Thursday, December 31, 2009

Since we were home for the holidays this year, we decided to finally visit the "lights before christmas" at the zoo.  They really were pretty spectacular! and it was absolutely freezing out. I think it was something like 15 degrees.
 It was actually darker than appears in the picture above, but my fancy shmancy camera was trying to let in as much light as possible.  The evening was a lesson in low light photography for me.

 We got to the zoo just as the sun was going down and that lighting was definitely the best for outdoor kiddo pictures.  Poor little Zeb has bad chapped lips and won't let us put anything on them!  We have to do it while he's sleeping or he screams that it hurts.  I'm crazy dry as well. My legs and arms itch CONSTANTLY!! my knuckles and hands are so raw they are almost bleeding in a few spots. any suggestions?!
Ike loved the Giant polar bear and the swimming seals.  The viewing tanks are indoors and had all sort of great places to crawl around.  Here's the rugrat trying his best to be a mean and nasty polar bear.
We also spent a big chunk of time in the Insect house.  Zeb really liked the insects- but was far more enamored by the huge train set they had going.  He was shouting at every train that went by.  Naming them, calling out facts about them, and just screaming that he liked them. Ike just wanted to get down and run around. 

   Overall our evening was great.  I couldn't feel my fingers (and I even had gloves on) but everybody was happy the entire night.  I am just so so glad that we are all feeling better- especially the kiddos.  Although I am afraid to go out and about near friends because apparently the vomits are being passed around big time here in Toledo!  We had that back at Thanksgiving time and DON'T need it again :)
       This is my favorite tree in the Zoo. It's ginormous- Zeb even said so.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

a belated Merry Christmas

I think we are finally all recovering from being sick!  The only complaint is that Kent and I still can't taste much so it's no fun to eat anything.  Kent was so excited to go the to  "Happy Rose Buffet" here in Toledo. I hate the place (both chinese food AND buffets are things I try to avoid) but got him a gift certificate for Christmas because I knew he'd love it.

Christmas really was amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that Santa didn't have to spend a single penny on Zeb or Ike because they had so many loving aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins and a Nannie Annie that gave them plenty of gifts.  After a look at the gifts these kids were getting we decided to put away Santa's gifts for Birthdays coming up.

Ike got a busy ball bopper and some much needed socks and clothes.  Thank-you thank-you thank-you.

 This kid took home the cake and ate it too. Zeb was so excited Christmas morning.  He got the mother load of all things on wheels (thanks aunties!) and a new track (thanks gma pat) to use them on.  He has been playing NONstop ever since. Here he is opening the gift he's been asking for for MONTHS.  Thanks auntie metta, he loves the truck so so much.  Just check out that face.

 Little Hanky got his own track and cars to play with as well.  It was so fun to have these cousins playing together.  I think they could pass as brothers, don't you?  This is a picture of the two of them early the morning after Christmas.  They started playing the second they woke up.

The kids were all so excited about their toys that we decided to get them opened and then divert them all to another room so that we (the adults) could all enjoy opening our presents. There are very very few things in life where I prefer order and calm organization. For whatever reason- Christmas morning is one of them.  It turned out very nicely.   Each of us had an orderly pile of presents and we took turns opening them one by one.  Somehow- Laney ALWAYS gets the biggest pile of presents.

Here is Kent in the aftermath.  His ear still hurt from the night before!

  Is there anything better than a living room full of wrapping paper and boxes after Christmas?  We are definitely blessed people.

 After going through all of my pictures I realized that there are NONE of me. I'm sure Laney has some on her camera- but I was enjoying myself too much taking my pics with mine. I spent half of Christmas taking pictures of people's presents!  Here are some of the new dinos.

I did have my own wonderful pile of presents to open, though. The camera was my "big" gift- but Kent knows how much I enjoy unwrapping things so he wrapped up lots of small presents for me to open.  I got floss (who doesn't love cinnamon and mint floss?!), chocolate, shampoo, dumbbells, and lots of gifts from family.

Thanks again, Laney and Taylor.  It was a blast.  Who wouldn't want to spend time with these two?!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Nightmare Before (and also during and after) Christmas

Holy smokes... that was the Christmas from Hell. And I mean that in the most positive of ways.  Before I enter my ranting and raving mode, I must post a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: We really did have a wonderful Christmas.  Thank-you so much Laney and Taylor and Henry for hosting us. Thank-you so so much moms and dads and sisters and grandparents for the wonderful gifts.  We are spoiled and blessed and loved for sure!  

