Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Canada Trip Day 5: Laughing in the Snow

Peyton laughed today! I have been waiting and waiting to her laugh and she finally did. She only did it a couple of times and wouldn't do it the rest of the day but it is a start! We were playing on the floor with Grandpa and I was telling her that his whiskers were going to come and get her and then I would tickle her checks. It was so cute to hear her laugh!

That day we went out to try and do some errands and also to get out of the house. We first went out to Zellar's (kind of like WalMart but not as good) and picked up some cookbooks that I like and you can only get in Canada. I also picked up some of my Canadian honey that I like. We then wanted to go to mainstreet to look around and went into a couple of stores. We quickly realized though that it was way too cold and also a pain to bundle up a baby and go out and about. My love of snow quickly vanished and I was thankful for my Texas winters. When we got home John and I decided to plow the driveway since the guy who normally does it didn't show up. That cemented my dislike of snow. It was way too much work and it would have made me really mad if it snowed again. Luckily it didn't.
We also took the time to take some pictures of Peyton with the Grandparents and all of us so we wouldn't forget.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Canada Trip Day 4: SNOW

Today we went for a drive around Bracebridge with my Grandparents. It was fun for them to show us all of the different houses they have lived and places my grandfather had worked. I had seen most of them before but it was nice to be reminded of the stories associated with them and the memories that they had.

When we got back from our drive around town, we decided that now was as good as time as any to get Peyton's picture in the snow especially since it was pretty sunny outside so it wasn't too cold. We bundled her up in her snow suit, and then Grandpa dug a seat for her in the snow bank, put a trash bag down on the seat and then placed her in the snow. I quickly took some pictures and then rushed her inside. I am glad we got the picture and she looked adorable!

Later that da it started to snow! John and I were pretty excited so we ran outside and started to take pictures. After about 15 minutes of being outside we decided to head in as my Grandparents neighbors were starting to look outside their window and give us weird looks. What...we don't get snow that often!

That night Peyton had a great time playing with her keys that she got from Grandma Martha for Christmas. She is getting to be much more aware of her toys and how to play with them. It is so much fun to watch her explore and use her fingers. It is great seeing her develop!

The rest of the night was spent cuddling with the grandparents and then having a nice bath. It was another great day and we were so happy to be able to see snow fall...well, until the morning....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Canada Trip Day 3: A Canadian Hurricane?

Today was WINDY! The winds got up to 80 mph! It felt like a hurricane was going on outside. The winds resulted in the power going off and on throughout the day but luckly we had power for most of the day unlike the majority of the province which still didn't have power when we left.

Mostly we hung out at the house and had a nice lazy day. Peyton's Aunt Chrissane came by in the morning and Peyton enjoyed sitting in her lap for most of the morning. Later her Uncle Trent came by to visit as well. Peyton spent much of the day rocking with Great Grandma which was a favorite thing to do on our trip as well as lounging around with me in the same recliner. It was really a nice relaxing day!

Finally, I made dinner tonight, Chipotle Chili, which was a great way to warm up!
This is a picture from the back of my grandparents house! Snow is so pretty!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Canada Trip Day 2: Who are these people?

Today we headed up to see the great grandparents and the rest of the Topping clan!

We packed everything up, got the rental car and away we went. We had to bundle Peyton up in her snow suit to go and get the rental car and she was pretty adorable. I don't think she was too fond of all of the layers but as always was a trooper.

It was raining and very foggy but we will take that over snow/ice anytime. We made it up to Bracebridge without too much commotion...kind of. We headed out from the airport looking for the 400. Since it was so foggy John was driving pretty slow so it seemed like we had gone further than we really had and since it was foggy nothing really looked familiar. We thought we had gone too far so we exited to turn around and when we exited we found a Tim Horton's. I deemed it fate! For those of you who have not been blessed to have visited a Tim Horton's, it is a chain in Canada that serves coffee, donuts and also some lunch food. Pretty much they are known for their donuts and also their Timbits which are essentially donut holes. I love Timbits! I don't like donuts very much but love Timbits! I especially love their brown sugar ones or the chocolate ones! While at Tim Hortons I said to John, "I don't know if I want to become an American." I said this after realizing how much being a Canadian means to me and how I wasn't sure if I wanted to let go of that connection (for more on my dilemma on whether to become an American click here to see a post from October). Anyways, I was trying to have a meaningful discussion about heritage etc and John's response to me was, "What, one trip to Tim Horton's and you are all Canadian again." It was pretty funny! After we left Tim Horton's we continued our journey to find the 400 and after a couple of loops around realized it was the next exit after Tim Horton's. We just hadn't gone far enough!

