Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Quiet Books

So, earlier this year, my mom got me a sewing machine.  I was determined not to make the same mistake I often make when I take on a new hobby which is to jump into the deep end, get frustrated, and give it up.  I have a tendency to try to do the hardest thing first, rather that starting out as a beginner.  I did pretty well at first.  My first couple of projects were really simple and pretty hard to screw up.  They helped me learn my way around a sewing machine.  The extreme importance of setting the tension correctly, and the frustration of having kids around that sometimes changed settings when I wasn’t looking.  All was going pretty well.  Then I started to frequent some crafting blogs and saw this quiet book at homemadebyjill.  I fell in love and had to have one for Ben.  I started looking around the internet for cute ideas and did tons of research before starting to put together my own sketches and ideas.  Then I had the brilliant idea of just making the thing in triplicate so my nephews could have one too (one for us, one for my brother’s kids, and one for my sister’s kids).  I decided they would be Christmas presents.  It’s been difficult, frustrating, and surprisingly fun, but I finished (sort of) in time for them to be Christmas gifts.  Sadly, I have not quite finished Ben’s yet.  I sort of put it off to make sure the other two got into the mail in time.  It’s close, though, and I hope to have it done shortly after the new year.  Also, I made them 3-ring style, so I can add more pages as I finish them.  Now that Christmas has passed and the recipients have seen them, I can show it to you.  Enough talk, though, here is a tour:


The front covers.  The little frame holds a picture.  I left them empty because I didn’t have great pictures of my nephews to put in them.  The strap has three sets of snaps for use as it grows in size when I make more pages.


You can’t see it very well, but I embroidered the spines to say “The Merrill/Grant Family Quiet Book”.  Considering that before I made this book I had never embroidered before, I feel pretty good about how it turned out.


Inside front cover/Page 1: The inside cover is a tree that I got from homemadebyjill.  The only thing I changed is that I stitched on little labels with the family’s names onto some of the leaves.  I love the gumball machine way of doing the color matching.  I got that idea from craftychic.  The circles just velcro on to a matching circle on the bottom.


Pages 2 and 3: The counting page just had shank buttons on some ribbon.  I honestly can’t remember where I got this idea, but it wasn’t mine originally.  I did have to put a stitch down the middle of the five bigger numbers and separate out the buttons so the ribbon didn’t sag.  I like the cute way of teaching how to count, though.  The Noah’s Ark I saw on a lot of different blogs.  I kind of combined a lot of them into my own.  It unzips and has finger puppets inside.  I did not make the finger puppets, I got some really cute ones at IKEA  Also, you can’t see it, but the inside of the boat is lined with a cute animal fabric to give a little color and make it more sturdy, since felt tends to stretch.  This page was probably the easiest to make.


Pages 4 & 5: This is most definitely my crowning achievement for the book.  I got the idea by following the links on quietbook.blogspot.com to her little sister’s, the Egberts.  The layout is almost the exact same, but my pages are a little bigger, so I had more to work with.  Also, I used tiny (1/8th inch) ric rac for the yellow lines.  I think it adds something.  You’ll notice each house has a garage (three of which have my nephew’s names embroidered on).  Each garage has a Micro Machine in it (thank you Ebay).  Also, the stop lights are plastic snaps that come off.  The soccer field is a pocket to put the snaps or cars in or whatever.  I’m particularly proud of the fire truck and ambulance, on which I embroidered the details.  I toyed with making them removable, but I was too proud of them to risk them getting torn apart.


Pages 6 & 7: The shapes pages is pretty straightforward.  The shapes snap on with standard, sew-on, metal snaps.  You can see a little Penny hand that was very excited about the heart.  The football player is another one I’m pretty proud of even if it does look a little off.  I decided to do a football to lace instead of the traditional shoe.  I got the idea from modestmaven’s quiet book.  I just modified it because my pages are so big, it didn’t make sense just to have a football.  So I decided to add a buckle of some kind and that led to a football player.  And yes, you may detect a Broncos theme.


