Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kindergarten graduation

Samuel graduated from kindergarten today. It was so cute! They had a full ceremony, which only lasted about half an hour. The students walked in wearing felt grad caps that they got to keep afterwards. They even received diplomas with their pictures in it. Sadly, I forgot the camera, but I couldn't stop grinning the whole time. Now my oldest son is a proud first grader. Afterwards we ate lunch at Golden Corral, Samuel's choice.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rachel's First Birthday

I love it when she scrunches up her nose and laughs.

We celebrated Rachel's first birthday this weekend! Nothing big or fancy, just a simple family party. This has been an exciting year for our family, from unemployment to a great job and moving from a small rental house to a big house we're buying. Through it all Rachel has been growing and exploring.

Although she can scream like a banshee and rattle our brains, Rachel also has an infectious laugh. She loves getting tickled; when we stop, she either puts our hand on her belly or walks into our hand to get tickled more. Rachel and Lisy sit next to each other in the car, and sometimes they laugh together for no apparent reason.

Our traditional first birthday chocolate cake. So messy, yet so adorable.

Rachel loves to play peek-a-boo with a blanket, a toy, or even around a door. She walks about 50% of the time now. She doesn't talk much, but she says 4 words: mom (sounds like mem), dad, up, and cat (which she first said on her birthday). And as with all kids, she understands much more than she can speak.

Rachel is enjoying her present from Grandma and Grandpa Abbott - a plush tea set.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back from Never Never Land

Lisy, Rachel, Benjamin and Samuel showing off their St. Patrick's day finery.

Hello! Yes, I'm still here. There's really no reason I haven't written lately. So here's a summary of the last 2 and a half months (and a whole lot of pictures for the fun of it):

-Valentine's day was fun. During dinner we turned off the lights and lit candles, and Lisy started singing the happy birthday song. Then we went around the table saying what we liked about each person. The kids really enjoyed it and fell into a fit of happy giggles.

-We visited the zoo, and I took too many pictures. I was surprised at how small the Boise zoo is compared to Hogle zoo, and yet we didn't see everything. I look forward to going back.

-Spring is extremely windy around here. Naturally we flew a kite. The boys each had a turn flying the kite, and they both did a decent job keeping it up in the air. Lisy was very excited and hopped around as she watched the kite fly.

-We visited Devin and Maran to celebrate Courtney's first birthday in March. It's always fun to visit family. At church someone asked if Rachel and Courtney were twins - nope, just cousins. The adults played many games of "Settlers of Catan," while the kids played with the 6-year-old neighbor girl.

-Thor the guinea pig can now run all over his cage, and he sprints around in circles whenever anyone enters the room. You'd think he would be used to me, but he is still skittish when I feed him. Whatever was wrong with his foot is now better, so it was probably a broken leg. He is also quite large - I hope he stops growing soon.

Samuel is feeding Thor a dandelion stem. Apparently Thor doesn't like the flowers or leaves.Who know a guinea pig could be so picky?

-Rachel now has 6 teeth and cruises everywhere. She has developed an off-beat sense of humor for a baby. She can climb up and fall down the stairs, for which we now have a gate. She makes a beeline to my laptop whenever I open it up - she likes hitting the keys.

-Lisy is laissez-faire about potty training, which has stalled, but at least she hasn't reverted back to diapers. I've upped the reward system: she can now earn up to 5 M&Ms per bathroom visit. She's slightly more interested now. Almost every day she has to wear a beautiful dress because she's a beautiful princess (or boo'ful, in her words).

-Benjamin's creativity is really obvious now that his speech has gotten clearer. His speech therapist says he picks up the sounds amazingly fast. She says his behavior is better, too, and that he's ready for kindergarten now. He is the self-declared watchdog for his younger sisters. He is quick to take away something they should not have, which usually leads to someone crying. He yells "choking hazard!" if he sees Rachel holding anything small.

-Samuel lost his second tooth. He now has a huge, gaping hole in his bottom teeth. I recently attended a parent/teacher conference. It was so much fun! She said that he makes her day better when he's there; he shows leadership qualities; he is very intelligent; and he can be anything he wants to be when he grows up. The only problem is that kindergarten isn't challenging enough for him.

-Dominic's job is going very well. As a matter of fact, he has a new client because someone requested him. They're also paying him the higher bilingual rate, because he has 2 Spanish-speaking clients. He put up shelves in the office, and he is going to build a bunkbed for the boys.

-I finally got back on my thyroid medication, and I don't feel tired all the time anymore. I'm currently working with the Cub Scouts. My boys are very excited to become scouts one day and to do fun things like the pinewood derby. I am also trying to get the paperwork together to buy the house; being a cluttered and disorganized person, this is a difficult chore for me.

Well, that's our life in a nutshell. We're happy, mostly healthy, and life if going in the right direction. I'll try to post a bit more often, but I give no promises.