Not to mention we have every one of our temporal needs MORE than met and we have the amazing blessing and knowledge of the true meaning of Christmas- the Birth and life of our Savior Jesus Christ.  I really would consider myself one of the happiest and most blessed people on Earth.

And so back to our story of Christmas hell...

Our drive to Buffalo was very nice and quite quick. We've got it down to 4 hours and twenty minutes!  Once we arrived things started heading downhill. The night we arrived and started to unpack, both Kent and I began to feel a little under the weather. To be fair to Laney and Taylor and New York- I must admit that everything started before our arrival.  My psuedo pink eye (the precursor) was a few days ago- Kent's problems began on the drive- and our kids ALWAYS have issues.  By Christmas eve morning we had KILLER sore throats and Ike was having intense coughing/breathing issues.  In fact- we had gotten all dressed and ready to go the children's ER at about two AM that morning until Ike had some major sneezes and finally started breathing normally again.

On a happier note, all the cousins played together quite happily.  They had each other laughing and smiling for the majority of the time!  

Christmas Eve day was spent drugged up on excedrin, Ibu 800, and some lesser doses for the little rugrat. Ike's eyes were pathetic and red and goopy all day. My throat hurt like it hasn't hurt in ages.  Kent's too.

Luckily we took enough drugs to enjoy our traditional smorgasbord Christmas eve dinner.  We had a lot of delicious take-out.  Orange Chicken, turkey wraps, pizza, pizza poppers, egg rolls, and more.  This has got to be one of my favorite traditions ever.  It did make me really REALLY miss being with the rest of the family back in Utah, though. Or maybe it's just that I missed my dad paying for all of the food :)

During dinner, Kent commented that his ear had become plugged and starting to hurt a bit- but we didn't think much of it.

After dinner we got the little rugrats to sit and read the Christmas story with us (and pose for a few pictures) and then sent them to bed. Zeb was a little worried about Santa and the reindeer making it down the chimney- but after a quick peak up the chimney he decided things would probably work out and went to bed.

At this point Kent just lay on the couch silently as his head/ear pain worsened and worsened.  He said it was the worst localized pain he'd ever had. I couldn't even look at him because it made me feel so bad. He was so miserable and we couldn't do anything about it. 

Once the kiddos were in bed- we decided to call Utah and get started with our annual pixie pal gift exchange. We'd never done it via phone but it actually went rather smoothly. In our family you have to HANDmake a gift for one pre-selected secret person and that's the gift we open on Christmas Eve.  It's always the highlight of Christmas. Nothing will beat the year Kent made Laney a deformed sock monkey or the year dad made me the game "Deal or No deal?" and I won FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!  except maybe this year- because halfway through the guessing and announcing of who had whom, Kent's ear drum ruptured!!  It suddenly released all of the terrible pain and pressure (along with all sorts of strange mal colored fluids) that had been building.  I thought only babies and toddlers ear drums ruptured!?  apparently kent's does too. He said it was amazing to have the pain gone.  I was so grateful he felt better. Plus, I got some delicious hand dipped chocolate covered cinnamon bears from my pixie pal (daysa!).  Thanks, sis- I've been craving them forEVER.

Here's Kent draining his ear while holding sicko Ike. Don't they look pathetic?!

I guess Christmas is all about making memories- and I'm sure this is one we will never forget!  Even with all the sickness and pain it was so nice to be able to be with some family.  We are super duper blessed to have Laney and Taylor and Henry so close. Let's hope they take a job overseas when we do someday :)

 I'll have to post pictures of Christmas morning/day later today or tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I want for Christmas....

Here I am at six am catching up on our blogging week because I was aroused from bed at five am by a coughing child and subsequent ralpher (induced by coughing) with goopy glued shut eyes.  I really really really just want no coughs for Christmas!  I thought we were in the clear- that all was well.  Apparently I was wrong. So, Buffalo and Hawes family, here we come- colds and all. 

I truly believe that no children are as snot ridden as often as mine.  We just have to get through about 18 months of life and then it becomes manageable. Even with zeb's faulty lungs- he's been doing really really well.  Ike is just ALWAYS coughing and sneezing and leaking like a faucet.