Page 8/Inside back cover: The pockets hold puzzles I made out of craft foam.  Each of the pockets snaps onto the page with plastic snaps, so the puzzles can be easily distributed to different kids.  The little frame is meant to be a puzzle board for making the puzzles, but the puzzles can be done on any surface.  The puzzle board also removes.  I’m pretty proud of the Broncos puzzle, you’ll have to check it out in the album at the end, as this post is getting very lengthy.  The last page has slots for twistable crayons and a little pocket with a notebook in it.  I put a Cars notebook in it that I got in the dollar bins at Target.


The back cover is just plain with a pocket to keep miscellaneous items in or any pieces that fall out when you grab it as you’re leaving church. 

All in all, I’m very pleased with how it turned out, especially considering that I really bit off more than I could chew.  I have a lot of fun ideas for more pages, but I have other projects I want to do before I expand this one (most importantly, finishing our book).

And, here is an album with more pictures of the book in closer detail, including the puzzles:

I will do my best to post about Christmas and Penny’s birthday as soon as I can.  I hope to have some pictures up today, but it might be a while before I get the videos up.  We took a lot of video and it’s taking me a long time to sort through it and edit it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Penny Walking Update

Hey all.  I just thought I’d do a quick update on Penny’s adventures in walking before things get too crazy with Christmas and Penny’s birthday (I can’t believe she’s going to be 1). 

Here’s a video we took at the beginning of November when she was first taking steps.

Some of Penny’s first steps captured on video. It’s tough to do without a tripod or another adult to hold the camera while we encourage her. Sorry for the cutting off of the heads.

Penny hasn’t been too motivated to adapt walking as her primary means of getting around as she’s so fast at crawling, but yesterday she started walking across the room without any encouragement from me. It’s adorable and amazing.  Ben was pretty pumped and wanted to get in on the action.  This is one of my favorite videos we’ve ever taken.  See for yourself.

Pretty much the cutest video ever. And yes, I know it says Pwnny. That’s what happens when you upload videos with a baby on your lap.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wisconsin Dells

So we went up to Wisconsin Dells for a night a couple of weeks ago to play in the water parks up there.  There was a cute little place in our hotel that the kids enjoyed the night we got there.  After a bit of water time, we went to get some dinner.  We found this cute place where the food is delivered by train.  As soon as we saw that, we thought that sounded perfect.  The food wasn’t half bad either.  Here’s a look at the train delivering our drinks.

And Ben getting a kick out of the process.

And Penny dancing to the awesome country music:

We had a good time at the pool park in our hotel, but the morning after our stay, we headed over to one of the other resorts that had a huge indoor water park.  Getting in there was included with our hotel stay.  It turns out Penny is a total water baby.  Ben likes the water, but he’s very cautious and wary.  We mostly just played in the toddler/baby area all day.  Penny splashed around and enjoyed herself.  It took a while, but by the end of the day, Ben was going down the toddler slides all by himself.  He really liked it, and was very sad when we had to leave.  Seeing as how I didn’t want our expensive camera getting wet, we only took one video.  Here it is:

Jon and I took turns going on some of the bigger slides.  All in all, it was really fun, if a little bit hectic.  We came back from our trip, got bathed and pretty much headed right over to the church for the Halloween party.  The next post will be about that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Standing baby. . . sort of

I remember when Ben was a baby, that Jon and I were really excited for every new milestone.  We would go out of our way to encourage Ben to roll over, crawl, walk, whatever.  Not so with Penny.  I am just treasuring the infant phase.  She is such a sweet baby.  I do not want her to grow up.  In spite of this, Penny has gone right on ahead hitting her milestones like a champ, with little encouragement from me.  She pulled herself to a standing position last Friday.  Here it is the first time I caught it (the unclipped version, for those of you who got the text):

Note: Here’s another example of the cloth diapers Penny has been sporting of late, as mentioned in my last post.

In the meantime, Ben has gone on being his rambunctious self.  In general, I’d say he’s pretty good for a two year old.  He’s even doing better in stores these days.  He’ll help me shop and be pretty sweet, with a couple of notable exceptions.  For some reason he is terrible in Joann’s.  He refuses to ride in the cart and runs up and down the aisles and won’t listen to anything I say.  Also, he is not good in sporting goods stores, but who can blame him.  He took off while we were there the other day and I tracked him down in the football gear.  With a little help from mommy, he got ready for the football season:

True Confession

So, while it’s not exactly a secret, I’ve been putting off announcing the fact that we are now cloth diaper people.  I was kind of waiting to make sure it was a success before broadcasting it to the world.  And while I have absolutely no intention of pushing other people into cloth diapering, it’s something I’m pretty excited about right now. 