Once arriving in Bracebridge we realized that they really did have an insane amount of snow. It was kind of crazy! We got to my grandparents and got settled and then Peyton started to receive visitors! First, my cousin Troy and Cory, Cory's girlfriend Katie, my Aunt Candy, and her boyfriend Shawn were all there. Aunt Candy gave Peyton a Christmas present and one of the parts was a Frosty the snowman bear that became a favorite mostly because the carrot nose stick out and is perfect for sucking on. It was great to visit with everyone, catch up and introduce them to Peyton. She was talking away, playing on the floor and putting on a show for everyone. A little later, my Uncle Terry and his wife Christine came by for a visit and then after everyone left. My cousins, Cole (8) and Emma (5) came by. They both thought the baby was pretty interesting and once they got over their initial hesitation wanted to constantly hold her. They both did a great job and Peyton did a good job not getting too upset considering it was past her nap time!

After all of her visitors that day we had a good nap, continued getting settled and were able to spend time with my grandparents. Peyton immediately warmed up to my Grandma (probably because my mom is so much like her which I realized more and more this trip) and was a little wary of Grandpa but by the end of the night was all smiles. John spent part of the evening chipping up ice of the driveway so he got his winter workout in! Then before Peyton went to bed we all played with her on the floor and she did great holding her head up on her tummy. Probably the best she has ever done which I attribute to the fresh Canadian air!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Canada Trip Day 1: Traveling

Today is the day we headed up to Canada! We have been planning and planning for this day and left the house feeling pretty optimistic that we would successfully navigate our first major trip with our new addition. The night before we made sure we had everything, got the car packed and also sat down and talked through the day and what each person's roles would be and what our expectations would be. I HIGHLY suggest talking through the day with each other! It was great to know who was responsible for what and how we would handle things before we got in the situation.

Anyways, we feed Peyton and headed out to the airport around 7:00 AM or so. Our original plan was to park in short term parking, go in and check everything in and then have John go and park the car in one of the economy lots. Well, as we were driving in we realized that the majority of those lots were already full! So, we looked at how much parking would be at the airport and when we looked at the cost we deemed it worth it to just park at the airport and pay the premium. It really wasn't too much of a difference and the convience factor and rain made it a smart move. Peyton was asleep when we arrived so we just put her in the stroller and she continued to nap. We headed into the airport, got checked in, and went through security and everything went great! Peyton woke up as we went through security and proceeded to talk to everyone around her which was pretty cute. We then headed to the gate where we got settled and played with Peyton. She was talking away, playing with her toys and we were all having a blast. I then decided to feed her before we could board and then we were off to get on the plan. It worked out well feeding her when I did because as soon as we boarded and got settled, she was out and slept the entire flight which meant she went an extra hour between feedings! She had a little bit of an uncomfortable face taking off and landing but took the pacifier and never woke up.

Once we landed we waited until everyone left the plane so we had room to bundle Peyton up (when you land in Toronto since you are on a small plane you have to get off and go down the stairs and walk outside to the terminal) and then we headed into the terminal. It wasn't too cold when we arrived but it was not Texas weather! Since Peyton was overdue for a feeding we found a chair, feed her and changed her and then headed to customs. We went got through customs fine, got our bags and then headed into the airport. We had decided a couple of weeks ago that we would stay at the airport hotel that night so we could rest and regroup prior to making the three hour drive to my grandparents. We figured that we would all be tired and it might be too much to continue and since it would be dark when we left the airport we didn't want to drive in the dark especially since it might have been snowing. Staying the night was one of the best things we could have done and we highly suggest to break up your trip so you aren't going all day.

