Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 in Review

Well, it is the evening before Christmas Eve and I'm sitting here in the quiet reflecting on the past year. 2008 has been filled with good stuff. A richness of good family time and babies at my ankles and knees and lots of time here at the house.

During Christmas of 2007 we bought our home so we are now at the anniversary of one year of living here. I still cannot get over the awesomeness of living in a larger space. I don't take it for granted at all. I am just as grateful today as I was a year ago. I'm happy with the size of the rooms, the kitchen, the bathrooms, the condition it's in, the garage, the location, everything. I can see myself comfortably living here for a long long time. If someone forced me to complain about something it would be that we don't have a larger yard. But the yard is certainly larger than what you'd get in most townhomes and there is the trade-off of having a swimming pool and gardeners who mow the front lawn every Friday. Strangely, the kids don't really like playing in the back area very much. They'd both rather hang out in the front yard or in the garage, perhaps because there is more opportunity to run into friends out there. I also think both of the kids can be a little freaked out by some of the plant-life and bugs that lurk in the back area.

In February, Frannie turned three years old and now she's on her tip toes approaching four. This is the year that she stopped being a baby and officially became a "big girl". She makes sure I, and everyone else, knows this every chance she gets. "Because I'm big and Adam's not. Right?" "I can do this because I'm the first girl. We're big, right?" Not only does almost every conversation involve her stating her status as a big girl, the first girl, or being SO BIG! but she also says "Right?" after most sentences. It's very cute and silly. Frannie knows she's a big girl and definitely bigger than baby Adam, but she also knows that she's petite, and she sometimes asks questions about that too. In her mind being short is equal to being younger, so she gets confused when she gets hand-me-downs from Cousin Catie or Hannah who are her same age. So I've started to hide the identity of where her new clothes come from, unless it is from an obviously older girl. Anyways, Frannie may be on the small side, but she's big on words and personality. I'm not sure that she ever really stops talking. She has no trouble making friends with kids of all ages. She's a real girlie-girl and wears a dress every single day unless it's raining or really cold and I make her wear pants. Given the choice, she will always pick a dress and her sparkly shoes. It makes no difference that her sparkly shoes have huge scuffs on them where the sparkles have worn off. Brand new tennis shoes just never get worn.

In June, Adam turned one year old, and now he is a whopping 18 months. In baby time, 6 months is like a year of development. So he's a totally different kid now than he was in June. I think the descriptors I use most often for Adam are "stinker" and "such a puppy". He is VERY sweet and darling. AND he is my little stinkery stinker. He is a cuddler who loves to bury his head and face and wiggle his bum. He loves to be held and have back massages and back scratches, and he has a low pitched sort of laugh that sounds like the Cookie Monster. Growling is fun. However, biting is also fun as is hair pulling. This makes for an unhappy sister who has had bite marks on her leg and many strands of hair yanked from her head. If I were writing this post a month ago, I would have a very frustrated exasperated tone. There was a lot of fighting and screaming going on in this house with all of the pulling, biting, and toy stealing. Frannie wasn't totally innocent though. She steals her share of toys too. However, I am happy to report that something has clicked in the minds and hearts of the kiddos and thankfully they finally figured out how to play together. That is such a nicer noise to a mama's ears. Laughter. Cooperation. Quiet sharing of play-doh. Adam still has the occasional assault, but it is much less frequent. I love to hear the kids playing together and becoming friends. It is the best.

Now, some particulars about Adam. While sister loves shoes, Adam removes both socks and shoes any chance he gets. I have lost many a sock in a grocery store. Half the time there is no point in putting shoes and socks on him at all. The moment he gets into the car he takes them off. If he's sitting in the stroller he kicks them off. In a grocery cart. Gone. Even in this cold and rainy weather I have taken him places without shoes and socks because I spend the entire time chasing down discarded items. His favorite toy is still a ball, but these days the kids have been playing with play doh a lot and drawing on big pieces of paper that I tape to the kitchen floor. He has also recently started playing with matchbox cars and the big Lego-type building blocks. Adam is a good speaker for his age, and he actually has more words at this time than Frannie did. However, he can be rather shy and takes awhile to warm up to people. He's very much a mama's boy in that way because if he doesn't feel totally comfortable he wants to be held by me the whole time. He will be quick to cry if he isn't happy. He isn't the type of baby to reward strangers with a smile. You only get his smiles and laughter if you hang around awhile.

Jason continues to work hard for Canidae Corporation. He enjoys his job and they treat him well. People always ask me what Jason does for a living and it is very hard to describe. He doesn't really have a job-title and we've tried hard to give him one. It just never works. Basically he does a lot of stuff. He tells me about work every single day so it isn't as though I'm just not getting any information about his work. He writes a lot of checks, talks to a lot of distributors, punches a lot of numbers, works alongside his co-workers to get things done and will do whatever is asked of him. Job-security is good right now and I'm extremely grateful for that. On Saturday, is Jason's day to unwind from the week and he spends most Saturday mornings going on bike rides either by himself or with a group of other cyclists. Sometimes it's a road ride, other times a mountain ride. But he looks forward to his rides with anticipation. His time spent on-line is looking at bikes, writing on bike forums and researching new places to go. He has also upped his fitness routines by running on the treadmill that's in our garage every evening after the kids go to bed. On Sunday, Jason takes care of the kids while I go to work.

