Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year! and Happy Birthday Stephen

Happy New Year Everyone!!
Where do I begin? After a rough month in November, we sure made up for it in December. I was the last to get sick and was feeling mostly human again by the end of the first week. It was then time for the fun to start.
We were just about to get a big snowstorm, so it was time to run out and get the Santa pictures done. Honestly, waiting in lines while doing nothing but yelling at my kids to stand still is the last thing that I want to be doing. So, we get it done early, especialy before we get snowed in. We arrive 10 minuets early allowing the kids to see where Santa was going to be and to prep both of them for the main reason why we were there - to take a picture with Santa for Mommy :-) I wasn't worried about Stephen this year since he wanted something and was eager for his meeting. Rhea wasn't too sure about the whole thing, but enjoyed looking at all the decorations and listening to the music. Our wait was short and without incident when Santa finally arrived. There was a white picket fence separating the kids and two friends they had made. I wish I would have had my camera to capture their faces pearing between the slats to get a glimps of Santa. I had to hold Stephen back once the gate opened since his new friends were waiting in front of us. He watched them intently while Rhea decided that she had changed her mind about this whole Santa "thing". I don't believe in forcing kids to sit on Santa's lap only to come away with a picture on how your child was tortured. However, both kids freaked out last year, so I was slightly more motivated. I remembered what my mom did with our darling little brother when he was two, and it worked. Stephen was in position and already making his requests to Santa while I picked Rhea up and backed up to Santa. I think she was on to me because she kept trying to look over her shoulder to see what I was trying to do to her. I managed to sit her down and run. No, really! Santa gave her a little bounce on his knee and a "ho, ho, ho" and we waited. After processing what I had just done to her, she decided that she liked Santa and wanted to stick around for longer than the photographer wanted which created a whole other problem. In the end, everyone had a great time and I got my picture this year.

The snowstorm arrived as promised. The snow started to fall around 11am and continued through the night. Stephen was especially excited and had his snowsuit on before we were able to completly wake up. The boys went out to play while Rhea slowly woke up. She was more interested in eating breakfast, but I was able to distract her enough to get her dressed and outside. Stephen started building an igloo while Rhea decided to eat her breakfast out of a bag from the back of the car.

Our next adventure was off too finish our Kindermusik class at CCC. We loved our teacher, Miss Becca and had a great time with our Holiday class. Tom was able to come to this class and we managed to get a picture of all of us together. Well, mostly. I am not sure what Stephen was doing in the picture, but he always has a great time in class. Becca does a great job pacing each class to make sure the kids will sleep at naptime. The musical benefits are good too, but I appreciate a little help sometimes when it comes to wearing our children out.
Our big project all month was making Christmas cards and ornaments to take to St. Patrick's Nursing Home in Naperville. I will include pictures of each of their projects. I talked with Stephen about what we were doing and why. His interest with arts and crafts comes and goes, but he really put effort into it this month since he understood that we were making gifts for special people. It was incredible to watch his little heart being expressed through his work when he would normally not be interested for very long. Rhea, on the other hand, could sit at the table for days doing artwork. She is still too young to grasp the concept of what we were doing while we were at home, but that all changed when we arrived at the nursing home. We were able to make it a family event since Tom was able to spare a couple of hours before going to NIU. As always, we get there a little early so the kids can feel comfortable with their surroundings. Stephen knew why we were there, but more importantly, he knew that he was there to talk to people and was eager to carry out his mission. We met the residents in the common area for their social hour and the kids went to work after only a couple of minutes. I still think that these 30 minutes were the highlight of our Christmas season. Tom stayed with Rhea, or at least tried to, while I monitored Stephen from a distance. It wasn't long before the kids were running up to the residents to give away their treasures that they had made, and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. There were a few ladies that made a point to ignore them, but that was only a challenge for our two darlings (I am not sure where they get this from). I know it is hard to believe, but Stephen and Rhea were not ignored for very long. These same residents were then talking about their children and grandchildren by the time we left. Stephen was very disappointed when we ran out of things to give when I told him that he could just go talk to people. It was amazing to see him trot off like he was born to bring comfort and joy to people through his voice and spirit. The residents starting getting too comfortable with him and starting kissing and hugging him, so we pulled him out. He still wanted to stay and talk with them, but didn't want to be touched. I promise him that we would go back, but used Rhea as an excuse to make our exit. Rhea had made her way out in the hallway to take up birdwatching from the aviary. She did a great job with the ladies, but was more than ready for a nap by that point.
Christmas was right around the corner and the business of the season was calming down for Tom and I. The making of the Christmas Gingerbread house was next on the list. I had to do this task on my own last year and it was not easy. Tom not only had a better kit to deal with, but he had more hands as well. Then again, I think he would say that I had it easier. I think the kids would say that this was their favorite activity next to opening presents on Christmas day. Stephen was very methodical about helping putting everything in its place while Rhea managed to eat the icing that Tom put, or tried to put on the house to hold it together. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.