When we got to the hotel Peyton sat up on the bed and started talking away. It was adorable! We continued to play until she had to eat and then we went into the airport to get some lunch/dinner. Afterwards we all hung out in our room, watched a movied, played, had bath time and really just had a great time as a family. Also, today we realized that Peyton has been playing with her hands more. She has been bringing them together and playing with her fingers. It is pretty cool!
As we were playing with Peyton I was thinking how that day was one of the best ones we have had as a family and it was on our first trip! How funny! But the more I thought about it, I realized that sitting in that hotel room we were able to just relax and be parents, not think about what needed to get done around the house or what we needed to do the next day etc. but instead sit down and enjoy our little girl. I hope that now we continue to be in the moment even when we are at home.
Overall a wonderful day and we couldn't have asked for better!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! What a wonderful day! I love the Christmas season and feel so blessed to be able to start sharing that with Peyton! This has been a wonderful first Christmas full of many memories! Yesterday we had John's mom and brother, Ron over for a Christmas Eve lunch before heading to church. Following church we made it over to my parents with the whole gang for snacks and games! It was a great time of fellowship with both families. We ended the night with the traditional reading of the Christmas story, the Night Before Christmas and writing Santa his note. We then headed home and Peyton went to bed to wait for Santa. We woke up this morning at our house and started unwrapping presents. Santa was very good to Peyton this year and mommy and daddy did pretty well as well. You can see some pictures of our day by clicking here but here are some of the highlights. Daddy liked his air compressor with nail gun. I was also informed by Ron that no man's garage is truly complete without did John survive this long?

Then John pulled a sneaky little trick on me...I opened the one gift that I had under the tree that was in a pretty small box (immediately thought jewelery) and found an 8 GB Memory Card...what?

Then Ron came out with another box which based on its size I know was the Cannon Rebel XS SLR camera that I really wanted but really didn't expect to get. I was pretty excited and have spent the day starting to learn how to use it. One of my New Year's resolutions is to develop my desire to do photography. I have always wanted to develop that hobby and never made the time. I have found some classes that I was to take and am planning on taking the first one in February.

We finished up the morning with breakfast at our house and then packed up for a second Christmas at my parents house. We were greeted with more presents from Santa! Peyton was asleep for most of this Christmas celebration despite my planning but she gave me power of attorney to open her presents. Between both celebrations she made out like a bandit and her parents did pretty well as well. She woke up towards the end which was the grande finale...

My dad had a card and small box at the end to give to my mom (John and I knew the gift as it had been at our house since yesterday) but no one else knew. You can see the sequence of events by clicking here but here is a description. She started reading the nice thoughtful card, then opened the little box, had a look of shock on her face and then cried because she had the keys to her 2008 Infiniti G37s! She had been looking for a car and thought that they Here is her posing with her new ride.

We finished today off with a wonderful Christmas dinner. We will be heading home soon to finish getting ready for Canada and then we are out early tomorrow. Hope everyone has a great Christmas. We are so blessed to have such a loving God who would send us his only son to die for our sins so we could have a relationship with him. How beautiful that is!

By the way...we won't have internet in Canada so I will not be updating until we get back on the 31st.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Down to the wire...

Today we went out shopping with my dad. He always leaves his shopping to the last minute and goes out on Christmas Eve but this year he decided to get it done early...on the 23rd. So to make sure he was on the right track buying gifts for my mom he brought all his girls along including Peyton. It was tons of fun shopping with everyone and as always Peyton was wonderful! She is so easy going and just had a great time in her stroller with her moose, had a nap and then ate at Starbucks (I made her pass on coffee and stick with milk). Before we left my mom's we had a little clothing change due to a seriously dirty diaper and my mom took this picture of her. How cute is she!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

5 days until Canada...

Yes, I know that Christmas is in 4 days and we are not skipping that at our house but I feel like a trip on an airplane to another country involves more planning than Christmas. I am prepared for Christmas, not so much for our trip.

