The Ninth Anniversary.....

....of our breakup. Nine years ago today I cold-heartedly (says Nathan) broke up with Nathan. I contend that it's one of the smartest things I ever did, because the timing just wasn't right. Nathan says, "How could that be smart?" but he knows it was, too.

Anyway, everything turned out just fine in the end (obviously), but Nathan still gives me a hard time about it. Every year.


The Pajama Game

Judah gets up around 7:00 every morning, and this is a little bit early for my taste, especially since Micah is still waking up to eat twice a night, or sometimes three times. So I usually open the gate at the top of the stairs when Judah gets up and he goes downstairs and plays with his toys for a while. He generally stays in the front room, and I can hear him through my sleep fog, playing with his race track, or with his Lightning McQueen car that says "Speed! I am speed!" or with his car that plays Heard It Through the Grapevine. Or with any of his approximately eight thousand Matchbox cars. A few weeks ago he learned (or was taught) that he could put his cars down the neck of his footy pajamas and they'd wind up down around his ankles, trapped by the feet. So now, every couple mornings, he thinks it's the funniest thing in the world and comes clanking into our room at 7:30, asking me to "Get the cars out, Mommy?" The picture above is a sample of what all I pull out of there. A week ago I pulled out a grand total of seventeen cars (a record, I think). Yesterday he came into our room and I found around his ankles all of his "sparkly" cars, the ones with metallic paint. The kid's got style, at least.


A post I will surely regret later

This is what it looks like around my house today. Except it's not just Judah, it's Micah too. Micah, who is almost never grouchy, has been throwing fits all day, and Judah is being a total pill. I woke up this morning with no patience for anything, and now I have even less. I'm not sure if it's them or me or both, but today I keep thinking, What was so wrong with just being a family of two?

I need some Roy's molten chocolate cake. Preferably in Kaua'i.


Post-Christmas cookies

Yes, I know Christmas is over. And I meant to get around to making Christmas cookies before Christmas. But it just didn't happen this year. We got a little busy. Besides all the usual Christmas activities (parties, choir events, etc.), there are seven people in our family with birthdays in December. So the month gets crazy, and the non-essentials (cookies) get thrown out. And I've always been sort of a procrastinator anyway. It just worked out for me. I'm that person you hated in college, who wrote the papers the night (or hour) before they were due, and studied for tests when the person next to me said, "Hey, did you study for the test today?" at which point I realized there was a test that day, and pulled out my notes for the minute and a half it took the teacher to take attendance. And I managed fairly decent grades, and usually did better by cramming than I did if I worked ahead of schedule.

What was I talking about? Oh, cookies. So I decided to make cookies, because Wendy linked to a really good recipe on her blog and because I thought Judah would have fun helping. I baked them in the morning and Judah decorated them in the afternoon, and we had a blast.
Here's Judah holding up one of his masterpieces and wearing that funny smile he gets because he can't really manage to keep his eyes all the way open when the flash goes off. And yes, that is a star of David shape. My cookie cutter set, which has like 100 shapes, only has one five-pointed star, and it's big and the points are rounded, and I don't really like that. So we ended up with a bunch of the Jewish version.
The completed collection. I liked the blue ones best, because I got a little happy with the almond extract when I was making the icing and added (read: spilled) too much in, but they ended up tasting so good!
The last three cookies. Instead of dumping on more decorations, I had Judah just turn them upside down in the extra stuff on his decorating plate, and we both ended up loving them. I call them the uglies, like the leftover doughnuts in some book I read (I think it was The Vision of Emma Blau by Hegi, any help here Barbara? My books are still in boxes, too). These were the only ones Judah ended up liking to eat, probably because he could fit the whole thing in his mouth at once.


From then til now - already

Minutes old, and I was already totally in love with him.
It seems like Micah's life has already gone so fast. He was four months old last week, and I can hardly believe it! It seems like he was just born, and already he's so big and old. A few weeks ago he began sleeping through the night. And by through the night I don't mean how the books define it, which I think is like five hours. Sorry, but that is NO ONE'S through the night. Micah was going literally all the way through, from 8:00 to 8:00, and then going back for a nap from about 8:30 to 10:00. It was like heaven. Or Iowa. He's only done that a few times so far, but even the other nights he's done really well, waking up anywhere between 3:00 and 5:30 to eat once, then going back down until about 7:30. I think he even would have done this sooner, but I was scared to try putting him in his own crib and still had him sleeping in our bed (I swore I'd never do that, but then I discovered that I could actually get enough sleep to allow me to function if I did it that way). I thought if we moved him to the crib he'd be up every two hours. Instead, it seems like he was almost relieved to be on his own.

The day he turned four months old he rolled over from his back to his front, and now he does it all the time and it's so cute. He props himself up on his elbows and looks around and smiles at everyone. And this week we're supposed to start him on solid food already! I just can't believe it's gone so fast. I feel like I'm going to turn away for a second and when I look back he'll be in first grade.

Here's a short visual history of his short/long life.

Less than an hour old, Labor Day (in more ways than one) 2007.

With Gramma Cowell for the first time, looking very wise already.

A few days old and mad at the world. Or possibly screaming at the paparazzi that he's NOT anorexic, so KNOCK IT OFF.

Tummy time! Also known as faceplant time. Which is what happened shortly after this picture was taken.

