Friday, October 30, 2015

Big Girls

I can never believe how fast time is going. We are about a month and a half away from going to Utah for Christmas, and Christmas is less than two months away, and I really feel like I just have so much to get done in that time!

The girls are continuing to shoot through the roof on growth. Heidi is learning skills left and right and is getting so much better at mimicking sounds. The other day she was asking for something to eat. She started out by fussing but knows that, through lots of me saying, "No, that's not how we ask" that that isn't the best way to get something. So she walked over to the cupboard where the raisins and other snack foods are kept, and she signed "more, please" and pointed up at the cupboard. I said, "Would you like a snack?" and she replied "Nak!"  Her speech is slower coming than Sophia's was, but on the flip side of the coin I feel as though her comprehension of speech is greater. When I tell her to close cupboards or ask if she'd like to close the door on the dishwasher (one of her favorite things to do), she always knows what I'm asking her. She can also be remarkably good at ignoring things that she doesn't want to hear. She is also very playful. After bath time, we'll go into the bedroom to change into a diaper and pajamas and I'll say "Come here, Heidi" and she'll take one look at me, smile, and run her naked little buns down the hallway, laughing the whole way. She very much enjoys the chasing game right now.

Heidi is also getting insistent on using utensils. I think primarily because she sees everybody else using them. She gets frustrated if I forget to get her a fork and she will look at me and ask "please" until I figure it out. She's getting pretty good at using it, too. She can also use a spoon pretty well for eating cereal with milk, or eating yogurt.

I think Heidi will soon be backing off from two naps to one nap. She has done this a couple of times when I am home with the girls and she tends to do fairly well. On those days, she goes to bed a little earlier (around 7 or 7:30 instead of 8 or 8:30). But I think we're moving that direction.

She officially has two back top molars in. It was a long and difficult process getting them in, with some reduced sleeping and lots of stuffy nose, but it seems like those have settled for now! She did wake up screaming around 11 p.m. last night, and I went into the room and helped her lay back down, and just held my hand against her cheek for a little bit. She snuggled right back down into her crib and fell asleep; I'm not sure what woke her up but she was crying and half-asleep when I went in there...just needed a little comfort.

She is great at animal sounds. She mostly loves to make the froggy sound (which sounds like "babbit, babbit"), but she also loves barking when she sees dogs, or making piggy noises (which sound almost like a throat clearing sound). She has an outfit with the frog on the shirt and she would go around pointing at her shirt and saying ribbit. Way too cute. 

Heidi is also a great reader. She absolutely loves books and reading. Her favorites are All Year Long (a Pooh Bear book), Goodnight Moon, an Animal Alphabet book (with sliding pictures of the animals; she loves the frog), a Sofia the First book about a talent show, and Doggies by Sandra Boynton (which is a counting book and all the dogs have different barks, so I have been practicing my barks). She will grab a book and hand it to me, turn herself around and sit right down on my lap and wait for me to read. Sophia loves reading as well. She loves Olivia books and Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems, but her new favorite is Dogger, which I absolutely adore. Very sweet little book about a boy losing his stuffed dog and his older sister helping him get it back. 
Sophia is remarkably bold. Sometimes she shies away from the unknown but the last couple of times we have been in the Mall of America there have been characters from kids shows dressed up and she has run right up to them eagerly for hugs and pictures.  She is also my brave girl when it comes to bugs, though someday this job may be handed over to younger sister, because Heidi is just fearless. This is more of a 50/50, but she's braver than I am. She has killed spiders for me before. If they hold generally still, it is not an issue. She gets a little more nervous when they start crawling towards her... when that happens, all bets are off. I was sent a picture from Sherri recently where Sophia was holding a caterpillar. I was surprised, but Sherri mentioned that the caterpillar was dropped a few times when it moved. She does like holding ladybugs too.

She loves to be a help with her little sister. Sophia likes to teach Heidi things and help her out with things like caring for dolls and bears. She also takes care of her Baby Anna very well. The other night Anna joined us at the dinner table and she was making sure that the baby had food and drink as well so she could care for her during dinner. Of course, sometimes she forgets to eat in the process so at times Baby Anna has had to be removed from the table so that Sophia would eat as well, but she usually does both (feeding herself and the doll) pretty well.

