Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Family Christmas

We have a family tradition of staying home on Christmas day. We really like the relaxing, peaceful atmosphere it allows us to have, instead of rushing here and there. (And it really worked out well this year, too, seeing as it started snowing in the afternoon!)

When we woke up on Christmas morning, of course, Russell had no idea what was going on. Since he likes to eat first thing, we let him eat his breakfast before doing presents. And we got to eat my family's traditional Christmas breakfast - strata. {This was way better than the overpriced Denny's we had last year (I had nothing in the house since we were traveling the next day)}:


When Russell sees wrapped packages, he doesn't understand that they're presents, so we really had to coax him to open anything. He was extremely excited about his stocking stuffers, including this monster truck:


Checking out a car from his "big" present (a car spinner musical toy thing) - but more importantly, he climbed in the box as soon as he could:


Jason's parents came over mid-morning, and once Russell opened more presents and went down for his nap, I fixed our Christmas lunch. Portabello pork tenderloin, honey-glazed carrots, and twice-baked sweet potatoes, with key lime pie for dessert - yum!


After Russell woke up and had a snack, we thought it was a good time to play in the snow! He looked too cute all bundled up:


Russell didn't really do anything with the snow, but he is always happy to walk around outside.


What a wonderful Christmas! I wish we could have gone to a church service, but we missed the Christmas Eve service since we were out of town, and the day after services were cancelled due to the snow. So we did tell Russell that we were celebrating Jesus' birthday, and I sang "Away in a Manger" to him, but that was about the extent. Hopefully next year, he will be able to grasp the meaning a little bit.

Luke 2:10-11~ But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve

We spent all day on Christmas Eve at Jason's cousin's house, about an hour and a half drive from us. A lot of Jason's family came: cousins, aunt and uncle, parents.

We arrived around 11 and everyone congregated in the kitchen when the ham finished cooking for lunch:

adults Christmas 2010

Russell's Christmas Eve can pretty much be summed up in this picture:


Hunter is Jason's cousin's and his wife's dog. He was so patient as Russell rolled around on top of him, head-butted him (a sure sign of Russell love) and hugged him all day. Russell loves dogs and could not have been more excited to hang out with Hunter.

Later in the day, everyone went to the living room to open presents. (We distracted Russell a little with Cheerios, as he got bored easily.)

Christmas gifts 2010

I have to say, Russell's 2nd cousins Anna (5) and Renee (2) were so cute with Russell. They wanted to include him in everything and gave him lots of their toys to play with. They were constantly saying, "Look at this, baby Russell!" and "play with this toy, baby Russell!"

Side note: Anna was showing me a crown from her birthday party, so I asked her when her birthday was. She said, "I don't know when it was my birthday. I think a couple years ago." Haha!


We all had a great time...although Russell was certainly not a happy car-rider on the way home. He never sleeps in the car - not sure why I thought this time would be different. Oh well, at least our Christmas present this morning was Russell sleeping until 8 am!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

18 months

(Technically, Russell turns 18 months old on Christmas day. But that day will have other things going on, and I doubt a whole lot will happen within the next 3 days!)

My baby boy is one and a half!


Russell is wearing:
~size 4 diapers
~size 18 month or 24 month shirts/onesies
~size 12 or 18 month pants (Mr. short legs - didn't get that from Mommy!)
~size 5 1/2 shoes

~started walking at 15 months...and is now running everywhere and keeping me in shape!
~takes 1 nap a day, from 12:30 to 2:30 or 3
~sleeps from 7:30 pm until about 7 am
~has 12 teeth, including all 4 1-year molars

~foods: blueberries, grapes, goldfish, raisins
~drinks: likes both water and milk (we very rarely give him juice)
~things to do: walk/run around, play peek-a-boo, play chase, read books

Russell has really turned into a sweet boy. Of course, he can still throw quite the tantrum, but overall he is wonderful. He loves to make us laugh, is good at following directions, is a great sleeper, and a good eater.


Russell does have some little quirks that make him who he is. While he's eating, he likes to feed us his food. He loves climbing in and out of our laundry basket or his baby tub. And speaking of the tub, we now can't even say the word "bath" or he will run into the bathroom and throw a tantrum if we don't give him a bath - that's how much he loves them. He is very quiet and shy when he first meets someone and takes about a half hour to warm up to them.