Sporting his bling a couple weeks ago. Napkin rings aren't just for napkins anymore, not at our house, anyway.

Best buds. Judah "read" that book to Micah several times and Micah loved it.


Float on

Last year (the end of 2006) my parents and Heather and I signed up to help decorate Rose Parade floats. We had such a good time that we decided to do it again for this year's parade. It's really a lot of fun. We got to work on the Lutheran Hour float again this year, which is a small but beautiful one. The first part of the day was a lot of sitting around cutting the petals off of dried flowers, which was pretty boring. Then, because there was nothing going on at the Lutheran float, we got moved over to work on the Long Beach float for a while. But soon we went back to our original float and, due to Heather's persistence (go Heather!) we got to do a little work up on the scaffolding, putting pink carnations on. We spent most of the rest of the day doing that, and finally moved to the Farmers Insurance float (the really tall Indian, if you watched the parade) to help them out for the last 45 minutes.

It was, once again, a really fun experience, even if we did get half high off the glue that was everywhere and our fingers were sore from forcing toothpicks into foam on the carnations. We'll definitely do it again for the 2009 parade, but we think that waiting one more day and going on the 30th instead of the 29th would be better, since then we'd probably get to work more with the fresh flowers rather then the dried flowers.

This is what the warehouse looked like when we got there. Our float is on the left. By the time we left, the lion next to it had the most beautiful mane.

Our float before we started working on it.

Heather and me up on the scaffolding, our favorite part of the day.

Our float toward the end of the day. That's our handy work on the pink and yellow carnations. Very artistic, yes?

I spent 45 minutes pinning these pine branches to the Farmers float, which was quite enough. They were a pain to work with.

Buckets of seeds and flower petals used for the details on various floats.

Heather and me with Jack, the donkey on our float. Isn't he cute? He had a sign on him that said DO NOT TOUCH JACK! Apparently, being touched was not in his contract.



Guess who found the Sharpie?

My fault totally. I left it at toddler-level, and of course the toddler took advantage of it, as any self-respecting toddler would. So now Lightning, Mater, a storage box, and the chair in Micah's room have permanent tattoos. I'm actually pretty glad that it wasn't worse. Looks like Lightning needed a new coat of paint anyway. There's a lot of wear on the old one.

A little while after the Sharpie incident there was another incident, though. Again, my fault. Somehow the words "only draw on paper" don't compute with Judah. We (I) gave him a dry erase board in his stocking with a dry erase pen. While my back was turned he used the pen to tag up: the desk top, four miniature cars, the couch, his booster seat, the top of our beautiful table that Nathan made, Nathan's leather briefcase, and a large section of the wall which is, of course, painted with flat white paint, which violates that commandment that every parent knows: Never Use Flat Paint, For It Is Flat And Hard To Clean and Thou Shalt Spend Hours On Thy Knees Cleaning It If a Marker Should Mar It. Which I did. Okay, not hours. It totally could have been worse. But I spent quite a while, cleaning in shame. Nathan, bless his heart, helped me, even though he could have rightfully sat back and watched, since the marker was all my (horrible) idea in the first place. Lesson learned.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas is finally over for us, ended last night. It was quite a marathon this year. It started on Christmas Eve, which is when our little family has our time together. One of our favorite traditions is having Christmas Eve dinner at The Olde Ship in Fullerton. I don't remember how this started, but we've done it every year since we got married. The atmosphere is a lot of fun, and they pass out Christmas crackers, so there are usually a lot of people hanging out with paper crowns on, some of them totally drunk. Fun. The food is so good, I always get the lamb, and this year I decided to try the bread and butter pudding for dessert. It's traditional English pudding, which means it was more like really moist cake, and it was served with hot custard on top, and it was one of the best desserts I've ever had. After our dinner there we came home and opened our presents to each other.

On Christmas morning we woke up and opened our stockings, then went to Nathan's parents' for brunch and presents there, then went to my parents' for dinner and still more presents. And since Steve and Arla and Dave and Julie and all the girls were out of town for Christmas this year, we all got together last night to celebrate, and the entire family was almost lost forever in the enormous mountain of presents there. It was all really fun and I loved it, but I'm pretty glad it's over and we can relax and enjoy the cooler weather.

In the midst of all this, we're trying to teach Judah what the real meaning of Christmas is, but I'm not sure he's getting it yet. He wakes up every morning now thinking we're going to open more presents, and he's convinced that the baby in the manger is not Jesus, it's Micah. Maybe next year it will click....

Here are a bunch of pictures from our various celebrations. Unfortunately, the camera got left at home both times we were at my parents'. So, no pictures from there.

Judah and me at The Olde Ship, waiting (impatiently, on Judah's part) for our food.

Judah downing his traditional Christmas pint. Just kidding, Mom. The glass was empty. Almost.

The Christmas cracker. One of our favorite parts of Christmas Eve.

Nathan Cowell: Magi or rapper?

Judah playing with one of his favorite gifts, a harmonica. He was so excited about it, and now he walks around playing it like the world's littlest hobo.

Micah, before he totally ripped into that present. With some help.

Micah hanging out with Auntie Jenna. Doesn't he look benevolent and jolly?

Judah and a few of the several thousand cars he got for Christmas. He was in car heaven.

And Micah as Saint Nick. Merry Christmas!