So here are our plans, we are leaving on the 26th, our flight leaves at 10:00 AM from IAH and arriving in Toronto. We decided to stay at a hotel near the airport that night so we are not rushed and also not driving in the dark with mounds of snow (us Texas drivers don't really have snow experience). The next morning we will be getting up and driving to Bracebridge to see the great grandparents. We then head home on the 31st getting into Houston around 8:00 PM. 

Step one in trip preparation is to make sure you pack clothes appropriate for the weather. I
knew it would be cold so we have been getting Peyton warm clothes for the past month or so. But we checked the weather today to see what the snow was going to do and here it is...14 degrees Fahrenheit and feels like 3 degrees with light snow! Oh my...we are going to freeze! If you would like to see what it looks like in Bracebridge, here is a live webcam.

Step two is what we are working on today, pulling down suitcases and starting to pack. I wanted to start today so we had three days to get it done and not have to deal with it on Christmas eve or Christmas day. We are planning on taking the following: two suitcases, a pack n'play, a stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag and one other carryon. Hopefully we can fit everything because I am not sure how we can carry anymore or afford anymore in excess baggage.

Only other thing we are trying to sort out before we leave is what stroller to bring. I got a nice umbrella type stroller that reclines slightly that we put Peyton in yesterday to see how she did. Since she is sitting up assisted pretty well I thought it would work out. She looked comfortable and happy but I am not sure if it is a good fit for our trip. Her travel combination stroller on the other hand works great but is pretty big and will take up a large amount of room in the rental car. So we will be thinking about that. We did take some pictures of Peyton hanging out in her new stroller. She thought it was pretty fun and enjoyed sitting up some.

Grandpa's Home for Christmas

Grandpa Hill is back in town! Peyton thinks he is pretty cool and he is having fun with her! It is fun to see her interacting with him and he is having fun since she is so much more alert. We had dinner over at their house yesterday and she wore her Santa shirt in honor of Grandpa since he loves Christmas so much.I am so happy he is back home and can't wait until he is finished with his job in Baku and can be back here. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sugar Cookies and Presents

I realized today that I forgot to blog about Peyton's day on Sunday...and there are some other things from today that I wanted to blog about as well.

Well, she started out by wearing her moccasins because her feet were a little chilly. These were a gift from Aunt Shannon and are pretty cute and according to Aunt Ashley and Grandma are her werewolf feet...

Well, that afternoon we went over to Grandma's house to take part in our family tradition of icing sugar cookies. Like every year, Grandma makes way too many and about 1/2 way through
we all start complaining and eating the cookies pre-icing but also every year we look forward to the creativity, the competitions and spending time as a family. Peyton joined in the fun and even had a little bit of cookie to go along with her milk. She tried to be sneaky and hid it but the green icing gave it away. She really had a great time and was talking away at us and would really examine the cookies when I showed them to her. She is getting so curious and investigating things with such intent.

Well, today the Christmas fun continued for Peyton as she got her first package from the UPS truck! It was pretty crazy to open the door and see a package addressed to "Peyton Acord." Well, Megan and Jason sent her a Christmas gift and we allowed her to open it up. It was a Fisher Price Noah's Ark set and is incredibly adorable! It comes with a couple of sets of animals, Noah and the Ark. The best part is that she could play/hold/eat the animals now and then when she gets to be older can really use the ark and still play with it. Here is Peyton examining her new gift....

Finally, today I realized what an amazing Barnabas I have in my life. What are you may be asking...well, for some background, one of the blogs I read is written by a girl that I went to high school with. We were not really friends but mostly acquaintances and knew each other through friends but as I read her blog and learn more about her heart for her family and the Lord, I kind of wish we were friends. Anyways, in an entry titled Paul, Timothy and Barnabas she explores relationships in the New Testament and how certain people in your life mirror the type of people Paul, Timothy and Barnabas were. Well, long story kind of short, I realized today that my Barnabas is my friend Diane. She is my friend, my buddy and someone who is always there for me, always helping. We support each other, challenge each other, hold each other accountable and speak truth to each other even when that is the last thing we might want to hear. Yesterday as she called me on my 1.5-2 hour drive home just to say hi and catch up and instead she got me unloading all of my frustrations and emotions on her and what was her response, to remind me that God has a plan and then to offer to bring me dinner today. She is busy, she has her own worries but when I needed her most she was there and brought me Lupe Tortilla. I thank God for my Barnabas.