At this stage, he loves figuring out different ways to move. He likes to walk backwards, turn around in circles, dance, fall down on purpose, and crawl. He can sign "more" and "all done" and waves hi and bye. He says "daddy" and "yeah" consistently, and growls if you ask him what a bear says (that's Mimi's doing!). He can point to his ears, nose, mouth, hair, head, belly, and toes (and yours too :)).


I am really enjoying this age! He is so much fun and we love him so much.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Natural Science Center

After church and Russell's nap, we headed over to the Natural Science Center this afternoon for a fun family activity. I really thought it would be more crowded on a weekend day, but we enjoyed not running into crowds.

First, we got to see what Russell would look like as a bug. I think he would be quite cute :)


Russell played a little with Daddy in the kiddie play area - here they are on this teetor-totter-like thing:


Russell and me in front of the stegasaurus:


His favorite thing BY FAR were all the life-sized animal replicas. More specifically, he loved the T Rex. He would run to look at something else, then run back to the T Rex and stare at it in awe and then scream with happiness. So funny.



Second favorite thing: the fish. He kept trying to touch them - I don't know if he thought he could just reach through the glass, or what...


We will definitely be doing this again - Russell enjoyed it so much, and Jason and I did too.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Professional Christmas Photos

As a photographer, I completely understand the value of family photos! And while I LOVE taking photos of my family, I do think it's important to actually be in some, also. So I asked my friend and fellow photographer Becca to do a photo shoot for us. There were some really cute ones - and a couple that I used on our Christmas cards this year.

Baby belly:


Mommy and Russell:


The family photos:

Silly boy!


My two absolute favorites are below:



These were our first professional photos since Russell's newborn photo session. I'm so thankful we got to capture him - and our family - just as it is right now, even if that's wiggly, squirmy, and only bribed to stay still with Cheerios :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Playgroup Christmas Party

This morning, Sara (and Lily) hosted a playgroup Christmas party for all of us, complete with Christmas cookies, a book exchange for the children and an ornament exchange for the moms. We had such a good time!

With 6 squirmy, on-the-go toddlers, I was sure there was no way we would get a picture. But we were all able to get several! We sat them on the couch with their presents (as a distraction), and they all actually stayed there!

L to R: Russell, Eliza, Cole, Lily, Parker, Joshua. (Poor Lily was not happy about the pictures.)


Russell and Eliza:


When we exchanged books, Devon realized that the book I gave Parker was one he already had at home. So we switched presents. That was just fine with Russell; he literally screamed with excitement at every single page in this truck book!


What a nice morning! We love our playgroup!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Baby Girl Update

This and that about our little girl:

Thanks to our sweet and generous friends Gary and Rebecca, we have gotten lots of hand-me-downs for baby girl that are in great shape! These are a few of her 0-3 month clothes - pink everywhere!:


I had a follow-up ultrasound today to see the one part that they missed at the anatomy ultrasound: her nose. Apparently it's important to see the bones in the nose because few bones means high risk for Downs syndrome. Once again, this child did not want to cooperate. After trying for at least 20 minutes to get her to move, the ultrasound tech had me go out in the lobby and sit for a little while and drink a Coke. That got her moving like a wild woman! :) So we did finally see the nose and it looks perfect.

Here's one of the photos from the ultrasound:


Also: she has a name! But - I know this is a huge tease - I'm not sharing it online yet. We are sharing it in person, however. The reason for this is because sometimes, I feel like you don't even have to talk to your friends anymore, because you've seen everything there is to know about them on Facebook or their blog or by email or whatever. So I want to tell a bunch of people in person first before I put it online. It just feels more special to me that way. I know, I'm weird :)

This little one is definitely feeling more real now. I can't wait until we get her room all set up - but we've got some major cleaning/furniture moving to do before that!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

I really wanted to get our Christmas tree last weekend, but we just couldn't get it together until today. Jason insisted that we needed to have a truck to carry the tree in, so we borrowed a friend's (thanks, Jamie and Heather :))

If I haven't mentioned this, Russell LOVES trucks. He was way more interested in the truck than the Christmas trees.


I made him (and Jason) get a picture with the trees anyway. I'm pretty sure he was looking at the truck the whole time.

We didn't end up getting this tree. Side note: I just think his shirt is adorable. And he will be wearing it several more times before Christmas - so be prepared to see it again :)


Oh, AND it started snowing at the Christmas tree place! How perfect is that? It's like a storybook Christmas tree outing. Well, except toddlers in storybooks probably don't keep trying to run after the cars in the street.

