We usually do a craft day with all the girls when we go home for the holidays. This year my mom bought us kits, which made it super easy and convenient. It only took us about an hour to do the blocks. Crafts are fun, but not when they take all day long and you have whiny men and kids around the house:) The garland was something my mom saw on pinterest that she was just dying to try out. My sister and I put it together and it took a lot longer than we thought it would because of all the ornaments we had to tie on. What also made it take longer was that right as we were about to step back to admire our work, the entire thing fell down and ornaments went flying everywhere. We found some sturdy wire to get it hung back up, but it fell down a second time too! Lesson learned here: all those ornaments are heavier than they appear, so use something strong to string it up! Something else that made it even prettier was that we bought a pre-lit garland strand. So if you are looking for a fun/relatively cheap Christmas craft that looks amazing, this is it!
She really does love her big brother and he loves to give her kisses and rub his cheek and arm on her soft hair. If I have to set her in her crib for a minute, I don't mind letting Taj climb in with her because she never cries when he's there with her. He is already very protective of her. He doesn't like people he doesn't like holding her and he doesn't like it when I put headbands on her. I think that he thinks it is hurting her or bugging her because he can't stand to have anything on his head. I love this picture. Haiven totally looks freaked out, as if she wants me to get her out of there quick! Taj just can't help climbing in the crib with her when she's in there. He makes sure to keep the mobile going for both their entertainment. Haiven meeting her great grandma Martha for the first time. You can tell Haiven likes her too by the little smile on her face:) Taj was pretty proud to have his very own silver bell and he preferred that we look at the bell instead of him! This was the best picture we could get of Santa and his elves. All of the kids on our car were freaking out! I haven't heard that many little giggles and squeals all at once since I was in elementary school! In Brannon's defense, I let Taj take some pictures and he chose Brannon as his subject:) Nothing like a cold, Monticello sunset over the Blue Mountains! Haiven meeting her great grandpa for the first time. You can tell that she was very intrigued with him:)
This year for Thanksgiving we went home to Monticello. Besides the holiday traffic, the trip there and back was pretty much perfect. We only had to stop once both ways to feed Haiven, otherwise she slept the entire way! When Taj was Haiven's age and we went home for Christmas, he cried the ENTIRE way, so we were geared up for a cry-fest, but we were pleasantly surprised by the snoring in the back seat. Thanksgiving dinner was great as always and I'm sure I ate too much for someone who needs to drop a lot of baby weight still! I think Brannon and I are going to have our own Biggest Loser competition to see who can drop the weight first. I think I might win since I have a gym pass and he has a giant sweet tooth.
Instead of doing Black Friday this year, we took a ride on the Polar Express in Durango, CO. My mom booked us tickets and while they were a bit pricey, I say they are totally worth it if you have kids. Taj absolutely loved it! His perma-smile face was glued to the window pretty much the entire ride. We drank hot cocoa, ate chocolate chip cookies, and listened to the Polar Express book on the way to the North Pole. Once we got to the North Pole, Santa came aboard and gave all of the kids on the train a silver bell from his sleigh. Taj wasn't so sure about Santa, but he loved the bell. Haiven slept like a rock, thank goodness, for the whole ride. I don't know how people traveled long distance in those old cars. They sway back and forth like a boat on water. I was just glad nobody got sick! It was such a fun night and literally a magical experience to see Taj's face light up and to experience the magic of childhood again through him. It actually brought tears to my eyes watching Taj as we pulled away from the train station. I was embarrassed about it until I looked over and saw my mom and sisters with watery eyes too, then we all laughed for getting so emotional over a train ride:)
It was good to just relax and spend time with family over a long weekend. Just so I remember, I love getting together with my family over the holidays because it always includes National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Elf, game night, hot cocoa, chips and Yolanda's salsa, mom's latest recipes, late nights telling stories, craft day, a bad mood or two, and lots of noise and laughs. My family knows how to spend quality time with each other and I've always been grateful for that and I know our relationships are stronger because of it. I know my mom will appreciate this since she is always so worried that if she doesn't have a lot of activities planned that we will all be bored and not want to come home. I told her that we all like to come home because it's home. There is no way it could be boring with all of us there together!
