One Year In Highland

Like everything these days our one year mark in Highland seems to have come so quickly! But the girls have aged one more year here and have become an almost 4 year old (next month!) and 2.75 year old. When people ask if we like Highland I don’t have a great answer off the bat. It comes off as a hesitant, unsure answer. I guess this is because its a mix of emotions when I think of Highland. I think about missing our life in St. Louis, I think about the long, frequent drives back to Missouri we make to visit our families. But there is also this great other life that we have made that is hard to explain in a neat, one answer sentence.

There isn’t one great thing about Highland, its definitely not the cuisine, its a multitude of little things. It is also complicated because I don’t think of Highland as the place where we are going to be forever, but we have grown very attached to the small town and the people here. So if I say that we love Highland and can’t see ourselves anywhere else, it may be setting ourselves up for heartbreak if/when we have to leave.

In Highland: 

  • Allison became a SAHM and started working out 5 days a week.
  • We lived in our first house and purchased our first dish washer.
  • Vivienne started Peppermint Pre-School at a United Church of Christ.
  • Chester started getting paid to work 5 days a week.
  • We have met approximately 10 people with similar political views.
  • We have met approximately 75 people with dissimilar political views.
  • We pay about $100/month for water, sewer and trash.
  • We can walk to the pool, school, 2 playgrounds, library, grocery store AND a Family Video.
  • Boullie is living a much calmer, almost stress free life compared to the city.
  • It seems like I meet a person then also meet their aunt and childhood best friend.
  • No one asks me where I went to High School.
  • We have become gym rats!
  • Someone here calls me one of their “fit friends.”
  • Chester wakes up in the 4s to workout.

We moved here over Valentine’s weekend last year. This year’s Valentines looks much different for us. I have been getting 16 Valentines ready for Vivienne to take to her first school Valentines party. Then also some things for Ellen to give out at the gym.

One Short Year Ago:

TODAY! 

 

Thankful for the Small Big Things

It it easy and true to say you are thankful for ones health, family and friends. And it is easy to name the things you wish you had in your life. But it is necessary to take a step back and really be thankful for all that you have. In my case it is a lot. I call them small things, but I know they are not small at all for it makes up a life that I am so proud of and thankful for that I feel it in my whole body. Of course I have wanted to put this into words since Thanksgiving but it is applicable each and everyday.

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A House (though leased)
From living in the city starting in an apartment building, to a 4 family, to a 2 family we are now in a house. It is so nice to not worry about the kids jumping and stomping on the floor or screaming and yelling. While it is a small, leased house all the sounds and smells are ours — the good and the bad!

The Girls Can Do Small Chores that Make a Difference
Yes they are only 2 & 3 but they can bring their dishes to the sink. They can feed and kennel Boullie. They can throw things away. They can pick up their toys. They hang their coats up. They put on their own shoes. Although it certainly doesn’t mean they always do these things it is helpful in the day when they do it half the time we ask.

Old & New Friends
Moving to a new town I was worried about loosing our St. Louis friends, as well as gaining new ones. We are approaching a year from the move and I am happy to report that we love dearly our old friends and are even reconnecting with some of them from our childhood days — maybe that is something that happens as we approach the big 3-0. But then there is something wonderful about making new friends. It gives you confidence and happiness that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Chester’s Sunday Dinner
This is a newish development but worth mentioning. I’ll be honest, Chester is the better of the two of us at cooking different yet delicious meals. Of course I do the majority of the cooking. Looking forward to one big hot meal that I don’t have to cook is a glorious thing.

Ellen’s Faces
I am not sure where these faces come from but they are often and everyday. Some kids are just naturally funny and Ellen has it man. The faces from this kid lighten my day and my life.

Vivienne’s Sweetness
Vivienne says “thank you mommy” about 10 times a day. She recently said “thank you mommy for knowing the way to the bathroom.” She gives such genuine hugs of thanks when I ask her if she wants to go to the park or library or play date. Ellen once chose and ate an oatmeal cookie only to regret not getting a chocolate cookie. Vivienne who had not yet finished her chocolate cookie gives Ellen the rest of hers. This is on a daily basis she does these things. Again, not sure where she gets it from … I eat all my cookie!

