Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Presents?

Left: Haley sets out cookies and milk for Santa; opens her Christmas Eve gift pajamas!

Rob and I discovered once and for all this Christmas that it really is better to give than to receive - particularly when the recipient is a 2 1/2-year-old.

Haley was very excited about Santa coming, especially once we reassured her that she would sleep through his entire visit and therefore not have to see him in person. We stayed up until 1:30 in stereotypical parental Christmas Eve fashion - putting toys together and making sure only crumbs were left of the cookies Haley had arranged for Santa. Once the scene was set and I took pictures (against Rob's wishes - proof for Haley in future years that we're more than Santa's elves) we hurried to bed.

Knowing that we had to get to church, we woke up at 7 and kissed our Sleeping Beauty into consciousness. She was groggily excited while opening her stocking on our bed and then we led her out to see what Santa had brought. At first she just stood in the middle of the room and turned around and around, trying to take it all in. Then she made a beeline for the doll stroller and swing, stepping over the train set to get to them. She could have played all day, but we had to go to church (Rob was speaking) so we let baby doll come with us in the new baby doll seat, much to the amusement of everyone at church. When we got home at 11:00, we still hadn't opened a single present from under the tree - a task that would wind up taking the rest of the day. At some point Haley burned out opening gifts (who knew that could happen?) and wound up finishing the task the next day. What a lucky girl to be so loved by her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Dear Family and friends,

If you followed the link we're assuming you're actually interested in what we've been up to! The blog is new for us so we've tried to just cover the highlights of the year; feel free to skip to the most current postings... We plan to update the blog regularly so we hope you'll check back often.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Love, Valarie, Bo/Rob/Robert, and Haley

Our Busy Autumn

Halloween was extra-exciting this year because Haley was so into it. She loved everything - carving the pumpkins, playing dress-up, and especially the trick-or-treating! "Argh, give me all your candy!"

Valarie indulged her creative side this fall by taking both a Wilton cake decorating class and a knitting class - both hobbies that she hopes to continue.

Haley is always jumping and tumbling - our budding gymnast! She's been encouraged by Rob right from the start to be fearless and it shows!

Haley's always such a ham - here she is imitating daddy.
Haley and Rob were both booked for the annual ward talent show. While Rob did an amazing job both with his performances and managing all the sound equipment, Haley preferred to be on stage only when there was no audience - that's when she performed her ballet dancing and her sweet rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".

In Mid-October we had our first snowfall of the season. It was short-lived, but we had enough to scrape together a "Haley-sized snowman". It also made us so grateful for the great, relatively warm weather we enjoyed between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

For Labor Day weekend we packed our costumes and drove the 4 1/2 hours to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We were met there by Rob's sister Katie, his brother Roger and sister-in-law Bonnie, and his cousin Melissa. Katie had worked for months sewing costumes for them all and it didn't surprise any of us when she won the costume contest!

Haley loved the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Faire - and got lots of attention in her costume. She also learned that not all frogs turn into princes when kissed...

Haley models her costume and tries to say "Little Red Riding Hood".

Side Trip to Salt Lake

On our way home from Seattle we made a "side trip" down to Salt Lake to see more family and celebrate the 4th of July. We were able to visit with Rob's grandma as well as the Reynolds clan.

We coped with the high temperatures by spending time at the pool, and sweated it out at a parade the morning of the 4th. Haley loved the marching bands, clowns, cheerleaders, and anyone who threw candy at us. Knowing from our experience at Disneyland that she didn't like fireworks, we were able to drive up to a viewpoint and watch several shows at once. Happy Independence Day!

Haley tests the waters and then works on her tan in the lounge chair.

Haley with her flag - how patriotic!


Haley warily watches home fireworks from a safe distance and with dad as a shield. Even the snakes and smoke bombs were not tame enough for her. Guess she'll never be a pyromaniac...

Seattle Trip

A few weeks after returning from Disneyland, we hopped in the car and headed for Seattle. Our goal was to get there in time to see Valarie's baby brother Nick graduate from high school, and we made it with a day to spare. Once again we were grateful that Haley is such a great traveler!

It was great to be back in Seattle, especially at such a beautiful time of year. We visited with friends and family, shopped and ate at all of our favorite places, and spent a lot of time outside (without having to worry about hordes of mosquitoes!).

Valarie sips decaf in front of the original Starbuck's in Pike Place Market, Seattle.
Haley plays at the beach at sunset in Renton, WA.
An exciting day at the zoo - Haley kisses an ape and then has a butterfly land on her ponytail.
Haley holds cousin Kaylie and holds hands with cousin Stephen.

St. George & Disneyland Trip

Still chilly from our winter, we flew to St. George, Utah at the end of May to visit the Wood familyand thaw out a little. Haley loved swimming during the day and going to the park every evening, not to mention all of the loving attention from grandma and grandpa.

From St. George we drove to southern California and met Rob's family at Disneyland. Since Haley was only 6 weeks old the first time we went, she enjoyed Disneyland a lot more this time! At first she seemed a little overwhelmed, but soon warmed up to the rides and the characters. We spent most of our time in Fantasy Land (and rode the carousel countless times), staying almost until the park closed. Haley's favorites: the carousel, the teacups, balloons, and Tinkerbell. Her not-so-favorites: Captain Hook, the Small World ride, and the fireworks (a.k.a. "sky-toots").

Conked out at the hotel before heading back to Disneyland for round 2.
Valarie, Mickey, Rob, and Haley - look at her face!
Valarie and Haley with the beloved carousel in the background.

Haley Turns 2

At the end of April Haley turned 2 and was so proud! She was very excited as we spent a day replacing her high chair and crib with a booster seat and a "big girl bed." Although officially in the terrible two's, we have to admit (OK, brag) that Haley has remained incredibly sweet and charming as she tests her boundaries. She's often so hilarious when she's mad or being naughty that it's impossible to get angry at her. Her sense of humor and charming personality continually surprise and delight us - can you tell we're proud parents?!

Chicago Trip, April 2005

In April we once again traveled to Chicago for the Midwest Political Science Association's annual conference, where Rob presented a paper, participated in a Roundtable dicussion, and was a discussant for another panel. Valarie and Haley explored downtown by stoller and spent a lot of time shopping on the Magnificent Mile.

We were also excited to have our friends Dave and April meet us there with their daughter Morgan. The girls had a great time at Navy Pier and Rob was wonderful enough to babysit so Valarie, April, and Dave could catch a performance of Les Miserables.

It wasn't a long trip, but we were so excited to be out of our still-frozen town. Haley loved all the sights and sounds of the big city - especially the "El" that zoomed by over our heads, escalators,\ and the view from the enormous ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

Haley stops to smell the flowers.
Shop 'til she drops! Haley snoozes along the Magnificent Mile.
Haley and Morgan watch the fountain at Navy Pier.
Rob and Haley ride the escalators - again and again and again.
Valarie and Haley and Haley and Morgan atop the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier.