Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

It's New Years Eve and of course every year when this day rolls around, we are forced to reflect on the past twelve months. We think about whether or not we did the things we wanted to do, achieved our goals, kept our resolutions, had more good times than bad. I generally don't make resolutions, they're too easy to break. But I have been trying to figure out if I did everything I set out to do this year. Did I achieve my goals?

Let's see. I became a bit of an exercise nut and managed to lose about 30 pounds. Sure, I wanted it to be more but I'll take it. I got healthier, and at least I didn't gain those pounds! D.R. just asked me this morning if I am proud of myself for sticking it out and getting up every day to do my work out routine. I hadn't thought about it, but I guess I am proud. I will keep going, and maybe this year I'll lose another 30. Now that's a resolution!

I read 15 books this year. Some were fantastic, some not so great. I wanted to read 20 and didn't make it. I don't look on that as a regret though. I'll just have to add to this years list.

I guess if I made resolutions, I would resolve to be a better person, and take good care of myself and my family. I think I have pretty much done that this year. I hope my family would agree.

I was laying in bed last night trying to remember if there were any births, deaths, marriages, etc. in our family this past year. Either I'm very forgetful, or none of these events happened in our family. We had a couple engagements, but no weddings. I don't recall going to any funerals. Some friends had babies, but no one in our immediate family. Is it possible that a whole year passed without a major event like that? That seems a bit odd to me.

As far as big events, there's one that comes to mind. My Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in March. She was so sick the doctor didn't even know how she managed to walk into his office. She was given less than six months to live. I am happy to report that she responded well to treatment and beat those odds. We are so happy the doctors were wrong. Of course she still has cancer, and that's never a good thing, but we accept each day as a gift. Having her here makes this a Happy New Year.

The kids hit a lot of milestones this year. Tia learned how to talk. I mean REALLY talk. We're all excited about that. She also learned to go on the potty and I am proud to say is completely potty trained! This year she also began dance lessons which she loved, and took a painting class. She's really growing up too fast.

Giuliana learned to feed herself, walk, run, be naughty, and win all our hearts. She celebrated her first birthday in Mexico (with the rest of us). Not many kids can say that!
She has developed a personality all her own. This new year should bring a lot more changes for her since she will turn 2 in April.

D.R. had a very successful year at work. With today's economy, we are thankful he has a job where he is valued.

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary without much fanfare this year. We plan on taking a trip for our 5 year. Maybe just the two of us. Maybe not.

That's our 2008 in a nutshell. It seems to have gone by so fast. I look forward to seeing what will happen in 2009. More milestones, goals, achievements. I pray for lots of family weddings, healthy babies, and another year of no funerals!

Happy and Healthy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Post holiday shopping

I took the girls to JC Penney today to look for shoes for Gia. She has a pretty wide foot and was in desperate need of something a little more comfortable than her current sneakers.
Of course, anyone who knows me knows that I had to run by the Christmas clearance. I absolutely love the after Christmas sales. "75% off" is my kind of sign.

I found these adorable plates there. I noticed their original price was $11.99. I would love to meet the person who actually paid $11.99 for a plastic plate, and give them a good shake and a firm talking to! You've got to be kidding me. They're cute, but not that cute.
After all the discounts I paid $1.49 each. I let Gia pick one too. She liked Winnie the Pooh.

They were both so happy with their new plates, they could care less about the stacks and stacks of toys all around them.

The only problem is that Tia thinks there should be something in every reservoir. She's a very concrete thinker. There are 5 spaces for food, so there must be 5 foods in the spaces.
This might not seem like such a big deal except for the fact that she's a vegetarian! I went with it, and got creative (notice the dry cereal, used merely to fill the space).
I told the girls we were having 'fancy lunch', and made it sound REALLY exciting. Gia kept saying "oooooh" and Tia said "I like fancy lunch". She is such a girl!

So, $1.49 helped, if even for just one day, to get them to eat a well balanced, healthy meal. That's my kind of bargain!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in New York

We went on our big road trip to Western New York last Saturday. I have to say the ride was surprisingly pleasant. The kids were just so anxious to get there, they didn't fuss much and we made it in 10.5 hours (virtually unheard of with 2 kids).
We missed all the wind and sub zero temperatures of Illinois, but did get some snow on Monday which kept us indoors and unable to visit my sister. That's OK, we made up for it and got around to see everyone later in the week.
The only bad thing about the whole trip was that the kids just didn't get a lot of sleep while we were there. They were totally off their schedules and out of their regular daily routines. D.R. put it best by saying "We were away from home for a week but this was no vacation!". This was one of those times when we needed a vacation from our vacation! We are all exhausted, but it was worth it.
I really love going 'home' and spending time with our family. To me, those moments are worth all the hassle of getting there.
Here are some pictures from our week.