I have to tell you, when Ben was born, the topic came up once with Jon and I totally wrote it off saying that there was absolutely no way that I was going to spend large portions of my life cleaning poop off of cloth.  Jon, being the good husband he is, dropped it and happily supported me in using disposables.  One day, I saw a deal for some hybrid cloth diapers on babysteals and was curious.  Hybrid diapers are basically a waterproof cloth cover with disposable inserts, either cloth or disposables.  The disposable inserts are biodegradable and compostable, unlike normal disposables.  Jon and I had been talking about trying a more environmentally friendly disposable, but it was out of our price range.  The deal made it pretty affordable so I decided to give it a try.  It worked out pretty well, but I was still using normal disposables a lot. 

I was still scared of trying cloth because I was already buried in laundry and still hated the idea of cleaning poopy diapers.  Then, as I was rinsing the poop off of yet another outfit of Penny’s after yet another blowout, I realized that it was silly to not use cloth because I didn’t want to deal with cleaning poopy diapers.  I was cleaning baby poop off of something or other every day.  So I started doing some research and discovered that cloth diapers are not what they used to be.  There are TONS of options out there.  In fact, there are altogether too many options.  And, while the upfront costs are more expensive than a pack of disposables, you definitely save money in the long term.  Plus, it’s better for the environment.  There are some great online stores that will let you try cloth diapers and return them if you don’t like them. 

Long story short, after a LOT of research and several returned items, I found a convenient, affordable option, and we’ve been using them for a couple of months.  I really like it so far.  It’s really not that bad cleaning them.  We got a little sprayer that attaches to our toilet and I just spray off the messy diapers and toss them in a diaper pail that has a waterproof fabric bag in it.  Every other day, I pull out the bag and dump the diapers and the bag in the washing machine.  I do a quick cold rinse to get rid of the gross stuff and then wash on hot with a small amount of detergent and two rinse cycles (it’s important to keep detergent from building up in the diapers).  Throw them in the dryer, and it’s a done deal.  It’s really only a couple of extra loads a week, and with all the laundry I do, it doesn’t feel like much.  Plus, it’s actually helped me establish a more regular laundry routine, keeping me from falling behind and getting crushed under a mountain of laundry, as I’ve been known to do.

I still use the hybrid disposable diapers for when I take Penny to the gym or for babysitters, but I haven’t bought any more traditional disposables since our last bag ran out a while ago.  Penny seems to like the cloth diapers just fine.  I was worried that since cloth doesn’t absorb as well or as fast as disposables, Penny’s skin would get irritated.  I was wrong.  She’s actually had fewer diaper rashes in cloth.  I got some fleece liners to put in for naps and night time, and they wick the moisture away from the skin really well.  Plus, the covers/diapers we got are pretty cute.  Check out the album of Penny modeling her newest cloth diaper:

Seriously, so cute.  And Penny seems to like them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Too Much Too Late

So I know that this post is woefully overdue, but I’ll try to make up for it by making this post way too long. I’ll start by posting some of the pictures from Penny’s blessing that I promised in my last post. Unfortunately, my mom was too busy taking pictures to actually be in any of the pictures, but I promise she was there. Also, we didn’t get any pictures of her cute little headband and the shoes she was wearing. It is worth noting that she’s wearing my blessing dress. My mom cleaned it and it was just beautiful. Anyway, here are the pictures:

Other than that, I guess I’ve missed posting a lot of what has happened over the past couple of months. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest condensed version with pictures interspersed to keep you interested. The kids and I went to Utah for the Merrill Family reunion. It was a grand time in Eden. I loved seeing all of my siblings and nephews, and of course my parents. We also got to spend some time with Jon’s family which was fantastic, of course. Ben loves his family and having playmates, although he did get a bit overwhelmed when everyone was together. Penny loves everybody and is pretty chipper most of the time. My nephew Dylan (Ben’s age) was in LOVE with Penny. He couldn’t get enough of her, and it was pretty stinking cute. I don’t think we ever adequately captured it on film, but here’s a little taste:

Other than our trip, life is pretty much normal aka crazy. Jon works ridiculous hours and I feel largely like a single mother with a boyfriend who spends the night once in a while. Also, I had Girl’s Camp. Geri and Robert came out to help take care of the kids while I dealt with that. It was so nice of them. We loved having them here. Ben was in heaven with Robert. They built forts and played all day. Penny didn’t exactly take a bottle so I came back from camp and went back for the last day. I love Girl’s Camp and I love my girls, but I’m pretty sure I would have died if I had stayed the whole week.