Ellen Takes Daily Naps & Is Potty Trained
It is easy to take these two things for granted, until you realize that without one or both of these things my life would be  harder. Naps means I get a mental break everyday for up to 2 glorious hours. Ellen potty trained early which saved us about a year or more of diapers. She could very easily be in diapers still which would mean I would have to touch poop everyday.

Naybies Thanksgiving 2016

 

 

 

 

Easter 2016 – Are We Lying to Our Kids?

Vivienne is at the age where every other sentence from her mouth is a question. And if she doesn’t like or understand your answer she just repeats the question (this may be hereditary). Nothing brings more questions than the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I mean a bunny that comes around to every house and hides the eggs that you dyed days before and also comes with his own eggs filled with surprises ….And a jolly old man that flies around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, comes down your chimney and puts presents under the tree? Who wouldn’t have questions? And we haven’t even touched on the Tooth Fairy yet. The question she asked over and over is “Where IS the Easter Bunny?” Like she wants a visual of him either underground in a den or does he live in a house? The point is that we can no longer gloss over these big characters with out some explanations and answers.

Easter at our Gym – Korte Rec Center which is kind of like my lifeline, childcare, only prospect for adult social interaction I get in a day.

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Since Chester and I are not really religious these holidays become more about the traditions and spending time with family than a Christian meaning. Neither of us had traumatizing childhood memories of knowing “the truth.” But Chester is pretty black and white about the fact that we are lying to the kids when we talk about the Easter Bunny and Santa. I am pretty sure he wants to tell the kids “the truth” asap.

I am on the other side where I believe that facilitating and even encouraging the magic of these holidays is something that parents do out of love. But I am conscious that the kids get spoiled by their grandparents … all of them … and so at home I want to have a few meaningful traditions then all the presents and candy can come from the Easter Bunny who has conspired with their grandparents. 

Easter at G-Ma & G-Pa Walton’s

I am sure that I am not the first parent who has come to a crossroads where I want to have these stories in the kids lives but don’t want to push it down their throats and also not feel guilty about lying to them. There are how-to articles to broach subject and also this one that came up in my feed recently about a mom that now regrets telling her 4 year old “the truth” about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

I have decided to try to keep Chester’s desire for the truth at bay for now and see what questions come from Vivi and Ellen. Vivi isn’t obsessed about any fictitious character yet, so I am not too concerned. Don’t get me wrong, we love Easter. I just want to do a good job keeping a balance between this huge chocolate holiday and their expectations. I think of it as retelling a story and instead of pages they are real events in their lives. Fear not, for now their little heads are filled with the Easter bunny and I think that’s how it should be.  

Easter at Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Koeller’s

Bonus that I got to meet and hold this little snuggler, my newest nephew Zeke. He loves me obviously.

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2015 Christmas Craze – Bows, Giggles, Throw-up, Car Naps & All Things Christmas!

Whew the holidays have flown by. Partly because we were also focused on Chester’s Graduation and partly because we have 2 crazy girls to run after. I said to Chester it literally (he hates that word) takes 2 adults working full time, non stop to make anything happen around Christmas. I now fully understand the tired mom that I remember on Christmas morning. The holidays are so busy for everyone, this year it felt so fun and we love most all moments with the girls. We are also in pretty good moods since Chester has been done with school and its fun to talk about our future … where ever it may take us.

Christmas #.5 – Lori & Karen Christmas
This one happened back in October when Grandma Lori and Grandma Karen came over. They brought these amazing pillow pads and also their ever famous box of cookies came in December complete with fudge and Christmas jammies for the kids.

Christmas #1 – Friends Christmas
This is the first year in maybe 3 years that we have not hosted a Christmas for all of our friends. We were so happy that our friends Tom & Jay decided to host a white elephant in Shaw. They do it up right complete with pomegranate sparkly goodness. This is an important Christmas for Chester and I to do Christmas away from the kids and have our own fun.

