Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Year in Review

2005 was a year full of surprises and blessings here in the Smith family. To start, it was a really fast year. We barely celebrated the new year and here it is again. We rang in the New Year 2005 with our friends and family. Ted, Vicki and Tige, joined all the New Jersey Smiths, the Kansas City Smiths and the Roaming Smith for a night of Texas Hold 'Em, Dance Dance Revolution and Chinese food. Ted and Mary, who are both awful at poker had a DDR challenge instead. There's no better way to start the year than with people you love.

Come February we got a big surprise: Pregnant again! Andy was only 4 months old, so we were pretty stunned. This was the first time I was really able to surprise Kevin with this news. I told him while the Emma was playing with Andy and having a good time. We just laughed incredulously. Who could believe it? We were so thrilled! We broke the news to our families in March at Emma's 3rd birthday party. The dropped jaws and stunned silence were quickly followed by hugs and kisses, congratulations and "Are you crazy?" comments.

Click to Continue...

Emma's third birthday sure came quickly. We still can't believe how old she is! This year she was lucky enough to have Grandma here to make her a custom cake. She chose a 3 tiered butterfly cake. The butterflies were iced sugar cookies attached to the cake. Kevin and I were super excited to give her our gift: a Radio Flyer bicycle with training wheels and bell. Papa and Kevin put it together and hid it in the basement until the last present. She was very confused about where the bell sound was coming from, but once she saw it she loved it. Of course she had another party to celebrate with all her friends. It was a beautiful day so we all played in the yard. I made a 3-d Care Bear cake for the event, so I cut it up inside to make sure nobody had nightmares about decapitated Love-a-Lot bear. It was great having all these little girls and boy running around having fun.

In May, Andy was diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly and made to wear a DOC band. Poor baby. He had a plaster cast made of his head (he loved that, let me tell you) so the band would be form fitting and allow adjustments as he grew and his head reshaped. We were upset about his condition, especially since I was partially to blame because I let him nap in his bouncy seat. Just what I need, more Mommy guilt. His therapist also believes that since he was so big (9lbs 9 oz, 22 3/4 in) and didn't change position in my belly the whole last trimester (he hiccuped in the same place every time!) that his head was shaped this way before he was born and exacerbated by congenital torticollis (stiff neck muscles) and sleeping in an upright position during his naps. Lucky for us, and Andy, the band didn't bother him. As a matter of fact, it didn't interfere with his crawling at all. By the end of May he was crawling up a storm. He didn't seem to mind wearing it even with the dreadfully hot summer we had. Andy's other blessing is that he is a big baby and grows like a weed. Because he grew so fast, his head changed shape much faster than expected. Julie, his therapist, was amazed at the progress every time we saw her. He finally got it off at the end of August. It was our happy day because the band had to be scrubbed with rubbing alcohol every night. That gets old after 3 months. We were glad to be able to kiss Andy without fear of headbutt across the bridge of the nose. Man, that hurt! Wearing the band necessitated Andy's first haircut. Really, we just shaved his head. We discovered blonde hair and big blue eyes under that wild mess of light brown hair.

This summer we were lucky enough to have 3 of my siblings come for a visit. Dale came in June and we had a great time. I got to take Dale shopping and gave him a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy makeover. We went to the most awesome of close-out stores, Century 21. His makeover must have worked because when he went home, he had his first date with Iracema, who is now his fiancee. Hello.

Kevin took Dale into the city for some guy time. They went to ESPN Zone and to the Upright Citizens Brigade and Chumley's. To celebrate Father's Day, we all went to see the New Jersey Jackals, a minor league baseball team, with Ted, Vicki and Tige (Ted's first Father's Day). It was 50 cent hot dog day there, so of course there was there was a hot dog eating contest. Kevin gave it his best effort, but he just didn't have what it took. It was a very tight race between Ted and Dale, but Dale edged Ted out 6 to 5 and then rubbed it in by eating a cup of ice cream. Burn! After the game, Daddy took Emma to run the bases. She did it all by herself and liked it so much she tried to run them again. Andy took a very nice nap during the game.

We had some sweet relief in July when we went to Kansas City for the 4th. Paul and Cora have central air and a community swimming pool- Awesome! Emma learned to swim, taught by a friend of the family who works for the Y. She had some kind of amazing credentials that slip my mind right now, but she sure knew what she was doing. Emma was scared to get in the water at the start and by the end of the lesson she was jumping in from the side. Incredible!

