Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Early Christmas

We usually travel each Christmas to see our respective families, but before that we celebrate and have our own quiet Christmas with just the kids. This year was no exception. The kids are a year older and it shows. Their comprehension of the event and ability to express themselves increases our enjoyment as well.

The Night Before Christmas. We made hot chocolate together and then the kids picked a candy cane from the tree to stir it with...
We also made gingerbread cookies together for Santa, but Drew & Matt thought it was important that we leave the reindeer some carrots...

Christmas Morning! I was up an hour before the kids (not by choice), and was ready and waiting with the camera to get a shot of them sprinting toward the tree. Ryan still had a small window of time before he had to leave for work, so this was one morning I didn't want them to sleep in anyway. I left the room for two minutes to use the bathroom, and wouldn't you know, it was the exact time they bounded down the stairs screaming and hollering! As I heard, "Mom, Mom! It's Christmas!", I closed my eyes and tried not to be too disappointed that I was trapped in isolation during a climatic moment. This is Drew opening his stocking. He usually selects and examines each item one at a time and asks questions about everything...

Our baby Brady with his favorite food...

Ah, the first present! Drew opened Iron Man with Matt's help...

Next came Matt with his Daredevil. They were so excited to see what the other got...

Finally the gift coveted most of all... the Spiderman web shooter. Drew told me a few nights before at the ward Christmas party, "Mom, I talked to Santa and he said he was going to bring me the Spiderman Webs! I know he's bringing it to me!" I didn't know Santa was bringing it either, until the night before Christmas at the 11th hour. It was like Ralphie and his gun. They thought there wasn't any more to open until I said, "What's that behind the tree?" After the gift was spotted they didn't even come out from behind the tree to open it. It was like the scene in Jurassic Park where the raptors are fed, because it was a frenzy of paper flying everywhere, and in a nanosecond it was over...After it was over and we said our goodbyes to Daddy, we lounged and talked about how much fun we had and how fortunate we were to have a Christmas. We talked about the shepherds and how their staffs were shaped like a candy cane. We talked about the star on top of the tree and how it helps us remember the Star of Bethlehem that rose in the sky when Christ was born. We talked about how excited we are to see our families and celebrate with them as well. We watched Christmas movies, listened to music, ate lots of chocolates and oranges, cracked nuts with the nutcracker (the kids participated and the shells were flying), and played, played, played. It was a blast.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas On The Pecos

This year we attended a totally fun event called Christmas On The Pecos. Every year during the holiday season in Carlsbad, NM, the city welcomes people from all around to view the gorgeous Christmas lights along the Pecos River by floating down the river in large boats. These boats seat around 80 people and take big groups down the river for a trip that lasts about 50 minutes. As we prepared to board, we walked around and enjoyed the lights and shops, admired the pretty river and warmed up with hot cocoa. Then they announced our departure and as we moved down the walkway, workers handed us thick wool blankets and life vests for the kids. We took our seats (all forward-facing) and started the serene tour. The sky and water were as black as night, and it created a nice contrast with all the lights and animated spectacles lining the waterfront. Our kids were just thrilled to be on a boat, bundled up in hats & warm coats & sipping hot chocolate, but the visual appeal made it that much more fun. As we drove home and the kids were sleeping peacefully in the back, I felt grateful we could spend time together as a family and create another fun memory at Christmas time.

What? Snow!

This year we received snowfall that actually stuck around for more than a few hours. The kids were SCREAMING with excitement. They rushed to get on hats, coats, mittens, and had the best time. They had snowball fights, drew patterns on the drift collected on our stone wall, and shoveled snow into their buckets normally used for shoveling sand.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I should've taken a lesson from last year that Thanksgiving is just easier when I cook as much food in advance as possible. Last year I don't remember feeling desperate for 4 ovens. I don't remember having to stall the turkey in order to cook the side dishes. Things just worked better last year... oh ya, I woke up at 3:00am to start on everything. This year I didn't start until breakfast was over, and I found myself unhappily "chained to the stove" until Ryan's little two-hour break before he left for work again. As a result I felt guilty for neglecting the kids and I felt rushed to have everything completed precisely at Ryan's "go" time--and then it was difficult to relax and enjoy the meal anyway. It had me asking, was it worth it? The best part was talking with the kids about what they're grateful for. Their simple answers center me and bring me back into focus.

After dinner was over and the kids were in bed, I contemplated whether I had the energy to drag the tree out of the garage and put the Christmas decorations up. Ryan was working 26 out of 30 nights in November, and the thought of me asking him to put up the tree between shifts garnered the mental image of tired, flat rejection. I'm learning more and more that if I want something done, I just have to do it myself. Needless to say, I changed my mind a few times and then finally relented, wrestling the gigantic tree box in. The next morning my kids woke up and raced toward the tree in excitement. I purposefully left some ornaments in their boxes so the kids could help decorate the tree and feel the pride of knowing they contributed to its beauty. Now every day we talk about everything we love about the holidays, our plans this year, what we're looking forward to, and of course, how many times we have to wake up before Santa comes! Seeing the world through their eyes... nothing better.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We had a great time on Halloween! A huge bonus was that Ryan was able to be with us, so the augmented family time made the whole day better. We began the evening at our "trunk or treat" by having dinner and playing games at the carnival. After that we packed up the kids to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. They were so excited to learn there was more fun ahead as we were leaving the church! That's one thing I love about experiencing holidays with the kids. They inject their magic into everything with their enthusiasm and excitement about every little aspect of the day.