Christmas #2 – Nay Christmas
We do Christmas with Chester’s parents and brothers and sisters the Saturday before Christmas. We actually added another grandbaby, Zeke who was born in December, however we missed Katie’s family for Zeke to spend his first Christmas safely at home. Zeke evens out the grandkids with 5 girls and 5 boys now.

The kids did a secret santa for the first time because there are TEN of them! So that made things go a little faster. We also did a super white elephant for our exchange this year which included a horse head (this actually made an appearance at our first white elephant also), Kate Spade bag, 2 sleeping bags, an old fishing box, may survival supplies and of course a can of squid (did I mention that the theme was nighttime?). Next year our theme is accessory/ies. We got a Ninja from Blake and Robin which Chester was under-thrilled about but we brought it home and he/we LOVE it. The kids I don’t think have eaten that many veggies in one serving ever. Drinkable Kale? Yes please.

The night ended with the most delicious beef tenderloin. Our kids are just barely old enough that they can be okay walking around by themselves so they would stop by for pieces of roll and then run off again.

Christmas #3 – Koeller Christmas Eve
This is our fancy Christmas at Chester’s Grandma and Grandpa Koeller house in Quincy. The girls wear tights* and dresses and there are Christmas ties. Also this is the best place for wine tasting, shrimp cocktail (which I love), oysters (which I hate), and clam chowder (which I love). Even though we don’t see this side of the family often I really think its important that we see them so the kids know they have this awesome extended family that loves them and are really interested and invested in their future and happiness.

Christmas #4 – Family Christmas Morning
On Christmas Eve Eve Chester and I stayed up until about 2 am making bread (well Chester does that) and I had gotten this doll house furniture that is actually a 3D puzzle. I should have done it weeks ago when it came in, but of course I thought it would only take a few hours. Inbetween bread making Chester peaked over and said “no” I am not doing that, but then after about 20 minutes it comes over and works with me on this for maybe 3 hours putting it all together for me while I painted.

When we got back from Qunicy the house was a mess of course. So we did a pick up, oh and I ran out to get a few last minute items for my family. I just barely avoided the news crew setting up to do their bit about last minute holiday shoppers in Target.

But of course it was worth it when we got everything ready and the kids woke up happy. I continued the tradition of giving them a book first thing like my mom did. We aren’t necessarily against Santa, but we aren’t all about making Christmas about Santa. And we are definitely not Elf on the Shelf people, nothing against the people that do it, but I can’t get excited about it right now. I will never say never, but I don’t want to. We feel the same way about Santa that we do about Disney Princess — not our most favorite, but if the girls love it we are encouraging and let them do their thing.

Christmas #5 – Walton Christmas Day
This is a fun day for me because it brings back all the memories of my own childhood Christmases. Probably because we come back to my childhood house and with the kids now my mom has brought back all those traditions that come flooding back when I see her do them with Vivienne and Ellen. Mom must buy one present everyday during the year. And ever year she said she is cutting back, but I don’t think its possible for her.

The girls love their G-Ma.

AND MORE CHRISTMAS because we love it!

Christmas’ with Babies! 

AND Last but Not Least, SANTA

2015 Holiday Season is Here!

The holidays are here and we are a pretty happy bunch! While October was our sickest month in the history of our little family, these days we are all breathing easy.

What an amazing holiday Thanksgiving is, centered around family and food, what could be better? We spent the day with the Koeller side in New Canton, IL. It was a beautiful day (like 70 degrees) and we enjoyed the ride.

Friday we did our Walton Thanksgiving and Aunt Miranda spent the night. I look forward to my mom’s spread each year. She has it down to a science and it got me thinking about asking for a Thanksgiving dinner for my birthday.

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And for the first year ever we got out Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and it is here! We opted for Bayers down the street instead of an all day excursion to a farm since rain was in the forecast. I think we can handle the cold but cold and wet with the babies, no thank you. So next year I think. The girls had a great time in their new boots especially Ellen who love trouncing through the puddles.

