Monday, December 28, 2009

Polar Express & Pj's!!!

Saturday morning, the Mall of America was doing a free family movie showing of The Polar Express. I was excited to take Parker on this special date! After I dressed him in his festive Christmas pj's, packed his snuggly reindeer & snacks, we were headed off to the mall by 9am! The theater provided booster seats for the kids & all in all just a nice, relaxed environment. Parker watched in awe for the first few minutes, then wanted to crawl in my lap. After about 30 minutes he got a little fidgity, so I asked him if he wanted a snack...that got his attention. ha! I handed over his little snack container, he crawled back into his own seat, & until the end of the movie, was just like any other kid in there munching on his treats like it was popcorn and his curious eyes glued to the movie screen.
We had such a fun time, & after the movie we even got to shop a few stores with the after-Christmas sales! The hustle & bustle of the mall was amazing when we left...much different than when we arrived early that morning.

I love how even this random guy calling Parker's name, while trying to take our picture, couldn't get our little guy's attention off of the big screen! At least now I know it's not just me!!! ha!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friends, Christmas dinner & a Snowman

Christmas Day, dear hubby had to work so Parker & I were taking it easy at home missing him & chatting it up with all of our family!!! Friends of ours, Jami & Tom & their precious daughter Greta, had invited us to have Christmas dinner with them. They were so sweet to share their family time with us!!! At noon we headed over to their home (The roads were pretty rough, so this was the only outing for us on Friday!) for a scrumptious Christmas lunch! The kids had a blast playing & eating & then just a little bit more playing before we headed home for the afternoon & evening. Thank you Jami & Tom for sharing your home with us on Christmas!!!

This is precious Greta! Can you believe how sweet she just poses for pictures! Aaahh! I could so eat her up & take her home with me. When she opens her mouth to talk, it sounds like sweet sugar just pouring out! Love you Greta! Thank you for sharing your toys with Parker!

After lunch, we took Parker & Greta outside to build a snowman & let them play for a few minutes in the good powder! (We got some of the funniest & cutest pictures out of this photo opp!!)
Though Tom did most of the work, with friend Kim, & small assistance from Parker & Bella, everyone had a great time being outside enjoying the playtime! The two munchkins wanted to fall over in the snow, splash in the muck (aka melted ice/snow ;) in the street, & pat the snowman! Fun memories!

After a fun time with the Willanders, Parker & I headed home for a slow & cozy evening at home. We played with toys, watched movies, ate supper, chatted with more family, & crashed happily in our beds when the time came for slumber.

We missed you, babe! Proud of you & love you!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas Eve Together

Our memorable holiday together all started out early Christmas Eve morning when Parker was asking to get out of his crib at 6am to play with his "bike" & "Moo Moo" (cow). He has learned how to turn his light on in the room from his crib (several months ago actually), so when he's ready to get up he just turns on the light & says, "Mom! I want down!" (He then repeats that until I go in there to get him out. :)

After we were all up & going, we started the day with a Breakfast Casserole. Afterwards, Parker happily played with his new toys from Santa. I wanted to get pictures of Parker in one of Clay's Christmas outfits that he had worn as a boy, so that was next on the agenda. So thankful that Clay was there to help with the entertainment portion of this. There is no way I would have gotten a decent picture from that photo shoot if Clay hadn't been at my assistance!!! Parker was wanting to do everything but stand by the tree & smile. ha! I think I took about 60 pictures to get about 5 good ones! ...glad I did though! :)

Next, it was time to open a few presents...Parker enjoyed this! Clay & I were so excited that he got into it this year! He made some of the cutest expressions. The only problem was trying to take his attention away from the last present he had opened to move on to unwrap the next gift!!! I think it would be safe to say that Clay & I enjoyed watching Parker unwrap his gifts more than the recipient did himself!!! We couldn't wait for him to tear into the next one! ha! ha!

"Hmmm, I wonder what this one is?"

We opened just a few before it was lunchtime & naptime for Parker. Clay & I were pleased with alternating activities in between gift opening this year; it worked well with the little man! He could enjoy each of the gifts more as he opened each one.
While Parker was napping, Clay & I peeked in a few of our presents. The hour that we had together was so relaxing. We sipped on hot cider, (I munched on a few delicious gingersnap cookies!!!) visited with Nana & Poppie, & leisurely opened several of our gifts. It was perfect!
After Parker woke up, we opened a few more presents then headed out to the thick, fluffy snow for some fun. (Just so you know, we did sooo much better getting ourselves ready & out the door than our last snow day...there was actually no griping or fighting!!! Yes! ;)
What started out as an half an hour to hour outing, evolved into about 2 1/2 hours of good solid fun romping & running around in the snow!!! Initially, Parker was not fond of the "white stuff;" I think he was a little scared of it. After this playtime outdoors though, he thinks snow is the next best thing to running around in his birthday suit at home...comfortable & freeing!!! ha!

