Wednesday, December 28, 2011

K Family Christmas

After spending a fun week with my mom in Los Angeles, we all boarded a plane and flew back to the bluegrass state for two weeks of relaxation chaotic Christmas preparations and celebrations.  It was a whirlwind of cookies, Southern Lights, presents, music, decorations, and lots of family time (with an emergency room visit, a fender bender involving a neighbors car and a certain sister of mine, and a sick kiddo all thrown into the mix).  

It has been so nice to be home to celebrate the most exciting holiday of the year.  Now it is time to put away the decorations, throw the tree to the curb, and send all of our new toys back to California, where we are heading as well on Saturday morning.  Goodbye sweet Kentucky home.  We are counting down the days until our spring break visit in March.

Stasia and her friend helped me decorate this year.  We got the entire house decorated in about five hours!  It usually takes me two or three days on my own.  I've found that things move a little faster when I force myself to let go of my control issues when it comes to decorating.  I had Stasia and her friend decorate the tree entirely by themselves and I never moved one ornament to a 'better' spot - I didn't even touch the limb that held three ornaments all by itself (I'm guessing that Abby had something to do with that). 

Abby and Nolan were dressed in their Christmas best for our annual Christmas Eve visit to Mammaw's and Pappaw's house.  As you can see in the picture, Abby was very excited to be wearing her Christmas attire, while Nolan was only enduring it.  He refused to wear his dress shoes, and so I allowed him to wear his Spiderman shoes.  See?  Letting go of my control issues means less tears for all of us.  

Making cookies in Mammaw's kitchen.  My mom doubled the recipe, which ended up making about 633 cookies.  She just barely had enough platters to hold them all!  She has a lot of platters.

My dad feeding the dogs.  They got turkey stuffing added to their food from a muffin tin as their Christmas treat. 

Mom's dining room, decorated for Christmas.

Nolan watching television in the living room.

Abby checking on the cookies.

Nolan and Abby decorated the cookies.  Nolan only lasted about five cookies.  Abby went much longer but couldn't complete the entire cookie marathon.  By the end of the baking, mom and I were the only winners left coating the cookies with sugary icing.

Uncle Aaron stopped in for a late Christmas Eve visit.  Nolan was so excited to see him.  

Nolan putting together a Hero Factory toy.  He had a Hero Factory and Ninjago Christmas, which was great for him, but meant hours of lego building for Robert and I.  Oh, and sore feet from stepping on all of the lego pieces scattered all over the floor.  Very sore feet.  And a few bad words that the kids may or may not have heard.  

All of the wonderful gifts left by Santa Claus!

Walking to the living room to see what Santa left.  They slept until almost 9:00!  Thank you Pacific Standard Time!

Stasia spent the night on Christmas Eve and helped with preparations for Christmas morning.  After the kids opened their presents she fell asleep on the couch for about five minutes before being attacked by Abby who wanted her to open a box. 

It was a good Christmas.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Still True

I wrote this when Abby was only eleven months old.  It is all still true today.

I have two children.  

My firstborn is my son.  My loving, cautious, wanting-nothing-more-than-to-please-you, oh-so-so-sweet baby boy.  He was an easy baby, with the exception of a brief period of infant reflux, which really didn’t last as long as it seemed to at the time.  He slept when we wanted him to sleep, ate when we wanted him to eat, and once he was old enough to understand, he listened when we told him no.  Even as he reached toddlerhood we found that we could sometimes reason with him.  At an age in which reasoning isn’t easy, and can sometimes be impossible, he seemed to understand and listen – most of the time.  Time-out has been a great tool to discipline him.  He takes it seriously – most of the time – and he learns from it.  That doesn’t mean that he never repeats his mistakes, or never continues on with his offense even after being warned.  If he was perfect he would never have to sit in time-out.    But he is such a gentle soul and he wants nothing more than to be good.  