We managed to have the presents wrapped by the 23rd and made our plans for the best Bough Christmas yet. Miss Christy and Cory made a surpise visit to deliver early Christmas and Birthday presents. We spent the day making cookies for Santa on the 24th and had a great family day after cleaning up our usual mess.

Christmas morning came and we were awakened by an excited little boy. Poor Rhea was torn out of bed before making our way downstairs. The kids took their time this year and enjoyed each present that was opened. Stephen got more train stuff than he will know what to do with, while Rhea got a puppet theatre and a new chair so she won't have to "share" with her brother anymore. Christmas would of course not be complete without Meem's famous cinnamon rolls made by our children. Santa made sure that they now had appropriate attire for all of their cooking adventures.


Our most recent fun has been celebrating Stephen's birthday weekend. We started on Friday when Rhea and I went shopping for decorations while Stephen and Tom went to the Dupage Children's Museum. Unfortunately, Rhea and I were shopping in the middle of a mild snowstorm while Stephen and Tom stopped off at the Le Chocolate Bar for a hot chocolate. In their defense, they did pick up two bags of my favorite chocolate that I eat every day, so I guess I will let them off the hook. Anyway, Rhea picked out all of the Diego decorations she could find and we eventually met the boys back home. Stephen's next big surprise was a trip to a NIU basketball game on Saturday. Our wonderful babysitters, Ashley and Katie came over to play with Rhea while Stephen had the undivided attention of both parents for the entire day. Tom did have to be with the band, but Stephen was still able to be close to him and chat between bites of pizza, nachos and cheese, pop corn, and candy. Sunday after church was spent fullfilling our birthday traditions. The kids love to bake a cake and decorate it for each other's birthday and this birthday was no exception. Stephen woke up from his nap on the 30th with all of his Diego decorations up and ready for action. It was then time to make the cake after dinner. Stephen had been talking all week about Rhea making his cake for him but changed his mind after we started. I think cooking is such a big hit with this kids because of the spoon licking at the end. Stephen's birthday on the 31st was a great success! Rhea "helped" decorate the cake while most of the icing made it to other places besides her mouth. His favorite babysitters came to join us by 10am and the unwrapping of the gifts began. Stephen actually took time this year to play with all of his gifts instead of opening everything in 2 minutes or less per his previous birthdays. Everything was a big hit since a boy can never have too many train sets. Most importantly, we can not imagine our lives without our favorite boy. He brings a smile to our face everyday when he wakes us up each morning and makes us laugh at the end of the day before he goes to bed. We couldn't be more proud of him and thank God every day for the precious gift He had given us.

Rhea signals for the party to begin. She spent two days being afraid of the party horns and then we could not separate her from them. Notice also that she would not let me take her apron off. Stephen's first gift was a responsibility chart. This one is from Melissa and Doug and I highly reccommend it! I have never seen his bed made so well before he came downstairs the next morning.

Rhea "helping" again.......