In happier news- we've been spending all sorts of family time together and enjoying our break immensely.  As much as we terribly miss family around Christmas time, it's been so nice to have a true break of sleeping in (sort of), lounging around, and just being the four of us.

Monday we took off to Michigan to enjoy IKEA.  It's ridiculous that as soon as we LEFT Utah, they got an IKEA.  We used to have to go to California to shop there!  and now we still have to drive an hour to make the trip.  But, this trip was well worth it.  There were all sorts of sales and kids ate FREE at the cafe. Ike had a little meltdown at lunch due to some incoming teeth, but after a nice does of ibuprofen was out like a light.

Little Zeb loved playing with the train tracks and climbing all over the staged rooms.  Here he is in true cyclops form.  That one eye is still usually shut more than the other in most of his pictures!

After our jaunt over the border, we returned to Ohio and went swimming at the new YMCA.  It was really fun- and I don't even like to swim.  Ike is a true water baby and Zeb is a true water weenie.  He spent most of the time hanging out in the zero entry section with a noodle. Ike spent his time swimming ALL over the place with Kent.  He also really liked the little geysers.

And I know that this picture is all blurry (pictures at an indoor pool with a shotty camera are hopeless!) but it's the only one I took with both kiddos smiling.

Yesterday was full of last minute shopping needs, dentist visits, and treat making!  Today we are headed to Buffalo to spend the next few days!  The weather is supposed to cooperate and not be terribly snowy or wet- and we are planning on traveling during daylight.  Wish us luck.  I'll be back to blogging by the weekend (or sooner) I'm sure!

Merry Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

just a little bit of christmas cheer.

I'm not sure how our old camera knows, but somehow it figured out we got a newer better camera and has been very fickle about performing ever since.

Here's a blurry shot of Ike with Santa at the ward Christmas party last night.  It was a fabulous night.  We have yet to have any terrible Santa reactions from our children.  Is there an age when they fear him?  or does he look normal enough not to elicit a reaction?  Zeb has freaked out plenty of times with giant dog costumes and other strange creatures, but has always been pretty happy to be around Santa Claus.

To continue in the Christmas cheer we let Zeb unwrap a present tonight. Really, it's a family gift and since we wanted to have some family time we decided it was a good time to open it.   If you can't tell- Zeb is ecstatic.  Right now he LOVES playing games.  He kept calling it "don't break the beans" (because we usually play "don't break the ice") instead of "Don't spill the beans".  These little kid games are GREAT. They are super quick and really a lot of fun for the kiddos.
And finally here's a shot of what Zeb does when I ask him to hug Ike.   Ike can usually tolerate it once or twice- but no more.  It only took once this day.  He was crying a few seconds after I took the shot.

And really- the real reason I posted the last picture is to ask a question of all you photographers.  I feel like a lot of my pictures (the ones I take with my new camera) are grainy.  Does it have to do with the lighting?  I know I've read a lot about ISO and natural light and images losing sharpness. Or is it because I'm not shooting in raw? Or are they normal?  This actual picture isn't really all that bad- but I've had trouble with a bunch of my others.  Any suggestions? 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Today was such a great day.  We (we= ALL of us, including Kent) went shopping, worked out, and then went to lunch.  I loved every moment.  We actually did lunch with my wonderful seminary class in celebration of everyone hitting 90 days of consecutive reading.  They are such good kiddos and it was nice to be together NOT at six AM.  Everyone was a little more alert and even more fun to be around (including myself).

Kent finished up his big test yesterday and has two FULL weeks of wonderful freedom.  We've got all sorts of fun stuff tentatively scheduled- we'll just have to see if the weather and kiddos cooperate.  Hopefully we'll have all sorts of great pictures to document our adventures.

For now- here's our little monkey trying to sleep.  He's feeling better but still has a bit of a cough (I'm SO sick of my kids coughing). He fell asleep on his stomach in his carseat the other day and slept that way for quite a while. I can't believe how much this kid is walking now.  Zeb runs around the house screaming "he's doin' it! He's doin' it!".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kent couldn't be more proud.

I think that Kent has secretly been waiting for Zeb to like dinosaurs.  Apparently Kent was a dinosaur fanatic when he was little and knew the names to every dinosaur he could find. So, when Zeb was just a few months old we bought him a few dinos from the dollar bins at Target.  He never really paid any attention to them until recently.

