Saturday, December 29, 2007

Red Rides!!!

So I get home today after a much needed hair-do appointment. Franky has mowed the lawn and is taking a break since Red was down for a nap. When he wakes from his nap, Frank jumps up and says, "Come on, Alex. Lets go outside and take down the Christmas lights." I was quite enjoying being lazy and was trying to talk Franky out of getting off the couch when Alex pipes up with,"Mama, you've got to come out and see me ride with NO training wheels!"

While I was gone, Alex and Daddy decided today was the day that he would learn. I followed them outside and could not believe my eyes. Red got on his bike and took off pedaling down the street. Using his brakes appropriately. Steering around obstacles, even going off the curb! So confident. Wow. I was in shock. (Still am.) Wasn't it just yesterday I was feeding him strained peas?! He's not old enough to be riding a bike!

I immediately brought out my camera to capture this miraculous event on film. I cracked up when Red rode by me, pedaling at top speed, looks my way, smiles a big cheesy grin and says,"Mom! Take my picture!" Thank goodness there wasn't anything in front of him. It could've been a disaster. Instead it became a picture that shows a happy little red head relishing in the moment of an awesome accomplishment.

Red is already making plans to show off his new skill. He says that next time we go camping, he will show all his friends how he rides all by himself without training wheels.

Does that mean I get to ride in the bicycle trailer (pulled by Franky) now? ( hee hee )

So proud of you, Buddy!!! You amaze me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Bedtime...

Upstairs we go to take a bath. Red adores the bathtub. Tonight it was "super-bubbly" at his request. He jumps into the tub as he would the swimming pool. Water sloshes over the edges and all over my shirt. (Who's getting the bath?!) Red gets his hair wet, his contribution to the "getting clean" part of the bath, then proceeds to create an adventure in the tub. Sometimes he is a scuba diver swimming with sharks. Sometimes a dolphin that dives from one end of the tub to the other. Other times he is a pirate in search of a treasure. Whatever the adventure, there is lots of splashing involved.

After the bath, on go the pj's and then to his room to pick a book. Red Head loves books and loves to read. He has quite an impressive library of which we have read every book. Tonight he chooses "Pirates Don't Change Diapers". This is the sequel to "How I became a Pirate". These are two of his favorites.
They are about a boy named Jeremy Jacob who befriends a comical crew of pirates led by a captain by the name of Braid Beard. Very cute books. Franky, Alex, Sophie (our Rat Terrier) and I all climb into Red's twin bed and bury ourselves in the nights selection.

Once the book has been read, we give our good night hugs and kisses. Alex blesses himself. We turn on his music (that he's listened to every night since he came home). Out go the lights.

Good night, Red.

Good night Mom and Daddy.

Sweet Dreams...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our Toy Story

Last night I was making room for all the new toys (from Christmas) in Alex's playroom and putting his "cozy" new flannel sheets on his bed. Franky was helping me with the sheets when we got to talking. Alex has always slept with a stuffed animal. Loyal to the core, he will carry the animal all over the house, watch movies with it, take it on trips and when bed time rolls around makes sure that it is right next to him and is "tucked in'.

The first animal he formed the bond with was Zebra aka "Z". Z went everywhere Red did, including on our first ever trip out of state to Minnesota. He got us through nightmares, sick days and was a constant companion to Alex. That is until this summer when we found "Brucey".

Alex spotted Brucey on one of our camping trips to Morro Bay. It was love at first site. Alex begged to get him and sat him right next to him in the seat of his bicycle trailer next to "Z" after we bought him. By the time we got home from our camping trip, Z had been replaced.

Brucey was the new best friend. Since Bruce was a scary shark, whenever Alex had a bad dream, he would say Brucey "chased away" the bad guys. Because he is as big as Alex, he often doubled as a pillow. Brucey was it. But then we went to the Chaffee Zoo. That is where Alex got Nile.

Nile the Crocodile. Nile had sharp teeth and very scarey eyes. Alex loved him. Nile went with us to Minnesota. Another "well traveled" bed time friend. When we returned from Minnesota in October, Alex decided he needed a second bed time buddy and added Coco the little brown puppy to his night time ritual.
Now each night before Alex goes to sleep, Nile has to be on the right hand side, Coco on the left. Brucey and Z are still in the bed but now in the less desired spot toward the end. Franky and I both feel sorry for poor Z. He gets attention every now and then. Usually from Franky! : ) Not only does Alex become attached to these furry friends, so do we.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"It's C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S!!!"