The best present came in smallest package. The one thing Stephen wanted more than anything was Annie and Clarrabel from Thomas Train. This was one happy boy!
Here is his Happy Birthday song video. Click on the play button on the bottom left and not the center. You might need to click twice. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Welcome back to the Bough Family's November celebrations. Honestly, the biggest thing we have accomplished this month has been sitting in front of the T.V. with lots of cuddles since EVERYONE has been sick. The month started with beautiful weather that Mommy took advantage of by putting up all of the Christmas lights in the front of the house. There were several days in the 50's and 60's and I really didn't care what the neighbors thought. All I knew was that my lights were done and it wasn't 19 degrees like it was the day after Thanksgiving. I was unfortunately unable to hang the icicle lights since Tom has his own method. The picture to the above is of he and the kids around 5pm early in the month. It gets pretty dark and chilly at night, which is why we take advantage of warm days while we can. Shortly after this time, Tom became very sick and spent 24 hours asleep in bed after having severe flu symptoms. Stephen was next to have amoxcillian prescribed for his infections, followed by Rhea's double ear infection and pink eye. Just as I thought to myself, "How did I escape illness after getting coughed on for two weeks", I was very sick. I started my round of amoxicillan two days before Thanksgiving and it has been hard to tell if I am any better. It is nothing that some cough medicine with codeine can't cure. I don't think it does much for my cough, but I sure sleep through the night. The best thing was at least everyone else was healthy and just recovering from fatigue and watching too much T.V.
My goal every year is to have the majority of the decorations done before Thanksgiving so we can enjoy the day putting up our four trees. I think I did more pre-decorating this year since school work wasn't going well while everyone was sick. The kids sorted through one box of goodies every day and were always excited to see what they would find. Actually, Rhea was restricted to non-breakable boxes and was otherwise put to bed for a nap. Meanwhile, Stephen helped me decorate the stairs, our bedroom, and organize his Christmas village. The biggest challenge was keeping him quiet so Rhea didn't catch on and think we were leaving her out. Well, I guess we were, but nothing was broken as a result. Stephen's attention span this year was much longer and it was great to have him helping instead of "helping". His job on the stair project was to hang all of the miniature ornaments that he is displaying in the picture. Next, was his favorite Christmas Village. His God-family gave him a set last year which he added to over the summer. He knew that when Daddy went out of town, he would get to pick out a Christmas house at the Goodwill if he did a good job. Luckily, there was a nice selection every time we went. I am not sure what my alternative was going to be, but it worked out with the exception of needing to put it on a bigger table next year. Thanksgiving Eve was an exciting time. We didn't do any "seat work" while everyone was sick, but there was plenty of book reading. I hoarded about a dozen Thanksgiving books from the library and we read our way through the month. I had several cut, paste and fold type activities that were successfully done, even if we did throw it all in on the Eve of the big day. Here you see Rhea with her hat while being bribed with a sucker to sit in the chair for a picture. I didn't get a chance to tie it under her chin since we were lucky enough for the sucker bribe to work (hence the finger holding the hat on from the top). She usually likes hats, but seemed to enjoy resisting this one. I would say that she rebelled on purpose since I wanted a picture, but she is JUST a baby.... right? Meanwhile, Stephen really enjoyed his hat as much as he enjoyed making it. He liked it so much he worn it on our family acorn hunt. Or in Pooh's world, "haycorn". I am not sure why Pooh can't say this correctly making it annoying to explain "acorn" to the kids. Even my spell check said it was wrong. Anyway, I hid paper ACORNS and squirrels all over the house and you would have thought that is was Easter in November. Stephen particularly thought it was neat that he found them in his bed. He enjoyed pretending that the squirrels hid their acorns in the house, but was quick to look up at me and asked for me to hide them again. Oh well, he was equally excited the second, third and fourth time around.

Thanksgiving day was eagerly awaited. Everyone could not wait for the making of the cinnamon rolls. Here is a picture of our bed-head children gazing into the bread maker. Stephen lost interest in the rolling of the dough due to watching the Parade, so Rhea was able to join Daddy in the kitchen to finish Meem's (Great-Great Grandma) famous rolls. It would have been really difficult to pass up this photo op. After the rolls were done and nap time arrived, it was time for Tom's annual Thanksgiving cooking to begin. Let's just say that Thanksgiving is Mommy's reward for making it through NIU Marching season. He makes everything from scratch (except the gravy, but who makes their own gravy anymore).

After nap time, Tom's dinner was complete and soon devoured. We had already begun decorating the trees, but with so many trees, it took all day. The kids really enjoyed putting their ornaments on their prospective trees, but their interest only lasted so long. My personality would normally get it all done by noon, but I resisted for the sake of my children. These pictures were taken as the last ornaments were carefully placed. Stephen was really good about getting the hooks on the branches, but could still only reach so high. I would then move them higher when he wasn't looking to keep the bottom branches from getting the sags. Rhea, on the other hand, could not quite get the "hook" thing figured out, but had a great sense of accomplishment by carefully placing each ornament on the branches. The house has never looked so cozy and it was fun to be able to do everything as a family this year. I hope that everyone had as much fun as we did on Thanksgiving Day 2007!

Baptism Video

We are members of an incredibly talented church. They generated this video as part of a baptism series and Tom's Baptism was included. Click on the lower left hand arrow NOT on the arrow in the middle of the screen unless you want to be redirected to YouTube. Enjoy, it is a wonderful video marking a wonderfully joyous day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Halloween

Hello Family and Happy Halloween!

As I said in my original entry at the bottom of this page, the Bough Family now has it's own blog. For the sake of not repeating myself, I think this will be a great way to keep the family informed of our activities and it is really easy to do versus putting together a dotphoto album with picture labels. You will still get the dotphoto invitations which will contain ALL of our pictures and you can read through the blog and view our favorites.

The blog is organized with the most recent entry first so you will be reading in reverse chronological order. Have fun - WE SURE ARE!!

