Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all the wonder and joy of Christmas!

[Confession: there may have been a helium balloon that escaped up to the cathedral ceiling just before I took that photo of Joshua...]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

To Indy for Christmas!

This latest blog burst was made possible by the fact that we're at Grandma and Grandpa's in Indianapolis now for Christmas.  :)  It's wonderful being taken care of, and having so many willing and eager babysitters...

We decided to try flying out to Indy this time around, after having driven out here when escaping from Hurricane Sandy.  Driving for 14.5 hours each way, stopping at iffy turnpike rest areas to feed the kids, and losing two whole days of proper napping and sleeping didn't seem worth it, especially when compared to a two-hour flight with just an hour or two of transit time on each end.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?

We booked flights based on the kids' nap schedules, in the hopes that both of them would manage to fall asleep for much if not all of the flight.  And things seemed to be going exactly as we had hoped -- we made it through airport security fairly easily (or as easily as you can with a toddler in a stroller, a baby in a Beco carrier, and three small carry-on bags), and boarded the plane.  Sophia fell asleep on me almost right away, and Joshua happily bounced in his very own seat next to me (his first time on a plane not as a lap infant!), and listened to me wide-eyed as I explained that we would be zooming up into the sky shortly.

We taxied, and taxied, and taxied.  Every time the engines started revving up a bit, I would remind Joshua that we would be zooming up into the sky soon -- he does much better with new experiences if we prepare him properly for them.  So I got super excited and told him how fun it would be to fly up in the sky.  But each time, the plane swung around for another loop and continued taxiing on the ground.

Eventually, Joshua got tired and fell asleep on me.  And that's when the captain came on over the PA and told us that there was some "maintenance issue" that needed to be checked out, and that we would have to go back to the gate for the crew to take a look.  The kids slept peacefully on while we waited for the crew to do a "quick fix," and then we set off to the runway once more.

And we taxied, and taxied, and taxied some more.  Finally, the captain came on and said that the "quick fix" wasn't holding, and we would have to go back to the gate and deplane.

Joshua woke up then, and I think he was disoriented and uncomfortable, so he started wailing.  And then Sophia woke up.  (The sad thing is that if we had taken off on schedule, the kids would have been asleep for almost the entire flight -- so our planning would have worked out...)  It was almost time for Sophia to nurse again, so I switched seats with David (he was across the aisle with no one next to him), so he could try to calm Joshua down while I tried to feed Sophia.  But Sophia wasn't having it -- she hates being under the nursing cover, and I think she was feeling a little residual stress from me.  And then Joshua, still wailing, decided he wanted to be next to me again, so he ducked across the aisle.  With both kids screaming in my ears, I asked David to take Sophia to give one of my ears a break -- and Sophia immediately quieted in his arms.  When we deplaned at the terminal several minutes later, many of our fellow passengers congratulated David for his good work as a father.  :)  And Joshua was placated with videos on my phone, and then by a gift of apple juice from one of the stewards.

Back at the terminal, I fed Sophia in a family restroom and David grabbed us a quick bite to eat, including another bottle of juice for Joshua.

And then after about an hour of waiting, we finally reboarded the plane -- after many assurances that the maintenance issue was resolved and that that system had plenty of redundancies.  The kids both did beautifully on the plane the second time around -- Sophia was tired enough to sleep the whole way, and Joshua was plied with many snacks and games on my phone.  And we finally landed safely in Indianapolis, a mere four hours behind schedule...

All told, it was still probably better than driving with the kids.  And that kind of delay is unusual in our experience.  But we're hoping and praying that our return flight will be much, much less eventful!

Hex Bugs!!

Since we're spending Christmas in Indianapolis with David's family this year, my parents shipped Christmas presents out to our kids a bit early, and we let Joshua open them before we left for Indy.  (Which, I know, isn't exactly kosher, but it's become something of a family tradition, allowing him to open the gifts from the other set of grandparents before we travel...)

This year, my parents gave Joshua a starter set of Hex Bugs, a toy that had been highly recommended by some of my friends with kids around Joshua's age.  They're these little mechanized plastic bugs with rubber legs that vibrate when switched on, and then skitter around in these little hexagonal habitats.  The habitat pieces are designed for multiple add-ons, so you can add extra chutes and hexagons to create more elaborate setups.  We wanted to start small to see whether Joshua would even like these, so we just have the starter set -- which means that there are lots of openings, meant for future additions, through which these little skittery, jittery bugs can escape.  [Though now that I'm looking at the Amazon page again, it looks like it was supposed to come with pieces to block off these openings... Just my luck that the set we got didn't have those pieces!]