Red Head was up with the roosters this morning. He woke up, came in our room and says very excitedly, "Mama, we have to go see if Santa came!" Then runs down the stairs yelling, "It's CHRIST-MAS!!!" My poor parents, no chance of sleeping in with Red around. Especially on Christmas morning. : )

The first thing Alex did was make sure that Santa ate the cookies we had left. He did. The milk was gone too. Surprisingly, the carrots left for the reindeer had only a few nibbles! Next, he scanned the presents under the tree. "Did Santa bring me a Geo Trax?", Red looked worried.

A few flat boxes, some square, hmmm. I think he might have been contemplating that "Naughty, Nice" list! He sat in the center of the floor and began opening. Red flannel sheets (the cozy ones like on Mom and Dad's bed), not bad. A Candy Land shape game, ok. The Wonder Pets- Save the Reindeer, very cool. Dinosaur floor puzzle, pretty good. Clothes...hmmm. A few more, then the moment of truth. He opens the gift from the man in the red suit. (Why does Santa always bring the BEST gifts?!) It's the Geo Trax!!!

An hour and a half later, Daddy finishes putting the track together (Santa got off easy!!!) and he and Red are playing "train". A look of pure joy spread across the faces of my two boys as their trains cruise around the newly laid track. What an awesome Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope yours was as wonderful as ours. Now to work on the "New Years Resolutions" post!!

**P.S. If you get a food processor for Christmas, does that mean you have to start cooking? Please post your opinion. The first person to post wins a prize. Maybe a food processor. JK : )

***P.P.S. Honey, I really do LOVE the food processor. Do you want to go out to eat tonight and talk about all the dinners I can prepare once I learn to use it? : )

Just Call Me the Grinch...

After getting some great pictures at Grandma Mary's Ice Cream Social, I decided that I should create an album to commemorate this wonderful day. Just for her. Being that I have a scrap book store (aka our office) at my disposal, on Sunday I started the project.

I could tell immediately that this was going to be a favorite book because of the colors I chose and the pictures I was using. But then my Mom started helping me with it. Page by page, the book started to become more than just a book about the ice cream social, it became a bonding experience...

All of a sudden, I began to turn green. Yep, no joke. I was turning into the Grinch. I wanted to keep the album to myself. It would be MINE-ALL-MINE. I couldn't bear to part with it!!!

We worked on it until midnight on Sunday and continued Monday morning. All I could think about was how beautiful the album was looking and how much I wanted it. As we were punching holes in the pages to get them ready to be placed in the album, my Dad stepped in to help. Now, it was a "whole family" project. Franky had cut out the pictures, Mom and I had designed and completed the pages, and Dad punched. How could I give it away?

When all the pages were finished, I put the album together. Franky helped choose the order in which the pages would go. All the while "Grinchy" thoughts raced through my head. I sat the completed album on my work table to take pictures of it (as I do every album I make). As I held the pages to capture them on film, I began to think..."My Mother-In-Law is going to LOVE this. It is absolutely beautiful and all of the family is in it! I can't wait to give it to her!!!Let me give it to her now!!!"

My color returned to normal. No longer a Grinch, but very grateful for the day that my whole family worked together to bring so much joy to Grandma Mary. Who by the way LOVES, LOVES the album! : )

I have a copy of all of the pictures I used making the album. Maybe I'll make another one. Maybe I should recruit more family to help with this one. The end product is awesome, but so is the process. : )

So goes the tale of the Grinch.

Gotta Brag...

Most of you know that Alex (being a very spoiled, red-haired, only child, three year old boy who is influenced daily by "those kids" at his preschool [hee hee]) has had some tough days. He is very familiar with "the office" and in the past has spent a lot of time in "time-out". After much discussion with the director at his school, we decided to try moving Red up to the oldest class. Since he's been in this class, he has been doing AWESOME!!!

So, last Thursday when I picked Alex up from school, I could've done cartwheels out the door when he told me that he was chosen to be the Student of the Day.He had a great sticker to prove it! I was excited and so was he. We came home and showed it off to Dad, Mow and Papa (who were here over Christmas), and called Grandma Mary to tell her all about it. I just had to take a picture and create a post to celebrate. : )

Way to go, Dude!!
We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Aboard...

The Railroad is recruiting them young! Not really. : ) We had to take Franky to work yesterday. Alex loves to drive into the train yard where the BNSF shop is located. There is always something very exciting going on there. From a train of cars going through the yard to a crane lifting equipment onto a rail car. This thrills Alex. He begs to "just sit and watch".

The yard was especially busy yesterday. There were loaders working in the yard, freight cars being loaded onto the train by two giant cranes, complete trains moving through the yard and lots of large equipment used to repair the track parked near the shop. Red Head was in heaven. He begged to stay with Dad so that he could watch all the action just a little while longer.