Ben is such a big boy. He’s halfway potty trained. Basically, he can go in the potty, but he’s not very good at telling me when he has to. So he’s potty trained as long as I remember to put him on the potty frequently enough. He talks up a storm, and almost half of it is intelligible now. I think my personal favorite is that he calls thunder “bunder”, and he always says it in a serious, low voice. It’s adorable. I’ll try to get it on film during the next storm. He has his moments of being sweet with his sister, but is not very excited that she is mobile enough to get into his toys now. He loves trucks and trains and cars and trucks. He loves this movie my cousin made called Twenty Trucks. It came with an awesome yellow shirt that he wants to wear every day. He points out all of the trucks we pass when we’re driving around. Especially dump trucks. They’re his favorite. Did I mention he loves trucks? He’s also a Lego building machine. He’s really good at it. Exhibit A (he built it without any help from me, also, note the trucks T-shirt):


Penny is growing so fast. My doctor was out of town, then I was out of town, so her 6 month check up was actually a 7 month check up. She weighed 18 lbs. 5 oz. and was 27 in. long (I think, I’ll have to check that on the little growth chart I keep). She’s been sitting really well for a while now. In fact, she can sit herself up on her own from laying on her stomach. She’s pretty much mobile now and is really close to crawling for real. In fact, sometimes she does a normal crawl, but most of the time she pushes herself up on her hands and knees and flops forward onto her belly and repeats that until she gets where she wants. Here she is from sitting to crawling back to sitting:

My mom is sending me a disc of the pictures from our trip to Utah, so I’ll post those when I have them. I have a large backlog of photos and videos from our nice cameras to upload and edit, but who has time for that? Right now, you all (that is if anyone still reads my blog) will have to settle for the latest batch of cell phone photos/videos. So, here are the last few months of our lives, as seen through my cell phone:

My Very First Solo Sewing Projects, Crafts, and Redecorating:

June in a Nutshell:

Ben’s First Movie (Toy Story 3) and July Fourth

Utah Trip

The Rest of July

Ben and Jon building stuff at Home Depot


And just to send you off:

Saturday, June 12, 2010


So, I know that I have a lot better things to post about, but I really can't help myself, and posting about this is a lot easier than uploading all the adorable videos and pictures of my amazing kids. I promise to try and post something about them later today or tomorrow. That being said, I don't very often muse on my blog, so I'm going to go ahead and do it. I hope your interest is piqued. Or not, maybe nobody ever reads the text on here and you completely ignored this post when there were no pictures.

Now, let me just say, that I think that Psychiatry plays an important role in health and well-being and there are a lot of really good Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals out there, including my sister. Unfortunately, Psychiatrists and Psychologists often get a bum rap for not being real medical professionals or scientists. Luckily, there are some Psychiatrists who are willing to go above and beyond to give their profession more credibility. Check out this article on TVguide.com or this one on Wired

REALLY!! Can you possibly read that and still think that the mental health field doesn't study anything "real". Awesome. Who loves the fact that they talk about what kind of treatment would have benefited Anakin Skywalker, like maybe that would have made some difference? My favorite part is that it's being published in an academic journal and was presented at the meeting for the American Psychiatric Association. I'm not sure if this is more telling of what's wrong with Psychiatry or how crazy Star Wars fans are.