Raiding the gumball machine

Gia and Mema love the steps at Aunt Kim's

The girls baked a cake for Baby Jesus' birthday

Papa read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

I took close to 200 pictures this week, but I don't want to overwhelm my blog readers. These are just a couple of my favorites.

We had a great Christmas and the kids had a blast visiting with all their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. We felt the love. We are blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Temporary Service Interruption

The Salerno's are driving to Rochester in the morning. We'll be gone for a week. We are so excited to be spending Christmas with our family and dear friends. We're praying for good weather and safe travel. We hope the kids will be good in the car. It's a long haul for anyone, but it must be torturous for toddlers.
While we're gone, I doubt I'll have time to do any blog entries. So, my blog will be experiencing a "temporary service interruption".

I'm sure when we return on the 27th, we'll have lots of pictures and stories of our week, and of course I will write about them here.

Have a wonderful and peaceful holiday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas morning in our house

Santa came to our house last night. Our whole family went to bed early, and stayed there, because we knew Santa was watching. Sure enough, this morning there were presents under our tree!
Tia woke up first. D.R. told her she could come down and look at the presents, but no opening until her sister was awake. The look on her face when she saw the presents was priceless. It was like all this talk of the big guy watching and leaving presents finally came true!
When Gia started to stir, Tia screamed "I want to go get her!".
She couldn't wait to show her baby sister what happened while they slept.
They had a great morning but I think they got a little overwhelmed with everything. I started out thinking we didn't get them enough, but they really didn't know what to play with first. They got plenty.

Here are a couple pictures of the big hits.

This was supposed to be Gia's baby doll.

This was Tia's baby doll.
She was less than enthusiastic about it
because it didn't come with a carrier, like Gia's.
They swapped, and everyone's happy now!

Gia loves the play food. They got a kitchen last year but never had the food to go with it.
They spent the whole morning 'cooking' sandwiches and hot dogs for Mom and Dad.

Our little musician is super happy about her pink electric guitar.
Watch out Uncle Reggie, you have some up and coming competition!

It's been wonderful experiencing Christmas through the eyes of our children. So much fun!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa's Coming!

Just about the only good thing about being away from our family around the holidays is that we can make Christmas any day we want. Our kids are still too young to read a calendar, so in our house, today is Christmas Eve. We're driving home to Rochester on Saturday so we have to find time to do presents here before we leave. Tomorrow morning is that day.
We have made the cookies for Santa (minus the ones Tia and I already ate). We have reindeer food ready to go out in the front yard tonight. We want to make sure Rudolph doesn't miss our house!
I even convinced the girls that we should really clean up the play room. I told them that if Santa came in our house and saw all those toys, and a big mess, he might not want to leave us any new toys. They both worked diligently to clean up so that wouldn't happen.
What surprised me most was Tia's willingness to give some toys away. There were a couple of 'baby' toys that they really don't play with anymore. I explained that there are some kids out there who don't have any toys and we should think about giving some away. She picked a rattle, stuffed animal, and a book. Not a huge dent in our inventory but I was proud nonetheless considering she is only 3. That's a pretty heavy concept for her to grasp. I think this will be our new holiday tradition. They'll both be old enough to understand next year.

Once the play room was clean and there was lots of floor space, they decided to dance. I just happened to get some video of this joyous event. It's a pretty big file so if it takes a few seconds to load, be patient.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thinking on the Bright Side

It's been said that we all have a "gift", and we just need to discover and develop our gifts in order to succeed in life.
D.R. has always been a logical thinker who's great at math, so he became an Engineer. Further development of his natural gifts led him to management, and beyond.
I was always a good listener who loved to be around people, so I became a Social Worker, then an Interpreter, and now a Mom. My natural gifts helped me to be successful at all three.

It is this theory of developing our gifts that leads D.R. to believe our 20 month old daughter will some day be a Consumer Product Test Agent (we don't even know if that's a real title but it sounds good) for Proctor and Gamble or Johnson and Johnson.
The child has a need to taste things. I mean everything. She has to taste soap, shampoo, deodorant, lotion, diaper rash cream, powder, and of course her favorite, Windex. Every time I put a little baby powder on her, she will rub her hand in it, taste it, say "Ka Ka!", and then try wipe it off her tongue. Naturally she will do it all over again tomorrow, as if she forgot the disgusting taste the first 37 times she tried it. I think it's a problem. D.R. thinks it's her future career.