Double pigtails! I love it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thor, the Guinea Pig

You may remember our pet degus. Yugi, our last one, lived happily through the summer. He and the cat were great friends, plus he had the entire garage to explore. We couldn't keep him in the cage - he chewed holes faster than Dominic could repair them. By September the garage was no longer enough. He would dart out and hide under the car's hood whenever we opened the garage door. So it was sad, but no big surprise, when we realized he was gone for good. We hope he is living happily out in the wild, but chances are good that a neighborhood cat or a predatory bird (lots of hawks in the area) got him.

Dominic missed the little critter - for some strange reason he likes rodents. 2 guinea pigs were free to a good home at a local animal shelter, but we were about to move. I said sure, he could get them, once we were in the new house (so they wouldn't be forgotten in the chaos). As luck would have it, someone else took the pair just days before Dominic went to get them.

Dominic was very disappointed. I reminded him that I had promised he could get a guinea pig. So he started looking around at the pet shops. 10 days ago Dominic took Samuel to pick one out. Samuel named him Thor, after the super hero.

After a couple of days it was clear that something was wrong with Thor. Dominic checked his legs, and the back right leg doesn't work. Sometimes we call him gimpy pig. We told the kids that Thor might also have internal problems and that he might not live very long. It was their choice to take him back and get a healthy pet, or to keep him despite the problems and shortened life expectancy. They voted to keep him.

I'm just a little nervous holding him. Can you tell?

Every day we take care of him, making sure his food and water are within reach. Lisy likes spending time with "my baby g' pig." Samuel feeds him lettuce. Benjamin likes to move him around the cage and talks about him dying. I can actually touch him and hold him. I think it's because he doesn't dart around like most rodents. And, he sounds just like a tribble when I pet him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Promised pictures

I finally braved the cold and wind to get these fabulous pictures. I really like this style, because it reminds me of the houses where I grew up. Dominic thinks it's a tad boring, though; his dream house is a Victorian. He's planning on adding decorative trim, and I'll hang up plants and a bird feeder in the Spring.

The backyard has this great playset, and despite the weather, the kids are spending a lot more time outside. We also have these garden boxes that I look forward to learning how to use to grow something edible. That area with no boxes is a strawberry patch - apparently they thrive here.

Here are a couple of inside shots. First, Lisy is trying out the window seat in a bedroom. Who needs cushions? And Benjamin found a comfy seat in this corner cabinet, which now holds my mixing bowls. I think it's adorable that all the kids like to sit there and talk to me while I'm cooking.

I'll share more interior pictures as I complete the rooms.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The freedom to go

Today is the 2 week anniversary of Rachel starting to crawl. She loves this newfound freedom. It makes her so happy. So where does this ankle biter go? To me or my laptop. If she is in the living room when I go upstairs, she crawls to the stairs and plays, or cries, at the bottom step until I return.

Looks like she wants to start walking soon, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Learning curve

As my sister Jen pointed out when she moved, you can never transfer a kitchen as-is. You will always need to make adjustments. I have found the same to be true with kitchen appliances. It seems I need a bit of time to learn how to cook in my new kitchen.

There was no school today (something about it being the end of term), so I took the time to make a big country breakfast. Wouldn't you know it? My new stove runs a bit hotter than I'm used to - I burned everything. Only the biscuits were spared, but just because it's a cool oven and I had to leave them in a bit longer than usual. I felt like the stereotypical new wife who can't cook. At least no one complained.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Home

We're done. It's finished. We are completely moved out of our old house, and finished the cleaning. Though if you ask me, the rental agency was a bit anal with the white glove inspection. (Who takes down the bathroom fan covers and dusts them with a q-tip?) They did let me go back and clean more thoroughly, so hopefully we'll get most of our deposit back.

Our new place feels so big. We went from about 900 sq ft to about 1600 sq ft. I didn't think I would like 2 stories, but it really helps with the noise - one can always find a quiet place to relax. Plus, I get a lot of exercise going up and down the stairs all day.

Another thing I like is the laundry room inside the house. I find myself more willing to do the laundry when I don't have to put on shoes and brave the cold garage just to switch the clothes. (Have I mentioned that I'm a weather wimp?)

Right now I feel like we'll never fully move in. Then I remember that we moved during the holidays (we didn't lose any presents in the transition :) and spent a bit of time cleaning the old place. I'm just now catching my breath and finding a daily routine again. As we gradually unpack the boxes stuffed in the garage, I vow to actually hang up our pictures on the walls. Confession: our last place only had clocks and a calendar up.

Our new landlords are great. We hope to eventually buy the house from them, and they are encouraging us to make improvements. For instance, we put in a cat door, and they were excited for us. How cool is that? At our last place, they said we needed to call an approved contractor to fix a poorly repaired hole in the wall; Dominic just fixed it himself and did a better job.

Three cheers to a new year and a new house!

*Yes, I will post pictures as soon as I take them.