Those who know me and my EXTREME bug phobia can probably see the problem right away...

But Joshua really loves the bugs!  When I first turned them on and let him hold them to feel the vibrations, he found them fascinating, and loved putting them up to his cheeks to feel the little buggers go.  And when I showed him how to put them in the habitat to let them run around, he thought it was the most amazing thing ever.  And then when the little buggers escaped (as they did over and over and over again), he thought it was hilarious and shouted with glee as he tried to catch and corral them.

So I guess I'm resigned to them.  ;)  His uproarious laughs do make them worth all the minor freakouts I've already had in seeing the bugs escape and make a beeline for me.  (I have to keep telling myself they're just hunks of plastic, and they're certainly not actually gunning for me...)  I do supervise him closely when the bugs are on, though.  I can just imagine him losing the bugs while they're switched on, and then having a heart attack after seeing one skitter across my kitchen floor...

But just listen to his laughter in this video.  :)

And just a couple phone camera shots of the little dude playing with his new favorite toy!

Who would have guessed that this extremely bug-phobic girl would actually buy such skittery bug toys for her son...  The things I do to make Joshua laugh...  :)

This year's Christmas card

We finally sent out our Christmas card about a week and a half ago, so it's probably safe for me to post it here now.  :)

In preparation for this card, I finally, finally got a photo of all four of us together!  It only took over three months after Sophia was born for us to get a family photo... I was using my 85mm lens, and wanted a nice shot with some of the last leaves of autumn framing us, so I set up the tripod about 150 feet away and had David corral Joshua into position.  Because my remote battery was dead, I had to use the 10-second self-timer on the camera -- which meant I hit the shutter and then SPRINTED (while trying not to jostle Sophia) to get in position in time.  It's a miracle that this photo turned out as well as it did.  :)

So here's the 2012 Keddie family Christmas card, front and back:

And just because I love it so, here's a larger version of our family photo!

Wishing you a lovely Christmas, from our family to yours!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NASA Johnson Style!

A brief interlude amidst all the Christmas posts...  :)

My younger brother, Eric, is an internet celebrity!  He and his fellow interns at NASA's Johnson Space Center created a fun little video parodying PSY's Gangnam Style, posted it on YouTube, and it's become a viral sensation -- over 3 million views as of this evening!

And it's been picked up by all kinds of media sources!  Screenshots featuring Eric have been posted on CNET, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and any number of other blogs and online news sources.  Probably most exciting was the inclusion of a brief clip (including Eric's vocals!) on Katie Couric's 2012 year-in-review special!  (Relevant clip available here; start at 5:10, and look for the big star himself at 5:48!)

Joshua absolutely LOVES watching the video.  He constantly asks to "watch Uncle Eric??" and he gleefully points out every planet, rocket, and asteroid in the video.  He's also picked up on the fact that we'll be more lenient about letting him watch videos on our phones if it's the Uncle Eric video, so he's capitalizing on that weakness as much as possible.  :)

We're so, so proud of you, Eric!  Definitely looking forward to having you come visit us soon -- and there are lots of our friends who really want to meet you and brush up against your internet fame a little bit.  ;)

More Christmas crafts!

I figure this is likely to be the only Christmas I'll be a stay-at-home mom.  So I've been having fun playing a little Martha Stewart and actually doing some of the Christmas crafts and activities I've been pinning on Pinterest.  :)

One of the projects I did with the kids was a handprint Christmas wreath, inspired by this pin.  (Though there's no way I was going to introduce glitter into the equation -- hello, crazy mess...)  I traced out both of the kids' handprints onto pretty green cardstock -- which was a little harder than I had anticipated.  Sophia doesn't have the best limb control, and Joshua kept wanting to lift his hand so he could see what on earth his crazy mama was doing to him this time.  ;)  And then one Friday evening while David was at PEF, I cut out and traced and cut out and traced and cut out a bunch of handprints.  The project wasn't particularly difficult, but it was a lot more time-intensive than I thought it would be -- cutting around tiny finger tracings takes a long time.  :P  But I had already started, and wanted to see the project through, so I spent a few hours hanging out on our couch, watching old episodes of "Friends" and cutting out handprints and gluing them together into a wreath circle.  :)

The next morning, I showed Joshua the wreath, and had him stick gold star stickers all over it.  He went around a put a sticker on each of the light green Sophia hands, put a few on the red bow, and then threw a minor fit when I tried to convince him to put some stickers on the dark green Joshua hands.  So I sneaked a few little stars on the dark green myself and then hung the wreath up on the wall before Joshua could crumple it in his zeal to protect it.  :)

But I think all the effort was worth it!  Look at the cute wreath over our TV!

