Friday, December 31, 2010

Pics from the 2010 Mass Christmas

We have now made it back to New Mexico so I can finally upload some pictures from my camera. Going through them I am a bit saddened that I really didn't take very many. Some of these following photos were what my mother-in-law sent me.

I'll probably try to post more over the next few days of different things that went on during the trip -- but this is my dedication to our Christmas!



Alanna with all our family gifts for the 4 of us.

Will gingerly unwrapping his new shoes.

Totally thrilled with my serger!

New coat!


It is tradition that Grandkids get a pic in front of the Christmas tree in my family.
But Alanna had fallen asleep after the "Family Photos" so we just stuck her on a present for the photo op.


The Christmas tree at my Grandpa's house in Oregon.


These were all the grandkids present for the Christmas in Oregon. If you think this is alot, realize we were missing 10 grandkids, 5 of their spouses, 12 great grandkids and a few step grandkids. (I think my math is right there)
(TaMara & spouse with 4 kids, Taryn & spouse with 2 kids, Jered & spouse with 4 kids, Leighton & spouse, Valerie & spouse with 3 kids, Laurence's 4 kids, Meri at college...)



my view of the organized gift opening. This was the first time I EVER got to not sit on the floor! By the way, most of the aunts and uncles were behind and to the right of me so... not in the pictures!
Grandpa with the only Great Grandkids at the gift opening -- my babies!


Will with his gifts at Nana & Grandpa Mike's house


Alanna had lots of gifts as well, but she was more interested in the bows.
After all the presents were opened, Alanna still would rather play with bags, bows, boxes and wrapping paper than the toys.

As I said in my last post, we were very blessed this year. So blessed in fact that we checked 6 FULL bags on the plane for our flight home (thank you Southwest!) as well as spent nearly $150 to mail some packages home. UG! I think we'll work something out with the families about giving gifts next year so it won't impact our pocket book as much to actually take them back to our house...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Massive Christmas of 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope yesterday was a wonderful day for all of you. Ours was great yet tiring.

Thing is, our "Christmas" started on Christmas Eve morning and ended Christmas night. Whew!

We started out doing our little Christmas just the four of us opening our gifts to each other. My highlight??? I got a SERGER! YES! And Ryan got a really nice new winter coat.

Later on it was time to meet up with my family.

It was fun to be around family and in fact this was the first year ALL of my family was together for the first time since our wedding 5 1/2 years ago. My sister's husband and my husband have not been home at the same time... and her husband had never met my kids. So it was decided sort of last minute that we had to get new "FAMILY" photos done. Had we known ahead of time, Ryan would have brought his uniform home and he could have worn it along side my brother in his uniform. But, no worries. They turned out very nice.

After the pics we were back at my parents' place for my family's gift exchange. I will say my children will not have a shortage of clothes for awhile! Thank Goodness! Little Alanna had only 3 outfits for her 9-12 month size.... which she now fits in.

We did do the drive to northern Oregon for the BIG family Christmas. My mom is one of ten kids (all from the same mom & dad) and we all try to get together, though I believe nearly 4 families were missing. Last year we were only down for the huge family dinner so I hadn't been down for the gift exchange since before I was married and Ryan and the kids had never experienced it -- the few hours of youngest-to-oldest gift opening, 3 at a time.

After all that we drove the 2 1/2 hours back to Puget Sound to have dinner and more gift exchange with Ryan's family. I felt a little bad because after eating I sat down on the couch and basically cat napped for awhile. Usually I'm much more social, but was super tired after all the stuff from the day before and the driving. Not to mention Will's horrible whining and misbehaving. I think he was just tired from all the travelling and strangers and excitement as wel.

Then we finished off our Christmas day opening Ryan's family's gifts at his mom's. From here the kids received a bunch of new toys. I guess when I get home I'll have to go through all their stuff and probably half them and change them out periodically.

Still not sure how we're going to get everything home to New Mexico --- Postal Service!

We are extremely blessed to have the families we have and for most of them to be in financial situations where we can really give to one another. That has not always been the case. Many of us also have our charitable givings as well... though I will admit that I think we can do more.