I made a snow angel...and admired the beauty of God's powder...
Each time we took Parker up the "bunny hill" for sledding he got more & more confident & asked to go again! By the end of the day, he did a downhill run on the little sled all by himself & loved it!
Parker's new snowsuit & snow boots earned the stamp of approval! It kept him toasty, dry & comfortable!

We built a snowman...our first one of the season. While we were building it, Clay & I taught Parker how to eat snow. (We didn't teach him as pictured below...our method was rolling fresh snow in a ball & crunching on the snow ball. He obviously preferred his method of just planting his face in the snowman & licking away!!!) I was sad because my battery went dead before I could get a completed shot of our Frosty! Clay shaped him & made him look round & cute! Impressive!

After dark, we headed home for supper & more gift opening. I made hot chocolate & gave some to Parker to try. He sipped on it a little, but I don't think he was as excited about his "first treat of hot chocolate" as I was! ha! It was early to bed for us that evening. With smiles on our faces & snuggled warm under our sheets, we drifted off to dreamland thanking God for our special day together!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!
(This photo was taken of Parker on Dec 24 wearing one of his Daddy's childhood Christmas outfits made by Grannie Thorne.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa came!!!

It was an exciting & special Christmas morning for all of us...Parker did exactly what we thought he would do when he woke up & saw a bunch of new toys that were sitting out underneath the tree. He was awestruck & excited all at the same time. He kept running over to Santa's snack plate, pointing to the crumbs & jabbering about how there was no more food or milk!! Parker went back & forth between toys playing with one & then the other. He did receive his football that he asked for...and played with it all day! Our little man kept running around the house shouting, "Football! Football!" He would then throw it at us & want us to play catch!

The Fisher Price Little People airport was a huge hit; it was the first thing that caught his eye this morning. He enjoyed moving the airplanes & cars along the tracks & making the sweet humming noises for the engines. It was a joy to watch him play so "seriously" with his new toy!

Clay & Parker built a fort & a sitting chair out of the Classic Red Bricks that Santa brought to Parker. Parker loved knocking them down as much as he enjoyed building.

His stocking was filled with goodies such as toy trucks, cars & airplanes, a little boat for his bath, 101 Dalmations, 2 Christmas books, a creative playdough set, a bouncy ball & a few other neat things.

Clay & I were thrilled that Santa left some "much needed" items as well. A new snowsuit was laid out for Parker to try on (since we found out a few weeks ago that his one from last year no longer worked well since his arms & legs have outgrown the outfit! imagine that!) Also, Santa knew that potty training would be starting soon, so he was gracious enough to leave a potty seat for our toddler! Parker wanted to sit on it a lot today while he was playing. :)

A few other goodies were left under the tree for our little man as well. Oh, & please don't think Santa forgot mama & daddy. In Clay's stocking was ammunition for Clay's gun (how did Santa know he was getting one of those?!), a light for the gun, candy, a new spatula for the kitchen :), a beanie (hat) to keep his head warm in winter & a few other treasures. In Carrie's stocking was a new Christmas book, candy & some cute reindeer napkin ring holders that will adorn the kitchen table next year!

Thank you Santa for all our fun toys & new playthings! They will be lovingly used!

We had a wonderful morning playing together & hanging out in our home as a family! I'm so thankful that Clay was able to be at home to enjoy it with us! (We are under a winter storm warning/blizzard conditions through this weekend so I'm not sure exactly how his flights will go. Please pray for safe travel for him & all the other people flying over the next several days.)

I'll be back tomorrow with more special memories to show! :) Thank you for caring!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Dear Santa, we are ready for your visit..."

Tonight we prepared for Santa to come pay us a visit...first, we read "The Night Before Christmas," then we put out snacks for Santa & his reindeer....carrots & cookies..Yum! Parker helped Clay count the carrots...

...then couldn't figure out why he wasn't allowed to eat the fun snack in front of him!!! "Santa, there are only a few nibbled places gone; I checked it to make sure it was just right for you! I do apologize if there are a few sprinkles missing though!"
Next we poured the milk...
" ...time to write Santa my letter!!! Daddy helped me sign my name..."
Lastly, we threw magic reindeer food off of the balcony to make sure Santa knew exactly where to find us in this big building. The snow is still sparkling below us!!!

