Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Reviews

John and I try to go to the library at least once a month. I've been reviewing the books we check out so I can get them again later and this list will help me remember which ones we enjoyed. Now I am going to make it available to you! Click HERE to see an alphabetic list of the books and my reviews of them. I also added a link to this list on the side column near the bottom of the page. If you have any book recommendations for toddlers, let me know! We love to read!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Establishing a Routine

John and I tend to have lazy mornings, especially when we have no where to go. Sometimes I am astonished at how long we stay in our jammies. Yesterday I decided to try to be better about having a morning routine.

I took pictures of him doing all the different parts of his morning routine and made a book about his morning. I know it will be really good for John and train him to have good habits and be more independent as time goes on. Also this will help me to stay on track too! - Actually it is probably more for me than it is for him!! =)

This morning was our first time using the book. When he woke up, I grabbed the book and we did all the things that he is shown doing in the book. It worked really well. I plan on doing this every morning until he is able to predict each step of the routine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moving to Hawaii...

Unfortunately the title for this post is not about us! Andrew and I would love to take a vacation to Hawaii, but at this point we are very happy living where we are. ;)

No, this post is about some dear friends of ours who are going to be stationed in Hawaii until June. So it won't be a long separation, but we will definitely miss them. We got together with them last night for a farewell dinner. John and his buddy, James, get along so well. I know they will miss their play dates together. They hugged and kissed each other goodbye - it was super cute!

So long for now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fashion Faux Pas?

It's been raining a lot lately here in Bremerton, and I'm struggling with a temptation right now, which has been brewing inside me for several years...

I'd really like to start using those rain bonnets that are stereotypically reserved for old ladies. 

In all seriousness - think of the practicality! Here in Washington, who even uses an umbrella anymore? They can be bulky, something extra to hold, and awkward. Yet I would still like to have a way that I can keep my hair dry, especially on the days that I actually try to make my hair look good. I have one problem... my sweet husband would never want me to wear one of these!!! So out of respect him, I am going to resist this temptation with all some of my might.

Actually, in writing this post I found some "trendy" rain bonnets - Here is a an etsy store that sells bonnets made out of umbrella fabric. And here is one being sold on a European website (I really have my eye on that one!).

Maybe he would go for one of those? 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our big boy!

Today John turned 20 months old! It's hard to believe that he will turn two in only four short months! Here are some highlights from John at 20 months:
  • His favorite toys right now are little cars that he can wheel all around the house. As I type this he has one car in each hand and is driving them on the couch's rough terrain.
  • He really likes to accessorize (in a manly way of course) - hats, boots, mittens, scarfs...
  • He has a minor obsession with hats. He will often say "at" (hat) and put his hand on his head when he wants to wear a hat. Or he will say "at go" when he wants to put a hat on and go somewhere. For some reason when ever he sees Grandpa St.Hilaire, he says "at?" and wants him to put a hat on.
  • Other new words for him include:
    • "Bay-be" - baby
    • "wa-wa" - water, but he also could be referring to any other drink
    • "ca" - car
    • "guh" - glove, he does have mittens but he prefers to wear socks on his hands right now. He will bring me socks and say "guh!" insisting that I put them on his hands.
    • "doos-doos" - blues clues or choo-choo train (they sound the same)
    • "Ma" - grandma
    • A whispered "pa-pa" - grandpa
    • "go" - goat
    • "up"
    • "mo" - more
  • I have started teaching him letter sounds with the help of the short video "Letter Factory" by Leap Frog. It is a fun video and teaches letter sounds in a neat way. The only letter sound he is confident in is "H." My parents got him some alphabet blocks for Christmas and he will find the "H" and make its sound. We always assume he is panting because he sees a dog, but then realize he is making the "H" sound!
    • He is such a sweet little boy and very sociable. He likes playing with his friends in childcare while I go to Mothers' Group every Thursday at our church. A few weeks ago I went to pick him up and he had some older friends saying "Bye John!" It was really cute to hear little kids saying his name and treating him so nicely.

    Here are some pictures of John from our friends' wedding in December
    (Congratulations Marc and Nichole!!):

    John and Clare had fun dancing together, it was really cute!