Have a happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I've Been Tagged

My friend Sarah tagged me to do the following...

Here's what you have to do when you've been tagged:

1. Open the 4th folder in your computer.

2. Choose the 4th picture in the folder and post it in your blog.

3. Describe the picture.

4. Tag 4 people.

This picture was taken last November (2007) on a date night with John where as you can see we went bowling after having dinner. I pretty much stink at bowling...unless it is Wii Bowling!

I tag Brea, Danny and April, The Sherman's, and Kristi.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Balancing it all...

I haven't written anything since Monday (gasp) because I no longer have time to think let alone sit down at a computer and blog about our life and also everything has become so routine and scheduled so there really isn't anyhing exciting going on (like newborn poop was all that exciting). Also, pictures of Peyton will have to wait until this weekend but pretty much all I see now is grumpy face and that is not worth the uploading hassle.

So, it is the middle of the week and I almost through day 3 of work and it has been a week of very mixed feelings. It isn't difficult to get everyone out the door, it isn't hard for me to say good bye to Peyton in the morning (it helps that she is with Grandma this week), and it isn't hard being away from her during the work day. It is hard to drive a total of 150 minutes each day to get to and from work, it is hard to balance working and breastfeeding (if you are a new/working mom and want some tips you can email me) and it is even harder to go from seeing your little girl all day long to only spending about 3.5- 4 hours with her each day, and it is hard to not know the basic things about your child anymore (how many poopy diapers etc), and finally it is hard to have energy at night and be cheerful when all you want to do is sleep.

Anyways, things we have learned these past couple of days are:
  • We don't have enough bottles resulting in us always have to hand wash some in order to make four for the next day. In January (start of daycare) we will be purchasing a ton of bottles to prevent this.
  • Mommy will never make it home for Peyton's 6:00 PM feeding so that kind of threw a kink in some things and needs some fine tuning
  • Our evenings feel like a mini marathon (home, shove food in mouth, play with Peyton, Peyton to bed, clean up kitchen, make bottles, make lunches, prep work for next nights dinner, pack diaper bag, pick out everyone's cloths, crash)

I know it has only been a couple of days and honestly it has gone relatively well with only minor hiccups but nevertheless, it is still difficult and will be for a little while. Two and a half more days and then I am off for two weeks!!!

Another update...John has lost his mind. He decided on Sunday that he would join the majority of our small group in running the Houston Half Marathon in about five weeks. That is 13.2 miles in five weeks! Yes, John ran the Full Marathon in January but he has not run in a good seven months! So, since we don't have enough on our plate he decided to pursue this aggressive goal and has started training this week. His training will consist of running Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I have many comments about this but for now I will put on the supportive wife hat and encourage him through his insanity...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

First Real Work Day

Today started my first full week back to work (and actually after this week I am off until January 5) and I think it was a somewhat successful day. As anyone with kids will tell you, it is all about the planning. Given that I am an over planner, I was made for days like today. To give you some background on how today has been a success, a couple of weeks ago, I made a schedule for what our lives will look like with both of us at work. I have assigned days to each of us and on your assigned day there are chores that you are responsible while the other person's responsibility is to spend time with Peyton. Chores normally consist of the following: making dinner, making the next days lunches, making sure bottles are made for the next day, stocking the diaper bag and then a household chore (vacuuming, laundry, picking up etc). 