We watched the fireworks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and then stopped in to say hello to some white collar criminals. Really? No, not really. The kids played with bubbles and saw a firetruck. When the fireworks started Emma was quite freaked out by the whole situation, but Andy loved it. The little girl in my pregnant belly apparently loved the fireworks because with every percussion, she would kick. It was pretty impressive.

We took Emma to see her first movie, Madagascar, in the theater. Technically, her second, but she was only 6 weeks old when we took her to see Spiderman. She was most impressed with the lobby of the theater with their outerspace motif. Kevin and I could not stop laughing at the movie. The beginning is set in New York's Central Park Zoo and there are a lot of New York references throughout that were so funny and we especially appreciated. If you haven't seen it- see it!

When we came home, 2 of my sisters, Martha and Joanie, came for a visit. Martha brought her son Bassem, who is just a few months younger than Emma. They became fast friends and we didn't see them again for a long while. I hadn't seen Joanie since before Emma could walk, so it freaked my freak to see her again! They were only here for the weekend, but in that time I took them to Century 21, where they ran around like kids in a candy store. The next day we went to NYC where Joanie had never been. We decided the best way to see the city in one day was to take a bus tour. Mistake. It was completely ridiculous how long we had to wait. Kevin and I have taken 2 tours before this and just got right on. Not this time. Joanie said she had a good time, but I felt she got jipped on her visit. We did go to Central Park where I discovered an old pull tab from a coke can!!! I left it there to be rediscovered in 100 years by archaeologists who will reconstruct our lifestyle, but I found it first! Joanie finally got to see something great when we went to Times Square that evening. That's probably the best place ever to take a tourist. There is nowhere in the world more exciting. Wall to wall people, so many lights it looks like daytime, there's an energy that's undeniable! We spent a lot of time in Toys R Us looking at the ferris wheel and all the toys. We actually closed the place down. Earlier in the day we went to the Village for dinner. They were a little taken aback when I asked the host if the restaurant was air-conditioned. Every place has AC in Texas. That's one thing I definitely miss!

At the end of July, or maybe it was the beginning of August, we spent the weekend at Yankee Lake with Rich and Kathy and Ted and Vicki and Tige. We always have such a great time when we go there. Kathy's parents have a lovely lakefront house with canoes, kayaks and campfires. This year's theme was the Laff-a-lympics suggested by T.O. (Ted OldSchool). We competed by family in events such as wiffleball homerun derby (where tempers fly), kayak sprinting (where a 8 months pregnant Mary goes overboard), boules (where Kevin and Mary dominated until the final toss, when they threw the game so the Mas would invite us back)(Just kidding) and Push, the never-ending card game, (where we all got spanked by Ted and, by association, the smack-talking Vicki).

August was also when Andy started taking his first steps. In September, Emma started preschool. We'd been talking to her about it since February when we found out I was pregnant. Emma learned to go to the potty early in the year with preschool as her motivation. Well, preschool and m&ms, not in that order. She'd been going to 2s on Tuesday at school so she knew all about it. When school started in September, she was psyched! Her teacher, Mrs. Antunes, is sweet as pie. Emma just LOVES her. She's made lots of friends, but especially Emma Mae. Emma Mae is her best friend at school. Her teacher tells me they play so well together that sometimes they have to be separated during circle time. Emma has already been on 3 field trips with her class: the firehouse, the "ponekin" patch, as she says, and a scary, nonsensical production of Babes in Toyland. She's a very cultured kid. She's already been to 2 professional plays in her short life. Grandma took her to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which was made into a movie starring Brandy a few years ago. Actually, the guy who played the prince in the movie was in the play they saw. Then just last week, Emma Mae's mother invited us to see Hansel and Gretel at the same theater. It was a production starring giant puppets. She was a little scared of the witches, who she thought were birds.

Andy turned one on September 30th. Kevin was leaving that afternoon to go to Kansas City to go to a Chiefs game with his dad, so that morning we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for Andy's birthday. There were a lot of games his height and rides for his size, so he enjoyed himself. We had Auntie Alice, Andy's godmother, Mema and the Mauseths over a couple weekends later to celebrate his birthday. I made Andy a fancy pants chocolate cake for his birthday, which he LOVED! He had fun playing with Tige and Emma in the tunnel he got for his birthday.