Thankfully, my other Pinterest-inspired project was much easier.  Inspired by this pin -- and by "inspired by," I mean "completely blatantly stolen from."  :)  I got a length of holly garland from Michaels and wrapped it around our dining room chandelier, and then tied a bunch of mini ornaments to the chandelier with white ribbon.  Super fast and easy, but with high visual impact -- exactly the kind of project I love!

And finally, a simple holiday card display idea.  We used to put all of the photo cards we received up on our fridge, and leave them there the entire year.  But that was in our old apartment, where our kitchen was gated off and the fridge was a toddler-safe zone.  Now that our fridge has become a toddler magnet play area, we needed a different place for the lovely cards we get from friends and family!  So this year, I tacked some wide red ribbon to the wall, and I've been attaching photo cards with mini clothespins.  We've managed to teach Joshua not to pull at the ribbons, and we've had such fun telling him all about each of the faces displayed on our wall.

I love having such holiday prettiness all around us.  :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Vespers 2012

Every year, one of the Christmas traditions I look forward to the most is the interfellowship Christmas Vespers service.  This year, I was able to go because our dear friend Andrew came over to watch the kids while they slept.  He's about to become a first-time father in just a few short weeks, so it was good practice for him!  (And it helps that the service starts at 9pm -- the crazy-late college student schedule meant that both the kids were put in bed before I had to leave!)

This year's service was as beautiful and moving as ever.  It's such a blessing to be able to take a moment in the midst of the busyness of the Christmas season to just sit back, meditate on Scripture, and listen to and sing beautiful music.  The richness and beauty of Christmas tradition becomes once more solidly grounded in the promises of Scripture, and I come away feeling refreshed.

And I just love the music chosen for this service!  I usually have the carols and special music stuck in my head for weeks after Vespers.  :)

Joy has dawned upon the world
Promised from creation
God's salvation now unfurled
Hope for every nation
Not with fanfares from above
Not with scenes of glory
But a humble gift of love
Jesus born of Mary

Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable
Hands that set each star in place
Shaped the earth in darkness
Cling now to a mother's breast
Vulnerable and helpless

Shepherds bow before the Lamb
Gazing at the glory
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story
Gold -- a King is born today
Incense -- God is with us
Myrrh -- His death will make a way
And by His blood He'll win us

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sophia Watch: Four Months

Our sweet Sophia is four months old!  And definitely growing fast -- some friends of ours saw her the other day for the first time in a few weeks, and kept marveling at how huge she is now.  :)  She has her four-month check-up on Monday, so we'll have height and weight stats then, but she's definitely, definitely a healthy little girl!

See?  Way bigger than Bun-bun now!  And that white onesie here?  Is a Gerber 18-month onesie.  Now, Gerber sizes run crazy small, and I did fold up the sleeves a little bit, but STILL.  I love how well our dear little girl is growing!

This has been a month of continued equilibrium-regaining as a family.  Sophia continues to be a great sleeper at night -- I half-wake her up for a last feeding at 11pm, and she then sleeps soundly until 8am, or even later if her boisterous older brother doesn't wake her up.  ;)  She fights the daytime naps a little, but about half the time she'll just fuss for a few minutes and then soothe herself to sleep; the other half of the time, she'll get louder in her complaints until I come pick her up and soothe her back down.  Joshua is very much the concerned older brother -- whenever he hears her cry, he'll stop playing, look up at me with a worried face, and observe that "Baby Sophia cries!"  He loves coming upstairs with me when I go to check on Sophia or when it's time to put her down for her nap, and he'll run in a tight circle around me singing "Twinkle Twinkle" while I soothe his little sister.  It's the sweetest thing ever, and I think his happy little voice really does help to calm Sophia down!

Sophia has gotten pretty good at self-soothing this month.  She's been sucking on her fingers for a while now, but a couple weeks ago, she decided she's done with her pacifiers and that she vastly prefers her own hand -- specifically, the middle two fingers of her left hand.  When those fingers find their way into her mouth, I know I can safely tiptoe out of the room and let her drift off to sleep.