Chairs do not belong on the road, especially on the freeway, especially in my lane! Yesterday I was rumbling down the road in lil' Black Magic when all of a sudden the car in front of me swerved out of the lane to reveal a man on the side of the road waving his arms frantically and a gigantic chair right in my lane. My natural reaction was to stomp on the brakes at 65 miles per hour, which of course set my locked tires to screeching and produced enormous amounts of black smoke. I'm pretty sure my eyes were as big as golf balls and I might have been doing the silent scream and I say silent because I was so scared I swear my heart stopped and I couldn't breathe! Time slowed down as I veered off the road to miss the chair and tried to avoid hitting the man or his stupid furniture truck. I will never forget the look on that man's face...he was actually laughing! Jerk. I think it was because of the stupid look on my face and perhaps the sight of smoke roiling out from underneath poor screeching Black Magic. He's just lucky I have moves like Starsky and Hutch and that I didn't turn him or his stupid chair into road kill!
Haiven's infamous pouty lip, soooo cute! Life with two kids continues to get better with each week. I think we have finally found a schedule that works, although there are still several days where it seems I don't get anything done between the wants and needs of two kids. For example, it took me one whole week to balance the checkbook! I think Brannon was about to have a panic attack over it. I on the other hand am much less worried about keeping the house picked up, the checkbook balanced, the dishes washed, and putting laundry away these days--which is probably why Brannon comes home from work, surveys the damage from the day, and asks if I need more help around the house. I have learned that a lot of things can wait and that sometimes just surviving the day is enough. I think Brannon understands this when he gets left at home with the kids for the afternoon on Saturdays when I go grocery shopping:)
Taj continues to make great progress adjusting to baby sister, who he calls, "My baby." He loves to snuggle with her, rub her hair, kiss her, study her hands and feet and eyes, and help her with her binky. He is still not sure what mommy is doing when I nurse Haiven. He'll take off with my nursing pads and put them in his own shirt or try the nipple shield on his belly button. I hid the breast pump, so he hasn't tried that out again! I have a feeling this will be some great blackmail material when he gets older:) He is using more and more words to communicate and I think he is about to take off with speech, which we are really excited and thankful for! Both Brannon and I take special Taj time each day and I would honestly say that this is the best way to help an older sibling adjust to a new sibling for anyone about to experience the same change in their home!
Little Haiven continues to be such a good little baby. She does struggle with colic a little bit, but she is only fussy during the day and pretty much sleeps through the night now. She is so sweet and loves to be snuggled, especially by Taj. She is so alert when he comes around and it is so cute! She also responds well to soft piano or jazz music. It literally puts her to sleep, so it's actually become our cure for colic! I am so thankful for the rest that I am able to get! I do not function well on little sleep, in fact, I'm downright irritable and cantankerous, just ask Brannon!
For example the other night Brannon's old possessed cell phone's alarm went off in our room and woke me up only a half hour after I had put Haiven back to sleep (also in our room). In a sleep-deprived induced haze I clunked around our room looking for the source of the strange noise in a rage because I didn't want it to wake Haiven up. I searched for about five minutes and still couldn't find what was making such an awful noise, so I sat on the bed and put my head in my hands and decided that crying would be the best thing to do. Brannon stumbled in the room seconds later and knew exactly what the noise was: his old cell phone's alarm. He claims that while he was getting the phone out of the cupboards (above our bed), that I was swearing like a sailor at him. I do not remember that part as I was already halfway back asleep when the stupid phone was finally silenced! Want to know what happened two nights later? Yep, the same stupid phone that had been turned off two nights earlier went off again! This time I knew what it was and it took a lot of will power for me to not just throw it out in the road. Brannon later told me he had heard it go off again, but didn't dare come in the room because Medusa was on the loose!
Despite the chaos that is present in our home nearly every day, I am thankful for it all! I would rather have the mess and the noise than silence. I am so grateful for my family!
My sister flew into town to meet our sweet baby Haiven and lucky for us her camera tagged along as well! We had big plans for cute props and cute outfits, but Haiven decided otherwise. It took us three different tries just to get the pictures that we did. Haiven does not like being nakey and she does not like to be woken up from her naps (like her momma--just ask Brannon:)). Taj for once liked having his picture taken and as you can tell, he is absolutely in love with is baby sister!
This year Taj went trick-or-treating with Puff the Magic Dragon. Brannon pulled them in the wagon and Taj came back with a pretty good haul of candy--exactly what that kid needs! More sugar! I stayed behind with baby girl to hand out candy to about 20 trick-or-treaters...so yeah...we have a lot of candy leftover, which equals not good for someone who is trying to lose baby weight!