I would have included some pictures with this post but I did not bring the cord to download the pics from my camera to the computer. Guess I'll try to remember to do that once we're back in NM!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

PNW Weather, travels and Merry Christmas!

I have some time to blog while Will is busy messing with Daddy and the cat and Nana & Grandpa Mike entertain Alanna. I've had the kids all afternoon so I'm on a break now. LOL.

So, as I posted last night, I've been having a good time here in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday was a rare beautiful and clear winter day, but today had to make up for it. Rain.

Ryan and I even had a discussion that living in Washington you get used to the wetness and near constant rain, but after living in the sunny southwest you are no longer accustomed to this incessant weather and find it frustrating and difficult. I much prefer my clear blue skies and heat of New Mexico over the overcast and rain of Washington... though I still think Washington is more pretty, scenery wise. Oh, and the mountains are beautiful!

Our actual travel here was overall uneventful. I always have that issue with where I'm going to sit on the plane... fearing the wing, but because I didn't hear the "Family Boarding" call for our flight we were the last people on the plane and therefore ended up sitting in the VERY last row. It was okay because we had the bathroom right behind us and could get out of our seats and stand in the flight attendant area. Both kids were well behaved so everything went well.

I think as soon as I got off the plane I immediately got a cold. Ug. I don't have allergies to anything and never had issues while home, but I told my mom that I think I'm suddenly allergic to Washington. Is that possible? I'm better npw and it was nothing major, but still annoying.

And what else is annoying?! My "little friend" decided to come visit Washington as well. So. Not. Cool. I miss 2 pills and suddnely I need to go to the store and get some supplies. THAT is annoying. (TMI? well, it's my blog!) Oh well, I digress.

Our little family made a day trip up to Port Townsend to visit some of Ryan's family. We had a good time and hopefully I'll get the super yummy pumpkin cranberry muffin recipe that I couldn't stop snacking on. The kids loved it too.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and that is the real beginning of the hoiday festivities. We'll have our own little Christmas, later there will be the gift exchange Christmas with my immediate family and on Christmas day will the the HUGE Christmas with my extended family in the morning. Later on Christmas will be dinner with Ryan's extended family followed by the gift exchange with his immediate family in the evening. Whew. Lots of fun in the coming days!

I'll have to get into telling you all about the big family Christmas with my extended family, but that will be for another time.

Not sure if I'll get to blogging before the big day so I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful New Year. I really mean it!

Tired but finished

MERRY CHRISTMAS (well, in a few days).

I'm super tired from spending time with family here in Washington, shopping, and driving around... though it has been a blast.

On a great note -- Christmas shopping is DONE! Whoo! *little happy dance*

Since I'm nearly in zombie mode I thought I'd just leave you all and head to bed. But at least you know I'm safely in the Northwest and remembering just how cold, rainy, and muddy it really is in the winter (though today was a beautiful day).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

I don't know about you, but I'm getting super excited about Christmas. There's just something about having little kids that brings all the magic back. I think this is the year that Will will actually start "getting" it... the whole tear-open-presents thing. I even have tried to get him excited about Santa (yes, we're doing the Santa thing) as well as talk about baby Jesus.

Maybe with the language issue he's not getting it, but maybe he is, so I keep telling him though he doesn't seem interested.

Anyway -- I've been having a GREAT week. First off, William is still making progress with his speech so that is thrilling. Also, Alanna is beginning to balance more and has stood without support a few times for a few seconds. And I want to add that I've pretty much finished ALL my Christmas shopping that needed to be done in New Mexico!

On Monday an old friend stopped by. He was on his way from Louisana to Washington and came through Albuquerque so I was able to spend some time with him. Lots of history there, but long story short we've really only been great friends -- regardless of how much his girlfriends hated me. LOL.