One last note. This really is all in fun. I'm in no place to judge people for over-analyzing fictional characters.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cute Older Brother

So Ben is kind of hit or miss when it comes to his baby sister.  Most of the time he ignores her or tolerates her.  He's never really mean to her, which is good.  But once in a while, it strikes him to be really sweet with her.  Tonight, as in just a few minutes ago, Ben was in his highchair eating some chocolate cake after eating a good dinner.  I was sitting in front of his highchair with Penny on my lap and Ben was kind of playing footsie with Penny and she was laughing because a)her little feet are ticklish and 2) she LOVES her big brother and smiles so big for him any time he looks at her.  Anyway, Ben was getting a kick out of this and laughing when she would laugh and he promptly put down his fork, put out his arms and said "hug".  I said "You want to hug Penny".  He replied that he did.  So I took him out of his highchair and took him in the family room and put him on the couch and set Penny on his lap.  The results were adorable.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to pull out the video camera as Ben's sweet brother moments are generally fleeting.  I did capture it on my cell phone.  I didn’t edit it, because I thought it all was pretty cute, but it is long.  Check it out.

Also, expect an update about Penny’s blessing on Sunday.  I’m just waiting until I can get the pictures from my mom.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Benjamin Danvers Willes: Age 2

I promised an update on our little man, so here goes.  At his two year checkup today he measured in at 34 1/4 inches and 29 pounds.  That puts him at about 50th percentile height and 75th percentile weight, so he’s not nearly as big (relatively) as he used to be.  This doesn’t surprise me at all as he’s much too busy to be bothered to eat as much as he used to.

Ben is a little adventurer and a delight to everyone around him.  Even today, when we had a WIC appointment and a doctor’s visit for him, he made friends with everyone.  He didn’t even flinch when they pricked his finger to test his iron. 

At the doctor’s office, he had a really good time.  He was pretty excited that he got to use the big boy measuring stuff and got to walk out in the hall to the measuring stick and stand on the scale.  He didn’t even mind when the nurse had to try four times to get a blood pressure.  Then the doctor came in with a nursing student and was telling her/me that 2 is a really hard visit and that he would scream through the whole thing.  Not so.  Ben was pretty quiet for most of the exam and only seemed bothered at all when they looked in his ears.  Then they laid him down to check him out and the doctor kind of tickled him and Ben started laughing hysterically.  The doctor looked surprised and said it was the most pleasant 2 year checkup he’d ever done (I’m sure he tells that to a lot of people, but Ben was pleasant, also of note, Penny was a champ through all of this too).  Then, the doctor left and left the door open while I had Ben on the exam table to dress him.  Every time a nurse would walk by he would say hi.  When they would stop and say hi he would point at the wallpaper and say “Wha't’s dat?”, “Train” (there was a train full of animals on the wall).  It was super cute.  He didn’t want to leave; I had to drag him out.

Anyway, so that’s just an example of the kind of little boy Ben is.  He’s sweet and friendly and curious.  He goes a mile a minute all day.  He loves, cars, trucks, trains, and Toy Story and running around outside.  He likes to read and knows most of his animals and some of his shapes.  I swear he picks up a new word at least once a day, so it’s hard to keep track of everything he’s saying.  He says several phrases now and is starting to put together little sentences.  His favorites: “What’s happeen?” (what’s happening, he says this a lot when he’s watching a movie or playing with his daddy), “Eer oo go" "(here you go, when he gives you something), "Puu pazon (put pants on, this one is funny as he didn’t used to want pants on, but he now knows he only get to go outside when he has pants on, so as soon as he has a new diaper on he says this and grabs his pants). He’s sweet to his sister when he slows down for long enough to pay attention to her.  And boy does Penny love her brother.  Any time he is in her line of sight, she follows him with her eyes and just smiles at him.  Ben is such a joyful little soul and I am so grateful to have him in my life.  He makes me smile every day (even on days like today when he screamed for 15 minutes when I brought him inside because he kept running into the street to go play with the big kids across the street, he just always wants to be socializing). 

Lastly, and of note, Ben is currently sleeping in a big boy bed for the first time (at least I’m pretty sure he’s a sleep, I haven’t heard a peep from him since I put him down an hour ago). 