I think Sophia may be about ready to be done with her afternoon nap. She has been staying up very late at night, and I think this may be in part to taking long naps during the day. She also does okay (on some days) when she goes without a nap. I think we may have to cut down the nap time to a shorter time, at least.

This morning was adorable. Typically Chris leaves for work around 6:00 a.m., before I wake the girls up, but today he had his chaplain training/meeting that he does at a local VA every 2 or 3 Fridays, so he didn't leave until around 6:30.  Sophia was thrilled to see Chris this morning, and ran and jumped into his arms to give him a hug. I had gotten her dressed before she saw Chris and was getting Heidi's jacket on when Sophia came out from saying goodbye to Daddy to get her jacket on. Her little long sleeve t-shirt had been tucked into her leggings. Thinking I had accidentally pulled her leggings up over her shirt when I was getting her dressed, I reached over to pull her shirt out from her leggings. She cried "No!!" and asked me to stop untucking her shirt. She explained to me, "I want it tucked in like Daddy's shirt is tucked in". Oh my. How adorable. So Sophie was dropped off at daycare this morning with a t-shirt tucked into leggings. And she made it look good, too.

I think there is a good chance that Sophia will be artistic in some way. I don't know what that will be... music, singing, drawing, painting, designing... but something. She likes things to be beautiful, and likes to create. The other day we were walking out of the grocery store together, and they had some giant pumpkins out for decor. She ran over to the pumpkins and plopped herself down on one and said "Take my picture, Mommy!" without any suggestion from me to do so.

Both girls slept in until just after 9 a.m. on my Tuesday off this week. Either this is an effect of winter or they are both going through a growth spurt. I think the growth spurt is more likely, but they've been in a constant one since they were born. I just love these girls so very much.


Tonight (the day before Halloween) is the trunk-or-treat event at church. It is the 3rd annual one for our church, and it is reall quite a fun community event. We have been involved every year, which usually means Chris is outside running our car booth/game with the kids and I am inside avoiding the cold handing out hot chocolate and cookies to people. They have a cool set up; usually there is a bouncy castle inflated inside for kids to play on, a craft station/table, hot chocolate and homemade baked goods inside, and lots of carnival type games in car trunks outside. There is a picture booth set up as well, which is always so cute.

This year, we created a bean bag toss game from scratch. There was some extra wood at the church that I used, and my father-in-law made some triangle shaped carvings to make it happen. I think it turned out pretty well considering it was done in an afternoon and the painting was done almost entirely with spray paint.

Sophia and Heidi are all set to go with their costumes. Chris is getting the girls all ready to go when he gets home today and heading stragiht to church, and I am meeting him there once the event starts because it starts at 5:30 and I work until 5. Mental note to self: take off extra time before trunk-or-treat next year so I have time to get the girls ready! Sophia wanted to be Rapunzel this year, and she even has a Beanie Baby chameleon all ready to go with it. Heidi is going to be a cheerleader. I ordered pom-poms on Amazon well over a week ago, and with prime shipping they should have been here last Saturday, but there was some sort of "delay" with USPS and they have not arrived yet. If they have not arrived by this afternoon I can assure you that I will be returning them and getting a refund - not cool USPS. Anyway, they should be adorable. They will be wearing tights to help keep their little legs warm; since Chris is dressing them I had to instruct him on how to put on tights last night. He was a little nervous about it.