Since we had to get back home, he settled on having his picture taken with Dad in his very own (borrowed) hard hat. It's awesome to see how much Alex already admires his Daddy. He told me on the way home that when he grows up, he's going to work with trains just like Dad. Too cute.

I Scream, You Scream...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Today was Grandma Mary's Second Annual Ice Cream Social. What a terrific Christmas gift! On this day the whole family gathers to enjoy each other's company and indulge in a little (or a lot) of this frozen treat.

Piled high with whipped cream, hot fudge, caramel, nuts, strawberries, pineapple and scoop after scoop of delectable ice cream, yum yum. We all giggle as the waitresses/ waiters set our frozen treats in front of us. Some are conservative and order "just a scoop". While others choose to experience the mother lode! No matter which you choose, you are guaranteed an amazing time.

There is something magical about sitting in Rosemary's Ice Cream Parlor. It makes you feel like a kid again. Truly a wonderful way to capture the feelings of the season. Thank you, Grandma Mary. Can't wait until next year!!!

The Train is Up...

and Red couldn't be happier. Franky set it up last night. Our living room was alive with excitement as he brought the boxes in from the garage. Both filled with anticipation as Franky pieced the track together with a little help from Red Head. They couldn't wait to see the old Santa Fe racing around the track, sparks flying beneath it as it zoomed around the tree. Franky loves this train as much, if not more than Alex.

The story of the train is Binker (Franky's Dad), just knew his second child would be a boy. So certain of this, he bought this Lionel train set to be used and enjoyed with the whole family. Especially a BOY! Well, Leah was born. : )

The train became a tradition. One the whole family looked forward to each Christmas. When Franky (a surprise!) came along, he also enjoyed the tradition of the train. He tells stories of he and his Dad playing with it, of him running two engines simultaneously so that they would crash into one another, of loading up the coal and cattle cars.

After Franky and I were married, the train was passed to him to continue the tradition. We have set it up every year since. Now Franky is teaching Alex to run the train. It is amazing how quickly he has caught on.

I love watching the two of them. A glimpse of the past, a connection between Father and Son. One that will take place year after year until one day Franky will pass it on to Alex and his family. Until then, we will all look forward to the day the train is up.

I hope this season, you too enjoy traditions and all of the wonderful memories that accompany them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

O, Christmas Tree...

Someone get me a parachute...

You know how I bragged about Alex on the flight to Minnesota? Well the trip home was a little different! Our flight from MN to AZ was long but ok. The flight from Phoenix to Fresno was terrible. I really wanted a parachute.

I was exhausted. Alex was beyond tired. Those descriptions sound similar but look very different. Mine looks like bags under the eyes, frayed nerves, crazy airplane hair, "don't mess with that chick - she's gonna blow!!!" Red Head's looks more like ants in the pants, what can I do next, I need to be louder cuz' not everyone can hear me, I- AM- NOT -TIRED.

Needless to say, this is not a great combination. Another one of those "God giving me opportunities to practice patience" experiences. Well, this time, it wasn't just God rolling on the floor with laughter, but all of the passengers on our plane, the flight attendant. Basically everyone but me. : )

I can laugh about it now.

This is what happened... As soon as we got on the plane, Alex asked, "Are we there yet?" That alone isn't so bad but he proceeded to sing it. Over and over, "are we there yet?" I told him to please stop. He did but then started singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer in a voice only to be used outside. I asked him to stop and encouraged him to take a rest. He stopped singing but then started wiggling in his seat saying, "Look Mom, I'm -not- T-I-R-E-D" to the tune of the nee-neer, nee- neer song.

I gave him the look. He gave it back to me. Then started singing "chic a mou, chic a mou mou" from the song "She's a Brick House". He got a few chuckles which stoked the little red-headed fire.

Do they have a "time-out" room in airplanes? NO. I told him he was going to be in "big trouble" (what's that?) if he didn't stop being so noisy and didn't sit still.To this he sat straight up in his seat. I thought, "he's giving in, he's going to settle down." He thought, "I've got her now!" He poked my arm and says "Mom" then he starts mouthing the words "chic a mou, chic a mou mou". AAAGGHHH! This went on for the entire flight.

When we landed, I wanted to kiss the ground. We got our luggage and got in the car. Remarkably, Red Head decided to mellow out. Maybe he tired himself out, too. He can drive me nutty but I wouldn't have it any other way. He's our wonderful, smart, spunky, loving life, little red head and I love that. : )

Naughty or Nice?