My daughter is my second child.  As I type this, she is only eleven months old.  At such a young age, you might think that I couldn’t possibly judge her character to a degree to know if she oozes goodness as my son does, or if she is someone quite the opposite.  But I can.  She is difficult – a beautiful difficult – the kind that makes you smile or laugh when you know you shouldn’t be.  She is the kind of difficult that loves to be scolded.  Her eyes sparkle when you tell her no and a bashful smile pushes her big, adorable cheeks to her ears.  She repeats her offenses with joy and anticipation of your reaction, regardless of how negative that reaction might be.  She tries to climb the steps, tries to stick her fingers in the electrical outlets, and if you turn your back for one minute she will be in the other room standing at her brother’s art easel eating the green paint.  I predict that time-out will not be effective for her.  She will probably laugh at us when we try to punish her.  She will probably ask for more punishment just to show us that she doesn’t care.  And yet, as frustrating as she may make our lives with temper-tantrums and stubborn power struggles, part of me will always be thankful that she is so strong willed. 

While I encourage my son to take risks, move past his failures, and not take life too seriously, I will also find myself pulling my daughter back to me and begging her to think before she acts, reminding her that she’s part of a bigger picture, and to find adventure in the everyday goings-on of life.  I hope that one day I am able to look back and remember the paths that brought these two, very different children into adulthood.   I’m sure that those paths will be filled with many emotions, but mostly love – because, as every mother is entitled to believe, I have the most magnificent two children on earth and they are loved by every ounce of my being.   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

K Family Halloween!

Yesterday we celebrated our first Halloween in Los Angeles.  It was a day full of Bumblebees, doggies, Harry Potters, race car drivers and numerous other costumed characters whizzing in and out of our lines of sight.  

We started the day bright and early with a couple of super excited single digits.  Nolan asked me about 1.3 million times when we were going to start our trek to Culver City (aka, China - the distance from our house is equal, I'm sure of it).  Waiting is never fun, and Nolan and Abby reminded me of that fact every third second.  His school had a Halloween carnival, with games, prizes and apparently tons of fun.  Right before lunch the elementary students had a costume parade, which was super adorable.  Some of the kids had very creative costumes (an ipad, pac man...)!  All of the teachers and staff dressed up too, which I'm sure, made it even more exciting for the kids.  One more reason to like his school...

After a short break at home where I forced my little doggie to take a nap, we drove to a friend's home to eat some pizza (after two birthday parties that served pizza over the weekend, and a pizza party at school that day, they really needed more pizza) and have some playtime before hitting the pavement to collect some much needed candy. We walked for what felt like at least five hours, although in reality it was about two.  Still too long for short legs and bad shoes (just because they are sneakers, doesn't mean that your feet won't be screaming when the night is ending.  Note to self: invest in some new shoes).  

Kentucky trick-or-treating vs. California trick-or-treating:

*Kentucky has a set time for trick-or-treating (usually 6:00-8:00).  California has no set time for trick-or-treating.
   WINNER: Kentucky.  In California at 9:30 there were still 300 billion costumed kids roaming the streets begging for candy.  I assume that some stay out until they can't find any more participating houses.  In Kentucky trick-or-treating ends at 8:00 and, for the most part, people adhere to that rule, leaving families in their homes at peace, the streets safer, and children in their beds at a decent time.  

*Kentucky has the 'front porch light rule', which I think is a nationally understood rule that people in Los Angeles simply choose to ignore.  

     WINNER: Kentucky.  I saw kids going up to dark door after dark door, banging with their fisted hands, yelling 'trick-or-treat' as loudly as possible, and incessantly ringing the doorbells, before finally giving up and heading to the next house.  I don't look forward to this when we live in a more trick-or-treat friendly neighborhood and have run out of candy.  

*In Kentucky the size of the costumed crowds and parents will vary depending on the neighborhood that you're trick-or-treating in.  In our particular Kentucky neighborhood there are only a handful of trick-or-treaters with a decent number of houses passing out candy.  In Los Angeles there are about 56 billion trick-or-treaters roaming the streets.  They close off streets in some neighborhoods for safety reasons and I've been told that they get such large crowds that everyone is shoulder-to-shoulder (no thank you).  