These pictures were taken over the last week and show everything that we have done in preparing for our big Halloween night. The first night was reserved for pumpkin carving. Tom and I fully prepared the kitchen to get slimmed since our kids, especially Rhea, love to make a mess. Much to our surprise, neither kids was interested in sticking their hand in the pumpkin. Tom, once again, was stuck with the dirty work since I strategically took on the photographer role. I did give them the opportunity to help me sort the seeds from the safety of a bowl the following day, and they showed minimal interest. Rhea sorted a few and Stephen didn't want to get his hands messy. Like everything else, Rhea decided to give a seed the taste test and looked at me as though she did something naughty. Much to both kid's surprise, I told them that it was OK. I don't think they would have attempted such an adventurous task if I would have told them to do it on the outset. I meant to look up on the Internet if raw pumpkin seed would case any ill harm, but the activity was too short-lived.

Everyone had their own pumpkin and told Daddy their desired expression to be carved. Stephen wanted a sad face and watch very intently during the carving process. As you can see, he was very proud of the finished product. He was determine to carry it outside all by himself, but quickly gave up. Maybe next year.

Rhea was very interested in the Sharpie Tom used to draw the faces on the pumpkins. We luckily convinced her that is was best for her to use a washable marker. You might see a black mark across the bridge of her nose and several marks on her arms. I have found out that washable marker ARE washable, but only over a period of time. Oh well, I at least already took their fall portraits without any scrapes, bruises, or black marker. I just looked at the picture again, and I guess this was taken before her marker bath.

We then took the pumpkins to find a home on the front porch. Tom had ordered a bail of hay when he ordered our mulch this year. It was originally meant for the dog pen, but I convinced him that it would be fun to lay it on our front side walk leading up to the door. He saw how excited I was about the idea knowing that he was going to be the one to pick it all up to take it to the backyard the day after Halloween. I am glad he loves me as much as he does :-) Stephen and I had fun throwing hay at one another and looked pretty shocked when I threw the first pile at him. He had a great time after I told him that it was OK to throw it back. Rhea wasn't really into the hay fight just thought is was weird and a bit uncivilized. I think our suburban neighbors probably think the same thing.

Trick-or-treating was a BLAST. Tom was able to come home by 4:30pm and the kids were ready to go. Stephen woke up from his nap around 4pm eager to get dressed in his fireman outfit. I had put together a Diego outfit for him out of odds and ends, but he insisted on being a fireman again this year. You will see that he had black shoes on in the first pictures, but changed into his white ones. He told me that he wanted to wear fireman boots and I convinced him that his black shoes would suit the role. He quickly took them off when we came back into the house after taking pictures when I realized that they didn't even come close to fitting his foot. I wasn't sure what to expect out of Rhea. The Pooh costume lives in the dress-up box and she has put it on many times only to quickly take it off. She really likes it, but never wants it on for too long. After I made sure Stephen was fully dressed and photographed, I went into Rhea's room with costume in hand. She immediately said "oooooo", like she knew what was going to happen. I gave her a break down on what was going to happen next- pictures, of course. She responded with her sweetest "ok". So far, so good. I then took her into the bathroom for her nose job. She thought it was really weird at first, but changed her tune once I told her that I was giving her a Pooh nose. She repeatedly said "help" meaning that she wanted to help color on her nose. You can't tell in the picture, but she actually has a sable colored nose instead of a black nose. I figured that no one would be able to tell the difference once it was dark. We then made it down the stairs and out the door with the costume still attached to her body. As you can see, she was very excited and showed no signs of distress. Tom came home during Rhea's photo shoot and after convincing Stephen that firemen where tennis shoes (the ones that actually fit), we were soon on our way down Lansdale Street. Since the mean age on our street is between 4 and 6, many people just leave a bucket of candy on the front door step. Stephen was a pro this year as he ran through everyones yard/landscaping while showing his sister "the ropes". He would even bring candy back to her if she was moving too slow or wanted a break in the stroller. It didn't take her too long to figure out what we were doing, but had the delima of getting more candy or eating what was in her bucket. More people were home as we went around the corner to Providence and I think the kids enjoyed knocking on doors. Stephen made a friend along the way and the two boys enjoy uprooting flower beds together as they ran to each door. I pretty much ran after Stephen while Tom carried Rhea since she didn't want to be in the stroller too long for fear of missing out on something. She insisted on walking most of the time no matter how tired her little legs were. I was about one driveway away from Stephen when I saw he and his friend stop cold in their tracks. They were on their way up to someones porch and almost stepped on a skeleton that was laid on the sidewalk. Once they realized that it wasn't moving, they kept going. I am not sure what they were thinking, but it was pretty funny. We looped back around to Hillsboro when we decided to start letting the kids know that it was time to start heading home. There was little resistance since they were very tired and knew that they would not only be rewarded with candy, but pizza and soda would also be waiting for them. The evening could not have gone any better with the exception of the usual night time sugar high meltdowns. I hope your Halloween was as wonderful as ours!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!