Vivi kept asking about the ornaments on the tree after we put it up, so while we were going to wait to put them on when they went to bed, we did it after dinner with them. I am glad that we did. Vivi kept asking if they were toys and while she couldn’t quite hang them on the tree, she did a good job handing them to us. We have about a million “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, which I love. As a kids I didn’t like getting ornaments and didn’t understand why my mom and Grandma Em kept giving them to us, but not as we have our own tree I totally get it. And love that we have so many from both our sides of the family. Each one is like a little piece of history or personality that we get to rediscover each year.

With the holidays sometimes I am in a rush to start family traditions and I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the girls as they are just coming into their own little people. I think we can all get caught up in a perfect picture that we have in our head then are disappointed when it doesn’t end up the way we planned, which it rarely does. So the Christmas tree farm will wait another year.

Chester’s graduation is just around the corner and we are getting excited to have him home mostly. Also school related, Vivi got into Wilkinson Early Childhood Center, a magnet school in the SLPS district for the 2016/2017 school year. It was our second choice in the lottery but free preschool? YES sign us up!

And… if you’ve made it to the end, here is a longish video from tonight that is full of little girl laughter that is the best thing in the world. Ellen also sings you a book :)

You Win Some, You Lose Some, On Halloween We Lost

The three words that I would use to describe our Halloween would be:

1) crying
2) snot
3) anguish

Halloween Day
We knew Ellen wasn’t going to make it out trick-or-treating. We didn’t go to the kids fall festival the night before. She had been running a fever and was pretty miserable all day on Halloween. But Vivi was bouncing around, running errands with dad, saying she was sick just to get a taste of medicine and getting excited about seeing her cousins. For the past few weeks we have really been trying to play up her costume as a bug catcher. Since its not the princess that she would say she wants to be. It does help that she likes Dora the Explorer so we say that she is going to be kind of like her. We were winning! She was telling people happily that she was going to be a bug catcher like Dora.

Preparation
Ok so we start the process of getting ready for the night that means new diaper, going potty, getting outfits and shoes and socks on, packing jammies and a plethora of other things that all parents know to well about what it takes for everyone to get out the door with everything they need and want. Vivi actually put on her explorer boots that I had strategically put high up so she could see them but not reach them making them more desirable than a pair of boys brown boots otherwise would be. And it worked, Still Winning she put them on and seemed to love them. We only had to use one sucker to get her out the door happy (we also consider that a win at this point in the day).

The Car Ride to Nana’s 
Ok so here is where things begin to take a turn. Ellen falls asleep right away, WIN! Vivi is jabbering away which soon turns into a whining … so car songs! Which then makes her yell “NO! Not that one” and “Stop singing that” in general “NOOO nnooo NO! No! nononooooo.” But this can be usual car behavior for a 2 year old. Put her in a room full of cousins and food and doating grandparents, which was our plan, and she can surly turn it around. Well not this time.

HALLOWEEN
For some reason it seems like its my kids that are the most crying and terrible of all the kids of the family. It may just feel like that but recently I thinks its been true that one of my kids seems not happy when we visit the family. This time was no different they were both clingy and sickish and not happy. And when candy bribing didn’t work, tv shows didn’t work, other cousins being happy didn’t work, the promise of all the candy in the world didn’t work we knew that we were in for it. Vivi also was saying that her ear hurt, but later when we got home said that it magically felt better … which didn’t help. They were both pretty pitiful and as Chester and I ate stuffed our face between cries it was apparent that the situation was not getting better.

Decision Time
At this point we could have tried to force Vivienne in her costume for the awful crying picture and then see if she would actually go out the door to trick-or-treat with the other kids. We could have put her in a room by herself to see if she would calm down or we could do what we did which was stuff all our things in our bag, give “I hope you understand” looks (especially to my mom who made a ton of food, did bags for all the kids, then I left her and my dad after seeing them for about a half an hour with Chester’s family) and goodbye hugs to the family, and back in the car and home we went.