October was the homestretch for this ridiculously uncomfortable pregnancy. With the baby due November 6th (Janet's birthday), I was antsy to get it over with. Dr. Brescia, the wonderful, told me to get my mother-in-law here ASAP because he didn't see me going past 38 weeks- YEAH!!!! So she came at 37 weeks and at 38 weeks I was diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension and was sent to the hospital to have my blood pressure monitored. When it finally stabilized, Dr. Mig, the terrific, sent me home until Thursday when I was to come back and be induced.

Induction isn't so bad. Dr. Brescia broke my water and hooked me up with some pitocin. I was 5 cm when I got there with no sign of anything happening. My kids like a wide open door before they will even make a move. So the contractions were just like regular labor and I thought, "What the heck, let's get an epidural and see what that's like". The answer is heavenly, while it works, which in my case was not long. It wore off so fast it wasn't even worth the trouble, or the anesthesiologist bill. Anyway, after just a short labor, like 90 minutes or less, out pops Renee with a SPLASH! Giant with dark hair and lots of it, she weighed 10 lbs 4 oz and was 22 inches long. Ok, so let's review. Emma: 7 lbs. 10 oz, 20 3/4 "; Andrew: 9 lbs 9 oz 22 3/4"; Renee: 10 lbs 4 oz, 22". I will tell you now, I'm too scared to find out how much bigger a 4th would be. So, welcome to the world my beautiful Renee on October 27. We love you.

The rest of the year has been quite a blur, but I will tell you that Emma was a fashionista at preschool in the morning and in the afternoon at the party and for trick or treating, she was a butterfly wearing wings she made herself. Andy was a Kansas City Chief with black mascara smeared on his cheeks under his eyes to make sure the glare didn't interfere with any Hail Mary/Immaculate Receptions. Renee was a pumpkin, but spent her afternoon at St. Barnabas being tested for jaundice, which luckily went away on its own.

Emma had her first big girl trip to the city the day before Thanksgiving. Kevin took her in to see the balloons being blown up for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. When they got there it was evening, but the lights were so bright Emma said, "The sun's awake, Daddy!" they got on the subway to go to the balloons and when they got off Emma kept asking, "Where's the city?". She was pretty stoked to see the balloons, though. She saw Dora the Explorer, Super Grover, Big Bird, Jo Jo and Scooby Doo. Emma made her television debut on the 6:00 news. She and Kevin were standing in the crowd behind Janice Huff, the NBC meteorologist, during her Thanksgiving day weather forecast. While they were waving, who should show up unexpectedly, but Mayor Bloomberg. Kevin called me and I Tivoed the whole thing. Andy and I watched at home, but I don't think he cared. After the balloons, Daddy took Emma to a diner on the Upper West Side where she ordered pancakes and ice cream. I think it was one of her favorite experiences.

Thanksgiving was spent with our good friends the Mauseths. Ted is Andy's Godfather and Vicki will be Renee's Godmother when she is baptized in 2006.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, we were happy to be reunited with George and Hazel who broke our hearts when they moved back home to Jolly Old England, or Scotland as the case may be. But they're in England now, speaking the Queen's English and eating proper English muffins, or as they call them crumpets. We got to see the whole gang. As pictured: Rich, Kevin, Ted, Vicki, Kathy, Emma, Tige, Bill, Hazel, Me, George, Matt holding Nyrie and Vivian holding Renee. Andy was sleeping. It was great seeing everyone, we don't get to see them often enough.

Which brings us to Christmas which we have already told you about. If you've read this entire post, then you are a trooper. I know it was long, but it was fun to write, remembering all the things we've done this past year. It makes us feel good to remember the good times we've had with our family and friends and we look forward to more special times in the coming year. In the new year, we want you all to know that we love you dearly. You've each touched our lives in a very real and wonderful way. God bless you and Happy 2006.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Merry Christmas 2005

I hope that everyone had a very merry Christmas. Here at the Smith house we had a wonderful Christmas. It was very exciting for us because this was the first year that Emma was really able to understand the Christmas traditions. We went to the children's mass on Christmas Eve and Emma kept asking "When is baby Jesus going to get here?". Finally when mass was over we went out to the large Nativity outside and she was able to see the baby Jesus lying in the manger.

