything but we were safe - no sirens blared while we were inside. we watched through the window as the guys jumped on the truck and we waved at them as they sped away, sirens roaring. very exciting stuff. ben and i were still sitting in the parking lot deciding whether we'd wait for them to come back or if we'd go home when the truck came back to the hall - they'd been called off because the accident wasn't as bad as they'd thought it was. the chief told matt that they could take ben around the block in the truck so matt came over to see if ben wanted to go. the potential loud noises that the truck might make kept ben from taking matt up on his offer. matt and i did our best to assure ben that it would be fun and there would be no sirens but ben said, no, he didn't want to go. i resisted yelling, "I want to go!" ;)

instead, we got to check out the kitchen, gym, sleeping quarters, fire pole, etc, etc. which was very cool. when another call came in, we said our goodbyes and got to see the truck fly out of the hall again. then we were on our way home. ben was asleep before we even got on the highway. a big day and a good day.

getting to know avery

about a week after avery was 2 months old, there was a moment that everything changed. all of a sudden, it felt like we finally knew this little girl. we knew when she needed to sleep and we could usually know why she was crying. as soon as we got the sleeping and eating schedules flowing better, avery's little tiny personality started shining through.

avery seems to be a fairly mellow girl. if she doesn't need to eat and she's not tired, she's content to sit and watch the household flurry of activity. she got a new swing as an early christmas present from the shulba grandparents which she likes so much more than her old swing. she'll spend much longer in it and even catches a nap or two in it if ben is also sleeping. she also still loves her play mat. avery seems to be a quiet girl - not too much cooing and "talking" yet though she often opens her mouth like she wants to say something. when we talk to her though, she's all smiles. tonight was the first giggle that i've heard from her which was so sweet.

a couple of weeks ago, i was at a friend's house and when avery was fussing, she picked avery up and wrapped her tight, rocking her to sleep. it's hard for me to let someone else do this but she seemed to be getting avery calm so i resisted butting in. when avery was asleep, my friend laid her down on the couch, wrapped a second blanket around her, and avery slept for TWO hours. two. it was unreal. it was my re-introduction to swaddling. why did i ever stop? i knew that my kiddo was a wiggler so it seemed restrictive to swaddle her. plus, she was sleeping great at night without being swaddled so why swaddle for naps? well, this lightbulb moment has changed everything. while i still rock avery to sleep for her naps (and i know i'm supposed to let her fall asleep on their own), i keep her wrapped tight and it makes transferring her to her bed so easy. sometimes she sleeps for only 30 - 45minutes but once in awhile it's 1.5 - 2hours but no matter how long or short the nap is, i'm just thankful that it's no longer in my arms. now for the next step of letting fall asleep on her own...maybe next month!

ben still loves to show avery whatever it is that he's doing. he got a ukulele for christmas (his "a-tar") and spent many minutes serenading avery throughout the day today. he gets the giggles whenever avery smiles at him.

avery is so distracted by everything - she can't resist watching whatever is going on. when we were at a christmas party last week, my friend alyssa's baby (who is 8 days older than avery) just fell asleep against his dad's shoulder during dinner. it was unreal to me, whose kid can't even be in the same room as everyone if we are going to have any chance at all at getting her to sleep. but every kid is different. it makes me wonder if this is a tiny glimpse of the child/teenager/woman she's going to be - always wanting to be a part of what's happening but regretting it when she doesn't get enough sleep? maybe. i guess we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

avery at 3 months

advent calendar: days 13 - 19

day 13: "take your bookmarks to give to people at the seniors care home"

when we were kids, we always went up to the seniors homes with our school to sing carols or take crafts that we had made. i thought it would be a good experience of the giving season for ben to visit a care home as well. it hadn't occurred to me that i should be calling ahead but i'd made the plan with a friend to look after avery already. in the morning, i called the only care home that i knew of in abbotsford and the woman informed me that we needed to go through the volunteer coordinator because of the level of care these people needed and the coordinator wasn't in that day. because we were going to go to a friends' house for avery and then were supposed to play there afterwards, we went for a playdate instead. i should have followed up on this one and made it for another day.

day 14: "make christmas ornaments"

we used Crayola Model Magic which i'd heard about on pinterest as being easier to mold than playdough but dries nicely. it turned out to be more like rubbery foam - very light but a lot of work to roll out. this craft turned out to be more mommy than ben but we were making star ornaments with cookie cutters.
then we pushed a straw into the top so that it would dry with a hole in it for a ribbon. (ben liked putting the straw into all the dough as you can see by the blob with a straw in it in the background here.)

day 15: put up ben's own pretend christmas tree in ben's room

the felt christmas tree finally makes it debut! i would have liked to have this as one of the earlier days in the month but i left this project hanging for a little while when i hit the roadblock of how to attach the felt pieces together. i ended up using fabric glue but i think it's pretty wouldn't want a kid to put it in their mouth or anything. but i made a large star and an angel so that ben could choose which one he'd like on the top of his tree. both grandparents have angels but we have a star on his. as you can see, the angel made the cut.

ben hasn't played as much with this tree as i would have liked. it could be because it's away in his room and he doesn't often play in there. maybe there will be more playing with it next year when avery is 1. :)

day 16: a bust.
buuut, we did continue to work on ben's ornaments. we painted them with gold glitter glue. then the following morning, we strung them with ribbon and wrapped them up to give away as gifts.
i asked ben who we should give an ornament to and he said that he wanted to give one to avery. since she wasn't grasping it when ben was putting it in her hand, i suggested we hang it on her ear. ben loved this, as you can see.
wrapping gifts is ben's favourite thing to do. he often wraps letters in washcloths while he's in the bathtub then sings happy birthday so he thought wrapping christmas presents was great.