A few weeks ago we checked out a "Jay-Jay the Jet plane" dvd from the library and it turned out to be "the mystery of dinosaurs".  Shortly after watching the movie Zeb came up to me with his plastic dino and stated, "dinosaurs stink, mom."  "They stink? What do you mean?" I asked.  He quickly replied, "NO! mom.  They lived a looooong loooong time ago and died out.  they stink!"  He was trying to tell me that they were EXTINCT.  It's AMAZING to me how much this kid picks up.  He understands waaay waaay more than I give him credit for. And he can say more than I ever thought possible at 2 and a half years old.  I realize he's just repeating phrases from places, but it is still so fun to hear him learn to speak and recontruct ideas he's heard.  It reminds me a lot of when I was learning Russian.

Now the kid runs around the house scared of t-rexes and pretending to be a stegosaurus.  He says that his favorite dinosaur is triceratops, though.

We found him a big pack of plastic dinosaurs at Walmart (for TWO BUCKS!) that we are going to give him for Christmas.  This year has definitely been a lot more fun now that Zeb understands the holiday a little more.  It's fun to start implementing our own traditions and creating our very own family Christmas.  One of my FAVORITE new traditions is my advent calendar. It was SO worth every penny that I spent on it.  Check out this rugrat's face.  Somehow it's just as exciting on the 17th morning to pull out a starburst as it was the first.  He acts all surprised every time he shoves his little fingers into the pockets each morning and screams out "It's a candy!!!".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The fever broke after about 72 hours. hooray.  But now the poor guy is full of mucous and constantly rubbing at his little face.  It has got to be so annoying to be this itchy and stuffed up and not be able to do anything. If he'd just learn to blow his own nose!  WHEN DO KIDS FIGURE THAT OUT?!?!  I am so sick of using that darn snot sucker- and so is he!

Luckily he is back to sleeping well at night! Kent is on call tonight and I wasn't in the mood to pull an all nighter without him.  My moods somehow switch immediately to "slightlygrumpy" when I know that Kent won't be home until late.  I better learn to deal with that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kent gave them an eleven.

Kent thinks this stuff is heaven on Earth. He said this is the food he ALWAYS wants. 

It's delicious and so ridiculously easy. They taste like you ordered them from a pizza place.

Pizza popper rolls. from our best bites.

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough ( I used the pillsbury regular kind. coupon here)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil or melted butter
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t dried Italian seasoning  (I used a garlic salt mix and added oregano)
mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice: ie, ham and pineapple, pepperoni slices, sausage, etc.
marinara/pizza sauce

preheat oven to 400.  spread out dough and cut into 24 squares.  cut cheese and toppings into tiny little pieces and place in center of each square.  wrap up all corners to form a little ball.   Squish into greased round/oval (non-square) glass pan.  Brush with melted butter- and then top with seasonings and parm cheese. bake 15-20 minutes.  check at ten minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

this little monkey is not well.

This kid has the flu or something.  Temps of 103+ for almost three days now!  We've been able to keep it down with meds- but have to give him more every 4-6 hours or the fever peaks right back up.  Darn little rascal.  The worst part of it all is when he gets the chills and his little bottom lip quivers and then his whole miniscule body gets the shakes.  

Zeb is the only one that has been able to get him to crack a smile before today.  While Kent and Zeb were at church I decided to mess around with my camera and I got one measly little one out of him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Cards and mail

I couldn't think of a better way to reach more people to ask this favor.  We have some friends here in Toledo whose eight year old son was diagnosed this week with an extremely rare form of cancer.  The prognosis is not good and the family just wants to enjoy the last bit of time they have together.  The little boy LOVES mail and Christmas.  His grandmother is also a close friend and when I asked her what we could do- she said we could send his brother and him mail of any sort.  I know he'd love to get mail from places besides Toledo so I thought I'd ask friends to send him some.  Christmas cards or letters or anything would be wonderful.  He loves spongebob, cooking, and all other normal eight year old stuff.
 I don't want to post their names and addresses on my blog- so if you'd send me an e-mail (, or comment with your e-mail address, I can send you one with the information!  Thanks so much!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Kent was post call today ( he came off a twenty-nine hour shift this morning) and it meant he was home almost all day!  Luckily he got a few decent hours of sleep at the hospital and it was actually fun to have him home because he was awake.   In celebration of his "day off" we experienced a few significant events.