We had dinner at my place and he got the chance to get to know Ryan better and meet the kids. The next day I took him to Old Town and we wandered the shops and found some gifts, lunch at Gardunos and then movie at my house while Will napped and Alanna enjoyed playing with toys without brother stealing them. When Ryan was home we ordered some Dion's pizza and enjoyed an evening of more talk and stories. From what I've heard he made it safely to Vegas and was on still on his way to WA.

And then to really top off my week my brother stopped by! YAY! I hadn't seen him since April. He told me he had a few friends driving with him -- 1 dropping off in Sacramento and the other in Oregon. So I got my house ready. He's been at Army training for awhile and to be honest I figured he was bringing two Army buddies along, and he was, I was just a little surprised when I open the door at 1 am and find him standing there with 2 pretty girls! They seemed nice though.

I knew it was just a crash stay so I let them sleep and then they got up in the morning, got ready, packed the car (including ALL the presents under our tree so we didn't have to mail or pack them in our suitcases) and then had breakfast and headed out. It was short but sweet. I'll see him in a few days when I get to Washington so I wasn't sad we couldn't hang out very long.

And I can't remember if I posted about the church performance I was in this past weekend. Overall it went well and I think I did alright on my solos/duet. Here are just a few pics of that:

Me as Norma ready to go - check the mic!
Hannah played Angie, my sister. She's so cute.
And a pretty unflattering picture of me, but I wanted to show one of my costumes -- I made that apron!

And now I wanted to show some of our Christmas decorations around the house:
Here's the Nativity Scene. I keep saying I want to buy a new one eventually... one of those super fancy ones with 3 camels, more shepherds, sheep, a cow, and angel, etc... but I'm sure that is YEARS down the road.

Our Christmas tree. This pic doesn't do it justice. I'd had such drama over getting all those stupid lights to work. Ever since we bought the tree almost 5 years ago there has always been 1 strand that never lit up. This year I was determined to fix it... even bought one of those tree light saver guns, couldn't fix it, was all upset and then Ryan finally did it!

My little Christmas town. I bought these back in High School and this is the first year I ever displayed them. I'm sure not bringing them to Japan with us might have had something to do with that.

And finally -- we had a winter storm blow through the other day. It dumped a good amount of snow, but was pretty much gone by the afternoon the next day. On my way out to get some shopping done I saw that we had mini icicles! How fun!

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And a random picture: in Old Town at one of the shops there were mini sombreros so I put one on Lana's head and took a picture. As you can see she's totally into it.


Friday, December 17, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Wanna join?

Check out WifeOfASailor's blog, answer the questions for the week and link up!

This week:

  1. What is the best gift you have ever received or given? from Jessica Lynn Writes
    • I would have to say it was the gift God gave to me of my children. On a more commercial level I think it is my camera for my birthday a few years ago. It’s not super fancy or those incredibly expensive ones. It’s an Olympus Stylus Tough (a point and shoot) but what makes it awesome is that it is drop proof and waterproof (taken it snorkeling) and perfect for a household with little ones.
  2. Do you celebrate holidays differently when your loved one is deployed/gone or do you keep tradition? from The Albrecht Squad
    • Haven’t had to experience that but I think I’d keep with our traditions and probably even go home to celebrate with the extended family.
  3. If you celebrate Christmas, do you put an angel, star or something else on the top of your tree?
    • We actually have an angel, with fiber optic wings. She’s pretty... though she was designed complicated and we always have difficulty making her stay on the top of the tree.
  4. What are your three favorite websites?
    • Oh easy: hotmail (for my e-mail), Facebook (where I waste time I shouldn’t), and the blogspot (for my posts and to read others’).
  5. On your man do you prefer… boxers, briefs or boxer briefs? Or commando? (yeah, I’m starting to get desperate for questions!)
    • There are times when a wife won’t tell!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TAG!