So, last night we made sure lunches were made, diaper bag was stocked and everything was ready to throw into the slow cooker in the morning. A side note, I have also planned meals for the week that either cook in the slow cooker or take no longer than 15 minutes to prep. This morning everyone got off when they were supposed to and I dropped Peyton off at my mom's around 7:15 AM and then headed into work. It took the typical hour to get in and the day went pretty well. It was a little slow since I am trying to get caught up but overall I was surprised at how well I did being away from Peyton (only two calls to Grandma). I headed out at 5:00 PM and that is when the day went downhill. It took an hour and half to get home (with no accidents) which meant I did not and will not ever make it home for her early evening feeding which makes life difficult. FYI, part of our schedule is that John picks Peyton up in the evening since it is easier for him to get home at night then me. 

Anyways, when I finally got home, after a little bit of interaction/play time, Peyton was grumpy and fell asleep which broke my heart because it showed me how little time I have with her to interact. I pretty much held her while she was sleeping because I didn't want to be away from her. We finished up the night with a little bit of play time, changing into our PJs and after her last feeding rocking to sleep. Then we made sure everything is in place for day 2. 

I am going to be honest...this has been a pretty hard day resulting in lots of, "God, I don't know how I am going to do this but I know that you do," conversations. This is going to have to become the new normal and will be a new and difficult adjustment

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We made it!

Peyton's first time at Pee Wee Ville was about a month ago and we haven't made it to church since. Mostly this has been due to me being sick, then Peyton being sick but last weekend it was only due to lack of planning that we didn't make it. I never realized how much planning and preparation it takes to go somewhere as simple as church. 

Peyton's normal schedule has her starting the day at 6 AM with a feeding. She consistently wakes up at 6 AM so it is great! However if she was to eat at her normal time on Sundays, we would be at church at 8:30 AM and she would need a bottle 30 minutes into service. I don't want to leave a bottle with her or leave the burden of feeding with the PWV caregivers and since it would be at church I can't really replace that feeding with pumping in order to keep up with having bottles available for her. So, after much deliberation we decided that we would need to have her start her Sundays at 7 AM instead. In order to do that she needed to have a really late night or early morning feeding to help keep her the extra hour. Last night she didn't eat very much at 9 PM and woke up at 1:30 AM to eat some more and then woke up at 6 AM but was easily convinced to go back to sleep. I am hoping this doesn't mess her week up too much but we really can't figure out a better plan for church. 

Church went well. I thought she would nap but they said that she would dose off and then wake up wanting to join in the excitement. She was playing in a bouncer when I went to pick her up and she was trying to hit the toys. I am sure it was fun to see something new and different. Since we didn't nap at church she came home, ate and went straight to napping. 

The rest of today is pretty busy. We have small group at 2 PM, then going over to Grandma's to unpack the gear she needs to care for Peyton next week and also decorate sugar cookies!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mr. Mom for the First Time

Well, it's here...the day Ché had to go back to work, and Peyton and I are here taking care of each other :). I know it is going to be a good long day of learning what Ché has been experiencing for the last three months. I thought I would keep a log of what went on today, rather than multiple post, so here it goes...

7:00AM - Ché left 10 minutes ago, and I soothed Peyton to sleep...all is good, but I think this is the easier part of the day.

8:00AM - I realized I needed to eat some breakfast. As soon as I started eating my Fruit Loops, Peyton started waking up. I thought I could do both at the same time, but that quickly proved impossible. I rocked her back to sleep, and finished my cereal.

9:00AM - An empty bottle was a great sight to see.

Her not eating was one of my biggest fears of the day. Normally, I play with her and calm her when she gets upset, but I don't do a whole lot of the feeding. This turned out great! She took down 3oz in 20 minutes.

10:00AM - Peyton is changed and currently napping. I'm glad the dressing-her part went alot better than the other day. Sometimes I'm not as delicate or whatever it takes to dress a little baby, and Peyton gets frustrated as well. I guess I should have played with dolls more when I was younger...NOT. I'm hoping she sleep close to 12PM, so I can get some stuff done (Ché left me a list...gosh!).

12:00PM - Lunch started out kinda rocky, but keeping her calm was the key. I didn't force the feeding, I just tried to sooth her, then all was good. She took 3oz without a break; it made for a big ole brup though :).