    Under the gift table proved to be the biggest entertainment for all the toddlers!

    Gotta love this action shot of him hitting his head on the table!

    Here is John playing in a box full of peanuts. He loved playing in it until the box tipped over and he hit his head and spilled peanuts everywhere! =(

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Visit from Mom and Dad St.Hilaire {New Years Eve}

    New Years Eve was crazy this year! I was on call with a friend who was due to deliver her baby any day. She has four other children all under five and she needed someone to watch them when the time came. Well, the time came on New Years Eve. I was able to rush out the grocery store and stock up on some food for the weekend. We were also expecting Andrew's parents to arrive that day for a post-Christmas visit. His parents arrived before I went to pick up the kids, so I was able to leave John with them. I came back driving a 15 passenger van; which, by the way, was a small victory for me - I was very nervous about driving something that big, but it really wasn't that bad! The whole evening and the next morning are kind of a blur so I am going to have to organize my memories in bullet points:
    • I made sushi for the first time (see picture below)
    • We watched some Veggie Tales
    • We celebrated the New Year with New York and the kids toasted with sparkling cider
    • Our place is small, so we had the kids sleep on the floor in our room, so we could stay up and play games in the living room
    • They all went to bed very easily!! I was so impressed!
    • We stayed up until about 1:30am
    • The youngest child woke up coughing at 3am and again at 4am, I soothed him both times
    • I got a text around 5am saying that they new baby was born!
    • The kids all woke up at 7:30am
    • I was tired
    • I made waffles while they watched Thomas the Train
    • We cleaned up and I drove them home at 10:30am
     I was very happy to watch the kids and help out my friend. Her children behaved amazingly, so nothing really went wrong. It was just a big adjustment for me to have five kiddos in tow.

    New Years Eve dinner
    Our first moments in 2011
    Mom and Dad St.Hilaire were able to stay until Monday morning, so we enjoyed some quality time with them. We played games, watched a movie, and ate good food - including my first attempt at homemade ice cream! They came bearing many gifts and we loved them all. We put them all out under the tree and on Sunday we had a second "Christmas morning." One gift that we were honored to receive was a picture that belonged to Grandma Reilly (Andrew's Mom's Mom). Mom said that she thinks it originally belonged to Grandma Reilly's mother. So this is a family heirloom! It was given to us by our cousin Erin, who was very generous in letting us enjoy it in our home.

    Grandma Reilly's picture

    New cozy coat!

    "Helping" me make pizza with his new apron

    I made this ice cream and it was SO easy and yummy!

    We always love visits with Mom and Dad. Saying goodbye is the hard part!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Launceford Christmas Party

    In my childhood we would always go to my Grandma and Grandpa Launceford's house on Christmas Eve. I have many fond memories of this event. There were only three grandchildren (my brother, me, and a cousin who is a year older than me), until I was nine years old. Everyone got us a gift, so we were very spoiled! We would always eat and visit first, but the three of us grandkids would be very anxious to go downstairs where the glorious tree and all the presents were. We would often get permission to go down early and organize the gifts. The anticipation was almost unbearable.

    After I turned nine, three baby boys were born - from three different families. After that, our family kept growing and growing! Currently, there are twelve grandchildren in all, plus one great-grandchild (little John!). Times have changed... the wonderful company has remained the same (except for my dear grandpa who is now in his eternal Home), but we don't gather on Christmas Eve anymore or at my grandma's house. Also the gift giving is pretty different since there are so many of us. Now we each bring one generic gift and draw names to see who picks a gift first. When a name is picked that person can either open a new gift or take one that has already been opened. It is fun and lighthearted. 

    In all honesty, I nostalgically envy the consistency of the old traditions and plethora of gifts we received as kids. However, as an adult, I appreciate and realize the greater importance of enjoying the company of my extended family. All the grandkids are getting older, which means they will soon be going off to college and choosing their own paths in life. So at this moment, I am savoring this season of life where I can create new memories with my wonderful relatives. Times may change, but the love we share will always remain.

    I've been promoted to the grown-up table!!!
    John received this from Great-Grandma. He loves it!
    John with Great Aunt Karen - wearing a mistletoe headband!
    I joined in on the silly headband fun...