"Dear Santa, I've been a good boy this year. I did as mama & daddy told me to (most of the time). I didn't fuss or whine too much and I played well with others. I ate my fruit & vegetables (and just about anything else that was put in front of me at the table!) and put away my toys when asked to. I traveled really well when we road in cars, buses, trains & airplanes.

Mama did ask at the beginning of the year for me to just sleep a little bit more & I have been so good in doing that. I cuddle with my family members when they need hugs & kisses, & I go straight to bed when it is time. Brushing teeth is fun to do...throwing away trash, mopping & vacuuming too! I try to be neat (most days); however, I am a boy, so forgive me if I messed up a time or two.

Trucks, airplanes, bikes & cars are some of my favorite things. When mama & daddy ask what I really want for Christmas though, I say a "Football." Please bring me one. Oh, how I would love that so!

Your snacks are out...put together on your special plate with love. We read our story about your visit & even threw the special reindeer food out over our balcony so you would know exactly where to find us.

Thank you dear Santa, for taking time to visit me this year. I hope you & the reindeer have a warm flight over. We aren't expecting blizzard conditions until Wednesday evening, so you should be good to go until then! Oh, & thank you for making special arrangements to fly down early for us this year. Daddy would have been so sad if he couldn't see the excitement & light in my eyes on Christmas morning when I saw all of my new & exciting toys.
Good night, Santa. Thank you again."
Parker Nolen
P.S. Daddy says that the winds are coming from the south, so your better option would definitely be to fly in directly from the North. ...just to make your job a little easier :)

spreading Christmas cheer through yumminess!

Today we delivered our Christmas happies to our friends and Parker's teachers. Yesterday, I spent many fun hours in the kitchen baking Banana Nut Bread & Pumpkin Bread. I had decided several months ago that this is what I would be doing for our holiday gifts this year. I was pleased with the outcome and excited to get out and deliver them to everyone.
(Originally, I had planned on different wrapping for the breads, but in the end, decided on just the classic Reynold's Wrap with a Christmas Red Raffia bow in front & a simple nametag. Random Funny: These tags are leftover from about 10 years mom bought several different cute kinds of holiday note pads...she would leave random notes around the house around Christmastime using these & also used them on our gifts to family & friends. Because I loved them so much, she gave me some to have. You are probably thinking I am crazy for having something random like that from 10 years ago in my house now...but somehow I have kept & continuously used these throughout the years. Last year, around this time, I was leaving notes in Clay's cooler for lunch on these cute papers!)

It was fun getting out today & spreading our Christmas cheer through yumminess! :)

P.S. We have worked it out with the jolly fellow to come visit our house early this year, so Clay can be here to share in the excitement of Parker's Christmas morning. Santa has been so great to work it into his busy schedule to pop over to our home tonight! With that being said, it's off to bed for us all so as not to keep the Big Guy waiting!

Monday, December 21, 2009

storytime with our little reindeer!

We are loving this precious pj set for Christmastime (thanks Rassie!). It is so soft & comfortable...and super cute! I have been wanting to get pics of him in it for weeks night right before bedtime last week & early one morning before breakfast I was able to snag a few A+ ones!!! Looking at them just make me smile! :)

This first picture shows an important part of our bedtime routine...storytime. Usually, each night right before bedtime Parker will go pick out a book that he wants his daddy or me to read to him. He'll climb up in our laps in the recliner & we'll sit, rock & read! This month, he got an early birthday gift from his Rassie...a comfy red chair from Pottery Barn...a chair that is just right for him! It sits right beside our Christmas tree next to his little basket of books. In addition to sitting in our laps & us reading to him, he wants to sit in his new chair beside the Christmas tree & pick out his own Christmas story to read. We have to sit on the floor right next to him to talk with him about the pictures & fun things....but he has to hold his own book in his own chair & point out things to us. ;)
One of my favorite memories of this Christmas season is Parker getting to enjoy some of my childhood Christmas books...that my mom & dad used to read to my brother & me. I love watching his fingers turn through the pages inquisitively.

Tonight Clay, Parker & I had a delicious dinner at a friend's house. It was wonderful just getting to visit with friends next to Christmas tree lights & fun decorations while the children played & had a good time.
It is late now...Parker is down for the evening, Clay is starting a movie that he checked out, & I am headed to the kitchen to bake my last batch of breads for gifts to be delivered tomorrow! Have a warm & fabulous evening! :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

birthday party, cookie decorating, haircuts & more!!!

Here's a small glimpse of our's been a very busy one, so tonight we're enjoying Daddy being at home & having a family movie night!

Cookie Decorating Party at Kindercare...that icing was so light & delish!
It took Parker a little time to get the knack of it...getting the sprinkles on the cookie that is...