1:30 PM - We went out for a walk around the lake. It was a beautiful day, so I put Peyton in the stroller, put Titus on a leash, and off we went.

2:00 PM - We left to go to the bank, and picked up Shannon from high school at 2:30PM. Wow, I felt like a soccer mom.

3:00 PM - I'm getting really good at this feeding thing now; I fed and burped her in 7 minutes. Something about that doesn't really seem right, since it takes so much longer when Ché breast feeds her.

The rest of the day went along just great. I'm really glad I had a good day with Peyton. It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I can take care of my own daughter for a day without calling reinforcements. Somedays may require that, but fortunately, this wasn't one of them.

Peyton and I had a great day.

Mommy's point of view on the day...well, I knew this day would come but I didn't realize how quickly it would be here. I made it to work without much hassle (only taking 30 minutes, I wish it was like that all the time) and I highly suggest that any returning mom's go in on a Friday. Today was kind of a different day which made it easier for me, next week will be the real test. I had meetings for most of the day (a working lunch with Chuy's being catered) and then our Christmas party from 4-7 at a nice restuarant (Reef in midtown) so it was a pretty easy day to go back. I had a good time catching up with co-workers at the party and I really do love the people I work with, they are an amazing bunch! I did fine emotionally today until I got home and cried at the sight of Peyton because I realized how much I missed her and how I was supressing all of my feelings so I wouldn't breakdown at work. Overall, it was a successful day and I pray that next week continues to be smooth.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baby, its cold outside...

Today was a cold day! Peyton got outfitted in her warm clothes, her toque and her mittens and ventured out to Grandma's house and then to lunch with daddy and his co-workers. 

Then later tonight because of silly bedtimes...she missed the snow! Yes, it snowed in Houston! How crazy is that when it was like 75 yesterday! John and I noticed that it was starting to snow around 8:00 PM and was accumulating and then when we looked outside at 10 PM our yard was covered! How much fun! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Building a Fire

On this past Mother's Day, Bruce Wesley with Clear Creek Community Church (our church home) delivered a message titled, "Building a Fire." It struck a chord with me and resulted in me keeping my notes which I stumbled upon the other day. Now that I look over them as a mother and not a mother to be, everything takes on so much more immediacy and looking at my little girl makes it so much more imperative that I remember my responsibility in giving her a head start in her faith.

The message was centered around scripture found in 2 Timothy 1:4-7 "As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

The main point was that as mother's (and essentially all parents) we give the faith we live to our children and that we can give them a "head start" by offering a sincere faith. By focusing on building the fire in your own heart you can give your kids a greater start in their faith/life. I have been blessed to have a mother and grand mother that both demonstrated a sincere and real faith to me and that in good times and bad were honest about their emotions and their relationship with the Lord. Their actions mirrored their words. I am part of a legacy of strong women of the Lord, women who strive to be and often emulate Proverbs 31 women and I don't want that legacy to stop with me.

Bruce gave us three questions that help you determine where you are in offering a sincere life and sincere faith to your children:
  1. If your child's spiritual life became exactly like yours, would you feel like you succeeded as a parent?
  2. If God only did in your child's life what you specifically asked in prayer, what would the spiritual life of your child be like?
  3. If your child were asked to write out all that he or she learned about God from you, what would they write?
In the end, we are to take responsibility for you own spiritual like and "fan it into flame" for our kids. Make your spiritual life personal and accessible. As for me, those questions have not left my mind since I found my note sheet the other day. Honestly, I am struggling with the first question and need to take the time to develop my actions to match my words. I will be writing out those three questions and posting them in various places so I am constantly reminded of what a pivotal role my actions, non actions and prayer play in Peyton's future.

The message is no longer available online but if you would like to learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, listen to more recent messages you can visit their website at,

Maple Cookies

My attempt to rid my kitchen of the insane amount of cookies by sending some with John to work back fired as he didn't bring enough and in order to keep friends, he jokingly asked me to bake some more. I obliged. 