The tree has found its spot in our house, but it's still naked. I plan to post pictures of it once it's decorated!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


We helped my grandmother set up her Christmas tree over the weekend. And by "we," I mean Jason and my dad - I was busy chasing a toddler. Now that we've moved and live just a few minutes from my grandmother, Russell is starting to have his favorite spots in her house. One of them is a little antique rocking chair.

This photo just says "Christmas" to me!


Thursday, November 25, 2010


We have so, so many things to be grateful for this year!

My parents are here for a few days, and I think Jason was thankful to have someone to play this (super boring looking) game with:


Russell is always thankful for snacks - due to a turkey snafu (mine) the actual turkey dinner was after his bedtime. But he was none the wiser. And he is also thankful to have a dog visiting. The dog is just as grateful (for different reasons, I think; perhaps having to do with dropped food):


We are all always grateful for good food. I don't think we stress that enough - the fact that we do not at all have to worry about being hungry is a major praise, considering the plight of many people in our world. And our food tonight was excellent.


My sweet little boy turned 17 months old today. I'm grateful for him and his little turkey handprint (which says "Mommy" because I used these as place cards).


And I'm so thankful that I'm 20 weeks pregnant today and halfway to meeting our baby girl.


Another wonderful Thanksgiving! Happy Turkey Day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lil Wolfpacker?

Over the weekend, we stayed with Paw Paw and Kacki. Jason wanted to go to the football game. It was at a weird time - 2 pm - which happens to be in the middle of Russell's guess who didn't go to the game? :) Kacki, Russell, and I stayed home - which was fine with all of us.

I just have to show off the outfit Russell wore that day. It's a hand-me-down from one of my brothers (my parents don't remember which one), so it's about 25 years old. The top says "I'm a Lil Wolfpacker" and the pants say "NC State Wolfpack."


One more with Daddy - this photo looks kind of vintage to me (which goes with the outfit!)


Monday, November 15, 2010

It's a...





I would have bet anyone that it was a boy. I had boy bedding picked out, a few boy names, etc. Apparently everyone else thought it was a girl, though. So much for mother's intuition! Of course, we are thrilled. Now I'm changing my thinking to pink, and hairbows, and cheerleading (if she's like her mother :)).

The ultrasound tech had a tough time getting all the measurements she needed - baby was doing a headstand, and it was difficult for her to see the heart, brain, etc. But she did find it all eventually and baby girl is perfectly healthy!

She was also in a bad position for pictures: here she is with her arm in front of her face!


And Russell had a great time with his sitter, thank goodness! What a wonderful day :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

18 Weeks Pregnant

This pregnancy has not gotten the attention it deserves (from me, anyway!) It really goes by so much faster with the second. We're almost halfway there - well, assuming baby is on time, which I am not assuming!


I was not this big until probably 26ish weeks with Russell! My goodness!

Pregnancy Info:

Size of Baby: Baby #2 is as big as a sweet potato
Clothes: Living in maternity, pretty much since 12 weeks.
Movement: I felt the first kick while laying out in Jamaica - pretty awesome! I feel them here and there but this baby is not nearly as active as Russell was (or maybe I was just paying closer attention with Russell).
Sleep: I am SO TIRED. It would help if Russell was sleeping better!
What I miss: Honestly, a glass of wine here or there. And caffeine.
Cravings: They've subsided a bit - it was spicy foods for a while (salsa especially).
Symptoms: Mainly just tired; oh, and this huge belly I have.

We find out in 4 days (Monday) if Russell gets a little brother or a little sister! I can't wait!!

For the doctor's appointment, we are getting our first paid babysitter ever for Russell. It's a high schooler we know from church and I trust her completely. We've been so blessed to have family and friends watch him up to now, but I felt like I was imposing on them a little too much.

Oh, and here's a picture of the big bro from dinner last night:


He was cracking himself up by looking at me and talking to me through his bowl. What a silly kid!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This and That

We have been super busy lately (hence the lack of blogging!)

1) My hard-working husband has been doing so many house projects and they all look great. I want to do a big "reveal" post when everything is done so no pics for now :)

2) Russell is working on his 2nd and 3rd molars and is completely off-schedule from daylight savings. This all means not much sleep for Mommy.