I let him pick the bedding out at the store for his birthday.  Jon and I put the bed together today when Jon had a break.  While Ben was in the bath tonight I got the bedding all ready.  I got Ben out of the bath and in his pajamas and set him down so he could help me put his toys away.  I no sooner set him down than he ran straight to the bed, climbed in and pulled the comforter over himself.  I had to coax him out to help me clean up (which he actually did), then we had to brush teeth, read books, and say prayers.  When it was time to get in bed he climbed right in, asked for his fleece blanky which he put under his head and pulled the covers over himself.  I sang him a song, tucked his stuffed animals under his arms (he loves his stuffed animals, it’s really cute) and kissed him goodnight.  He still hasn’t made a sound.  We’ll see if he lasts the whole night.  Here are some pictures:

The bed all made up for him:IMG_1600

All tucked in for the night IMG_1601

So that’s my very lengthy update on the little man.  I also got the crib  set with Penny’s bedding, and it looks great.  I’ll take a picture of that tomorrow.  We probably won’t put her in it until Ben is in a routine with his new bed and she is sleeping a little bit longer cycles at night.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ben’s Birthday

So yesterday was Ben’s second birthday. It was a really good day. Crazy, but good. I think Ben really enjoyed himself. I made some french toast out of homemade cinnamon bread for breakfast with a strawberry topping. Ben loved it, as evidenced by this picture when he was shoving pretty much a whole piece into his mouth.


I spent the rest of the morning assembling his cake while Jon played with him. Here’s a few pictures of the finished product (and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. It was A LOT of work):

IMG_1593 IMG_1594

Jon did a good job of keeping Ben out of the kitchen until I was just about done. Once Ben saw the cake, though, he was way too excited to do anything else but look at it and point at it (just a note, none of these videos are edited. Sorry they are so long, but I wanted to get them posted and don't really have time to edit them).

Then we went to church. We came home and Ben took a nap while we got ready for Ben’s little party. We had over two families from church with kids around Ben’s age and one of Jon’s friends. Ben was so pumped when everyone got here. He was just running around screaming and laughing. Then he saw his presents and had to open one. He picked the one from the stack that was from my mom. Here he is opening it:

He really loved the train. Jon got it all set up for him, and he was pumped.

When it was time for cake and ice cream, we lit the candle and tried to get Ben to blow it out. See for yourself (thanks to Cori for the film-work):

Turns out we’ve apparently taught him too well that fire is hot and he shouldn’t touch it because he didn’t want anything to do with it. Not only that, but when we gave him the cake, he refused to eat it, saying it was hot. The only way I eventually got him to eat any cake was by cutting up a piece of the unfrosted stuff I had leftover.

Ben opened the rest of his presents after cake. I do need to edit the video of that, unless everyone wants to watch about 20 minutes of video of that. Jon and I gave him a couple of activity books about trucks, which he liked. The Thomases gave him a Hot Wheels car with the cutest little homemade pouch to put 5 cars in with a little road on it that folds up and velcros shut. It’s a perfect little thing for putting cars in and sticking in a purse or diaper back when we’re out. The Delavans gave him an action figure set of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rocket from the first Toy Story. He loved it. He was flying Buzz around all night. All in all, I would say Ben really liked all of his gifts and had a great time opening them and playing with them with his friends. I’ll post and abridged version of it when I get a chance to edit the video on the other computer.

One of my favorite parts of the night was Ben saying goodbye to his guests. Sorry his shirt was still off from eating cake.

All in all, it was a great day, at the end of which I needed a really long nap. So did the kids. They both zonked out pretty much as soon as the guests left. Poor Penny had been needing to sleep for a while, but it was just too loud. She was a really good sport, though. Turns out she likes having people around, too.

That’s all. Later today or tomorrow, I’m going to do a little tribute to Ben to catch people up on what our little man is up to these days.

Easter and Beyond

So, we celebrated Easter a week late as Jon was on call for actual Easter and was at the hospital all day.  Here’s a video of Ben on Easter morning doing his little Easter egg hunt.  It’s a long video, but I didn’t really have time to trim it.  All of the videos in today’s posts will be uncut for the time being.  Sorry about that.  It’s probably a lot more of us than anybody needs to see.  Also, sorry that Penny is screaming for the first half of this video.

And here is a quick little video of us in our Easter clothes on our way to church. We couldn’t find the still camera, so we just took a video.

I also discovered recently that Penny loves it when you tell her stories.  It doesn’t really matter what you tell her, just that you do it in an animated voice and look at her.  She gets a kick out of it.  Here’s a video of it. 