Last year around this time I found a recipe for Maple Cookies on that was submitted by a guy named Craig Gund. I have no idea who Craig is but he has given me John's favorite cookie! I have made them multiple times and they keep getting better as I am fine tuning the, due to a very popular demand here is the recipe!

1 cup butter, softened 
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup real maple syrup (the better the quality the better the cookie, also I normally add a little bit more and if you do you will just need to increase the flour accordingly- see note below on flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (I start with 4 cups and then slowly add flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is sticky but manageable, I have found that it normally takes another 1 1/2 cups to get to that point however sometimes it takes more depending on the maple syrup)
2 cups of granulated sugar for decoration
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare baking sheets. I use parchment paper on my baking sheets, I have made these with greased cookie sheets and they end up very flat and mushy and have found that parchment paper covered sheets yield a nicer cookie (pretty much the case with most cookies).
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to syrup mixture slowly and stir into mixture until well blended.
  4. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
  5. Place on cookies sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-10 minutes and cool on wire rack.


I attempted to take some pictures of Peyton in her cute sweater, she was all awake until I propped her up which resulted in a very gangster like pose. How funny is she!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mmmm Cookies

I don't know what has gotten into me but in a week I have baked the following: Pumpkin Spice Bars, Pumpkin Cookies, Chocolate Crinkles, Cinnamon-Sugar Snicker doodles and finally Maple Cookies. And I am planning on making yet another cookie today to use some leftover bananas instead of throwing them out. We have cookies everywhere and even with sending plates to work with John they are still hanging around. I was doing so well on my baby weight loss but of course the holidays had to creep in and make things way too hard (I haven't weighed myself but I am pretty sure we are not making progress...maybe we are just stationary). We need to get rid of these cookies and get back on walking/running. 

Besides the insane amount of calories hanging out in my kitchen, we are all doing well. We had a good weekend of mostly relaxing and being calm. This week shouldn't be too crazy. We are having lunch with John and people from his work on Wednesday, getting to see the Vande Zande's little baby boy that evening and then I start work on Friday. I can't believe I have only four days left at home (hence why we are not doing much this week). 

To give everyone an update on our plans with me returning to work, I was planning on going back Monday, December 15 and work until December 24 but there is a big meeting this Friday that would be good to be a part of. Since I am going back a day early and for the time that I was there the other week, I am able to take off the two days the week of Christmas which works out well in us preparing for Christmas and our trip to Canada. So, John will be watching Peyton this Friday, my mom is watching her December 12-18, then John is watching her Friday, December 19 and then I am off from December 22 to January 5 for Christmas holidays! Then starting January 5 she will be at Primrose.

Well, I am off to wake Peyton up (she has been sleeping 9.5 hours) so we can stay on our "mommy back at work" schedule....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Peyton Meets Santa

Grandpa Hill insists that in order to get Christmas gifts you must get your picture with Santa. So, last year at this time, we were in line for pictures with Santa. We were looking at all the families, and the little babies. John thought it was funny how this one little baby looked like a bobble head. Well, this year it was our turn to take our little bobble head to take her picture with Santa. We got there a few minutes before 10 AM and the line wasn't too bad; we only had to wait about 20 minutes. Peyton was in her Christmas dress and in our opinion the cutest one in line! 

We really tried to get her to look more alert and even possibly smile but she was really sleepy. I have no idea why she was so sleepy since it was still an hour before her nap time but since she was dosing off in line I was just happy 
that she wasn't screaming or completely asleep in her picture.

Afterwards, Mom and Dad took pictures with Peyton in front of the tree before heading over to the changing station in the mall in order to get Peyton out of her Christmas dress so she would be more comfortable and so we wouldn't continue to get drool all over herself! 

Anyways, Peyton was pretty impressed with this Santa character and insisted on wearing an outfit in support of him. So we abided by her wishes and let her wear her "I Love Santa" shirt. Also, since meeting Santa was such an anticipated experience and a pretty overwhelming experience for her, she immediately went down for a nap dreaming about Santa, the elves and the North Pole!

We then headed home where we were able to capture some more pictures of her in her holiday wear! The holidays are so much fun with a little baby!