After mass we had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and then it was bedtime for the kids so that Santa could come. Emma left cookies and milk for Santa and "Reindeer Food" for Rudolph. Our reindeer food was a scoop of oats, grits and corn meal will a healthy sprinkle of blue glitter for flying magic and a big fat carrot. We put it out on the front walk for easy nibbling. By the way, reindeer are VERY messy eaters.

On Christmas morning, Mary and I actually woke up before the kids. As we were lying in bed wondering when the kids would wake up, we could hear Emma in the hallway telling Andy "I have to go wake up Mama and Daddy - Its Christmas!" Mary and I pretended to be asleep when Emma came in and shouted "Merry Christmas!"

Once we went downstairs Emma saw the presents under the Christmas tree for the first time and she was in awe. She checked the cookies and milk-GONE! She checked the reindeer food- EVERYWHERE! She ran over to the presents and said "Did Santa bring my mermaid?". All this time, Andy is trotting behind very excitedly. Fortunately Santa did bring Emma a mermaid and it was the first present she opened, but she didn't know what a mermaid was to begin with so she looked at it like "This is a mermaid?" Emma also got some Cinderella dress up clothes and an Easy Bake Oven! Andy wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he knew it was fun and he was very happy to have some new toys.

Renee gave Mary and I a wonderful Christmas present by sleeping through the night. She first slept for about 6-7 hours on her 8 week birthday and for the last 5 or 6 nights has slept from about 10 pm to 7 am! This just may be the best Christmas present ever!

Christmas day was a fantastic day of food, fun, and family. We just hung out around the house playing with the kids and watching "A Christmas Story" about 5 times. Unfortunatly it was a balmy 55 degrees here on Christmas, so no white Christmas for us this year.

We are very blessed to have 3 happy, healthy kids and wonderful family and friends. We were sure to remember that this day was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and we tried to incorporate that celebration in to many of our Christmas traditions.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Recommended Reading

One of the blogs few blogs that I manage to read almost everyday is Lifehacker. This is an excellent website that gives tips on improving productivity in your everyday life and just making life more simple. There are a lot of technical tips such as helpful downloads and useful websites. But there are also a lot of non-technical things such as how to build a gingerbread house, how to fold a fancy napkin, or how to find a car pool during the NY City transit strike.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Send me your Link

I am adding a list of links to the sidebar for our Friends' websites and blogs. If you have a website or blog, please send me the link or add it to the comments and I will add you to my list. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

March of the Penguins

This weekend we watched the documentary March Of The Penguins. This is a great movie that I highly recommend. The scenes are beautiful and the penguins are amazing. I was almost more interested in the DVD extras than the actual movie, just to see how they managed to shoot this film in -50 degree temps. This is perfect for all of you Animal Planet types. You know who you are.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Thanks to the Mauseth's for this great picture of the Smith Family at Thanksgiving.

No more Baby Andy

It's amazing how our perspective on Andy changed the day Renee was born. In one day he went from being a baby to being a big boy. All of a sudden we expected that he shouldn't be throwing fits, he should be eating and sleeping on perfect schedule (without throwing his dinner on the floor), and he should patiently wait until we are able to get whatever it is that he wants. Now I see why everyone is warning us about "middle child syndrome". Fortunately Andy seems to be taking it all in stride and for the most part he seems very happy with is new baby sister (and his big sister too).

It seems like everyday Andy is learning to do new things. Recently Andy learned the song "The wheels on the Bus", he likes to talk on the telephone, and he is very good a dumping the bucket of legos and then putting them all back in. Andy thinks that it is great that he can now climb up on the couch, footstool, or dining room chair all by himself. I guess it gives him a new prospective on the world. His favorite past time seems to be dancing. Put on some music and he is like one of those dancing Santa's with a lot spinning in circles thrown in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Emma Visits Santa

This weekend Emma went to visit Santa for the first time. She was very excited as we arrived to "Winter Wonderland" at Livingston Mall. I am not sure what made her more excited, seeing Santa, or the M&M's that they gave her while we were waiting in line. She told Santa that she wanted a mermaid for Christmas, but when he asked here "Anything else?", Emma choked under the pressure and said "I don't know".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Welcome to 3 Turkeys

Glad you found us. Check back with us often to keep up with the 3 Turkeys of the Smith family.

Please leave your comments and let us know what you think!