Most of my life revolves around the kids. I'm learning everyday how to be a better "homemaker". It's a really old-fashioned word and job-title, so I'm not sure how else to say it. But it's a job and one that I try to get better at. I am glad that I get to be here for all of the little moments with the children. I realize how important it is that I'm here day in and out guiding them all of the time. There are moments in everyday that are magical and that touch my heart, and there are moments that really tick me off. Both go side by side. Everyday has elements of both. Of course I aim to keep it on the "magical" side as much as possible. But there are those days when it seems the other side wins too. My one day of the week where I drive off without the children is on Sundays when I teach my Bradley class. Lately business has been very good and I've had full classes for the past three sessions. I am passionate about helping women to have informed births and learning how to manage their pain. There has been such success too. Over 80% of my moms have had drug-free births. Given the current birth culture, I consider this a tremendous testimony to the power of women and the power of good information.

It turns out that my teaching has come to good use. I make a little bit of money for my class and now I have something to spend it on. We found out in August that we're expecting another little one. I'm looking forward to this new baby's arrival very much. I'm about 4 months along now and feeling good. The money I make teaching Bradley will pay for my midwifery fee. Full circle! I'm due in late May.

I'm very grateful to God for the blessings we've received. I'm always thankful. Always.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast

See, I'm catching up on blogging. And you know what? Yes there are dishes piled high in my sink. You see, I can't win. Anyways, I'm blogging anyways because time is marching on and pics must be posted. (And I'm more than happy to look for an excuse to not do my dishes.)

We had Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa Castillo's house aka Grandma Carol and Grandpa Tom. As usual they put on a fantastic spread, with some help from the rest of us. Here was the menu (just for drooling purposes): Turkey, Honeybaked ham, BBQed roast, crab legs, sausage stuffing, mashed taters, yams w/ pineapple, corn bread, green bean casserole, pumpkin roll cake, and other desserts. I'm sure I'm missing something. There was a lot of wonderful food, and family of course!

The Kings' Visit

My Aunt Carrie (who looks like my sister), her husband Jason, and their two boys Miles and Parker visited us from Oregon in October. I never posted pics shame shame on me! Anyways, we had a wonderful time. Frannie and Miles were very cute as they became fast friends and constant hand holders. Buddies all the way. Parker took us all by surprise because of his striking resemblance to Uncle Jackie. How did that happen? Genetics are so weird. For those who don't know, that's my dad there holding Parker. When you see my dad you can understand where Frannie and Adam got their looks. Jason + My dad = the kids. Again, genetics are weird.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Absentee Blogger

I know I've been an absentee blogger, and trust me, I have plenty to blog about! But my reason for not throwing up fascinating and thought-provoking posts (heh heh) is because of a simple fact:
Being a mother and homekeeper is like...a job.

When I'm on the computer too much, I'm not doing my job. For the last several weeks I have been feeling very behind on everything. It seemed like I was always two steps behind on housework and dinner prep. I wasn't planning for meals very well so often I would find myself sans the appropriate ingredients. The house was sort of picked up...but not really. Nothing was getting scrubbed. Laundry was always behind. But what topped it all off were the children. Lots of fighting and whining. It was taking forever to get from point A to point B with Frannie on everything. "Frannie let's do your hair." "Time to get dressed." "We've got to pick up your bedroom." "Put your shoes on." Everything was met with dragging feet and resistance and lots of laughing and silliness to try and get out of doing what needs to be done. I found myself getting very frustrated with her and with the kids in general.

But on this one it all came back to mom.

I have to be the leader in this household. I can't just react to the day, I have to to orchestrate it. Plan it. Move from one thing to the next so that my kids follow me instead of me dragging myself after them all of the time.

So, after breakfast it's directly to straightening up the house. Then kids get their clothes on and hair brushed. Then any upstairs chores. They play and follow me around and stuff. And help clean. With the routine it is a much faster process to get them dressed and ready.

Usually around 11 am we go somewhere, but not always.

As long as the morning gets off to a good start, things seem to fall into place for the rest of the day.

All of this leaves for much less time on the computer. By the end of the day when the kids are asleep and I actually have time to get on, it's usually just a check of the emails, responding to Bradley requests, and reading everyone else's blog. Not a lot of time to upload pics and write my own.

So I guess the fact that I've been an absentee blogger is a good thing. Because it means that my house is a lot cleaner, my kids are behaving a lot better, and we're eating something good for dinner.