I think this is Red Head's first picture with Santa. This is the first year he is not terrified of the man in the red suit. He sat right up in his lap and told him he wanted a Geo Trax train for Christmas. I guess when you're a three year old boy and your Daddy works for the railroad, you can't have too many trains! I am ecstatic that he's asking for Geo Trax. The four year old behind him in line was asking for an X-box!!!

Dance, Dance

On Sunday, we went to Emily's dance recital. She danced as a penguin to Happy Feet and then to Let it Snow. She was adorable. Ellena was a little surprised that morning when she was getting Emily ready for the recital. You see, the day before we had put fake tattoos on all of the kids. Well, Emily's didn't come off. So, she stood out a little more than the other dancers with a fish tattoo on her right shoulder. Hubba hubba! : ) Sorry, Ellena. You have to admit, that's one to remember!!!
Alex loved watching all the little routines. He was dying to get on stage and so during the intermissions, he would sneak up there and jump around a little. At one point he even did his version of the Robot. It was too funny.

He also enjoyed watching and imitating the class instructors who were coaching the dancers on stage. He would move his arms around, shimmy his shoulders- it was cute. So glad we got to see Emily's performance.

Well the weather outside was frightful...

but the water park was delightful. ( I know, kind of corny.) On Saturday after freezing while getting the trees, Franky, me and all the kids went to the lodge where he was staying.We ate some pizza, put on fake tattoos (emblazoned with the lodge logo) and then visited the water park.

Who would have thought that Red Head's first water park experience would be in below freezing temperatures, 18 inches of snow on the ground and in Minnesota? Did we join the Polar Bear Club? Nope. It was indoors and it was a blast.

Franky and I had checked it out the night before (on a "date night"). My Mom and Dad kept Alex. That being the first night EVER spent away from us. (Thanks, Mow and Papa!) We were like teenagers sliding down the slides, splashing, floating along the lazy river. Only we are twenty five years older and shaped like Shrek and Fiona. (hee hee)

Anyway, Alex was in awe of the water park. He was a little hesitant at first. But quickly became a his full throttle self. He loved it. He and I even went down a big slide together (Yes, a momentary lapse in parental judgement). We lost our tube half way down. I was holding on to him for dear life. We shot out the end of the slide like a rocket. I was terrified and trying to recover when Alex yells, "THAT- WAS- FUN!!!" Franky asked if he wanted to go again, to which Red Head responds,"N-E-V-E-R!!!" I agreed.

All in all, it was lots of fun. We ended up taking Alex back the next day. No big slides. Just lots of splashing, floating, sliding on the kiddy slides and creating wonderful memories.

Did you know...

When you get a Christmas tree in Minnesota it has to "thaw out" before you bring it inside? On Saturday morning we all ventured out to the tree farm to pick out a tree for Mom, Dad and Tracey's family.

It was so pretty there. It's kind of funny, you go out, pick your tree, cut it down with the saws provided (or if you're smart, your chain saw you brought along), load it up, then leave a check in a drop box as you leave. Never making contact with the farm owners. Do you think that would happen in California?!

Mom and Dad picked a beautiful tree that had few limbs on the back so that it would fit in a certain spot. Tracey and his family picked a ginormous (Red Head's word for "HUGE") tree to fit in their living room that has vaulted ceilings.

I love to decorate Christmas trees and so Ellena and I put the lights on their tree (which ended up being around 14 feet tall). With a ladder, a extending light bulb changing pole, a broom, garden gloves (Minnesota Christmas trees are VERY poky), 2500 lights, and two very determined women ( Ellena and I) the lights were on and absolutely amazing. (We Rock!) It was fun. Probably very funny to watch. Lucky no bones were broken. : )

I will always remember that night.

I also helped Mom with the lights on her tree. It was hilarious. Because of the lack of branches on the back, it fit perfectly into the space chosen for it, but as we were putting the lights on, it kept falling on us! It took a little while but we finally got the lights on and managed to get the stand fixed so that it would stay up. It (too) looks absolutely beautiful. Franky has decided that I will be the one putting the lights on our tree from now on. (He's the one who taught me how to do them and always does ours.) But, a tradition is a tradition and he's not getting out of this one!

The pictures from the slide show titled "O, Christmas Tree" were taken on this day.

Baby It's Cold Outside...