If we continue with this theory, then it's quite possible that Gia will turn out to be a Testing Engineer for Good Housekeeping. You know those people who test out products to see if they really stand up to their claims, and decide if they earn the 'seal of approval'. That's definitely right up her alley. She seems to enjoy seeing if she can destroy things. Just today she took my angel off the cedar chest and threw it on the floor as hard as she could. Sure enough the darn thing broke into three pieces. It did NOT earn the Gia seal of approval.
Maybe that's why she tried to dump out an entire container of baby powder on the living room carpet. She really wanted to see if the Kenmore vacuum stands up to its' name.
And the real reason she still throws her food on the floor every day is because she is trying to see how long a Swiffer will hold up under every day use. Yeah, that's it!

Watch out Good Housekeeping, have we got an Engineer for you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Wonderfest in Chicago

Today we made our annual family trek to Navy Pier for Winter Wonderfest.
I can't believe it's already our third year. We were all really excited to go.
This is the first year we had to buy 2 wrist bands for rides, since we figured both girls were of the age to enjoy everything there is to do there.
Tia had the time of her life and could have stayed and played all day. Let's just say Gia, umm, not so much. She liked all the lights and decorations, but didn't want to get on the rides.
D.R. and I took turns using the extra wrist band and going with Tia.

You can see Gia is less than thrilled here.

This was just before the train ride.
Tia was a little nervous but warmed right up!

The only way I could get Gia to go near the snow man was by telling her to go beep his nose!

I took lots more pictures but I'll just put a few on here.
D.R. and I agree that next year (fingers crossed) will be better because the girls will be older and they will both really enjoy the rides.
It was still a good day overall and nice to see their reaction to all the decorations and characters.
Now we're counting down to Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Mouths of Babes

Yesterday while the girls were napping, I decided to clean out/organize the pantry in preparation for a big grocery shopping trip. After they woke up, Tia noticed the change immediately and asked "What happened to all our food?".
She seriously doesn't miss a thing.

At 4:30 this morning Tia woke up and seemed to believe it was time to start her day. I tried and tried to explain to her that it was still night time and she needed to go back to bed. She and I were both getting frustrated and I was losing my patience. That's about the time she started screaming at the top of her lungs "I need my Faver!". She means father but can't pronounce the 'th' sound yet.
How can there be so much drama in such a little person?

This afternoon when it was Tia's nap time, she was stalling a little bit so I said to her "Tia, I really don't feel well so you have to take a nap now, and I am going to lay down too". Her response was this, "Let me get a little older and I'll be a doctor. I can listen to your temperature for you". I asked "Oh, you want to be a doctor? That would make Mommy so happy!". She said "Yeah, after I'm a snow princess, then I be a doctor".
Ah, there's a normal 3 year old in there somewhere!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Mom just wants to know

I have a few questions about the behavior of my kids. I'm sure there are other parents out there who are wondering the same thing.

~Why is it that Gia loves to suck on the nozzle of the Windex bottle (yum), but can't stand the taste of sherbet?
~Why, even though we have a play room, are there toys in every room of my house, including the bathroom?
~Is it just a coincidence when the kids spill something really big and messy on the kitchen floor the same day I mop it?
~Why is it that when I want them to tell one of their Grandmothers what they learned to say or do, they suddenly can't do it? Really, she said it just a minute ago, honest!
~Why is it that Tia can do everything by herself, except when I have both hands full and am in the middle of something. Only then does she need my help!
~Why would Gia rather play in the pantry than with her toys?
~Why does Gia poop right after I change her diaper!?
~Why are they not interested in an item until someone else wants to play with it?
~And the question I am still asking after months and months...why does Gia insist on throwing her food on the floor, and putting apple sauce (or yogurt, oatmeal, etc.) in her hair?

I'm sure I'll have more questions like these, and I'll probably never learn the answers. But, I just had to ask!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Why I don't (need to) spoil my kids

Most of the time when I am in a store and see something that I would love to buy for my girls, or an outfit I think they would look great in, I just put it down and walk away. Here's why...
I went home to Rochester for literally less than 48 hours. I just flew in with Gia to go to my sisters annual holiday party, and right back out again. Here is a picture of just some of the gifts we received for our kids while I was there. There is one baby doll missing because Tia is still sleeping with it right now, and the two Beanie Babies that my friend Sheila bought are forever in Gia's possession, she won't let me take their pictures. There are also the ornaments they received from my Mom and their adopted Grandparents that are already on the tree. And of course there were a couple of things I just couldn't fit in my suit case, even though I left most of our clothes behind!

I am so grateful for all the people who love to spoil our kids. I'm happy that the girls are still so fondly thought of even though we moved away. I guess that's probably part of the reason why they get so much when we do go home.