My friend at Many Waters has tagged me in what she calles the game of 4 -- though she's not sure what it's really called. Whatever. I wanted to post SOMETHING today, so here it is:
  • Four shows you watch.
    • Grey’s Anatomy
    • No Ordinary Family
    • Dr. Who
    • Amazing Race
  • Four things you are passionate about
    • My family
    • My belief in God
    • Seeing as many different places as I can (traveling)
    • Theatre
  • Four phrases you say a lot.
    • Seriously?
    • Whatever…
    • NO! (I’ve got kids, so that’s very common)
    • No worries
  • Four things you learned from the past.
    • Regardless of how much things suck, you can handle it.
    • Just because you work hard does not mean you will get rewarded or respected
    • If you say you are going to be someplace at a certain time, show up then!
    • Whatever you have planned may not be what the man upstairs has planned for you.
  • Four places you would like to go.
    • Europe
    • Australia
    • Pacific Islands
    • Caribbean
  • Four things you did yesterday.
    • Church Performance
    • Cast Party
    • Cleaned the house
    • Spent time on the computer
  • Four things you're looking forward to.
    • Going home for Christmas
    • Will starting hippo-therapy
    • Paying off all the student loans
    • Alanna walking
  • Four things you love about winter.
    • Cold weather
    • Sweatshirts/hats/gloves
    • Starbucks winter flavors
    • Seeing beautiful snow
  • Now for the four lovely ladies I am tagging...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Still Here!

Dropping in to show my readers out there that I'm still around. Been a little busy with stuff.

The production at church is over! So far I have received some lovely compliments about my singing... many people were not aware I could sing. If you are one of those people--- SURPRISE! I sing. And quite well actually, though I'm not trying to brag.

We all know people who claim they can sing and they really can't... I'm not one of those people. There's even a few CDs out there in the world with my voice on them! LOL (they were recordings in high school and I had a few solos)

Still working on Christmas shopping. I hate shopping alone. And with two little ones it sort of makes it harder. Hopefully I'll get it mostly done by Saturday.

Why then??

My little brother is supposed to be stopping by on his drive up to Washington! YAY! I haven't seen him since April, missed his commissioning in the Army in June, he's been at training for awhile but he'll be home for Christmas! He's offered to take home presents so I don't have to mail or carry them in my luggage when we travel home.

In other news, Will is really beginning to make more noise. He's even starting to say "mama" without prompting. My little heart has been swelling with pride over his accomplishments in these few days/weeks. Both of his therapists were here today and were very happy with his progress.

And I'm beginning to think Alanna will be walking at 9 months old. She's not even 8 months yet (not till the 19th) and she's already pulling up on everything, surfing along the furniture and has occassionally let go and stood completely balanced for a little bit before falling. She has even begun to try to control her drop to the ground. She's amazing!

There's more, but that's enough for tonight. Gonna hang out with an old friend tomorrow, get the dog to the groomers, try to get my mailouts finished and who knows what else!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Little Bright Spot

Okay, I realize my last few posts about Will and his therapies has been slightly depressing.

So... I wanted to share some wonderful news.

I have recently realized, mostly today, that William is saying a word without any prompting.

Yup! He says "gaah-geee" which is his way of saying "daddy" --- the "d" sound is difficult for him because it requires specific tongue placement.

He was messing with my phone and on the main screen I have some favorite contacts. Ryan's is the main one and it shows his picture. Will brought me my phone, showed me Ryan's picture and kept saying "gaah-geee" and then promptly called him.

Later, Ryan could be heard coming in the house and Will ran to the door saying "gaah-geee" over and over.

BIG MAMMA SMILES! I think he's beginning to really get it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In