While I love the trunk-or-treat event at church, I am probably the bah-humbug-iest person there is about Halloween. I don't like the holiday, and I don't remember ever really liking it, except of course for when I was younger and costume-aged and able to go around door to door and rake in candy.  It may in part be due to the fact that spiders are generally very involved with Halloween, and I hate spiders very much. It may in part be due to the fact that I don't like being scared, either, and frankly I just don't understand why grown, reasonable adults would subject themselves to being scared. I don't get the fun in that. I also hate watching TV starting in September because there are all kinds of creepy movie previews that pop-up on TV. And yes, faith plays a part in it, too. Why are we celebrating death and gore? I just don't get why, on this one night, dead brides and spikes through the head and flesh-eating zombies and blood-sucking vampires are cool and funny, when it reality these things are creepy and gross. Death was not intended as part of the original creation, and here we are celebrating and glorifying and making light of it. People also tend to make light of very serious things, such as people dressing up as Ray Rice and his beat-up girlfriend or dressing up as abortion doctors. I work in healthcare, and one of my coworkers who is a nurse on the ENT end is dressed up as a witch today. I tend to think there is something kind of sad about adults dressing up like that. It's one thing if you are a teacher and it's fun for the kids, or you are doing it for a trunk-or-treat or a monster dash; it's another to do so in a healthcare setting when you have to do procedures on people and you may have to deliver bad news. There is a line here... To me it just seems very unprofessional and a little questionable. Adults often use Halloween as an excuse to get completely drunk. Women use Halloween as an excuse to wear lingerie with cat or bunny ears out in public. And on the other hand, there are people that take Halloween very seriously as an occult holiday and participate in disturbing things like satan worship, and here we are laughing about dressing up as devils or dead-whatevers. I. Don't. Get. It. Bah humbug.

Speaking of Halloween and spiders, last night I was making cookies for the trunk-or-treat event. I signed up to make 60 oreo cookies so was baking away for the entire afternoon nap time and then some. I happened to look up on the ceiling at some point and there I see it. This big, dark, hair spider. The kind that even had a big body as well. Yikes. I kept an eye on it for about half an hour and then it started to walk over towards the girls room and I knew I had to take care of it. I made an offer on Facebook that if anybody came over to kill it they could have as many freshly baked cookies as they wanted; nobody took me up on it. I grabbed the vacuum to suck it down from the ceiling and, I kid you not, I stuck that vacuum hose over the spider 3 times (3!!!) and it managed to stay stuck to the ceiling. So I had to swat it down and then vacuum it up. I still get goosebumps when I think about that giant hairy monster. Ick. Did I mention I don't like spiders?

There's my Halloween soapbox. On the other hand, like for this trunk-or-treat, it can be fun to take part in the lighter side of the holiday, passing out candy and playing games with kids. It can also be a lot of fun to dress up the girls in pretty costumes for fun. As I'm sure you can guess, our children won't be going as dead or half-alive or scary anything. And I do absolutely love carving pumpkins.

This year, my husband's grandparents are driving up from Ohio to spend some time with the girls, too. They should be here later today (Friday) and we will be spending lots of time with them this weekend, I am sure. I'm looking forward to it - they are such wondering people and the girls really enjoy their company. I'll be posting more pictures and details of our weekend as they unfold!

So here's the update to our Halloween weekend.

Chris got the girls all set for the trunk-or-treat and went to church. It's such a fun event; there were games and pictures and lots of candy; freshly popped popcorn, cookies, and hot chocolate inside with a craft area and a bouncy house. The girls had a blast. Sophia loved going around and playing the games, and especially picking candy. Heidi mostly loved to run to the candy bowls and grab a piece - but she also loved the football toss game (running right up and putting a football through the circle). They both loved the bouncy castle; Heidi felt frustrated that she wasn't able to go in with the big kids but she did have fun running around the gym still. It was neat to see just how busy it was; it was our 3rd year doing it (as a church and as our family) and the event, at least it seemed to me, was at least double what it was last year. So many people were there and it presented a lot of opportunities! I'm looking forward to seeing any impacts that we had on the community.

After that we went to Oma and Papa's house to spend the evening with everyone. Sophia slept over and Heidi and I went back home to bed. I had forgotten that it was Halloween on Saturday and we went through the day as usual; most of the day was spent over at my in-laws house so the girls could spend some additional time being spoiled and loved on by their great-grandparents. They really enjoyed spending time with them (Heidi even freely gave away hugs and kisses, something that is almost unheard of for her!).

During dinner on Saturday evening the first trick-or-treaters came to the door. Sophia was thrilled.  She said she wanted to go trick-or-treating and I obliged (when I told Chris I was taking her trick-or-treating, he asked who I was). It was fun - She dressed up again in her Rapunzel dress with a long sleeve tee underneath and some light mittens on. It was actually quite warm; the warmest Halloween I have experienced here for sure. She didn't even need a coat on. We just went down the neighborhood a little bit; she really made out quite well and had fun saying trick-or-treat. She was saying to me, "Mom! Everybody is being so nice and sharing their candy with me!" The whole time we were trick-or-treating she was talking about how excited she was to give out candy once we were back at Oma and Papa's house. There was one house that was set up all spooky with shadows and strobe lights, and when the homeowner answered the door he was dressed up in a creepy mask. Sophia cowered a little bit and said "Mom, he's scary" - I think the poor guy felt bad because he was just as friendly as he could be to us, saying "Sorry about that! Happy Halloween!" but otherwise trick-or-treating was uneventful.