This year the kids anticipated Halloween with great angst for several months, and every time we'd ask what they wanted to be, their answer would change. Since we couldn't nail a specific theme down, we decided to go with Superman. Ryan was Clark Kent. Matt was Clark Kent changing into Superman. Drew was Superman, and if you recall the classic Christopher Reeve movies, Brady portrayed Superman as a baby when he landed on earth. I went as Lois Lane, and since my wardrobe lacked one of her snazzy pastel business suits, I looked like "Flight Attendant Lois Lane..." "Passengers, we are beginning our decent into El Paso. Please see that your tray tables are in the upright and locked position." I thought Ryan looked great--tall, dark and handsome! The kids don't look very enthused in the picture, but they loved what they wore. Drew even said throughout the night, "I sure love my costume!" Matt gave people demonstrations of how he could pull his shirt apart and start changing into Superman. He does the same thing around the house, only he sprints from one side of the house to the other, spins in a circle, pretends to put his boots on, and then "flies" to the other side of the house as Superman. Brady just stood there and looked cute, and for any wondering, he wasn't cold. I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween. You can check out our Monster Mash Halloween video at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brady's 1st Birthday

Brady's birthday was fun. The kids enjoyed celebrating all day, and we got to visit Ryan at the hospital and sing "Happy Birthday" with the nursing staff. It was a good thing we had fun during the day, because as evening wore on, our happy party morphed into a fiasco. First I made the mistake of running errands all day, which robbed Brady of valuable sleep. Then as we cleaned up dinner and bedtime came, my good-natured baby short-circuited into a wailing, screaming, arching of the back nightmare. I couldn't keep him happy to save my life. Finally, I waved the white flag (gave up on waiting for Ryan) and brought out his birthday cupcake with the candle lit, hoping to distract him long enough to take at least one good photo. But the cupcake seemed to upset him more, like, "I didn't ask for a cupcake! I want to GO TO BED!" Then it all came to a head while I was fiddling with the camera settings and trying to remember how to activate the video. Brady lurched forward and put the candle out with his fingers, and the night officially ended. Dejected and defeated, I scooped up my tortured baby and headed upstairs to bed. Drew and Matt were yelling that he still needed to eat his cupcake, and I let the chaos, fatigue and stress get to me by roaring back that the party was OVER! So much for the ideal, picture-perfect scene. The following afternoon we did a "Take 2" by giving him the cupcake under better circumstances (still without Ryan, but what do you do?). I can't fully express what Brady means to me; what mother can truly articulate it? All I know is that he is a priceless, integral part of our family, and may never know how much I fiercely love him.

Pumpkin Patch

We had a fantastic time this year at a great pumpkin patch just 20 minutes away in New Mexico. It was still warm with temperatures in the low 80s, but it didn't feel nearly as hot as last year when I was big and pregnant and one week away from delivering. The boys were able to enjoy the big rubber tubing slide, giant sandbox, mini maze, farm animals, tractor ride and the pumpkin selection. The grilled corn smelled so good, but we didn't take time to eat this year. I also didn't venture out with them into the giant corn maze, but I was able to have fun watching them explore and take part in the activities while Daddy stayed home with a napping Brady. Freedom!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Puppy Surgery

Pre-Op Diagnosis: 3-month old puppy with abdominal wound suffered at home, suspect domestic violence.
Post-Op Diagnosis: Same
Procedures: Abdominal wound closure
Surgeon: Dad
Assistant: Matt Miller
Anesthesia: None
Start Time: 13:44
End Time: 13:47
Fluid Replacement: None
Surgical Wound Classification: Clean
Antibiotics: None
Complications: None
Dressings: None
Post-op Plan: Recovery Room ---> Home after Social Services Clearance
Procedures: Puppy was brought to couch and laid in dorsal supine position. No prepping or draping. No anesthesia. 2-0 Vicryl used to close 2.5 cm midline abdominal wound. Puppy tolerated procedure well. Instrument counts were correct x 2. Sent to recovery room in stable condition.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Flashback: Halloween 2008

This is Ryan blogging, so my words will be less eloquent and more brief. I think Brenda is an excellent writer, but she suffers from a chronic condition called detail diarrhea.

Since spring of this year, Drew and Matt have literally been discussing their Halloween costume possibilities on a daily basis. We still have not made final decisions for this upcoming year because they change their minds by the hour. So...while Halloween has been abuzz around our house and because we never posted many pics from last year, a flashback is in order.

Aside: Brenda doesn't feel flattered by her appearance in the picture because she'd just given birth and landed herself in the ICU, but I thought she looked great. Thanks for coming out with us on Halloween, dear.

Kudos to the first person who guesses my character.

Friday, August 14, 2009

San Antonio

In April we went to San Antonio to visit friends and explore the sights. We had an absolute blast enjoying The River Walk, The Alamo and Sea World. Ryan was able to take a boys' night and go to a Spurs game with good friends from medical school. It was the final game of the regular season, and as luck would have it the game went into overtime (Spurs winning), so it was exciting. We laughed, caught up with great friends and relished our days of quality family time (a rarity nowadays). Here are some pictures from the trip:

Sea World

The Alamo

The River Walk

Monster Mash

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