The finished results...yyummm...Parker wasn't much into eating the cookie so Clay & I helped him with that! ;)
Another much needed haircut...Parker totally relaxes when he climbs into the chair at Kid's Hair. He has a little playtime with the toys that Sarah gives him & then about halfway through (just 3 minutes later), you think he's about to konk out -mouth is hanging open, head slowly dropping as he goes to his complete relaxed state!
Playtime at home on the "it's-below-2 degrees-outside-so-we-can't-go-out-to-play" days. Being the cutie that he is! :)
Birthday Party time! Happy Birthday Bella! Parker's friend Bella turned two this last weekend so we had an all out bash at their house on Sunday afternoon & evening. The Kirkpatricks have an entire bottom floor (that is the size of their house on the main floor) dedicated to playthings & a play area for Bella & her much fun! The kids all loved it! The played their hearts out ALL afternoon & evening until bedtime. As a matter of fact, the group of 6 2 year olds did so good, that the mom & dad's decided to let them play all the way until bedtime!!!
We are already looking forward to our next playdate at Bella's!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creamy Vegetable Dip

(Picture courtesy of Southern Living)
I have made this quick creamy vegetable dip twice now for parties & am adding it to my "favorites" list. It's easy & so yummy! Enjoy!

Quick Creamy Vegetable Dip
from Southern Living
Prep: 10 min Chill: 2 hrs

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup drained, chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers (1 2oz jar diced pimiento, drained, may be substituted)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp hot sauce

Stir together first 9 ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover & Chill at least 2 hrs. Serve dip with with baby carrots, celery sticks, radish slices, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Saturday, December 12, 2009

just a few more minutes of playtime

Friday evening playtime:
Parker was wearing pants last night before we had lasagna for supper....
The routine was supposed to be bathtime & then on to bed. I had taken Parker to the doctor earlier in the day because he had a horrible cough that was only getting worse & he was also running a slight fever...I had thought tonight would be the perfect night to put him down a little early.

While I was cleaning up the kitchen, I let Parker get down to play. Within minutes he had decided to dump out all of his toys from the big red bucket & roll around in it. From the kitchen, I heard him quietly singing "Rocking, Rocking..." (a song that his daddy made up for him & has sung to him since he was an infant.) Quickly, I grabbed my camera & just followed him around for the next several minutes to watch him play. What a joy! He loved watching himself rock around in the bucket in front of the mirror in his bedroom!

Where's Parker?The bucket was rolled into the living room so that he could play among the glistening tree lights. He was having the time of his life. I got down on the floor with him to join in on the fun of his little world. It was totally & completely perfect. I quickly forgot about how earlier in the day I was stressing over every little imperfection in my household...stickers & sticky fingerprints on the mirrors & doors, toys underneath furniture, a long to-do list that wasn't going to get done today...and how that morning I had totally felt like the mom on that Family Guy commercial...

Child: "Mum, Mum, Mum, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mama, Mama, Mama"
Mom: "WHAT?!"

Child: Hi!


I'm sure no other mom has ever felt like that! ;) Anyway, sometimes it just takes a little time by myself followed by some sweet & simple moments like this to know what REALLY matters during the days.

I eventually asked Parker if he was ready for bathtime, to which he replied, "Nooo." He picked up all the toys & put them in his bucket like a champ though & I ran off to start his bathwater & get his pjs & bedtime things ready. When I turned around, this is what I saw...he had quietly gotten his barn & lined up all his people/animals & was playing with them. It was too sweet to interrupt so I gave him just a few more minutes of playtime. Shortly after I noticed the quiet scene, I asked Parker again if he was ready for bathtime. This time he answered, "Yeah!" & stood up to run towards the bathtub! All he needed was a few extra minutes of playtime...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jingle Bells & Santa Claus

Last night was Parker's first Holiday program. You would have thought our child was the star performer in a downtown theatrical. ha!ha! 4 hours before the performance, I had the camera charged & ready to go, clothes & shoes laid out...I was only slightly excited to see our baby up there on that stage ringing those Christmas bells!

..."and now, here performing the classic rendition of "Jingle Bells" and an encore of "Chubby Little Snowman" are the Toddlers and Twos of Kindercare!!!!" Take it away kids!
...well, I can't say there was a whole lot of singing, but boy did those kids have gusto with those bells (& whatever else they could find to play with during the 4 1/2 min they were on stage!)
P.S. Parker is the little boy in the red pants on the far left!

And comes Santa!

Santa Claus flew in as a special treat just for the little boys & girls after the show. He gave them each a candy cane & special magic reindeer food to spread outside on Christmas Eve!!!
Parker was so excited he could hardly stand it...can't you tell by his tongue sticking out at the camera! ha!