We put both kids in the crib.  Ben is actually pretty sweet with Penelope these days.  And Penny loves her big brother.  She always watches him whenever she can, and just smiles anytime he pays attention to her.  She’s also pretty tough and even likes it when Ben is a little bit aggressive in his affection.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Photos are up!!

The photos from our recent photo shoot in Utah are up. I think they are pretty great. It definitely captures Ben's little personality, as you can tell that he was never really sitting still the whole time. My kids pictures are mixed in with pictures of my sister's kids, as well as some group shots so you might have to sift through it a bit to find Ben and Penny. Although I don't think that's too much of a problem as my sister's kids are just gorgeous. Check it out by clicking on the picture here:

They are just so cute.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Trip to Utah and More

So Ben, Penny, and I took a trip to Utah for about a week and a half.  We got back last Saturday.  We left so we could get out of Jon's hair while he studied for his surgery SHELF (which he passed, no problem, even though he was convinced he failed).  It turns out, Jon knows his surgery stuff and we're really proud of him.

Anyway, it was a really great trip.  We stayed with my parents, and my sister and her three boys were there at the same time.  Ben had so much fun with his cousins.  Owen (5) and Ollie (3) were really cute with him.  Ben spent most of the time chasing them around.  He was always the "monster", which he didn't mind, since it just meant that whenever they started running away screaming, he chased after them, screaming.  It made for a very noisy time, but also very fun.  Penny was her cute self, and even overcame some of her mommy clinginess by the time we left.  She's still not taking a bottle very well, though.

I'm sorry I don't really have any pictures of the trip, as we really only took pictures on my mom's camera.  She's been pretty busy, but as soon as I get a chance to get some of those pictures from her, I will post them here.  Also, we had some professional photos done of the kids as well, which I'll post the link to here as soon as they're uploaded.

In the meantime, while you're all anxiously awaiting those pictures, I did finally get around to dumping all my camera photos onto the computer, so here are a few of those.

Penny on the plane-ride to Utah:


Yeah, miraculously, she slept the whole flight.  No joke, she fell asleep as we were taxiing to take off and woke up on the descent. 

Benjamin on the ride to Utah:


Thank goodness for portable DVD players.  We got a portable DVD player that accepts SD cards.  Jon put a bunch of movies on one SD card (about the size of a quarter) and that way I didn’t have to pack any DVDs.  Ben still has a pretty short attention span and the plane was full of distractions, so this only worked for about twenty minutes at a time.  Still, it definitely helped, as he did that several times.  He also ate lots of sugary treats that he doesn’t normally get.

And I have to post a picture of Penny in the AMAZING knitted dress that Courtney made for her, although these phone pictures do not do it justice:

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Can you believe that my sister made that? It’s very impressive.

Speaking of impressive homemade things, we have received so many great homemade things for Penny.  I’m blown away by the talented friends and family that we have.  Unfortunately, the only other one I have a phone picture of is the quilt that Jon’s Aunt Linda made for us.  I think it definitely warrants mentioning, though.  Check it out:


Penny enjoying her little baby straight jacket and waving to the camera:

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Ben, outside in the warm weather, at long last.  He actually probably didn’t need the jacket, but when I asked him if he wanted to go outside he went and grabbed his shoes and brought them back for me to put them on him.  Then as we were going out the door he pointed at the coat closet and kept saying “coat”.  He’s so used to needing a jacket to go outside, he wouldn’t let me take him out without one.  Classic.


Plus a video of Ben outside.  He has discovered a new thing that really interests him, bugs.  I think this partly comes from the little bug cages and plastic bugs that my mom had at her house.  I think this video captures our very boyish little boy quite nicely.  He’s obsessed with cars/trucks and bugs.

Also from my phone, a video of Penny being ticklish and otherwise adorable.  Admittedly, her little laugh is more of a grunt.  Oh, and she loves her fist.

And last, yesterday Ben did not want to get out of his crib after his nap, so I gave him a couple of toys to entertain him while I got some other things done.  I heard him jabbering quite a bit and went in to find him intently reading Jon’s laminated pamphlet on Schizophrenia that had been stuck in one of Ben’s books.