I've missed a week or two (or three??) but at least I'm getting back on board!
If you wanna join, check out WifeOfASailor's page, answer her questions on your blog and then link up!
This week:
  1. What do you see your life like in 10 years?
    • We’ll probably still be active duty and living wherever the military has sent us. Hopefully we’ll have another child or two (so we’d have a brood of 3-4) and Will should be about to enter High School and Alanna Jr. High – that’s scary! I’ll likely still be taking care of the kids at home, maybe have my masters or working towards it. It would also be nice to be working in the legal field in some area (maybe from home??). Also, we’ll be nearing the 20 year mark of military life so Ryan will probably be ready to retire and be planning our next step.
  2. What do you like most about your job?
    • I’m a stay-at-home-mom. What do I love about it? I’m there to see and watch my kids as they learn stuff everyday. Even if it’s a crazy day where I want to pull my hair out there will always be something good, like my boy crawling up on my lap with a book just so he can cuddle and have me read to him... or when my baby reaches a new development milestone early and she looks at me with that drooly, gummy grin.
  3. What are three things you do every day, no matter what day it is?
    • Change diapers, make food/meals, check e-mail
  4. What would you do with an extra five hours in your day today?
    • Wow, just today?! I think I would get more Christmas MailOut work done, get the dog groomed, and maybe take a nap. I’ve got a performance tonight so some extra time to get some stuff done at home would be nice.
  5. What is your favorite Christmas (or whichever holiday you celebrate) cookie recipe (please share!)?
    • Ooohh... difficult one... there are so many yummy ones, so I’ll share 2.
The first is actually not a cookie, it’s a “bar”. My mom would make them at Christmas time and she’d make them festive by putting little green/white/red chocolate chips on top.
The second is a new find! I just made them for a cookie exchange and I’m sure I’ll have to make them waaaay more often.
Layer Bars
½ C. Butter
2 ½ C. Graham cracker crumbs
(I actually used crushed Nilla cookies and like it a LOT more)
1 ½ C. Chopped nuts
(I use 3 different kinds ½ c each of walnuts, slivered almonds, and pecans)
1 ½ C. Flaked coconut
1 ¾ C. Chocolate morsels
1 can condensed milk
**melt butter in 13x9 in. Pan in oven. Sprinkle cracker crumbs over butter. Stir well; press onto bottom of pan. Sprinkle/layer nuts, coconut & morsels in pan. Pour condensed milk evenly on top.
**Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely, cut and serve.
Toffee Studded Snickerdoodles
½ C. Butter, softened
½ C. Shortening
1 C. Plus 3 TBS. Sugar, divided
2 eggs
2 ¾ C. Flour
2 tsp. Cream of tartar
1 tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. Salt
1 1/3 C. Heath Bits ‘o Brickle Toffee Bits, or, for a mix with chocolate, Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits (which I like better)
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
**pre-heat oven to 400°
** Mix butter, shortening & 1 C. Sugar in bowl until fluffy. Add eggs.
**Stir together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda & salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and blend well. Stir in toffee bits.
**In separate bowl stir together 3 TBS sugar and 1 tsp. Cinnamon. Shape dough into small round balls, roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture, place on ungreased cookie sheet.
**Bake 9-11 minutes, until lightly browned on edges. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire racks. Cool completely.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

He will qualify

Today William was tested for his speech.

He will definitely qualify for the assistance and therapy for Albuquerque Public School (APS) when it is time to transition from Early Intervention.

Becca came over and began his test... and he didn't want to participate. He wanted to be 2 and do things his way as well as be shy.

Even though Will could do and understand what she was asking, since he did not perform during the tests he scored incredibly low. Like, REALLY low.

She will be including notes that there are things he can do and in a non-demanding situation he does actually understand and perform -- but for now BOTH his receptive and expressive language scores are low enough that he will easily qualify for APS.

I've had some discussions today about Will and Apraxia. There are several parts of this that make it hard and sad, but the fact that with his intelligence level he actually KNOWS there is something wrong with him just makes my heart break for him. During the testing he was shown a page and had to point to certain pictures, which he knew; baby, ball, bird, shoes, etc...

After doing something else he is shown a page with pictures on it he knows and when Becca pointed to them and asked him what it was he just looked at her. He knows what the picture is of. He knows what it is called. He knows the word for it... but he can't make that sound come from his mouth. Since he knows he can't make the sound he doesn't even try.

It's just not fair. He is a bright little boy and I love him so much... and he has to work SO HARD for something that is normal and easy for so many other kids.

I know he can overcome this. It will take awhile, but he will find a way to communicate and with the progress he has already made there's only more good to come.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Progress Check

Today was another therapy session for William.

It was progress checking for the Occupational Therapy and the supervisor was present as well.