3) I have had a couple photo sessions and have a few more scheduled - I love to do it and am having lots of fun! Definitely keeps me busy though!

Here's what I call a "mommy snapshot" of Russell before church on Sunday. {Mommy snapshot = not good quality pic because I was in a hurry :)} He is such a big boy now! I can't get over it!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Combination of 3 Loves

If you know me, you know that these are 3 things I love:

a) Christmas
b) photography
c) a really good deal

For the first couple years we were married, Jason thought Christmas cards were stupid. "Too expensive, who cares about cards, my parents never did them (I don't know if that last one is true, but that's what he told me)." Somehow, I finally got him to see the light, and now he looks forward to getting them in the mail just like I do :)

I've used many kinds of cards over the years: store-bought, photo cards, etc. But my favorite are photo cards, and specifically, the ones from Shutterfly (

Personally, I have lots of favorites this year from Shutterfly already; here's one:

The site is very user-friendly, and the photo cards are pretty foolproof. This card is very easy to design - just drag and drop your photo and add your text, and you're done! And I love that this card is in a special Christmas cards section ( separate from holiday cards (, because I always have to search through other sites to find the cards that say "Merry Christmas." (I always prefer to give out Merry Christmas cards, since we are celebrating Jesus’ birth.) This card has the "classic" look I go for - very timeless and pretty. The red and white say “Christmas” to me without being tacky or too trendy. I also love the spot for a big photo to show off your family (because I suppose that's what we're all really doing ;)). And another thing: it’s 25% off if you order today or tomorrow – sometimes it’s good to be an early bird.

So what does this have to do with c) a really good deal?

Well, if you have a blog, you can get 50 free photo cards from Shutterfly for writing a review like this one! Just go here for details.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Unfortunately, Russell caught a cold last Thursday, so in addition to skipping church in the morning, we also weren't able to go to the Halloween party we originally planned to go to. I kept hoping he'd get well in time, but no such luck. We didn't want to go to someone's house and have him drool on other kids' toys.

So instead, Buzz Lightyear made his way to our church Pumpkin Bash. I knew he wouldn't get anyone sick there because there wouldn't be toys to tempt him.

Jason and Russell:


Looks like he's on a mission of some sort:


When it became apparent that a) the activities were definitely for older kids and b) Russell was more interested in walking around the parking lot than hanging out with everyone inside the church, we headed over to Great-Grandmother's house to "trick or treat" (aka visit). She was kind enough to fix us plenty of hors d'oeuvres.


Lastly, we hung out outside at our friends David and Lisa's house for a bit. I wish I had gotten pictures, but at that point it was pretty dark. Anyway, I think this was Russell's favorite part of the day. He loves trucks, and David let him climb in the bed of his pickup truck! Russell was ecstatic.

So even though it wasn't what we anticipated, we did have a great Halloween! Our little guy enjoyed it, and that's the whole point :)


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Down on the Farm

This morning, Jason, Russell and I headed out to a local farm that was SO much fun! We will definitely be going again next year. Even Jason said it was worth the $16 (total) entry fee, which means a lot coming from him ;) Some of our friends joined us as well, which made it that much better.

There wasn't a single part Russell didn't enjoy. From the time he got out of the car, he was so happy to explore the fields, pumpkins, and tractors on the grounds.


Of course, when Russell saw the swings, that was it. This kid loves to swing. Our friend Jeff tried to get his son Scott to swing also, but that lasted only a few seconds. Made for a cute photo though :)


We managed to get Russell off the swings so he could find a new love: the see-saw. He was so excited - another thing he could have stayed on all day!


Up until this point, I was a little worried that we could have just gone to a playground for Russell to be this happy :) But with our entry fee came tickets to some toddler-friendly rides. Russell just loved them! The first one we did was the cow tractor ride. He rode it once with Jason and once with me. Funny how he hates riding in the car, but loved this thing!

Here's Jason and Russell - it was a little funny to see Jason squeeze into that small cow seat!



We also rode a little hay ride, which we could all go on together (and our friends went with us) - here's Russell looking serious, but he really did enjoy it (oh, and the tears on his cheek are from a mini-tantrum pre-ride):


We had such a fun time! And Russell took a great nap when we got back - a major plus :)

Now, we're resting up for costumes and parties tomorrow night! Happy Hallo-weekend!