That’s all for now.  I’ll try to update as soon as the photographer sends me the link to our pictures.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sometimes life is just crazy

So, for those of you who didn’t know, we spent last week in the hospital with Penny, who had RSV.  It was very sad to see our little girl struggling to breathe, with a nasal tube for oxygen and an IV in her head.  Thankfully, Jon’s mom was able to drive out to help, which was a real blessing.  I don’t know what we would have done with Ben if she hadn’t come.  He had such a good time with his Grandma, I’m pretty sure he didn’t even notice that mommy spent pretty much 24/7 at the hospital.  Plus, for some reason, Geri thought that driving across the country with the car she and Richard bought for us, watching our son for five days, and cleaning up our house wasn’t enough.  She kept insisting on buying us dinner and doing other nice things for us, like watching both kids all day so Jon and I could get a day out.

Anyway, Penny has bounced back really well.  She’s already regained the pound she lost in the hospital.  We went to the doctor yesterday for a check-up and she got a clean bill of health.

Of course, just to make things even more fun, when Jon was on his way home from the hospital in the awesome new car that Geri brought for us he got rear ended.  Talk about a giant kick in the pants.  The car is probably going to take a couple of weeks to fix.  So, yay for that.

In other news, I thought I’d give a quick update on our little man now that he’s officially 22 months.  He’s growing up so fast.  He’s really smart and sweet and fun.  He talks up a storm now, although most of it is either gibberish or sounds exactly like another word.  Still, he pretty much parrots back whatever I say to him, but only when he feels like it, so it’s hard to catch on video.  I tried to make a list of all his words, but it’s hard since he seems to pick up a new word or two every day.  He’s gotten really adept at letting us know what he needs.  He even tells us when he has a poopy diaper.  He’s still obsessed with cars, but thankfully he’s moved on from the movie a bit.  His new favorite movies are WALL-E and UP, which Jon and I appreciate. 

So, now that things have settled down a bit, I thought I’d treat everyone to some pictures and video.  Consider it a reward for those of you who slogged through my update.

Photos from Geri’s stay

Penny’s Photo Shoot
Here’s a video of our little girl being back to her healthy, happy self.  She’s such a social and happy baby.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick Ben Story

So, yesterday a woman from church took Ben for the whole day and even brought us dinner when she brought him home. It was a huge help. Anyway, according to her, Ben was very well behaved for her and was just a joy to have. Don't get me wrong, I think Ben is a joy too, he just gets a little stir crazy here and lonely as well. I'm glad he got the chance to get out of the house and play with some other kids. She has a little boy who is just over a year old named Spencer.

Apparently at one point during the day Spencer hit Ben and Ben responded by going over to Spencer and gently rubbing Spencer's arm in the gesture we've taught him that goes along with the word "gentle". I think it's great that he actually learned what we've been drilling for the past couple of months in preparation for the baby. He's so smart (even if he is a little lacking in the verbal department) and sweet. Jon and I feel so lucky to have such a special little boy. He's adjusted beautifully to no longer being the only child. He loves his little sister. He tries to play with her and comfort her when she cries.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quick Update

So, posting on the blog is a little bit tricky these days. For those of you who didn’t get the e-mail, I also posted a link to the pictures I uploaded to Walgreens (it’s the easiest place for me to pick up prints). I don’t really have any more pictures to post today, but I do have a couple of videos. But I’ll only share them if all of you promise not to judge my messy house keeping in mind I’m new to two kids and a lot of these videos were on my birthday.

Also, yesterday was Penny’s one month birthday and we went to the doctor. She tipped the scales at 11 lbs 9 oz and measured 22 inches (although I think she’s a bit longer than that because the nurse really didn’t try to stretch her out at all). She’s a really big girl.

Anyway, here are the videos:

Ben playing cars with his little sister:

Ben in mom’s shoes:

Ben exercising with dad:

And lastly, Penny’s smile (I swear, she’s an early smiler, she does this a lot, it wasn’t just a fluke we caught on video). Oh, and yes, she is very chubby:


Penny's first month (90 photos), by Chelsea Willes

I'd like to share my Walgreens Photo Center photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So here are some new baby pictures

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It’s frustrating that even though she is only 6 hrs out of delivery at the time of that picture, I’m the one who looks like i gave birth.  Anyway, as far as babies go our little girl is pretty okay.