Overall, I am happy to see that Will is doing better. His gross motor skills made a BIG leap and in other areas there was progress, though maybe not as huge.

After his testing there was discussion about transitioning (children in NM leave early intervention and move to APS the August after they turn 3). Thankfully Ryan came home so I was able to tell him our options while the therapists were there so I had my information straight.

Looks like we'll still try to get Will in the preschool of our choice in January and continue with his current therapies as well as begin hippo-therapy. After the summer he'll transition to whatever our choice is for his next step -- we haven't decided yet but we have time.

Although Will is doing well and making progress he still needs a LOT of help. Apparently NM had a lawsuit some years ago for having too many children getting special education so they are now more picky about who can get assistance when they age out of early intervention. Our therapists will be working hard to be sure he gets the help he needs and even then, give us some info on what to do if he is denied so that insurance can pay for therapies.

I'm just staying positive that things will work out. My son is incredibly smart and I love him dearly! I will admit that it is fairly common for me to have that twang of pain when I see other kids talking (some with large vocabularies) or when he's upset because he can't communicate something to me.

His path to speech will be a marathon and we have to just keep working together - unless God heals him completely spontaneously, which I will happily accept and still pray for.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Life and Times of the Little Ones

Just sharing some stuff going on in the kids' lives. They grow fast and sometimes I'm not as good at showing people their changes and developments.

First off: Time at Explora!

Alanna liked the little fuzzy toys and balls.

William clamoring through the "castle"

That pipe behind him is where they drop ping pong balls -- a favorite game in this room.

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Alanna following me in the house
Video Too!
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Will and Occupational Therapist Chelle at ABQ Jump!

Video of Will going down one of the slides


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Alanna holding her own bottle

learning to self-feed in the high chair

pulling up and "surfing" along the couch

look at those cheeks! We think she's teething... but it's been weeks and she's got nothing to show for it.
Video of Alanna standing and semi-surfing with support
In a cute sailor dress for church

Will wanted to wear Ryan's uniform shirt

Coming after the camera

sleeping while in Old Town

gumming a pickle. This girl eats everything!
And these final few videos - long and dull. I was trying to record Alanna making noises and then I gave her the camera to see what it would turn out like.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving & Tree Lighting

I know... a week late! But I'm finally posting about Thanksgiving and our trip to Santa Fe for the Plaza Tree Lighting.


For starters I have to say that our Thanksgiving was sort of a bummer. Originally we were going to go to our church for the 10 a.m. service with communion and prayer of thanks, but when we awoke to snow and the news saying the highway was closed from several accidents we decided to stay home.


And the sad part is that there wasn't really THAT much snow. It was incredibly icy though.


our backyard with snow
the Sandia Mountains with a light frosting

view of the elementary school




Ryan tried to keep the kids occupied while I made the dinner.

In the end both of the kids fell asleep shortly before the meal was ready. Ryan and I ate our Thanksgiving Dinner alone, just the two of us. It was slightly depressing because I love having a lot of people around and tons of noise and conversation, but it was okay. We both ate our fill and had LOTS of leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving Meal
After the kids got up they ate their own food. Will, as such a picky eater, wouldn't touch the potatoes or turkey... he did eat a biscuit though.

Alanna gumming some celery


Alanna ready to eat some baby food for her Thanksgiving dinner


The next day we made a trip up to Santa Fe. We've never been there before so thank goodness for our Garmin! We were able to get to Downtown Plaza and find parking. We ate dinner and strolled around a little bit.

St. Francis Cathedral

Alanna, all bundled up. It was actually very cold!

Outside display of the original adobe material on the Palace of the Governors. This is a 400 year old building and the oldest continually occupied public building in the United States.

Will and I in the Plaza waiting for the lighting

Will checking out the little candles in paper bags lining the walkways

Ryan and Alanna

The Christmas Tree lit

All the Plaza Trees lit up

The Family at the Plaza Tree Lighting
It was very cold but we had a wonderful time. We're hoping to go back (at least I am) just to wander around the shops and enjoy the museums and architecture. There really is so much to see and a LOT of history to learn.