     WINNER: Kentucky.  It was so relaxing last year to stroll down the street with family and friends while the kids ran from door to door collecting their treats.  Although we were not in one of the neighborhoods with closed streets this year, there were still so many people crowding the sidewalks and porches that I spent every second making sure I knew where my two particularly special people were. 

*In California people treat Halloween the way that Kentucky treats Christmas.  Some of the houses were decorated to the hilt with orange and purple lights, big blow up tunnels, fog machines, massive amounts of synthetic spider webs, and to top it all off spooky music. Kentucky yards are usually decorated with some lit jack-o-lanterns, big pumpkin leaf-filled bags, and some hanging ghosts.  

    WINNER: California.  The Kentucky yards are charming, but cannot compare to the glitz of the California yards.  Kids and parents alike (at least in our little group) had so much fun getting up close to all of the fun decorations. 

*In California some of the houses set up decorated tables with punch for the kids (if you are trusting enough to give punch to your kid from a stranger's home), a candy bowl to help fill the little one's sugar buckets, bottled water for those who are parched from all of the walking, smores if you are willing to wait a minute for your marshmallow to melt, and . . . get ready for it . . . wine for the adults.  That's right wine.  This doesn't happen in Kentucky.

     WINNER: California.  We stopped at two houses that were serving your coice of white or red.  I took a glass from the first one.  I mean, even if it was box wine, it was just too awesome to pass up!

*In Kentucky we only go around our (rather large) block.  It takes us about an hour and by the time we circle back around to our house, the buckets are almost overflowing with candy.  Here, we walked for a much longer period of time, climbing the steps to many more homes, and yet walked away with buckets only half-full.  

    WINNER: California and Kentucky.  This one is a tie.  I realize that the goal is to collect as much candy as possible (and for that, Kentucky gets a point),  but I appreciate having less sugary choices in the house (and less temptations for Robert and I to dig our big fingers into the plastic pumpkins), and less candy to throw away once the kids have eaten all of their favorites (thank you California).  

We make an effort to display authentic Halloween decorations at our house.  No plastic spiders or synthetic webs allowed!  (This picture does not show just how amazingly large and terrifying this guy was.  I should have changed the lens on my camera for a more accurate shot).

There are days that can only be made better by asking your mom to bury you beneath every pillow in the house.  

I love that beautiful face.

And some days, when your brother is being buried beneath every pillow in the house, there is nothing left to do but dance.

An amazing and wonderful friend knew just how to make my kids happy on Halloween: send them something to bake!  Thank you Erin!

Abby stirred for about two seconds before having the spoon taken away because she licked the batter.

Abby decided that Buzz needed to wear the Spiderman glove.  

Nolan made sure that Elmo had a turn as well.

The finished products...

The cupcakes, also from Erin.

She was only mistaken for a cow 26 times.  

The preparations for the Halloween parade at Nolan's school.

We arrived a little early to ensure that we would get a good seat.  Abby decided to have her own, one person parade while we waited.  She was a big hit!

Nolan's teacher, Mrs. Cerreta leading her class in the parade.

Nolan walking in the parade (they weren't allowed to wear their masks to school).

Back in the classroom for a pizza party after the parade.  Nolan's other teacher Mrs. Spencer was handing out mini-ice cream cones.

Abby enjoying a piece of pizza in Nolan's classroom.

Luckily, there was enough ice cream for this little sibling.

Sitting with Niko, one of Nolan's friends in class.

When Niko got up, Abby picked up her plate and moved it to the other side of the table so that she could sit next to Nolan.

A bunch of the boys were playing on the rug and Abby joined in.  She really does think that she's a big kid.

Full costume with the mask. 

We went to the home of one of Nolan's classmates for dinner and play before heading out to trick-or-treat. 

Harry Potter, Bumblebee, and Doggie.

Abby's happy jack-o-lantern and my alien jack-o-lantern.

Nolan's scary jack-o-lantern and Robert's old man jack-o-lantern.