My many thanks to all the loved ones who thought enough of our kids to send them these lovely gifts.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The old lady inside the 3 year old

This morning as I was explaining once again to Tia that I will be going to NY to see MeMa, and that she would be staying home with Daddy this time, she rubbed my arm and said "Mama, you will be so sad, it's OK, you'll be alright".

While I was packing my carry-on, she noticed I had a stash of M&M's in there. She asked if she could have some. I told her they were for Gia on the airplane and that I would give her some other M&M's later. When Gia came into the room, Tia pointed to the candy and said "Look Ju Ju, you have M&M's, case you get cranky". I never told her it was for that purpose but she sure does catch on quickly!

Then, as I am telling Tia that her sister is going with me this time, and she can go next time, she says, with the most serious look on her face "You have to carry Ju Ju in the airport so she doesn't get hurt or lost". She turned to Gia and said "Ju Ju, you going on a big airplane with Mommy today, don't be cranky, no cryin', OK?".

I swear this girl is an old woman on the inside. She is always worried about the well being of others and has not mentioned a thing about her own feelings of wanting to come along, or missing me. What a great old soul she is. An angel in disguise.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

True Confessions

Here she is, my sweet Angel. She's all dressed up in her dance costume making sure everything fits before her recital this weekend. Isn't she beautiful? Any mother would be proud. Here's the problem, this mother won't be at that recital. It's breaking my heart.

In January I had just enough frequent flier miles to book one ticket to Rochester, so I cashed them in for a flight this weekend. It's my sisters annual holiday party which is more like a family reunion since just about everybody shows up. I haven't been able to go in a couple of years, but have known since January that I would be going this year. I've been really excited about it. We have planned all along that D.R. will stay home with Tia, and I will take the baby on my lap. If I purchased a ticket for Tia it would have cost more than $600, highway robbery! Also, I don't think I could handle flying with both of them at their current ages. They are still a lot of work and doing it alone scares even me, the seasoned traveler.
I figured Tia could have some quality Daddy time, and I could have some quality Gia time. No problem, right? That is until a couple weeks ago when Tia's dance teacher announced the date of the recital. Of course it happens to be the one and only weekend I won't be here! I have to admit I'm crushed. It's my baby's very first dance recital!

D.R. isn't your typical Dad. He is very hands-on and is perfectly comfortable getting Tia ready. He has the camera and video camera ready to go. He has already admitted that he will summon my friend Tracy, who also has a daughter in the recital, if he needs help with the hair. I'm not really worried. He'll be just fine.
I'm more worried that Tia will forever hate me for not making it to her first recital. I'm worried that she won't want to take dance again next year so there won't ever be another recital. I'm worried about how much she's going to cry when I get out of the car with her sister tomorrow at the airport, and she finally realizes she's not coming with us.
The practical person in me is saying "She's only 3, she won't remember, and it's no big deal". The Mom in me is saying "It's your little girl and you're not going to be there?! Some kind of mother you are!".

I miss her already and I haven't even left yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting Crafty!

I am the new proud owner of a glue gun! I can remember when they first came out and my Mom, sister, and their friend Dodie all got them. They were hot gluing up a storm! They are all crafty people. Sadly, I am not. But today I went out there and bought myself my very own hot glue gun.

Last year at the end of the holiday season I bought a wreath for the front door. It was just plain and I figured I could 'do something with it'.
While going through Christmas decorations in the basement I found six of these sprigs of holly/pine cones.

They don't really go to anything and I think they were in a box of decorations that were given to us years ago. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to see how they would look on my new wreath.

Here is the finished product.

Not bad for a first time crafter, if I do say so myself!

I am obviously going to put the wreath on the outside of the door, but for the sake of the picture I hung in on the inside.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First snow fall

Last night we got snow that actually stuck to the ground. Tia has been so eager to play in the snow, which is so funny because last year she wouldn't even walk on it. She couldn't stand the feel of the snow crunching beneath her feet. When I opened the curtains this morning to show her we really got snow, she was ready to run right out and jump in it!

She was excited to wear what she calls her "snow coat", as opposed to her dressy coat. Unfortunately we couldn't stay out long because it's so darn cold out there! This is not good playing outside weather.
That's another thing I miss about living in upstate NY. When it snows there, it's possible to go outside and enjoy it. More often than not, here in the mid-west, when we get snow, we get frigid temperatures too.
So, we had a little fun, and of course got some pictures to share.

So far Tia has refused to keep mittens on, but Gia loves wearing hers. She looked so cute all bundled up.

I hope for warmer weather tomorrow!