day 17: go to kai's house for a christmas party

this was our third annual christmas dinner with this group of friends. the camera was barely out at the party so we don't have a picture of ben but we have this picture of avery by our friends' christmas tree. they put on an awesome spread for us

day 18: nothing in the calendar - we headed out to white rock to hang out with my parents and i hadn't had anything planned for the calendar. fun day nonetheless.

day 19: use stamps to make your own wrapping paper
i'd been saving ben's paintings in the last month and on this day, we flipped them over and sponged shapes on the backs to make wrapping paper. i cut some sponges into the shapes of a star, christmas tree, and a candy cane and ben stamped until his heart was content.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

advent calendar posting burn-out

are you wondering what's been happening around here in the last 7 days? yikes! falling behind! we've been getting some advent activities in, ben's been waking up so early, and i've been going to bed much too late. not a good combo. a re-cap on the last 7 days (including my baby girl's 3-month birthday!) is coming soon. but tonight, i'm headed to bed by 9pm to prepare for ben's 5:30am wake up call.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

advent calendar: day twelve

"read lots of Christmas books"
yes, this is veering away from the original list but we can't go big everyday. ;)

a quick favourite has been The Christmas Gift by Emily Arnold McCully. it actually has no words but it's a pretty cute book about a mouse family on Christmas day. each mouse gets a different present and ben likes to point at each one and say what it is. the other day, i asked ben what he thought uncle matt might like for christmas and he said, "a teddy bear." then i asked him what daddy would like for christmas. he said, "a trumpet." he was just going through the list of gifts from this book in his head. i definitely think we should get tim a trumpet for christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

aha! moment

the other day, i took ben to Strong Start (a drop-in program run by the school districts for ages 0 - 5 that is FREE and kind of prepares kids for preschool/kindergarten - and one of the locations is the school behind our house!) and all he wanted to play with was the wooden trains. SERIOUSLY, ben? we bought you a train table with track and trains! we gave you trains as a gift! my aunt mailed you track and trains from ontario! you never play with them! tim and i were just discussing if we should pack them up and store them for awhile until he's a bit older. but it's almost all he played with that morning at the school.

hmm...what is different about the trains at school and the trains at home? ours are on a table. at school, he played with them on the floor.

the next day, i brought all the track and trains out from his room into the kitchen. he sat and played trains off and on all morning. he loved it! he's just learning to put the tracks together himself and really can only build in a straight line so maybe the table was hindering that? also, the kitchen is central. he can play with me nearby AND i join in to play here and there if he's in the kitchen. since this discovery, he's played with his trains everyday. what a great discovery!

turns out, i love building these tracks and making them all connect. so yes, i did build this one.

advent calendar: days nine, ten, eleven

day nine - nothing was written in the calendar but we had a friend over to ice cookies AND we went to wendy's for supper AND looked at christmas lights. so definitely some advent events in there despite the lack of organization.

this place in abbotsford is amazing. this is just the one third of the lights display that i could fit into a photo. if you look carefully in the bottom centre of the picture is a little hut. there is a santa claus inside for kids to come see and get a candy cane! he was the realest santa i've seen in a long time too! we parked the car and walked along the sidewalk in front of the display while ben ate his candy cane. (yes, santa still gave him one even though ben wouldn't venture even CLOSE to santa!)
excited face (washed out by the flash! boo.) standing in front of some lights,
holding his candy cane! cute.

day 10: watch Charlie Brown Christmas movie
ben's favourite's also tim and my favourite part.

day eleven - another bust. oops. sorry, ben. mommy will be more on top of things next year when you care more. this is my practice year! however, we DID manage to make it to church for the first time in a month so that was great. avery went to the nursery for the first time. aand we got to go hang out at grandma and grandpa's house.

Friday, December 09, 2011

all sugar cookies are not equal

i made these sugar cookies with ben on day 2. they were reported to be the "best sugar cookies ever". she gives very specific directions in regards to the flour: "it's important to correctly measure your flour or you will end up with a dry, crumbly dough. Never, ever use your measuring cup to scoop up the flour. Use a regular sized spoon and spoon the flour into the cup and then level it off with a knife." i read this step, rolled my eyes at "bakers" and scooped my flour with the measuring cup. i had a dry, crumbly mess. it was so frustrating but i managed to get it rolled out and get some cookies out of it. sure, they were good cookies but i didn't feel they were worth that frustration. a sugar cookie is a sugar cookie, right?

not so.

today, i made a different sugar cookie recipe. it was fast and easy. the dough was perfect. i baked them up and right away i could see a difference. they were puffy and didn't hold their shape like the other ones. they were kind of a little tasteless and definitely in need of icing whereas the above cookies never got iced and we still ate them ALL very quickly. these are far inferior to the first recipe.

it looks like i will have to try the first recipe again and this time, i will follow the directions. and even if i still get a crumbly dough, i will know that the work to roll and re-roll is worth it.

advent calendar: day eight

"help mommy mail christmas cards"

put the photo in the envelope...

put the stamp on...
(and always keep your mandarin oranges close by while addressing christmas cards)

put the cards in the mailbox!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

advent calendar: day seven

"make bookmarks to give away as gifts"

glitter glue dot

stick a jewel on the dot

and repeat.

add some stickers.

advent calendar: day six

"decorate cookies with elias"

"why would i put this candy on the cookie when i could eat it?" - ben

parental assistance necessary

ben's new face when you say, "smile!" yikes.

decorating paper trees with glitter glue and eating cookie time