She's also starting to coo and babble with more regularity, which is so incredibly cute.  One reason I know she's extremely well-fed and not at all starving?  She stops mid-nursing session, pretty much every time, to smile and gurgle at me.  As though she's saying, "dude, this stuff is amazing.  Have you tried it yet??"  :)

And it looks like we've settled on a cutesy nickname for our little girl... Joshua was "J-bear" pretty consistently through his infanthood, so I thought we'd call Sophia "Sophie-bear" or something similar.  But that just doesn't quite roll off the tongue well enough.  Instead, I've found myself calling her "Fifi" while soothing her in her pouty moods -- the ridiculously cute, giant baby pout just calls forth silly nicknames and baby talk, and thus, "Fifi" was born.  :) 

So here are a few more cute shots of our wee Fifi!

How old are you, Sophia?
Four months, yo.

Left hand in her mouth, right hand twirling her hair

Who's she looking at so intensely in that last shot?  It's my second shooter, big brother Joshua!

"Smile, baby Sophia!"

"The model, she has slumped.  I cannot work under these conditions."

My new favorite photo of the two cutest kiddos in the world.

Then, of course, this happened:

I can already see how I'll need to referee playtime between these two...  ;)

Happy four month birthday, little Sophia!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Toddler Christmas shenanigans

I was surfing Pinterest the other day and saw what I thought was an absolutely genius idea -- create a little felt Christmas tree for your toddler to decorate and redecorate, to help keep his curious hands away from the grown-up Christmas decorations.  It's a cute little decoration and toddler distraction device all in one!  What could possibly go wrong?

I was planning a Michaels trip for some Christmas decor already, so I added some felt to my list.  And over Thanksgiving weekend, while watching Star Wars with David while the kids were in bed, I cut out a tree, some ornaments, and some felt presents, to create our very own little Christmas flannelgraph (side note: throwback to Sunday School fun!).

Super cute, right?  All very simply made of felt (with the J, S, and present ribbons hot-glued on).  I couldn't wait for Joshua to wake up and see "his" tree.

And, well, part of my fond vision came true.  Joshua sure loves the felt circles!  It's the latest in a series of things he can gather and sort, so he loves taking them off the tree, stacking them all in a big pile, and either carrying them around the house or FLINGING them violently about...

But the whole distracting-him-from-other-Christmas-decorations thing?  Not so much.

Yep, that's a large stack of felt circles in his hands...  (This snapshot was taken a few days before our Sophia ornament arrived.  And a few minutes before Joshua grabbed the "white cookie" and tried to eat it.)

Thankfully, in the last week or so, I've taught him not to grab at the staircase ornaments or our little tabletop tree.  But he still insisted on non-standard play with the felt ornaments:

What a cute little stinker.  :)

I ended up appealing to Joshua's sense of order and organization in order to entice him to actually put the ornaments on the felt tree.  Once he realized he could sort the ornaments, he went to town playing with the tree:

Star at the top, then the lights, then the circles, then the presents.  One of these days, he'll likely also sort the shapes by color...

The ornaments still spend way more time on the floor or tucked away in random corners than on the felt tree, but Joshua is having a blast playing with the set, so I'm going to call this a mommy win.  ;)  It's a good exercise in picking my battles and letting go of how things are "supposed" to be in the name of allowing Joshua to have some uninhibited fun, too, so it's good for me, right?  It's what I tell myself every time I hear him giggle uproariously as he throws and gathers and throws and gathers and throws and gathers the felt circles...  :)

This year's Christmas ornament

In case you couldn't tell, I really love traditions of all kinds.  :)  And one of my favorites of the little traditions we've created as a family is the annual Christmas ornament.  Each year, we pick or make an ornament that represents one of the milestones of the year.  Now that we're finally living in a home with a staircase, I decided to put them all up together in a pretty little display:

Starting from the top, we have our 2006 bride and groom, 2007 NYU Law ornament, 2008 Fitz-Randolph gates, 2009 stork, 2010 Joshua ornament, 2011 Joshua handprint, and then this year's ornament:

A lovely embroidered ornament commemorating our little Sophia's first Christmas!  As our 2010 Joshua ornament was an Etsy find, I figured it was appropriate to look for another handmade Etsy item for Sophia, and as soon as I saw the embroidered work in this particular Etsy shop, I knew this was going to be this year's ornament!

I love that both of our kiddos have a lovely handmade ornament celebrating the year in which they were born.  And one of these days, if I'm ever on top of my game enough, they'll have ornaments that are actually hand-crafted by *me*.  ;)  But until that day comes, I'm thankful for all the pretties that can be found on Etsy!

And it goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway -- we are all so thankful for our dear little Sophia.  2012 is the year David and I became parents to a daughter, and Joshua became a big brother, and this sweet little ornament is a fitting milestone marker for this year!