Car Ride Home
Well Vivi fell asleep right away (aftermath Win, maybe) … but Ellen basically cried the whole way home and got herself so worked up that she threw up as we were blocks away from our house. We did bath for both girls, gave them each a dose of Tylenol and into bed they went for awhile at least ….

Night Time/Next Day
Well its all a little fuzzy but I believe that Ellen came out of her room to sleep with one of us on the couch around midnight maybe? Then somehow Vivi woke up at around 3 am and decide that it was morning. She was bothering Chester on the couch to dress her, which was waking up Ellen which is when I woke up to call her into the bedroom where I helped her get dressed. We don’t have an alarm clock (we did but it always gets unplugged from little hands) so I had no idea what time it was. I guess Chester figured it out the time, that brilliant man, and back to bed Vivi went — fully dressed. At that time I think is when Chester plopped into bed with me along with Ellen. And there we slept until 7 am and our day began. But that’s a whole 3 hours stretch (win?)

That brings us to today, Sunday, the day after Halloween, and also day light savings. Vivi did pretty good today and very happy that there is so much juice around since we are giving Ellen any kind of fluid that she will drink. Ellen has been weepy eyed and still has a temperature the last time we checked. But we did manage to get into our costumes which didn’t happen at all yesterday and got a few pics. Ellen was a butterfly, Vivi the bug catcher, and mom and dad the flowers.

NOW :: 8 pm
Thank god Chester was here during the worst of it (hopefully) BUT he is now driving the almost 4 hour drive away from us to Danville, IL to a full nights sleep. I on the other hand write this while Ellen is waking up about every 20 minutes. Poor Ellen, poor me.

Happier Halloweens are definitely in our past and our future I think!

2015 at the Nays | 7 Month & 22 Month Old Babies

Welp, here we are in the New Year. The holidays went by either extremely fast or extremely slow depending on what day you ask us. Chester had a month off from school so was home for most of December which was so great (again depending on what day you ask us). Don’t get me wrong, we love being together as a family with the babies, but even though there are two of us it doesn’t seem any less stressful or tiring from a full day starting at 6 am with 2 babies.

We had so much Christmas wonderful with our families and got by with buying our kids one present each, big pillow “chums” which I think Chester and I take advantage of more than the babies. I think we will have to do a few more next year for Vivi who ended up having a hand in helping all of us open presents this year, but I am determined to keep it small. I know it is amazing to wake up to a huge pile of presents under the tree — I grew up very accustomed to this sight on Christmas morning, but I buy the kids sweaters and underwear anyway, should I really wrap them so there is another thing under the tree? At this point I am saying no. I know that 2 is not realistic, but why not? Its more presents than they get on most other days in the year.

So I am making our household resolutions. These are things that we want to do better, I am not including “keep working to make money” on the list…

1) Get one baby out of diapers. Either one, Vivi or Ellen will NOT be wearing diapers by the end of this year. Though this is terrifying it WILL happen.

2) Put pictures in some kind of organized book or album. This sounds so much easier than it is. I am uploading pictures to Shutterfly as we speak.

3) Use this blog for something more than just updates. So while I love to do updates, I would really like to write and post about things that I like or think … the thing is that I do it so infrequently that I feel cornered into just making updates about the girls since so much changes. I tell clients to do it, so I will find a way — this year.

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Update: 1 September 2015

HAHAHA. It is lauaghable that I didn’t not even get this New Year resolutions published. I am going through and looking at all my half finished drafts and just posting anyones that seem long enough to get a read out of. So while I only got around to writing 3 “resolutions,” looking back now I have accomplished the first item on this list. Vivi is pretty completely potty trained. I can’t remember the last time we had an accident and she is actually pretty good at holding it if you give her the future potty location destination.

Here are some Christmas pics from last year that I dug out of a long lost digital folder:

Yearly pic with Santa, due to the instance of G-Ma (Walton :) of making traditions.20141210_184547

We did manage our yearly Christmas white elephant party sans babies. Wonder if it’ll happen in 2015…. 10636132_10102339169542371_8006624291440186552_n

Ellen also started working out. 20141211_172353_880920141211_172353_21356