Two days before we arrived in Minnesota, they had about 12-18 inches of snow. It was so beautiful. Alex thought it was great and couldn't wait to play in it. We explained to him it was very cold and he needed to put on all his gear before going outside so he would stay warm. Red Head HATES wearing a jacket so getting him dressed while he wiggled to take off what you put on took some time. By the time all the layers were on, he didn't wiggle much anymore. : )

Once we got outside, he rolled, jumped, laid, ate, and threw the snow. He rode the snow plow with Papa and laughed/squealed with delight when Papa went after me with the blower! His favorite thing was shoveling snow. He was pretty good at it but tended to shovel the snow right into the places that had already been cleared.
It was about 5 degrees outside on that day. We had a blast shoveling until Alex got stuck (face down) in the snow. (Then we went inside to warm up!) I think I lost 5lbs. shoveling Mom and Dad's deck. Unfortunately, I ate the rest of the time and gained that (probably more) back. Oh, well. January 1st is coming...

Holiday Cheer and Jet Lag...

At this very moment I am experiencing both. Red Head and I just got back from an amazing week in Minnesota. My parents flew us out last Wednesday and surprised Franky (who was already there for work) and my nieces. They hadn't a clue we were coming.

I was a little worried about flying alone with Alex, but our flight to Minnesota was great. There were so many people willing to help us out during the boarding process and flight. It was awesome. I have only one complaint, whoever designed the carpet at the airport in Phoenix must not have ever traveled with a three year old! It has a circular pattern with airplanes scattered here and there. Red Head thought it was great...He jumped from circle to circle moving forward, backward, left and right. This made it very interesting to balance our carry-ons and maintain a death grip to Alex's hand so that we didn't get separated. Most people thought it was quite humorous. I had to laugh too.

It was so funny, when we landed in Minnesota the airport was covered in snow. There were huge piles of the white stuff everywhere. Because of how we sat, Alex didn't see it until we were able to unbuckle our seat belts. When he finally looked out the window he yells, "S-N-O-W!!!" Everyone on the plane chuckled.

On the way to Mom and Dad's house, Franky (who thought I was at an "all-day" training) called to see what they were doing. Alex could not keep quiet during the call so Mom hands the phone to him. The conversation went something like this:

Red Head: Hi, Daddy!

Daddy: Who's this?

Red Head: It's me, Alex.

Daddy: (long pause) Where are you?!

Red Head: I'm in Minnesota!!!

Daddy: (very long pause) How'd you get to Minnesota?

Red Head: On a big plane.

Daddy: Let me talk to Mom...

He was in shock but very excited. I can't believe we pulled it off without him knowing. I'm terrible at keeping things like that a secret!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Never Run With Scissors...

Or leave your 3 year old down stairs unattended with them.

So, I've taken up a new little hobby. I have learned to knit. A gracious fellow county employee (who just so happens to be a man) showed me how and I am proud to say I have already finished one scarf.

Tonight I was working on a scarf for Alex. He took a lot of interest in the knitting process when I was making my first scarf so I told him I would make him one next. I had all of my yarn, knitting needles and scissors on the couch where I was sitting. Alex was in the hallway floor playing with his cars (crashing them into my baseboards) when I had to go upstairs.

I was gone for what seemed only a short time but it was long enough for Red Head to cut about a thousand 2" pieces of red yarn and spread them all over the couch....AAARGGHH!!! I didn't know whether to Laugh, CRY, or SCREAM. What a weird mix of emotions.

I ended up putting Red Head in a time out for using the scissors without permission. I've resolved to be more responsible with sharp objects. And I said a little prayer thanking God that it was just yarn.

Lesson learned.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Shabby Advent

This SeASon always gets my creative juices flowing. I am so proud of my latest "work of art", I had to create a post just to celebrate it. I guess some of us never out grow the "look what I made" stage! The pictures truly do not give it justice, it's even neater in person. : ) Brag, brag...
I have always been fascinated with advent calenders. The idea of celebrating each day leading up to Christmas brings out the kid in me! I have thought about buying one for Red Head but just haven't found one to fit in with my decorating style. So, yesterday I was checking out some of the scrap booking sites I like and saw a twist on the calender. They had made one on the back of a cookie sheet using different paper and embellishments. Each one made by someone different, they were a representation of the person's individual style. That got me thinking...

I had an large old window hanging in my dining room just begging to become something great! I took it down, measured it and started working. I began rummaging through my left over Christmas decorations and scrap booking supplies. I found paper and embellishments in colors that coordinate with the Christmas decorations already in our home.

I cut twenty five squares to represent the 25 days of Christmas, then began creating a layout for each day. It was so much fun. I got more and more happy with it with each finished square. I had started working on it at about 7:oopm and at 12:00am the moment of truth came...I applied the adhesive squares to the paper and pressed them on my window. I slowly picked up the finished product and to my delight, everything was secure and hanging perfectly in place. Yipee!! The calender now hangs proudly in our dining room. I look to be eating in the dining room (instead of Red Head's kitchen table) for the next 25 days, just so I can enjoy it. : )