Friday, December 22, 2006

Deck The Halls

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town...
...But please don't make me talk to him! Haley still has no desire to come face to face with Santa. We recently drove down to Fargo to do some Christmas shopping and stopped at the Red River Zoo there because I'd read that Santa would be there with some real, live reindeer. But once there, Haley wouldn't get within 20 feet of him and suddenly expressed an intense interest in the nearby bison. That's fine with us really, and we can only hope that she shows the same disinterest in men in costume when she's 18...


Jake loves to eat. And chew, gnaw, sip, taste - anything that involves putting something in his mouth. An item has not been experienced completely unless it's been tasted, or so Jake seems to think. It will be a happy day in our home when he can say "More please, Mama" instead of "Uh, uh!" Ever wonder what a glittery ornament tastes like? Jake could tell you...he taste-tests the ornaments while Haley checks out our newly-decorated tree.

Haley helps deck the halls by carrying in a mini Christmas tree and decorating a gingerbread house.

One thing we learned this month was that Jake can climb. He shocked us all by pulling himself up the bottom step, and then one day I turned around in the kitchen and saw him on the stepstool. And we thought Haley was a monkey! I can just see the ER visits now...


I put the kids through three photo sessions before settling on one to send out this year. The first round didn't last very long because both kids were sick - we found out later that Jake had an ear infection. The poor kid, you can see in his face that he just doesn't feel well. For round two I had them in their cute matching shirts, but it was late afternoon and Jake really wanted to play with/chew on the camera. By round three I had learned my lesson. I put their nice clothes over their play clothes, used a tripod for the camera, and had a huge pile of stuffed animals at my disposal. It was still hard to get both of them to face the camera with a semi-normal smile, but made for some cute snapshots along the way.

We hope your Christmas is merry and bright!

The Grand Pergola, and Jake Crawls!


As our friends and family know, we love home improvement projects. In fact, we seem to be addicted to them. We bought our current house because we'd just finished the remodel in Seattle and wanted something that was in "move-in" condition. It was great, but we started changes things shortly after moving in - replacing the blinds, painting the walls, refinishing the kitchen cupboards, etc. etc. We just can't stop. Last summer we - uh, "we" as in Rob and his paint sprayer - painted the exterior of the house, changing it from blue and burgundy to "Cafe Ole" with white trim and black shutters. This past winter the focus was on transforming the basement from concrete and cinderblock to in-law worthy guest space. And this summer's project was what you see above - our Grand Pergola. I know, you're wondering if it really took a whole summer to construct it. We spent hours poring over deck and garden books, making sketches, and arguing over size and layout. Finally we had a plan and I told Rob that when the project was finished he could have the I-Pod he'd been drooling over. What dedication! What hours spent in the 90-degree sun! What determination as the sun set and the nail gun continued its stacatto pa-chunka! Of course, like every project there were some snags along the way: Do we need 2 supports, or 3? Do we paint it before it's constructed, or after? Is the concrete stain too pink? (As it turns out, yes.) Will it hold up to our climate's frequent 60 mph -plus winds just because our toothpick model seems secure? After much hemming and hawing and nailing and sawing it was complete. A little too late in the season for plants, but we needed a project for next summer anyway...

Our children seem to like having their pictures taken - pull out the camera and they're all smiles. I'm sure it has nothing to do with my constant monologue of "Say cheese! Wheeeere's Mama?! Helloooo!" I seem intent on filling up our hard drive with pictures, and our bookshelves with photo albums. Here are a few of my latest favorites of Haley...

After months of frustration at only being able to inch around, Jake is truly crawling. He is so happy to be able to actually get somewhere! He seems to be hitting the milestones so much more quickly than Haley, but it could just be the lack-of-sleep haze we're still in. This kid does not seem to need much sleep and often wakes up at 2 a.m. ready to play. It would be cute if it wasn't so exhausting. I thank my lucky stars several times a week that my wonderful husband is willing to get up with Jake and coax him back to sleep. We often daydream about the good ol' days when we used to sleep the whole night through, and wonder if we'll ever do that again...I'm not sure if we will...

Pumpkins, Corn & More

"Freeze-Up" came late this year and we were able to enjoy a few more precious days outside. We savoured each one, knowing that it might be the last for many months. We took daily walks around the block, swung "so high!" on the swing set, and dug for buried treasure in the sandbox.

One afternoon in late October we drove out to a local pumpin patch in search of our jack-o-lanterns-to-be. Haley led us through the corn maze and filled a wagon with her choices, while Jake sat and wondered why his mom made him wear such a silly hat.


Jake loves to pounce on things (ie: lunge for everything), so we decided he should be a lion for Halloween. I went as a lion tamer, naturally, and he fell asleep on my shoulder. A-wee-muh-way, a-wee-muh-way...

Haley had a costume in her dress-up drawer that she'd been dying to wear, so she went trick-or-treating as a pumpkin ballerina. After 5 minutes in the cold she was back to put on fleece pants over her tights and her down coat over her tutu. Oh well, she was a cutie anyway. But maybe next year she can dress as something warmer...a polar bear or a penguin maybe.

Early Autumn in Grand Forks

Early Autumn is a beautiful time in Grand Forks - the trees and grass are still green, the mosquitos are dwindling, and the sub-zero temperatures are still at least a month away. Maybe that's why Rob's parents seem to visit every year at this time...

Mom and Dad Wood came mostly to visit the grandkids (who wouldn't want to see these cuties?), but we hope they enjoyed our company too. Haley loved having someone to play with all the time, and also loved climbing around in their motorhome. She was so excited when we all drove in it out to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We enjoyed perfect fall weather and an amazing display of fall colors on the trees. Haley enjoyed splashing in the water - until one of her sandals slipped off and tried to make a run for New Orleans. Luckily I waded in fast enough to catch it and the disaster (in her mind anyway) was averted.

Don't go grandma! Who will hold me???