After we got back home, whenever the doorbell rang Sophia would RUN to the door saying "I GOT IT!" and would excitedly hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters. I wonder if they felt silly being handed their Halloween candy by a 3 year old in a princess costume. That was really probably her favorite part.

The next day was Sunday and we had to say goodbye to great grandma and great grandpa. The girls really enjoyed spending some time with them, as did we. They are such sweet people. I ended up teaching the 3-6 year olds Children's Church that day and it was quite hectic... I think first because of daylight savings (they all got extra sleep! or were up early and tired!) and second because it was the day after Halloween and those little bodies had a lot of extra sugar to try and process.

As much as I may not like Halloween, I think everything is so much more fun when seen through the eyes of children.

Heidi with her favorite - Pooh Bear!

Amnion Banquet

Last Friday was the 25th Amnion Crisis Pregnancy Center banquet. 25 is one of those milestone years, so it was a pretty big banquet.  It was the first (and hopefully only) banquet that I attended without Chris. We originally had 9 guests at our 10 person table, and another couple stated their interest in attending. Chris had had a long week with an event every night between school, prison ministry training, etc. so we ultimately decided he would take the evening to stay home with the girls; this allowed the other couple to be able to attend, and then he was able to have a nice night in. The Carpenters, the VerWays, the Karnes, Eric's parents (the other Karnes), myself, and Kevin were all there. And they had this amazing chocolate cake for dinner that we dense and rich and tasted like eating a soft creamy dark chocolate bar. Yum.

Amnion has been such a special part of our lives. It was one of the first places that I truly saw the gospel lived out, and the impact that it had for everyday life. The gospel of Christ is not something that applies just on Sundays or when you're having a rough time, but it is for everything, everyday, every circumstance. And the men and women at Amnion really lived it out. There are a lot of beautiful, genuine, caring people that serve the community through Amnion and I truly do feel blessed to have been a part of the ministry.

I'm going to bird trail for a minute here. For all we know, Chris and I might not have our two girls at this point in time if it were not for Amnion. For a while I was volunteering every week doing an office shift, and if we had a little down time there was literature available to read or movies available to watch. I picked up an article about birth control, and that really shocked me. One thing that they don't tell women about birth control is that it can be an abortifacient. There are typically two hormones in birth control; one is designed to hinder ovulation. However, if ovulation occurs, there is a "back-up" plan if fertilization occurs (read: if you get pregnant, birth control takes care of it). See, the purpose of the second hormone is to thin the uterine lining, which makes the uterus fairly inhospitable to a fertilized embryo (baby) causing an abortion. It is estimated that this could be happening one or twice a year; perhaps more. You may say, what's the big deal if it's only maybe happening once or twice a year? The big deal is, every person is a person, regardless of the size, and I do not want to be causing the deaths of my unborn children. The second problem is, many women, myself included, take birth control for multiple years. Yikes. When I went home that evening I talked to Chris about it and we decided right then and there to never use hormonal birth control again. This doesn't mean we stopped birth control entirely, but it certainly helped to shape our perspective. They were also really the first ones to know I was pregnant with Heidi because I happened to be delivery some diapers or wipes to them around the time I found out I was pregnant, and mentioned that I thought I might be pregnant. They told me they had just got in a new type of pregnancy test and were wanting to test it out, and I seemed like a good test subject! It came back positive :)

The impact that Amnion has in the local community cannot be truly known. They are really an excellent center that provides loving care to the women and men and their families involved in a crisis pregnancy situation.  I really enjoyed the banquet this year. It was emotional for me a little bit because woman who started Amnion and who has been the executive director for the past 25 years is going to be retiring in the next year. That is going to be hard; I will be praying for the replacement, whoever she may be, now that God will provide somebody who is so clearly Christ- and mission-focused like the current leader is.

They always have a silent auction too, and that was a lot of fun this year because we ended up with some tickets to Stevie Ray's Comedy Show, an improv show at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater that is kind of like "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and also something else pretty cool, which I am not going to name here because it is going to be a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law. I highly doubt he reads the blog, but just in case he stumbles upon it I am not going to risk a spoiler.

I wanted to get a nice picture of our group but I gave my iPhone to somebody unfamiliar with smart phone cameras and the results are not lovely. But below is a group photo, and a selfie Erica and I took. And a picture that is an inside joke so feel free to ask me about it sometime but I am not going to elaborate here. I just want it posted for my own personal memories.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Another One of Those Busy Days

Today started out actually fairly slow, but we were having a mattress delivered somewhere between 9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Close to the delivery time, I put Aladdin in for the girls (because, really, I am so excited that movie came out) as a distraction. Also I put Copper outside so he didn't eat the delivery guys. Then I peeled my old mattress and box spring off of the bed frame so I could clean underneath it and prepare for the delivery people.

The delivery guy was probably the nicest person ever. Well done, Macy's. He was just very kind, called ahead multiple times, and was nice with the girls, too ("can I watch Aladdin with you? That's my favorite!").

After this we had to go to Sam's Club because we were out of milk. I'm still not sure how we made it through the morning without milk. They also had a very cute bedspread on sale, so (with Chris' permission) I picked that up as well. I add the "Chris' permission" part because it is rather floral and girly, but as he stated, he is "surrounded by dead people stuff" so what does he care? (These are quotes from Chris). I should also clarify that the "dead people stuff" refers to the ONE piece of furniture that I bought at an estate sale. It's a solid wood dresser, I actually quite love it.

So after Sam's Club, it was off to home to put the milk away and let Heidi take a small nap before heading to the Mall of America for lunch with our friends Katie and Erica. It had the added bonus of being Toddler Tuesday - kids eat free! We mostly spent time in the "dolly store", the name that Sophia gives the American Girl store. Primarily it was Katie, Erica, and myself drooling over all of the cute dolls and the cute doll accessories and the cute things you can do with dolls. The hair salon is ridiculous.

Before we entered the American Girl store, we were up on the second floor looking down into the rotunda in the Mall of America where Viktor the Viking (the Vikings mascot) was taking pictures with kids for some anti-bullying campaign. He saw us up above and pointed, then threw a little purple plastic football up our way for Sophia. Her response was adorable - thinking it was like a game of catch her first response with the football was to throw it back. We saved it. Leaving the "dolly store" we ran into one of the Wonder Pets hanging out outside of the theme park. Sophia walked up to it and gave it a hug - she was pretty excited about this. It was quite the celebrity-filled day for Sophia.

We left the mall around 3:30, well after nap-time and Heidi was feeling it. We went home and straight down for nap, except Heidi got a poopy diaper almost right away which ruined nap time. I eventually gave up, after about 20-25 minutes or so, of a nap ever happening and we just sat up and read books until Oma came by to pick up the girls because...

Chris and I had our Will writing class tonight. I never really considered writing a will until I had kids. I think by state law everything would really go to Chris and then them anyway, but I really wanted to get it written down.  I wasn't ever too worried about it either until maybe 2 years ago when I was talking to Sherri. She brought up an incident that had recently happened where two parents were traveling with a youth group on a bus and the bus was in an accident killing both parents and since there was no will in place, it caused a horrible dispute between the family members of where the kids would go, etc.  Her strong recommendation was just to get a will written. There was a class offered through the Eagan Community Education - it was a small cost, and the class is led by an attorney. She first walks you through the process of writing a will and answers questions, then everybody writes up their will and it is signed, witnessed, notarized in class. So, that's done.

But now it is late at night and I am really looking forward to sleeping on the new mattress. The girls are asleep (well, in bed), Alfred Pig (the Roomba) is running in the background, Copper is laying at my feet, Chris is by my side, and I am going to turn the light off.

Good night.
I can feed myself yogurt, thanks Mom.

Love this fashion sense. Minnie shirt, animal print leggings, fuzzy socks up to the knee, sneakers, hair in a "fluffy bun", per request.

New mattress with the new bedspread

Not sure what this is... hamster or guinea pig? Been a while since we watched Wonder Pets.