Ike took his first real steps.  I can't believe he's barely ten months and WALKS.  Tonight he walked between kent and myself repeated times- and giggled the entire time.  He was so proud of himself. And it was so nice to have kent home since he was at officer training for Zeb's first steps.

 The worst part of it all is now I have to make sure Ike's wearing shoes everyday!  He still can't get up onto his feet by himself and is pretty shaky- but I'm sure it will all come fast enough.

And this evening we tried out a new place to eat.  I had read about it recently on some friends' blogs in Utah and thought for sure it was some west coast thing. I checked out their website only to realize that they had JUST opened a store in Toledo in the past few weeks.  Five Guys Burgers and Fries is here and we have pictures to prove it.

My favorite part of the night was the sign on the wall that read:  "today's potatoes are from: Shelley, Idaho".  It almost made me feel like I was back home and could have dinner at grandma O's house!

little zeb-o enjoyed his fries immensely- and that's saying a lot considering he doesn't eat french fries.

This is an absolutely TERRIBLE picture of the two of us but Zeb took it and was so proud of himself.  In our defense- we had just come from working out. 

If you go to Five guys- make sure and get the small burger.  I got it and still gave half to Kent. and ONE regular fry is HUMONGOUS.  If you like burgers- the place is amazing.  It's a little pricey- but very very fresh and very tasty.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm allowed to brag. I'm his wife.

Kent ditched me for the night to work with the kiddos at St.V's children's hospital.  Really, he didn't have much of a choice in the matter but I know he's enjoying himself. 

He's wrapping up his six week peds rotation right now and I think it's going to be really hard on him to switch back to the adults! He is made to work with rugrats.  Even the physician he worked with on his family practice rotation said that he'd never seen another colleague (attendings and residents included) that worked so well with children.  It's kind of funny considering I don't work well with children.  Kent is more patient- more fun- and a whole lot happier about parenting than I usually am. Really, it's unfortunate that Kent can't just birth our children.  He claims he'd do it without an epidural and while I believe he'd be able to do that just fine- I KNOW that he'd be the most annoying and complaining pregnant person ever.  I've at least got that on him.  I know I carry children better than he would :)

I love that kent is loving what's he's doing.  Some of the stories he comes home with are too much for me to handle- but he can do it and he's amazing at it. I'd venture to say that he's going to be the best pediatrician the air force has ever seen :)  Oh- and did I mention that they are in desperate need of pediatricians to work in germany right now?  I told kent to e-mail the air force and tell them we'd be there in four years!  Just hold one of the spots for us, please.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I love my little rugrat boys.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

wonderful weekend and my first attempts with the fancy shmancy camera!

This weekend has been full of holiday festivities and has been absolutely wonderful.  One of my favorite parts of December is always having something to do or somewhere to be.

I also finally found some time to try out my new camera a little bit. I've got an awful lot to learn and I've been reading all sorts of guides and tips and pointers.   I'm trying to figure out lighting and distance and apertures and isos and settings and all sorts of camera mumbo jumbo (as you can see from my pictures on this post!).  I'm really excited to get picture snapping and blog posting with all of my new tricks. I'll be posting just as often as usual- but my picture quality should be much higher.  Tanner- Rachael- and all you other pros- I am open to LOTS of advice, suggestions, etc.

The weather around here has FINALLY turned COLD and I am so HAPPY.  Decemeber should be chilly. Coats should be worn!  Hot cocoa should be sipped.  Now all we need is SNOW. please.

Today after lunch and quiet time we spent the late afternoon at the Stake center to check out the interfaith nativity festival.  It was AMAZING.  We were going to take a great family picture all dressed up but the kiddos were opposed and I didn't want to put up a fight. So, I made Kent put this on and I snapped a picture.

 They had a room just for little kids.  There were crafts- games- and all sorts of nativities to play in, on, and with.  Zeb and Ike enjoyed themselves thoroughly- even if Zeb's face isn't showing it.  This face is frozen on him for at least ten hours a day.  He really is happy. He just scowls a lot.  My mom says I was born with a scowl.  He must take after me.

Ike was a good little monkey, as usual.  He wasn't good last night, though. He was up A LOT.  I hope it's teething or something.