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Christmas 2010

    Christmas morning was pretty magical. It was neat seeing John's excitement, though he definitely was not expecting all the gifts and treats. We got up early and went to the 8:15am Mass. We had to wake John up because he usually sleeps in until 9am (I know, I am one lucky mama!). The first video below is of John after we got him dressed for Mass. He wasn't sure what to make of all the presents under the tree.

    After Mass we opened our gifts to each other and then went upstairs to be with my parents, brother, and grandpa. One of the best moments of the day was when we walked into my parent's house. Andrew and I were greeting my brother and mom, but John ran past us. He made a mad dash for the tree and fell half way there, only to quickly rise to his feet to continue his sprint. We thought he was just excited to see more presents, but he had his eye on a gift that was not wrapped. My parents got him a Strider bike! He grabbed the bike and swung his leg over the seat - as if he's known how to ride a bike his whole life. It was the cutest thing! His raw joy and excitement was contagious to all of us.

    We all opened gifts to each other, ate yummy food, and played games together. Christmas was very special this year because we had an honored guest with us - my grandpa. He lives in Oregon, so I do not get to see him much. It was quite a treat to celebrate with him. He is known for his ability to recite long poems from memory, so listening to his recitations added to the perfection of our Christmas day this year.  

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Advent & Christmas Crafts

    My goal is to do a few crafts each year so that a lot of our Christmas decorations will eventually be homemade. This year I made a tree skirt that was inspired by this pattern.

    I also made a stocking for John.

    I made a few batches of cookies and attended a cookie exchange. I really think cookie exchanges are the best way to get a great variety of treats with the least amount of effort! John even joined in my cookie decorating efforts! I got the idea from Life as a Mom. She suggested using pastry brushes, but I didn't have any so I used baby spoons. I think brushes would have worked better - I had to help John a lot! Mom St.Hilaire told me that she used to have her kids paint the cookies before they were baked with an egg yolk mixture, which looks neat when baked. I think I will try that next year!

    We did not have an Advent wreath last year or for most of this year. I ordered one from Bronners, but it didn't come until the 4th week of Advent. To tide us over, I drew a wreath on the chalk board in our kitchen and added a flame each week. We also hung the cards that we received around the boarder:

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Tree Decorating in Bellingham

    Every year that Andrew and I have been together, I have participated in cutting and decorating Andrew's parents' tree. It is a cherished tradition for me, and we wouldn't miss it for anything... unless it was snowing. We just don't drive in the snow - too risky!

    Fortunately, the weather was great. So we took a trek up to Bellingham and hunted for the perfect tree:

    We found it!

    Then we decorated it with all of the St.Hilaire ornaments while singing along with Elvis' Christmas album:

    Even John got in on the action!

     Annual family Christmas portrait:

    Sunday, January 9, 2011


    Advent Party: John and I hosted a party for our friends and we made paper chains to countdown the days till Christmas. It was fun to have a big crowd at our house! John didn't really get the idea of ripping off the chains each day... maybe next year!

    Advent Calendar: Last year (2009), Grandma and Grandpa St.Hilaire gave John an Advent calendar that has a piece of the Nativity scene for each day. It took a little time and discipline, but he quickly learned to take the piece out of the pocket and place place it on the scene above. I also put a candy cane kiss in each pocket - which he enjoyed very much. It wasn't long before he knew what the words "Advent calendar" meant. Whenever I said those words he would get a huge grin on his face and run to it!

    Waiting: This year we made a concerted effort to hold off on our celebrations until Christmas. As a child, I was always hauling out the boxes of our family's decorations the day after Thanksgiving. So waiting was a challenge for me. I wasn't sure if we would just hold off on our tree or on all decorations, until I recognized that our church does not decorate at all until Christmas Eve. I want our home to reflect the church, so I decided it would be best to only have our Advent calendar and wreath out until Christmas Eve.

    The best part of waiting to get the tree is that we got our tree for a dollar at Rite Aid!! It is still standing proudly in our living room, but we will be taking it down later today and putting all our decorations away. I definitely was very excited to put it up on Christmas Eve, but it made for a very busy day... Andrew and I may do it differently next year. It is fun figuring out how we want to celebrate these holidays in our own family.